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Cisco Networking Academy Students Participate in “Workforce Olympics”

Olympic athletes train hard year round to be the best in their sport. Every 4 years we have the chance to watch them give it their all and compete on a global level.

Did you know that a similar event takes the most talented, skilled workers from around the world to compete head-to-head for a world title?

Welcome to the WorldSkills Competition, what a Cisco executive once described as the “Olympics of the skilled trades.”  This event is hosted by different host countries every 2 years:  this year Germany is the proud host and in 2015 it will be held in Brazil.


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The Use and Impact of Social Media: A Blog Post


In recent years, social media has become the staple of communication. I remember when I was only about 11 years old and I first discovered the wonder of Myspace. This tool (the first of its kind) led the way to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Social media opened up a whole new world of opportunity and how people communicate with each other and even businesses. However, the power of social media comes with a price if you do not know how to use it. That is why, when it comes to social media, a person must realize who their audience is and what they would like to portray. There are a few key points when deciding to use social media as a platform of communication:

  • Start with listening to your audience and observing their activity prior to engagement.
  • Create a strategic Social Media plan.
  •  It is also important to set goals that you want to achieve overall and pay attention to how social media plays into these goals that you have.
  • Set goals that map your overall objectives (personal/professional use).

When you’re using social media for personal use, you may have a different audience and a different reason for your posts than if you were using social media for professional use, where your views are projected onto the organization as a whole. In a professional setting, social media can be used as a tool for an organization to communicate with their customers. Customers may use this tool to express to the organization how much their products/services do for them, or possibly what they don’t do for them. There are also people who use social media purely to induce negativity, and they will be around no matter the platform. They are called “trolls” and it is best to avoid them and to pay them no attention.

Whether you choose to use your platform for business or personal use, it is always necessary to remember these tips:

  • Remember that whatever you post is most likely accessible to others as well.
  • What you post can end up on search engines and on other people’s news and activity feeds.

These have been the most important lessons that I have learned in my experience and utilization of social media. Listen, create a plan, set goals and be aware of your audience and the content that you are posting. These days where there seems to be a “no limits” attitude with sharing information, which has in turn caused people or businesses a lot of trouble. What important lessons have you learned about social media? Are there any mistakes that you’ve made on a social media platform that caused you problems? What advice would you like to give others on their usage of social media? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Formal Broadband Plans Spur Economic and Social Development

Two Asian nations – Korea and Singapore — have managed to leapfrog multiple stages of economic development and have transformed into economic miracles.  This comes as no accident, in part, because both have taken a planned approach to technological development, starting with national broadband plans, which has led to increased broadband adoption, and successive waves of economic growth.

A new report by the UN Broadband Commission and Cisco shows that Korea and Singapore are the most notable examples of a statistically significant trend – Countries that embrace national broadband plans have increased broadband adoption.  The data show that the introduction of a broadband plan accounts for 2.5% higher fixed broadband penetration and 7.4% higher mobile broadband penetration. This is based on a thorough examination of broadband adoption data from 2001 through 2011.reportNBP2013 - COVER

For developing countries, 2.5% is nearly half of current fixed broadband penetration (6%). This is a significant impact and at the global level translates into over 175 million more broadband connections. In most cases, a single fixed connection serves multiple people, meaning more than half a billion more people onto broadband.

The report also demonstrates that a competitive market results in higher broadband penetration, with a particularly strong impact for mobile broadband. Competitive mobile broadband markets have 26.5% higher penetration on average.

Now why is this important?  Because – as we know – higher broadband penetration drives economic growth and helps nation achieve social goals, such as improved education and health care outcomes.

In the Republic of Korea, for example, the Government instituted a series of IT master plans since the mid-1990s, and the nation has since become a world leader in the utilization and production of IT. Over the last two decades, its nominal GDP per capita has more than doubled from under $12,000 in 1995 to over $25,000 in 2013 and the country consistently ranks in the top ten countries in terms of average broadband speeds and adoption.

Similarly, in Singapore, the country has had national IT related plans in place since 1985 (starting with the National Computerisation Plan and most recently the iN2015). Over this period the country has significantly advanced its IT environment. In 1980 Singapore was still at an early stage in IT development as it had only 22.2 fixed lines per 100 people; substantially below other countries such as Australia (32.3 fixed lines per 100 people) and New Zealand (36.1 fixed line per 100 people). But today, Singapore stands atop several measures of IT and broadband adoption, such as the 2013 Networked Readiness Index where Singapore ranks 2nd worldwide out of 144 countries.

And Korea and Singapore are just two examples – the same trend holds true for Chile, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, and several other countries, including many on the African continent.

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Cisco Live: Meet the Expert

So Cisco Live 2013 has just wrapped up and I thought I’d build upon my previous Cisco Live post regarding what it’s like to be a presenter at Cisco Live, but this time from the perspective of an engineer in the Meet the Expert program.  As a customer if you need advice you can enter the world of solutions and talk to someone in the main Cisco booth area, or head over to the red shirted engineers in the Design Clinics.  However, what if you want to ask some questions in a more intimate setting, want to go deeper into the analysis of your problems or be able to talk about your network or infrastructure without having your competitor standing right next to you?  Maybe you want to make sure the person you are working with has a background of exactly what you are looking for.  Then you head over to the Meet the Expert area.


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SDN – What is it and what does it mean for Your Business?

