'Cisco Virtual Office' Extends the Enterprise, Increases Productivity and Secure Collaboration for Remote Workforces
Highly Secure Solution Helps Employees Collaborate Via Office-Caliber Video, Voice, Wireless and Data Service in Branch or Home Offices
SAN JOSE, Calif. - September 9, 2008 - Cisco® today announced the Cisco Virtual Office, a highly secure solution that allows businesses to extend their enterprise - and productivity - by "bringing the office" to employees who regularly work in a variety of remote settings, such as branch locations or from a home office.
The Cisco Virtual Office addresses the growing trend among mid-sized and large enterprises that have increasingly distributed workforces who need access to collaborative business applications and services outside of their corporate offices. The networking solution packages routing, switching, security, wireless, IP telephony, and policy control technology into a centrally managed office-caliber solution that provides highly secure video, voice, data and wireless service. (http://www.cisco.com/go/cvo) It is flexible, allowing employees to work in a variety of places with technology and services that are as advanced as if they were sitting at their desk in their office. This "extension" of an employee's collaborative office environment includes access to voice and video over IP communications, all protected within a highly secure networked environment.
The Cisco Virtual Office comes at an opportune time. As businesses look for flexible and cost-effective work options, particularly in the wake of rising gas prices and energy costs, the solution enables them to ensure highly secure collaboration amongst a more distributed workforce. (http://www.internetinnovation.org/Portals/0/Documents/Final_Green_Benefits.pdf) This agility helps maintain business continuity, such as during inclement weather, and can generate cost savings on real estate by eliminating needs for additional office space. Furthermore, remote workers can enhance productivity by accessing the same communications and collaboration technologies available to their office-based counterparts.
One of the solution's most valued features is its "zero-touch" setup. Automated, pre-configured setup offloads installation responsibilities from employees, most of whom are not qualified or knowledgeable enough to implement networking systems themselves. With the solution's zero-touch setup, businesses can extend their workforces to thousands of locations with the peace of mind that employee error and IT support will be minimal. As a whole, the Cisco Virtual Office consists of the following components:
Zero-touch setup of the new Cisco 881w Series Internet Services Router (ISR) and Cisco 7970G IP phone with color display. Once the Cisco 881w ISR is connected to the Internet, it "calls home" and automatically downloads a pre-defined configuration that syncs with headquarters. From there, employees can benefit from efficient, automated delivery of collaborative business applications and services. For example, wireless LAN connectivity is offered as an option to provide such features as mobile intelligent roaming.
A Cisco 7200 Series router serves as a converged platform for virtual private networking, offering easy-to-manage encryption and security. It utilizes Cisco Dynamic Multipoint Virtual Private Networking (DMVPN), which secures the exchange of data between two locations without traversing the head office, improving network performance and data delivery by offloading traffic demands from headquarters. This infrastructure also supports SSL and L2TP over IPsec VPNs, serving as a single point of convergence for multiple secure access technologies, such as mobile users with laptops or PDAs.
Management servers for policy, identity and configuration, which include the Cisco Configuration Engine for image distribution to as many as 10,000 Cisco Integrated Services Routers; Cisco Security Manager for management of security policies; and Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS), which provides access policy control to meet regulatory and corporate compliance requirements. This centralized management architecture allows control of all the services that Cisco Virtual Office enables, including security, mobility, collaboration and unified communications.
Cisco and its approved partners provide services for Cisco Virtual Office planning, design and implementation. Services include deployment and integration at the head-end site, consultative guidance for automating the deployment and management of remote sites, and ongoing operational support. These services help reduce customers' operating costs and continually assess, tune and evolve Cisco Virtual Office components to keep pace with customers' business needs and security threats.
"The Cisco Virtual Office is ultimately about helping extend secure mobility and empowering the collaborative workforce wherever and whenever it connects," said Marie Hattar, vice president of network systems and security solutions for Cisco. "It enhances the benefits of remote working by providing office-caliber technology wrapped in a security blanket. It allows businesses to stay agile, and in some cases, it can provide an environmentally friendly alternative to commuting while managing operational expenses at corporate sites."
According to Hattar, as the number of distributed workers increases and the way they access corporate networks and information multiplies, both in terms of device and location, businesses need an increasingly flexible IT infrastructure that extends the same protection found within a corporate office to remote locations where employees connect. Because of the solution's security capabilities, businesses can safely establish highly secure mobility, collaborate with their constituents and adopt distributed employee work models that can be more efficient than relying exclusively on centralized corporate sites for conducting operations.
American Century Investments, a leading investment management company based in Kansas City, Missouri, is harnessing the value of remote working and distributed - yet collaborative -- enterprises through the Cisco Virtual Office. To date, American Century Investments has rolled out the Cisco Virtual Office solution to more than 110 of its sales agents and remote workers.
"Our remote worker implementation of the Cisco Virtual Office is designed to provide our employees with flexibility and to allow them to be as functional working from home as they are in the office," said Keith Little, network services manager for American Century Investments. "As our intermediary sales staff grows, we will continue to broaden our adoption of this solution so we can provide our employees with easy remote access to network resources. The Cisco Virtual Office provides us with the benefits of greater employee productivity and operational efficiency. Simply put, we've adopted the Cisco Virtual Office as our own virtual office."