Lippis Report 134: Cisco Delivers A New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks

nicklippis.jpgI’ve been working in the networking industry my entire adult life starting in the mid 1980s, having developed and reviewed numerous network architectures. I view an IT supplier’s network architecture as insight into their perspective of business changes plus trends and how their IT solutions can be exploited for corporate advantage. In short, the architecture provides a roadmap or blueprint of their investment plan and corporate priorities. The latest IT architecture I’ve reviewed is Borderless Networks from Cisco Systems and it does a great job of addressing business, economic and technical trends that are converging into an opportunity for business leaders to accelerate earnings while preparing for and taking advantage of top line growth. The first manifestation of Borderless Networks into product is in Cisco’s October 20th, 2009 Borderless Branch Office Network launch including the Integrated Services Router Generation 2. In this Lippis Report Research Note I review Cisco’s Borderless Networks architecture, an approach to networking that is very much in synch with the times in which we live.


The Borderless Network

We live in an ever-increasingly connected world where our workspace is with us constantly, independent of geographic location and user device. The days of boundaries or obstacles to accessing information which location, applications and devices erected are limited and dwindling. These boundaries are being torn down by business necessity, personal preferences and technical innovations. Businesses are increasingly expanding globally, increasing the geographic area in which they operate and from which they need access to information. The huge growth of the mobile internet provides insight into how work and work product has moved far beyond a stationary desk. It is technical innovations, however, that are ushering in a new borderless network architecture that’s delivering the capability to experience a workspace without borders, friction or frustration.

Cisco Delivers A New Network Architecture In Borderless Networks

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The rise of wireless networks, smartphones and the mobile internet has ushered in workspace mobility that tears down location boundaries. Application performance acceleration technology extends application access over large distances while presenting the user with an experience of being local. Network security services, especially identity and policy, preserve user preferences as they drift between workspace environments ensuring corporate assets are safe. Over the past 18 months, real-time and on-demand video has been embraced by business leaders as a way to be closer to customers, reduce travel cost and speed business processes. In the current business cycle, corporate networks will have to become even more borderless as cloud computing services, collaboration applications and virtualization technologies accelerate application access to any location and device on the planet.

Cisco Launches A New Era In Borderless Branch Office IT

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For corporations the Borderless Network delivers value in two important ways. First is the frictionless movement of workflow consistently over a corporate network that is secure, mobile and as vast as a corporation’s employees, contractors, suppliers and customers. Second is the value of the increased customer experience which Borderless Networks deliver as existing and prospective customers are everywhere, interacting with your company on a plethora of devices. Customer service studies show that keeping customers connected or wired brings them closer to a business, improving their experience and increasing their loyalty.

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So what boundaries does Cisco’s Borderless Networks bring down? It’s primarily focused on applications, devices and location boundaries, and since the network touches every IT asset Cisco believes that it can add network value to bring down these boundaries and replace them with a “Borderless Networks” experience. The Borderless Networks experience promises to enable access to information seamlessly, securely and reliably, independent of location and/or user device. This experience transcends employees and customers and for good reason: Forrester’s state of the CIO agenda identified that the two top CIO issues are to “acquire, retain and manage customer relationships better while lowering company operating costs”.

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Borderless Networks is an architectural approach to networking that, if designed correctly, can automate business and network processes driving down operational cost, thus allowing IT to scale. And scale is something IT needs desperately right now. IDC recently predicted that between 2008 through 2012 IT staff will grow at about 1.1 times the rate of business growth while servers will grow at 1.9 times, mobile internet users will grow at 3 times, non-traditional user devices will grow at 3.6 times, information will grow at 4.5 times and interactions per day will grow at 8.4 times. Clearly, the gap between IT staff resources and business expectations for IT services is huge and growing fast. To close the “business expectation/availability” gap many IT leaders are evaluating cloud-based services to augment their homegrown services as IT leaders observe an increasing amount of applications being deployed from outside the enterprise perimeter., EC2, Google Apps and other cloud services will have a huge impact on IT. But the network needs to be an integration point in an IT architecture allowing homegrown, private and public cloud services to be deployed securely and reliably.

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To put this into more general terms, have you ever tried to access video content while in a branch office?; or tried to access a corporate application while on the road?; or tried to dazzle a new customer with a live video session?; or have your work office IT environment be the same, if not better, at your home? If you have then you have experienced productivity breakers in your IT systems. If left unchecked and these barriers are allowed to persist, productivity will get worse. For example, desktop virtualization and video are two of the most disruptive new IT services which will have the biggest impact on barriers that exist between datacenter and the rest of the enterprise IT environment.

Lippis on Borderless Networks

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The productivity frustration or friction that is created in these scenarios is location, user devices and/or application access. Cisco’s Borderless Networks seeks to eliminate these boundaries with a consistent and secure user experience by enabling IT to scale and close the gap between business expectations and IT service availability with a suite of user network services around mobility, performance, and security.

To fully understand the shift in IT you need look no further than from where applications are being delivered and you’ll notice that the borders are changing. Instead of a corporation having one perimeter with well-defined internal/external trust relationships, corporations now have three new fronts or perimeters to manage. At the center of this new IT challenge is a shift in the way users are consuming technology. Employees are bringing more consumer-based IT technology into the workforce, whether it’s Kindle, an iPhone, a flip camera, etc. All of these technologies are entering the workforce, creating new borders. These new borders are different locations, different devices plus applications and services that are being deployed from anywhere.
IT’s problem has changed from managing performance, scalability, and availability across one domain to having to manage those attributes across three domains: device, location, and application. IT leaders now need to manage this multi-dimensional service delivery problem across devices, locations, and applications, and making matters even worse is that these borders are often in a non-IT-controlled environment.

