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Wanted – New Patching Capabilities

The proliferation of devices that include computers in some form or another is on the rise. With the advent of the much heralded Internet-of-Things (IoT), the number of computerized devices will only become higher. And all of them will have to be maintained in some fashion. Maintained in a sense that we would like to install new features on them or upgrade them to fix existing problems in the currently running software. All of us using computers are aware of this maintenance and we (more or less) regularly patch our computers. However, extending this patching to other “non-standard” devices, such as appliances in our houses, may not be that easy. My previous post talked about the necessity to patch cars, and in this post we will examine what problems we may encounter along the way. Bear in mind that the previous post that focused on patching cars was just one example of the need for us to upgrade other devices. This discussion is applicable to many other devices we may have in or around our houses (e.g., smart gas meters, heating, air conditioning, etc.).

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Yes, You Still Need a Web Site

March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am PST

Pretty frequently now, I have been getting this question from friends: “Do I really need a company web site?” Of course, I have been hearing this musing for at least 10 years in Devil’s advocacy conversations.  But recently it has become almost a meme. I hear it mostly from people not in the heart of running digital strategy or operations, but I’ve heard it from friends at several other companies, who find running a web site complicated and expensive and wonder if they really  need their site or if they could just do it exclusively via other avenues such as Facebook pages.  The answer I usually give them is: “Yes, you do; and no, probably not.” And then I add: “But you’d better be thinking about broadening your mix and strategy.”

To back up for a moment, the argument against web sites is usually phrased as in this recent article in ReadWriteWeb, which argues that community building and content happen most effectively outside of the confines of a company web site – where it can be more easily shared and discovered. Fair point, and there’s no better example than the viral nature of YouTube discovery and YouTube sharing via Facebook, twitter and other mechanisms.

There’s strong reason to look hard at your digital mix:  Social and especially mobile footprints are growing meteorically.  Last year, smart phones exceeded PC sales, and BusinessInsider CEO Henry Blodget recently pointed out that in a few short years PC sales will be absolutely dwarfed by smart phones purchases.

At Cisco, we see similar trends.  As shown in this chart below, tablet visitors are growing at 341%, mobile visitors 91%, and social reach is at 55% growth.  annually (and all probably more in the last month, and my friends in B2C see even more meteoric mobile growth).  Whereas last year our general web site visit growth around 2-5% depending on what month range you look at.  And we’re very conservative in these numbers (for social reach, we don’t even count individuals like Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior who has 1.4 million followers on twitter today).

Digital Stats for Cisco, annualized

But look more closely. Looking at traffic size, you will see that the web is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The core Cisco web sites get 240 million visits per year (around 72 million annual visitors), each one an opportunity to provide support, training and (yes) marketing to people who have sought us out and are engaged with Cisco. Furthermore, notice that the content on the web site draws in more than 70 million referrals from Google and other search engines. Referrals in from social media (mostly Facebook) are a much smaller number (even considering in the activity of “friends of friends.”) Even considering that visitors from social media are more engaged and register and interact more, it’s an impressive picture.

Furthermore, the web sites provide a place to interact in a long-term relationship: We can personalize your experience based on interest and behavior, can provide transactional one-stop service to, say, Partners via vehicles such as My Cisco Workspace, and (to talk marketing for a moment) can personalize offers and collect leads from new potential customers. And, the same technologies, services and processes that support these things on a web site support them on mobile devices including apps.

So, what’s the reality?  You need to ensure your strategy aggressively embraces the social and mobile worlds; and, you need a company web site, too. You need to think of your digital footprint is an ecosystem where everything works together. It would be just as ludicrous to have no social presence as it would to have no web site and decide to ignore your visitors on tablets and smart phones. That fact is, all of these digital mechanisms work together to reach and interact with your customers.

Next time: Why I hope you are planning your web, social and mobile technology strategies together.

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Profiting from the Rise of Wi-Fi

The amount of mobile data generated globally is growing very rapidly and shows no sign of abating. This growth is largely driven by smartphones, tablets and connected devices, as well as mobile applications and content.   The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) has been tracking this for quite some time – the latest update predicts that mobile data traffic will double globally in 2012 and increase by another 78 percent by 2014. 

In addition, there is a corresponding worldwide growth in the popularity of Wi-Fi. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to reach 2.7 million by 2014, with usage growing 200 percent. This growth is inspired by new enabling devices, recent technology improvements, public and private availability, and tiered mobile data plans from service providers. 

With this in mind, Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) has consulted with leading service providers from around the world to develop and evaluate 16 Wi-Fi business models that can provide a reasonable return on investment. Opportunities for monetization fall into four broad categories: (1) business effectiveness, (2) end-user services, (3) inter-carrier wholesale, and (4) value-added services.

For details about this and other interesting, provocative papers, go to the Service Provider Thought Leadership page of the IBSG web site.

Check it out . . .

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CISCO, 100g . . . Check!

Cisco continues to pass on 100G . . . To be clear, that means “pass” with flying colors. 

To wit:

  • Cisco recently announced that SURFnet has completed a technology test of Cisco’s 100G DWDM solution between the National Supercomputing Center, SARA, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, using the Cisco ONS 15454 M6 MSTP. The Cisco system uses DWDM to unite multiple optical carrier signals on a single optical fiber, leading to several benefits, including increased fiber capacity.

SURFnet enables collaboration between researchers, teachers, and students in the Netherlands using information and computing technology and together with partners offers high speed communication services between leading innovation centers and universities in Europe and throughout the world.

  • Lumos Networks, a fiber-based service provider in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., has successfully completed a technology test of Cisco’s 100 Gigabit (100G) coherent DWDM solution across its service area. This performance validation confirms that Lumos Networks can meet growing customer demand for high-capacity bandwidth on its existing 10G fiber plant simply by deploying 100G line cards in its current Cisco ONS 15454 platforms.

Raising the Bar: Cisco Managed Switches Outperform Competitors

March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Daily, we read about and experience the increasing importance of mobility and cloud offerings in the SMB market—and inherent in these trends is the capacity to configure appropriate switches. Tablets, smartphones and laptops are prevalent in the workplace and as SMBs often forgo funding an IT department, it is crucial that their hardware and solutions scale as business transforms.

That said, a recent testing report conducted by Miercom details how Cisco SMB Ethernet switches outperform those of HP and D-Link across the board. From overall performance and price to security, ease of use, and energy efficiency, Cisco’s switches are raising the bar. Highlights from the report include:

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