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Three Flavors of CMX Analytics: Onsite, Online & Social

Big data seems to be everywhere these days. Everywhere you look there are new companies and technologies that promise to crunch up enormous databases and instantly extract from them knowledge and understanding.  Although that sounds impressive, it raises the question – how can that help me and my business? How does fitting an N degree polynomial to a CRM database help me grow my business?

At Cisco, we’ve taken a very practical approach to big data. We started by asking our customers: what do they want to know? What information would help our customers’ better manage their sites, optimize their operations and grow their business? We took those questions and built Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Analytics around them.

iStock retailWouldn’t a store manager want to know how many of his customers were new? Did that new marketing campaign launched last month really drive new visitors to the store? Or another example, let’s say the layout of the store was just changed, wouldn’t the manager want to know if it was effective? Did people spend more time in the store? How about better understanding your customer base?  Which web sites do my visitors visits? And of course retail isn’t the only segment that would like to know things. Wouldn’t an airport want to know how long people wait in the security line? Would a train station like to know how long before the train leaves people come into store?

Cisco’s CMX Analytics takes anonymous device location data gathered by the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE), and leverages that data to provide clear, concise and relevant information.  In order to make the data easier to visualize, we have recently enhanced our user interface adding many features that help users immediately and intuitively grasp the data.  Our new dashboard enables every user to customize the views they wish to see and prioritize which data is meaningful to them. Our new Path engine enables customers to visualize how many people walk through the different paths in their venue. Our new reports can tell our customers everything from how many people are using their Wi-Fi to which floor people spend the most time in.  These are just a few examples of the many innovations pouring into out CMX Analytics platform. Read More »

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Veterans Corporate Technology Day 2013

October 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm PST

Video featuring Cisco employees sharing their experiences transitioning out of the military into the civilian workforce

Veterans Corporate Technology Day (VCTD) at Cisco Systems will take place this year on Thursday, November 7, 2013.  The day brings U.S. military personnel, spouses and caregivers to Cisco campuses and exposes them to available resources as they potentially transition to the civilian workforce.   Events will be hosted at the following locations:

  • Cisco San Antonio, Texas and Brook Army Medical Center (20 Vets)
  • Cisco Research Triangle Park, North Carolina  and Ft Bragg (100 Vets)
  • Cisco Englewood, Colorado and Ft Carson and local Air Force entities  (25 Vets)
  • Cisco San Jose, California (50 Vets)
  • Cisco Herndon, Virginia (100 Vets)

The multi-site event introduces mentorship programs and educational resources.  To register, Read More »

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Robot Soccer? Staying Connected at Bowdoin College

October 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm PST

As our team has prepared for Educause 2013 this week, we have been talking a lot about technology in higher education and how it’s impacting colleges, universities, students and staff. Of course, robot soccer was not the first thing that came to mind, but it’s a great example of how different technologies are changing education forever.

Bowdoin College, which you may remember from last year’s #1 Most Connected College, is one of my favorite case studies because it points out that people have to TRUST technology for it to really be effective. Trust is a big word, really – I know I’m not the only person who is a little gun shy when I think about updating my phone to a new software version. So, when a professor has a class full of students and says “let’s all stream this video right now”, it’s important that it actually works – or professors risk losing student attention, losing time and facing maximum frustration levels.

Read More »

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How to find the right financing plan for your small business

October 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm PST

By Rebecca Leach, Cisco Canada

It’s October again and that means a few things: the weather is starting to cool down; it’s almost time to carve pumpkins and it’s SMB Week/Month (depending on who you ask)! We’re kicking off SMB Week/Month with part one of a four-part blog series focusing on preparing small business owners for their next technology upgrade.

For part one, I thought we would start at the beginning of any business purchase, financing.

It’s quite common to see a small business’ big technology idea be restricted because of budget. Finding the right financing plan for your information technology (IT) project is critical because often, simple upgrades can provide the framework your business needs to reach its goals.

A good financing plan will allow you to align your IT assets with your business initiatives. It can help you adopt new technology that will increase profits in the long run and your immediate cash flow can be invested back into your company. Here are five tips on how to find the right financing plan for your small business:

Make a plan

Before looking at financing options, you must decide what technology you need to achieve your business objectives. While setting these goals, ensure you are being realistic in regards to your financial realities. If your budget is slim, allocate your resources to what you predict will be the most important and rewarding project. Once you have a plan you can browse your financing options while being educated and targeted, not wasting any of your – or your business’ – time.

