Evolving Network Architectures


Networks are transforming from a data-only transportation system of connected LAN devices, to a system that enables the connections of people, devices, and information in a media rich, converged network environment.

As new technologies and end user devices come to market, businesses and consumers must continue to adjust to this ever-changing environment. There are several new networking trends that continue to effect organizations and consumers. Some of the top trends include:

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
  • Online collaboration
  • Video communication
  • Cloud computing

Evolving business models are creating complex technology challenges that IT must address.

To address these emerging network trends, new business network architectures are necessary. These architectures must account for the network design principles established in the Cisco Enterprise Architecture, as well as the overlaying policies and technologies that allow organizations to support emerging trends in a safe and manageable way.

To meet this need, Cisco has introduced the following three network architectures:

  1. Cisco Borderless Network Architecture

    The Cisco Borderless Network Architecture is a network solution that allows organizations and individuals to connect securely, reliably, and seamlessly to the corporate network in a BYOD environment. It is based on wired, wireless, routing, switching, security, and application optimization devices working in harmony to help IT balance demanding business challenges and changing business models.

    It is not a static solution, but an evolving solution to help IT evolve its infrastructure to deliver secure, reliable, and seamless user experiences in a world with many new and shifting borders.

    It enables an IT department to architect and deploy its systems and policies efficiently to all end user devices that require connection to the network. In doing this, it provides secure, reliable, and seamless access to resources from multiple locations, from multiple devices, and to applications that can be located anywhere.

    Specifically, the Cisco Borderless network architecture delivers two primary sets of services:

    • Borderless end-point/user services – Borderless end-point / user services connect the various devices to provide access to network services. It removes the location and device borders, providing unified access to wired and wireless devices. Endpoint / user services define the user experience and enable the attributes of secure, reliable, and seamless performance on a broad range of devices and environments. For example, most smart phones and tablets can download and use the Cisco AnyConnect software. It enables the device to establish a secure, persistent, policy-based connection for a seamless user experience.
    • Borderless network services – Borderless network services unify the approach to securely delivering applications to users in a highly distributed environment. It securely connects internal users and remote users and provides access to network resources. The crucial element to scaling secure access is a policy-based architecture that allows IT to implement centralized access controls.

    The borderless network architecture supports a highly secure, high-performing network that is accessible to a wide range of devices. It needs to be flexible enough to scale in its support for future growth in terms of business expansion, including BYOD, mobility and cloud computing and must be able to support the growing requirements for online voice and video.

  2. Collaboration Architecture
    Collaboration and other types of groupware are used to bring people together for one reason or another: such as to socialize, to work together, to cooperate and contribute to the production of something, and to innovate.The Cisco Collaboration Architecture comprises a portfolio of products, applications, software development kits (SDKs), and APIs. The individual components work together to provide a comprehensive solution.Cisco’s collaboration architecture is composed of three layers:

    • Application and Devices – This layer contains unified communications and conference applications such as Cisco WebEx Meetings, WebEx Social, Cisco Jabber, and TelePresence. The applications within this layer help users stay connected and productive. These applications include voice, video, web conferencing, messaging, mobile applications, and enterprise social software.
    • Collaboration Services – This layer supports collaboration applications including the following services: presence, location, session management, contact management, client frameworks, tagging, and policy and security management.
    • Network and Computer Infrastructure – This layer is responsible for allowing collaboration anytime, from anywhere, on any device. It includes virtual machines, the network, and storage.
  3. Data Center/Virtualization Architecture
    The Cisco Data Center/Virtualization architecture is built upon Cisco Data Center 3.0. It comprises a comprehensive set of virtualization technologies and services that bring the network, computing, storage, and virtualization platforms together.The data center architecture consists of three components,:

    • Cisco Unified Management Solutions – Management solutions simplify and automate the process of deploying IT infrastructure and services with speed and enterprise reliability. Solutions operate transparently across physical and virtual resources in cloud environments.
    • Unified Fabric Solutions – Flexible network solutions deliver network services to servers, storage, and applications, providing transparent convergence, scalability, and sophisticated intelligence. Solutions include Cisco Nexus switches, Catalyst switches, Cisco Fabric Manager, and Cisco NX-OS software.
    • Unified Computing Solutions – Cisco’s next-generation data center system unites computing, network, storage access, and virtualization into a cohesive system designed to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and increase business agility. The Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) is built with blade servers, rack-mount servers, fabric interconnects, and virtual interface cards (VICs).

These three architectures are built on an infrastructure of scalable and resilient hardware and software. Components of the architecture come together to build network systems that span an organization from network access to the cloud, and provide organizations with the services they need.

Building off the basic network infrastructure, organizations can use these network architectures to grow their network over time, adding features and functionality in an integrated solution.

One of the first steps in growing the network is expanding from the campus infrastructure to a network that connects remote sites through the Internet and through the WAN.

Note: Network architectures continually evolve. The intent of this section is to provide an introduction and overview of emerging architecture trends.