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Remote Management Services: Rethinking the Way You Manage and Operate IT

Just a few short years ago, if your car broke down, you would automatically take it to your local mechanic who would identify the issue and fix it. Fast forward to 2013 – today we live in an era where our cars tell US when there is a potential issue or it needs a service and, more often than not, they just don’t break down at all. We’ve gone from a reactive, break-fix model to a proactive and, sometimes, even a pre-emptive approach, or warranty as they call it. It’s the technology – specifically the software embedded in our cars and the software that supports and maintains it from the manufacturer – that has fundamentally changed this industry.

There is a similar shift happening in IT. Customer care-abouts are evolving from simply, “make my technology work” to “make my business better.” Drivers such as cloud and mobility are causing us to pause and rethink our traditional approaches and consider new ways to both consume and manage IT.  As more and more business and IT activities move into the cloud, the services needed to keep everything running seamlessly become ever more critical.

Services can help companies maintain IT health and, by providing expertise and support, can support this transition to cloud as customer and partners explore new opportunities.  Services – in the form of automation, analytics and software – play a crucial role in both extracting more value out of existing infrastructure and driving innovation in new areas. How?

I recently spoke about Cisco’s Smart Services, which use intelligent automation to collect network data, then analyze that data using Cisco’ s deep knowledge  base to provide actionable insight to customer and partners. These software-enabled services automate network operations, reduce risk and lower costs – top priorities for any organization, regardless of size.

SmartServices

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VCE: Converging on a better data center

Cisco’s Unified Data Center strategy is rooted in the idea that customers shouldn’t be put in the position of DIY technology integration.  It’s just an unfair ask given everything that IT and LOB leaders contend with above and beyond the infrastructure.   As technology has evolved, the component parts of the data center are decreasingly the source of complexity.   It’s the connections between them, creating that sum of the parts that can actually run applications, that’s the hardest part.   Eliminating this complexity has been Cisco’s guiding star in the data center, building systems that help customers focus on what matters most to them:  applications and IT services, not infrastructure.

VCE, Cisco’s joint venture with EMC, VMware and Intel, is a critical expression of this vision for fabric based infrastructure and converged solutions.  Today marks a major milestone for VCE with the broadest solutions announcement since the launch of Vblock Systems, which has become widely recognized as the gold standard of converged infrastructure.

These new offerings extend the proven value of Vblock: converged, pre-engineered infrastructure that slashes deployment time and ongoing management burden, into a new set of market segments and key workloads.

The team at VCE have done a great job detailing this out; I see the key components being brought forward today as:

  • Taking Vblock Systems to new customer segments and use cases:  System 200 is designed for mid-size data centers and service provider-managed customer premise (CPE) scenarios.  System 100 extends to remote office/branch office environments.  Combining these new Vblocks with applications like  Microsoft Exchange & Sharepoint, VDI, and Cisco Unified Commuications will continue the push to eliminate DIY solution assembly for customers.
  • VCE Specialized Systems: a series of systems optimized for key workloads, starting with SAP HANA.  Certification for Vblock here is an exciting new opportunity for customers to quickly adopt this hot new analytic technology
  • VCE Vision Intelligent Operations which brings intelligent discovery and single lens management to VBlock Systems.  This takes a similar API driven approach found at the core of UCS to enable orchestration of the converged system.   This is a critical component for cloud builders.

VCE’s launch is a major milestone in their evolution, but the way each Vblock system is built, maintained and supported remains constant and predictable. Customers can continue to rely on the same comprehensive physical and logical build done in the factory, single point support and the IT agility and economic benefits these create.

Customers have spoken and this is being reflected in the results, with 1,000 Vblock Systems shipped, demand on a billion dollar run rate and recognition as the market leader in converged systems.

Congratulations to the VCE team as they continue to make it easier for customers to concentrate on the business and not on the infrastructure!

vblockvideo

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Cisco and Singlewire Bring New Paging Capabilities to Cisco Unified Communications Manager

February 21, 2013 at 9:02 am PST

Cisco is pleased to announce that with the release of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) 9.1, we will include new paging functionality with all new CUCM orders.  This paging functionality will be provided by one of our long-standing development partners, Singlewire Software (formerly Berbee) and will help enhance the paging/notification capabilities available within CUCM.  We have received a number of requests for basic paging functionality and this offering allows our partner/customer base to meet customer paging requirements in an easy to deploy way.  Details are outlined in Singlewire’s press release, which can be found here.

Singlewire has enjoyed a successful partnership with Cisco in the past and has more than 4,000 CUCM customers running InformaCast today in 50 countries.  We believe this tightly integrated model greatly strengthens Cisco’s Enterprise and Mid Market Unified Communications offerings. This complete bundled offering allows Cisco partners to close deals in verticals where Advanced Notification is required: for example, industries such as education, manufacturing, hospitality, or transit.  Partners can leverage these new paging and notification features to change the sales conversation, using the most comprehensive notification solution to meet customer needs with a single vendor/product solution for voice and emergency notification.

The advanced features provide great sales conversation starters to set your Cisco UC system apart from your competitors. Included with this are features like:

  • Pre-recorded/scheduled broadcasts, such as school bells or shift changes
  • Notification to Jabber IM users
  • Triggered notifications- M2M input/output (This includes notifications and alerts for panic buttons, door locks, and lights to name a few.)
  • Integration to existing overhead paging systems and IP Speakers
  • 911/emergency call monitoring, alerting and recording

With this announcement, we are able to offer the basic paging aspects of Singlewire’s well-known InformaCast offering at no cost to our CUCM customers. Read More »

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Lynn Wins Big with Cisco Technology – Successfully Hosts Presidential Debate

February 21, 2013 at 8:49 am PST

Lynn University is a 50-year old private, coeducational institution located in Boca Raton, Florida.  So how was this fairly small and quiet school selected to host the final 2012 presidential debate?  It’s booming with technological innovation.

The school has long held the belief that student collaboration and sharing of knowledge is vital to the learning process, but realized with time, they need to increase student support through technology.  To move to a 1-to-1 program entailed giving each student an iPad and overhauling its network environment. In late 2011, as this transformation was underway, Lynn discovered that they would also soon be the youngest school to ever host a presidential debate.

This meant the school had less than a year to undergo a complete technical refresh, so Lynn turned to Cisco for help. University CIO Chris Boniforti summed up his decision to select Cisco by saying “All of our diverse technical requirements, for both the debate and the university, could be done under one umbrella, with one vendor, and that was Cisco.”

This umbrella of technology included Cisco wireless solutions, Cisco Unified Computing System and Cisco security, voice and IP communications. Cisco joined forces with longtime partner Modcomp to deliver a solution the university could use well beyond the presidential debate.  The result:  A successful implementation that resulted in a “technically smooth” debate.

It’s important to note this project didn’t shut down once the debate was over.  Today, the school is committed to providing a mobile platform for its entire faculty and students by the time the newest crop of freshmen arrive in fall later this year.  The addition of the new business school will include lecture capture and resources-sharing tools, including video.  Now embedded in the teaching environment, this benefit would not have been possible without Lynn’s new Cisco network.

I’m personally impressed with the university’s commitment to technology.  They are a great example for other small schools looking for cost-effective innovation. What do you think?  Is your school ready for this kind of transformation?

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SoftBank Breaks the Backhaul Bottleneck

As shown in the most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index, Japan is one of the fastest growing countries when it comes to mobile data traffic.

Like many service providers, SoftBank, one of Japan’s leading mobile operators, has wrestled with how to manage this vast amount of traffic in an efficient and effective manner.

To address the challenge, SoftBank recently Read More »

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