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From the Front Lines: How IT Is Taking Advantage of the Cloud Today

The cloud is here and here to stay. No one expects a wholesale move to the cloud overnight, but I’ve been hearing recently from numerous customers whose journeys are well underway, and some common themes are emerging as businesses explore various deployment models. Business agility, flexibility and balance sheet liquidity will drive cloud adoption, and, as the popularity of hybrid models increases, users will demand a seamless end-user experience between the cloud and on-premise systems.

A few weeks ago, I included these themes in my predictions about the future of cloud collaboration. This week I had the chance to speak with two Cisco customers about why issues such as flexibility, cost savings and user experience drove them to deploy cloud collaboration technologies and other cloud solutions. Sheila Jordan, senior vice president, communication and collaboration IT, co-hosted the discussion with me and offered her insights from an IT perspective. She also recapped the discussion, sharing some specific tips for how IT managers can best take advantage of the cloud.

John Jackson, vice president of global infrastructure and vendor management for D+M Group, said that he can relate easily to the prediction about business agility, flexibility and cost when thinking back to his company’s decision to move to the cloud. D+M Group employs people in several different operating divisions around the world and grew through a series of acquisitions, leaving the company to globalize shared-services IT team that did not previously exist. Read More »

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Cisco NRF 2013 — Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail Demonstration

January 30, 2013 at 9:46 am PST

“Great show!” That’s what we’ve been hearing from retailers who visited Cisco’s booth and attended our Big Ideas Sessions at NRF 2013.

I led the demonstration of the Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail in our booth. This solution transforms how you connect and interact with your customers. It offers a superior video and collaboration experience between shoppers and remote experts from any location within your store. It can help you entice shoppers to buy and more easily up-sell additional products and services while improving customer service.

Our retail customers were engaged and excited by this demo. Every time a live video call was placed to our Remote Expert in the booth, they immediately began discussing how this solution could be applied in their store environments to enhance the customer experience and train employees. Multiple customers returned to the demo several times, each time bringing different colleagues to re-experience the demo and discuss options for deploying it in their stores.

Visit our recently launched Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail at  www.cisco.com/go/retail-remoteexpert for more information:

Read more about the solution in our brochure.

Watch the video of our NRF demonstration and share it with your colleagues:

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Managing #Cloud-Based #Collaboration IT Solutions

Cloud-based collaboration IT solutions are a hot topic among my peers – with questions such as how do you make the transition to cloud, what solutions do you host in the cloud, how do you address security, and how do you manage legacy systems on premises in tandem with cloud solutions?

These are just a few of the discussion points that I addressed today in a media and analyst event with my Cisco colleague Eric Schoch, VP and GM, Cisco Cloud Collaboration, and two of our Cisco customers – the City of Charlotte, North Carolina and D+M Group.

Here are Eric’s cloud predictions and my tips for IT leaders:

 1.      Prediction:  In 2013, we’ll see the cloud conversation shift to flexibility and agility as primary drivers of adoption.

Tip #1

The perfect trifecta is collaboration in the cloud as it delivers big benefits, large reach and low risk. 

Or to state it another way:  mobile and social meet cloud.  Think about how collaboration is delivered – the consumption model is different.

Tip #2

Think cloud data center: this is another area of significant cost savings while offering flexible workloads – improving delivering of infrastructure services from weeks to minutes.

Flexibility and agility are very significant to IT professionals. IT will always be held to the total cost of ownership and reducing cost wherever it makes sense.  And, we also have to deliver solutions and services faster.  Cloud is the delivery mechanism to do this over time.

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Cisco VXLAN Innovations Overcoming IP Multicast Challenges

January 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm PST

At Cisco Live! in London this week, Cisco is demonstrating some enhancements to its Nexus 1000V virtual switch that greatly ease some of the challenges in deploying VXLAN in large scale cloud networks. VXLAN was designed to solve the problem of setting up traditional virtual networks (VLANs) in large multi-tenant cloud environments: the limited ID range for VLAN tags was quickly exhausted and a larger ID pool was needed for larger shared infrastructures. VXLAN thus becomes the foundation for a virtual network tunnel or virtual network overlays on top of physical networks. And unlike VLANs, VXLANs are designed to act as L2 virtual networks over L3 physical networks. For a more in-depth refresher on VXLAN, start here.

[Note: Join Cisco for a Live Announcement Webinar on Cloud Innovations on February 5: Register Here]

While VXLANs have certainly enabled a whole new level of scalability for virtual networks, one of the challenges in deploying VXLAN is its use of IP Multicast to implement the L2 over L3 network capability. Why is this? VXLAN is a MAC-in-IP encapsulation protocol in a UDP frame. The virtual switch that acts as the VXLAN termination (in Cisco’s case, the Nexus 1000V virtual switch) takes the L2 packet from the VM, wraps it in a L3 IP header, and sends it out over UDP. But the challenge is that there’s no way to determine which IP address should be used for the destination host (VXLAN termination point) at which the desired MAC address can be found. In other protocols, this can be accomplished within the network control plane and some MAC to IP mapping protocol, but the VXLAN specification indicates there should be no reliance on a control plane or a physical to virtual mapping table.

VXLAN frame

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Acquisition of Cognitive Security Bolsters Cisco’s Cyber Threat Defense Capabilities

In a world where malware and advanced cyber threats are enterprises’ greatest concern, the need for innovation in security is at an all-time high. Mobility and cloud are drastically changing the IT security paradigm, and our attackers are radically increasing the sophistication of their attack methods. Cisco has been listening to our customers’ concerns and we are investing in threat intelligence and defense.

As part of our investment to strengthen the network with more analytics and intelligence to target today’s complex and disruptive threats, Cisco has announced the intent to acquire Cognitive Security, a privately held company headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic. Cognitive provides security software that is focused on applying artificial intelligence techniques to detect advanced cyber threats.

When Cognitive’s technology is combined with traditional firewalls, network security, content security, and Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems, it provides a complete detection and mitigation solution that enables customers to protect against advanced attacks and zero day attacks in near real-time.

Why is this important? Well, think of this simple use case: An employee’s own personal device is infected outside the perimeter of the enterprise. Once the employee brings that device on to the network, the enterprise’s perimeter defense solution cannot protect against the threat because the device has already been infected. This can cause a full range of negative impacts on the enterprise and the data center. With Cognitive’s technology integrated in to existing security tools, unknown abnormal network behavior is quickly and automatically identified and subjected to further analysis and enforcement.

The Cognitive software will be integrated in to Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operations (SIO), bringing together global security intelligence from the cloud with local intelligence on a customer premise to protect against advanced cyber threats.

The acquisition of Cognitive supports Cisco’s focus and investment in security and is integral to all three key components of our security strategy: 1) Cloud-based threat intelligence and defense; 2) Common policy management and context; and 3) Network enforced policy – where we truly make the Network part of the security paradigm, as opposed to sticking yet another security “box” in the network and expecting it to do all the work for us.

I am delighted to welcome the Cognitive team to the Cisco family and look forward to working with them to ensure that we are delivering always on, integrated security that empowers our customers to realize the benefits of a mobile, cloud enabled business.

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