This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “borderless” to be simply “being without a border”.  By definition, Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture means a network with no borders.  It’s a simple statement but from the conversations I’ve had with decision makers, it’s not the simplest concept to grasp.  Some I’ve talked to think of “borderless” to mean a network with no firewalls or a big, flat network.   A network without borders can have a number of different meanings (according to Merriam) but in Cisco’s case it’s actually referring to the boundaries that prevent us from doing what it is we are trying to accomplish. 

The easiest way that I know to describe what Borderless Networks can do is to get companies to think about the vision of any worker being able to accomplish any task, on any device from wherever they are.  Now think about the borders that currently prevent the company from accomplishing this goal.  Cisco’s Borderless Networks is an architecture that will allow companies to remove those borders and fulfill on this any, any, any vision.

I think the reason Borderless Networks can confuse some people is that there is no single way to remove these borders.  It might just be a small change to the network or it could be a multi-year project depending what borders currently impede the solution.  That will determine what changes need to be made and which new products need to be purchased and deployed. 

For example, if a company is looking to enable an application to run on multiple operating systems, such as mobile phones, the answer could be as simple as pushing the application to the cloud.  Alternatively, the right answer might be to run virtual desktops.  Either way, once the decision is made, Cisco has a reference architecture that falls under the umbrella of Borderless Network that can help IT managers optimize the network for either cloud or VDI delivery. 

So, to make sense of Borderless Networks, one needs to understand that there is no single, common Borderless Network solution for all companies.  Instead, each organization must look at what it is they want to do with their business and then apply the Borderless principles to that particular issue. The technical challenges may involve video, wireless, security, network infrastructuer, cloud, virtualization or any other area but the goal is the same — remove the borders that prevent the organization from moving forward.  The journey doesn’t end there though.  As the corporate workers needs change, the requirements for what a Borderless Network needs to do will also change.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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