Start with a flexible contract

In today’s fast-paced world it is important to ensure you are signing a contract that will allow you to stay current with technology innovations. By starting with a flexible contract you are able to control your IT investments when new business or technology is introduced. When starting a business, cash flow can be volatile so having a flexible payment plan in place can deter additional fees or unforeseen costs. In order to achieve this stability, choose a company that offers captive financing rates. And here’s another tip: some types of institutions are supported by their parent company, and not impacted by banks’ fluctuating rates.

Look for the ability to upgrade

The issue with purchasing IT hardware is that technology can become obsolete before you teach all of your employees how to use it. Having a contract that requires you pay off old hardware before purchasing new can severely affect a small business’ cash flow, so when evaluating financing plans look for companies that offer the ability to refresh the technology you have by replacing old hardware and software with newer versions. Some plans offer to purchase back your existing equipment before leasing you a new asset. It is also beneficial to investigate which plans include environmentally-friendly disposal of your old technology. These features are more commonly found in financing plans that come from the technology provider itself.

Request an adjustable lifecycle

Most technology has a suggested lifecycle, based on the optimal time to refresh your system and services. While these suggestions are usually accurate and timed to when new products are set to be released, it is still important to have the ability to refresh when you feel it is necessary. Your IT and business needs may not change on the same timeline as your technology. Unpredictable events can happen, so look for a product suite that will offer an adjustable lifecycle to fit the needs of your small business.

Decide what to finance

Lastly, it is important for you to dictate what you want to finance and what you are prepared to pay for upfront. Implementation, servicing and maintenance costs can all be incorporated into your financing plans, lowering the cost of ownership while giving you time to establish your business and optimize the return on investment (ROI) of your solution. Find a plan that allows you to bundle operating, maintenance, service solutions, technology migration, sales and leaseback services, depending on your needs.

To learn more about what Cisco offers SMB’s, visit our website.

How to get more SAN mileage out of UCS FI?

October 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm PST

 

Image Credit: Wikispeed.org

Mileage (miles per gallon) is one of the important criteria while buying any automobile and once bought, it is highly desirable to hit the maximum advertised mileage without significantly changing the driving habits or the routes (highway vs city mpg). Well, I have not been able to achieve that yet, so being a geek, I focused my attention on a different form of mileage (throughput per switch-port) that interests me at work. So in this blog, I would explore a way to get more SAN mileage from the Cisco UCS FI (Fabric Interconnect) without significantly affecting the SAN admin’s day-to-day operations.

Context:

Just a bit of background before we delve into the details -- The I/O fabric between the UCS FI and the UCS Blade Server Chassis is a converged fabric, running FCoE. The usage of FCoE within the UCS fabric is completely transparent to the host operating system, and any Fibre Channel block storage traffic traverses this fabric as the FCoE traffic. So, a large number of over 20,000+ UCS customers, using Block Storage, are already using FCoE at the access layer of the network.

Choices:

Now, the key question is what technology, FC or FCoE, to use northbound on the FI uplink ports to connect to an upstream Core switch for the SAN connectivity. So, what are the uplink options? Well, the FI has Unified ports and the choice is using the same uplink port as either 8G FC -or- 10G FCoE. [Note that when using the FCoE uplink, it is not a requirement to use a converged link and one can still use a dedicated FCoE link for carrying pure SAN traffic].

Observations:

1)    Bandwidth for Core Links: This is a very important aspect for the core part of the network. It is interesting to note that 10G FCoE provides almost 50% more throughput than the 8G FC. This is because FC has a different bit encoding and clock-rate than Ethernet, and so 8G FC yields 6.8G throughput while 10G FCoE yields close to 10G throughput (post 1-2% Ethernet frame overhead)

10G-FCoE-Uplink

FCoE-is-FC

2)   Consistent Management ModelFCoE is FC technology with same management and security model, so it will be a seamless transition for a SAN admin to move from FC to FCoE with very minimal change in the day-to-day operations. Moreover, this FCoE link is carrying dedicated SAN traffic without requiring any convergence of LAN traffic. To add to that, if the UCS FI is running in the NPV mode, then technically the FCoE link between the UCS FI and the upstream SAN switch does not constitute a Multi-Hop FCoE design, as the UCS FI is not consuming a Domain-ID, and the bulk of SAN configurations like zoning etc. need to happen on only the Core SAN switch, thus maintaining the same consistent SAN operational model as with just the FC.

3)    Investment Protection with Multi-protocol flexibility: By choosing FCoE uplink from the converged access layer, one can still continue to use the upstream MDS core SAN Director switch as-is, providing the connectivity to existing FC Storage arrays. Note that Cisco MDS 9000 SAN Director offers Multi-protocol flexibility so that one can Interconnect FCoE SANs on the Server-side with the FC SANs on the Storage-side.

And, we have a winner… Read More »

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