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Cisco Cisco SmartStart
MyPersonal.com is the leading affinity portal provider (www.mypersonal.com). The company is committed to working with organizations to build customized portals that foster strong ties among members and increase loyalty to the organization, while generating supplemental funding to support the organization’s activities. Based in Emeryville, California, the company creates, hosts, maintains, and helps market the branded portals, called StartPages ®, for affinity groups. By using the SmartStart program from Cisco Systems, MyPersonal can quickly implement a secure, highly available and scalable Internet infrastructure to deliver high-performance portals to it’s partners. Cisco SmartStart provides MyPersonal with a streamlined purchasing and procurement process that enables MyPersonal to receive all the equipment, setup, training, and financing the company requires from a single vendor, backed by the most trusted name in networking, Cisco Systems.

MyPersonal has already experienced success, working with Stanford University’s Alumni Association to build the first and largest alumni association portal in the country-Stanford.Start (start.stanfordalumni.org). Stanford alumni can now easily access daily campus news and links to exclusive online services, such as an alumni e-mail account, discussion boards, and a searchable alumni database, all designed to help alumni stay connected with each other and Stanford. Also on Stanford.Start, alumni can read and personalize information they find on to the Internet, such as New York Times news, stock quotes, weather and more.

"Our goal was to bring a little bit of Stanford into our alumni’s lives on a daily basis, while making it easy for them to access the features they are already using on the Internet," says CJ Yem, Director of Online Services at the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA). "Stanford.Start achieves that goal, and response from alumni has been overwhelmingly positive. Stanford.Start allows alumni to stay abreast of campus news no matter where their lives and careers have taken them."

MyPersonal sees branded portals as the wave of the future. "We offer organizations a way to effectively leverage the power of the Internet," says Douglas Fish, CEO and President of MyPersonal. "Our flexibility gives organizations the power to personalize the Internet experience for members and offer the content, community, and commerce features that will keep members coming back."

Startup Challenges
As a startup, MyPersonal’s greatest challenge was determining how to develop a robust Internet infrastructure to support its highly Internet-dependent operation. Because MyPersonal was building the infrastructure and not merely putting a skin on existing portal technologies, it had to be sure that all of the components—routers, switches, Web servers, and other equipment—worked together seamlessly and reliably.

MyPersonal also had to ensure that the networking solution would deliver the critical qualities for success: high availability, security, manageability, and scalability. Estimates show that an average hour of downtime costs an e-commerce vendor between $8,000 and $250,000, depending on the scale of operations. Even more critical, some companies have learned to their dismay that one major security breach can completely destroy an e-business.

Cisco SmartStart
When MyPersonal learned of the Cisco SmartStart program for venture-capital-funded businesses such as itself, Executives knew it had the solution the company needed.

"The SmartStart program provides efficiencies that would have been hard to receive from anyone else," says Barak Camron, Chief Technical Officer at MyPersonal. "SmartStart offered us a complete solution, including the financing, backed by the best name in networking. While they oversee the entire package, I am free to devote my time to working with our partners to develop the best online solutions for them."

The Cisco SmartStart program offered MyPersonal.com the following:

  • Attractive pricing
  • Compelling financing terms
  • Best-in-class, reliable, scalable products
  • Customized user training
  • Security solution offerings
  • Cisco branding assistance

Bundled Solution Simplifies Getting Up and Running
Using Cisco industry-leading Internet technologies and best-of-breed products from Cisco partners, Cisco provided MyPersonal with a comprehensive solution that addressed its critical needs for security, high availability and scalability. MyPersonal selected a redundant model that included the following:

  • Two 7206 routers
  • Two 6509 Catalyst ® switches
  • Two LocalDirector load balancers
  • Multiple PIX ™ firewalls
  • Cisco IOS ® firewall

The network (shown below) is hosted at the company’s co-location site. As shown, traffic from individual members or the organization itself comes off the Internet across two 100-Mbps pipes to two Cisco 7200 border routers running Cisco IOS firewall software. The Cisco IOS firewall authenticates users and applies security rules. Traffic is then routed to one of two Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches. If a packet’s destination is a Web server, the Catalyst switch sends the packet to one of the two Cisco LocalDirector load balancers. The LocalDirectors intelligently distribute traffic to the Web server best suited to handle the request—ensuring quick response time. Other requests needing database access are switched by the Catalyst 6509 to the database server through a CiscoSecure PIX firewall that protects against database hacking.

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"Many partners recognize and trust the Cisco brand and know that because we work with Cisco we will deliver on the security and availability that they demand," Carmon says," The scalability of our Cisco network enables us to offer high-quality products and services to our fast-growing client list."

MyPersonal.com has been growing rapidly, signing prominent affinity groups including the alumni associations of Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, University of Colorado at Boulder, Howard University, Pepperdine University, Washington State University, University of Maryland University College, and the fraternities Sigma Chi and Sigma Pi.

 Cisco provided MyPersonal with a comprehensive solution that addressed its critical needs for security, high availability and scalability. 
 The scalability of our Cisco network enables us to offer high-quality products and services to our fast-growing client list.