Borderless Network Technical Architecture

The Borderless Networks business case is that Cisco’s network innovations are being focused on IT elements that will contribute to doing business faster, bring more scale to your business and grow the bottom line, by investing in technology that makes your business go easier, smoother and become more engaging with customers. As an example, a Borderless Network in a sports arena increased revenue by a factor of three by enabling food and merchandize orders to be placed by sport fans in their seats and delivered by a friendly salesperson. This scenario broke location, application and device barriers, increasing both customer experience and revenues. A network with borders could not deliver the experience and business outcome.

The Borderless Networks technical architecture is made up of three components. First is the separation of hardware and software. This decoupling of software from custom hardware appliances enables network services to be deployed quickly and flexibly around the enterprise, independent of location and hardware. The first example of this is in Cisco’s ISR G2 where IT leaders can load and activate network services on demand to branch offices. The second component is called converged systems, where compute, storage and network resources are coming together to define a new IT control plane. The third component is policy, being the unifier or the way to implement, automate and unify services end to end. These three components work together to create a more virtual networking environment where services can be turned on and off plus deployed on-demand to eliminate barriers and create a Borderless Network.

For example, security services such as firewall, IPS, encryption, etc., can be deployed for specific cloud services or to far reaches of a network to increase secure communications. Application acceleration may be controlled in a similar fashion increasing application performance to mobile end-points or speeding up video sessions to various parts of the network. The net goal is to ensure that the technologies Cisco brings to market across collaboration and virtualization tie closely and tightly couple with routing, switching, security, wireless, and optimization technologies that exist in the Borderless Network.

Borderless Network Value Proposition

What Cisco is building toward with Borderless Networks is to offer its customers a means to increase productivity. Productivity has been on the rise thanks to IT, which specifically started with the PC. Networks helped drive productivity growth even higher. The economy is now at the next point of productivity growth with Borderless Networks, virtualization and cloud computing offering a path to close the business expectation and IT availability gap. For business leaders an opportunity is being presented to break with the status quo of being confined to a single perimeter or break away and embrace technology trends that increase customer experience and lower operational cost by opening up to new perimeters of location, devices and applications securely and reliable with a Borderless Network. If architected correctly a business can grow its top and bottom line faster.

15 Debates over Lippis Report 134: Cisco Delivers A New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks

  1. Nick Lippis said:

    Lippis Report 134: Cisco Delivers A New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks

  2. hmaleki said:

    That Looks Great. But Considering a Construction Project Site in a Mountain Area with 3km*3km Dimensions , How Can Borderless Network Be Implemented? (I Work for Kayson Company – A Project-Based Corp – that Some of the Project Sites are Set in Heavy Natural Environments). What Criteria Should We Consider for Successful Deployment of the New Network Architecture?
    Appreciation in Advance.

  3. Nick Lippis said:

    My take on Cisco's New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks

  4. Cisco WAAS said:

    RT @NickLippis My take on Cisco's New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks: <- includes Cisco WAAS and ISR G2

  5. Todd Smith said:

    Great explanation of the new #Cisco #Borderless #Architecture by analyst @NickLippis

  6. Mariano O'Kon said:

    Lippis Report 134: Cisco Delivers A New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks (by @nicklippis, obvioulsy) –

  7. CiscoGeeks said:

    RT @CiscoWAAS @NickLippis: My take on Cisco's New Network Architecture Called Borderless Networks:

  8. Nick Lippis said:

    Hi hmaleki

    Need to know more to help assist you here. Please post details of the projects and we’ll chime in.


  9. Nick Lippis said:

    last 3 lippis reports received 100K, 70K & 45K hits over a 2 day period. The winner is

  10. Gisele Seto said:

    RT @NickLippis: last 3 lippis reports received 100K, 70K & 45K hits over a 2 day period. The winner is

  11. Joel Conover said:

    There are 7 critical questions you should consider as you build out a next generation network:

    1. Do I have a consistent access policy architecture across my network for all users and devices?

    2. Can mobile devices access my network transparently and securely?

    3. Can my network deliver real time collaboration experiences?

    4. Am I using my network to reduce my energy costs?

    5. Can my network deliver protection from the premise to the cloud?

    6. Can my network optimize performance of applications anytime, anywhere?

    7. Is my network ready for current and future regulatory requirements?

    In addition, I would recommend you talk to your Cisco partner or sales team about Cisco’s Smart Business Architecture – which provides a blueprint to address these concerns in a systematic, architectural approach.

  12. Jesus Rancurello said:

    I don`t understand how can i implement this new network architecture to my corp.

    When some employees can`t come to work, they just simply connect to our intranet via VPN and check everything as they were here.

    Can someone give me a better explanation of how does borderless networks come to change out IT ?

  13. Alfred Behr said:

    I really enjoyed your post. That is nice when you read something that is not only informative but entertaining. Greet!

  14. Peter Holland said:

    Cisco's Borderless Networks – have a look at the info at and also at cool!

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