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College Migrates from SPARC to Cisco UCS

December 17, 2012 at 6:24 am PST

When it comes to their IT infrastructures, academic institution IT teams have a lot in common with IT departments in the business world. Both need to offer their customers the flexibility to access applications and resources at anytime, anyplace, and on any device. They also need to provide these services with limited budgets and administrative resources while maximizing the efficiency of the data center.

Sheridan College, renowned for its leadership in the field of digital media studies, serves approximately 18,000 full-time students and 35,000 part-time students a year. Their IT department has up to 18,000 active network connections and each student may use various devices. They also have applications that serve the faculty and staff.  Key applications such as Oracle PeopleSoft and Oracle Database are running on Cisco UCS. During open enrollment there are as many as 5000 concurrent connections per second.

Migrating off its legacy SPARC architecture and consolidating its data center using Cisco UCS the Sheridan College IT organization was able to realize tremendous benefits:

  • Improved infrastructure virtualization from 40 to 85 percent.
  • Increased capacity while reducing the number of physical servers that it needs from 200 to 70.
  • Reduced power consumption by 78 percent.
  • Service levels improved and to nearly 100 percent uptime.
  • Highly efficient 100 to 1 server to administrator ratio. Read More »

R.I.P. Email Newsletters?

No, the email newsletter is not dead. It’s very much alive and still one of the best ways to build trust, generate demand, and regularly stay relevant with your customers and prospects.

In other words, unless you’re blatantly violating anti-spam legislation, your email subscribers have elected—or raised their hand—to receive information from your company. This is not something to take lightly. This is something to take advantage of on a very regular basis.

However, there are things you might be doing to kill your results. So, consult this list of 5 newsletter “don’ts.” In fact, ignore them at your peril.

1.     Don’t start a newsletter unless you can commit.

Your customers and prospects need to know that you’re reliable. If your home page promotes a monthly newsletter, commit to sending it every month like clockwork—on the same day, at the same time—if possible. Oftentimes this is your subscriber’s first indication that your company delivers on its promises, and goes a long way to develop trust.

2.     Don’t ignore the Peoplemobility factor.

According to Forrester, more than a billion people will have smartphones by 2016. And, Worldata Research claims that 87% of C-Level executives check the majority of their email via mobile device. Clearly, if you haven’t designed your newsletter for easy readability on an iPhone, Android, etc., your regular monthly cadence won’t matter. Ensure that your design renders properly in major email clients.

3.     Don’t assume that blogs take the place of newsletters.  

Blogs are not permission-based. Email newsletters are. It’s far more impactful to send content to contacts who have asked for it vs. hoping the same people find your blog on your website. However, the best scenario is to cross-pollinate, or to use both vehicles to convey your message. Point to specific blogs in your newsletter, and refer to a story in your newsletter in your latest blog. These two tactics can work together for optimal results.

4.     Don’t bore your readers.

Your e-mail newsletter is not the place for a stiff, long-winded introduction accompanied by a “glamour shot.” Avoid the “scroll-fest” (causing your readers to page-down unnecessarily through a manifesto in search of valuable content). Today’s newsletter copy should consist of 2-3 teaser sentences, accompanied by a link to a very scannable article or blog, a video, your social media properties, or to a subtle promotional offer. Include a “colorful” mix of content, drawing from a variety of sources, taking multiple forms. Above all, ensure that your content is relatable, concise, and compelling. Avoid fluff at all costs.

5.     Don’t treat your newsletter like a sales tool.

As tempting as it is for Sales to hijack your newsletter at the end of the quarter in a mad dash to make their numbers, this is not the tool for that. Newsletters are best suited for relationship marketing and nurturing contacts (customers and prospects alike) as they travel along the sales cycle. Consider their journey. Put yourself in their shoes. This is the vehicle for reminding them that you exist, for providing value in terms of content that will make their job/lives easier, and for steadily building demand. This is hardly the forum for “the close.”

Maybe you’re completely new to email newsletters? Don’t be afraid to get started. A little bit of discipline goes a long way to establish and sustain customer intimacy. And, aside from the “don’ts” above, you should also consult the mConcierge Newsletter Tactical Marketing Guide. This 2-page “cheat sheet” gives you a basic overview, best practices, tips on measuring your newsletter’s success, as well as a sample timeline.

Again, the email newsletter is not dead. It’s just evolving like every other tactic in your marketing toolbox. In a world seemingly dominated by social media, there’s still nothing more powerful than a database of customers/prospects who have actively opted in to interact with you on a regular basis. Don’t disappoint them.

New Virtualization and Cloud Computing Capabilities at the Allen, Texas Data Center

Cisco IT continues to improve upon virtualization and cloud computing capabilities in its Allen, Texas data center. We have added new capabilities in recent months that improve the self-service features available to users. On the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) platform, Cisco’s private cloud, users now have the capability to create virtual machines. Additionally, they can enable middleware such as Apache web servers and WebLogic app servers.

To learn more about what Cisco IT is doing in the data center, check out the quick video below.

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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 4-Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 3.0

December 14, 2012 at 10:22 am PST

Over the past weeks, Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design , then Laszlo Bojtos,  illustrated this concept with the Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design, with a specific emphasis on the integration with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud . Finally John Kennedy shared with us the latest news on Flexpod.

jotungThis week , I met Johnny Tung, Systems Marketing Manager for Data Center Solutions, to talk about a very interesting announcement : The Virtualized Multiservice Data Center

” Johnny , can you tell us what Happened to Cisco’s Unified Data Center on Dec 3th?

Well…it just got more interesting! You may have heard of Virtualized Multiservice Data Center. Let me remind you. It is Cisco’s reference architecture for the Unified Data Center. The big news here is that we have just released the 3.0 design. We are introducing Cisco FabricPath into the Unified Data Center network in order to simplify and scale Cloud Ready Infrastructure designs for Private and Virtual Private Cloud deployments.

VMDC

FabricPath simplifies and expands existing data center network design by removing the complexities of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), and thus enabling more extensive, flexible, and scalable Layer 2 designs. This release marks the introduction of FabricPath-based designs into VMDC;  further FabricPath-related VMDC releases will follow as Cisco develops and evolves its FabricPath offerings.

 What does it mean for our customers ?

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Please Welcome Diana Huang to the Manufacturing Industry Blog

December 14, 2012 at 9:21 am PST

Blog Cred Diana HuangIt is with great pleasure that I introduce another key member of IBSG’s Manufacturing Practice, Diana Huang. As a key Industry Thought Leader, Diana has had a distinguished career at Cisco to date and is currently leading the Greater China team in helping Fortune 500 CEOs address their most strategic issues—from growth strategy, global expansion, operational efficiency, and leadership development, to innovation, technology in management, corporate culture, and employee training.

Huang is an active member of the Cisco Greater China leadership team, focusing on go-to-market strategies with transformational efforts, and is also executive sponsor of the Cisco Greater China Smart Grid Virtual Team. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Trustees for the International School of Beijing, where she co-chairs the resources committee.

Huang has 19 years of management consulting and industry experience in the United States and China. Prior to joining Cisco, she was a vice president and partner at A.T. Kearney. As a strategic adviser to senior leadership, Huang led teams that assisted both Chinese and multinational companies with strategic direction, organizational transformation, and operational efficiency improvements.

Prior to consulting, Huang was a research chemist. She has written a number of papers, including “Decoding the Cisco DNA,” “Eco-City: Will China Lead the World?”, and “China’s Response to Global Meltdown.”

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