As the long awaited innovation in the networking space moves out of hype cycle and market interest in software defined networking (SDN) steadily rises, Cisco has been actively involved in these emerging trends, working with standards bodies and listening to the requirements of our global customer base.
As we continue to make our networks more open, programmable, and application aware, we believe we have the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio to help lead this change in an evolutionary manner.

During engagements with our global customer base, we have heard many claims about SDN. I will address these claims from a customer support point of view.
• SDN is about virtualizing the network. It is about migrating from a static, complex physical network platform to a dynamic simplified software enabled virtual platform
• SDN is about commoditizing network hardware because software can provide all functionalities in a centralized, limitless fashion.
• SDN is about reducing TCO and increasing agility. It is about reducing cost (OPEX) through simplification, virtualization, and automation, but also accelerating innovative business services for growth.

Let’s look at the implications of these.

#1: SDN is about virtualizing the network.
This is true and there are benefits. But before you think about virtualizing the network using “Software Defined Network” or “Software Defined Data Center”, let’s recap some core requirements any IT organization needs to take into account:
• Do you have an understanding of your business application environment?
• What are the key interdependencies between your application strategy and your infrastructure strategy?
• What implications would virtualizing the network layer have on your SLA’s? Are there performance penalties associated to your business if you don’t meet them?
If you have not explored these questions in details, then consider developing an “application to infrastructure” blueprint that is aligned to your business strategy. Leverage SDN as a crucial technology building block that can accelerate this process and provide solutions to any gaps identified hence simplifying your path towards network virtualization.

#2: SDN is about commoditizing network hardware because software can now provide all network functionalities.
This is not a reality today. The evolution of PaaS/SaaS and application providers support the fact that software is not “limitless.” The need for network intelligence, scale, performance, and security are still top priorities of most IT infrastructure. SDN does not promise to eliminate the importance hardware has, but simply illustrates the possibility of moving the decision intelligence from the hardware to software. What about speed and performance requirements on a software controller? Can it scale and grow as fast as the business (traffic) needs? How about the hardware that the controller software is running on — can it react fast enough to the ever-growing computing and storage demands? Can your “software only” infrastructure grow dynamically and as fast as your business application needs grow? Each organization needs to consider the implications of transferring the risk and complexity from infrastructure deployment to software (controller and agents) development.

#3: SDN is about reducing TCO and increasing Speed to Market for innovative business services.
Total Cost of Ownership calculations include both CAPEX and OPEX.In an “SDN” world, CAPEX = hardware cost + software cost which includes both development and maintenance, whether you choose to develop in-house (i.e. hiring new skills or transform your existing staff) or through a third-party software developer (i.e. licensing and upgrade costs). Is your operating model changing fast enough to utilize the benefit of SDN’s *simplified* management and operation? Have you broken down IT siloes between Security, Compute, Storage, and Operations? Is your organization ready to shift from managing infrastructure to managing software and changing the IT operation structure? Do you have the necessary tools and process to capture the rich data an “SDN” architecture now provides and turn them into new services for creating new revenue streams? In other words, is everything going to get more complicated before it can be “simplified”? Looking back to the server virtualization transition, very few IT organizations, if any, can claim that they realized the projected operating ROI within the first few years.

Now, let’s take a look at Cisco Open network Environment (ONE).
CiscoONE is more than just SDN. It offers a solution set that provides:
• A softwarecontroller that is centralized and separated from the local data planes
• Network programmability
• Network virtual overlays
We see the move to programmability and network virtualization as an evolution, not a revolution. CiscoONE creates incremental functionality that can be layered on existing infrastructure to deliver new functionality and provide SDN capabilities on top of both traditional technologies and modern business application needs. This enables you to continue leveraging value from the IT investments you’ve already made. We are working to help customers extract more value from the network by offering a broad network API, rich features, and analytics. The core value of the Cisco solution is an “Application Centric Infrastructure”, compare to the generic “Software Defined Network” term. Both software and hardware are a means for providing services business applications. And by making applications the center of everything, we take the broadest view to deliver openness, programmability and abstraction across multiple layers, to the line of business owners.

As my colleague Stephen Speirs pointed out in his blog, Services is the missing S in SDN, I would also say Strategy is the starting point for SDN. Why Strategy?
With the right strategy, you can plan, build and manage an open, programmable, “virtualized” network that reduces your OPEX and delivers the business outcomes you need with the minimum level of risk.
– Customers are at various stages of SDN adoption, as with any new technology or network paradigm. We’ve heard a lot of questions from them: How do I build a business case for SDN? How do I validate the ROI? How do I manage SDN devices? How would SDN change my operations model? What new security vulnerabilities and regulatory issues will I have? How do I build the API applications that are needed for my use case? What do I do when something goes wrong?
– Few customers have a clear understanding of their application profiles. Without a clear view of your application profiles, there are risks to deploying SDN.
– Cisco Services can help you through the SDN journey starting from identify the right strategy to execution so that your organization can transform your business agenda to maximize business value and minimize risks.

Services help you address the areas of What, Why and How

The Cisco Services team is well-positioned to lead this transition for customers. Our work with enterprises, services providers and public sector organizations over past 20+ years has provided us with unique network insights and implementation experience. Cisco Services offer consulting, professional and technical services via strategy, assessment/planning (Why), design and development (What), deployment, validation and operations services (How). We have the experience to help you adopt open, programmable or virtualized networks based on where you are today and where you need to be in order to harness Network Intelligence through deep programmatic access to your networking platforms.

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