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Cisco and Microsoft: Radically Improving I.T. Effectiveness Together

Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in Washington D.C. we entered into a new phase of our Microsoft relationship. Together Cisco and Microsoft announced a multi-year, worldwide sales and channel program focused on driving infrastructure solutions for Server Migration, Private Cloud, and SQL Server engagements. Based on key technologies such as UCS, Nexus, Hyper-V, and Windows Server 2012 R2 these solutions help to enable I.T. organizations to radically improve their I.T. effectiveness while improving their business outcomes.

At Cisco we believe our foundational technologies -- with UCS as the compute platform, Nexus as the switching platform, and with UCS Manager and System Center management integration – provide customers an optimal infrastructure for their Microsoft Windows Server workloads of SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, and Cloud.  Our industry leading UCS integrated infrastructure solutions combined with storage from EMC or NetApp, delivers an even more robust end-to-end value proposition via our FlexPod or VSPEX offerings to our customers. These solutions position our customers well on their respective journeys to the cloud. You’ve read my thoughts here; but let’s hear from Microsoft and their comments on Cisco, Microsoft, our partnership, and value to our joint customers:

We have focused heavily on infrastructure solutions for the Microsoft ecosystem over the past ~2 years and now that our UCS integrated infrastructure architectures are proven we will be putting more emphasis on discrete Microsoft workload solutions. Our initial focus will be on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and how UCS and its differentiated features, such as Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect, deliver improved performance, availability, and scalability.  Satinder Sethi, Vice President of UCS Engineering, details out the benefits of UCS and SQL Server 2014 in this video:

The solutions we deliver to our customers, whether they be private or hybrid cloud, workload or infrastructure focused, are architected and engineered by Cisco, and certified for the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program as well as certified for the Microsoft Fast Track program. This delivers more value for customers as the prescriptive guidance in each solution offering enables customers to accelerate their deployments with lower risk.

If you happen to be at WPC 2014, please stop by the Cisco booth #801 to speak with our Experts; see things hands on; and simply learn a bit more.  You can also read more about Cisco’s channel programs for the Microsoft ecosystem in Cisco VP Denny Trevett’s blog.  Finally, please feel free to visit www.cisco.com/go/microsoft.

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The World Cup, Piano Movers, and IVR

As I write this, it’s World Cup time, reminding me of an old saying that in football (or soccer, as we Americans call it) there are two types of players: piano players and piano movers. Piano players perform magic with the ball. They score most of the goals … and get the big endorsement deals. Piano movers, on the other hand, toil in relative anonymity. They don’t win many style points, but they get the job done.

In some ways, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a lot like being a piano mover. IVR is a mature, reliable, technology that’s often used to provide automated self-service to callers as a front-end to a contact center. IVR has minimal “wow” factor, and in fact it’s occasionally derided (typically due to bad application design). Yet more businesses are using it now than ever, because IVR is still one of the most cost effective ways to provide customer service.

People are often surprised when I tell them that Cisco is the world’s #1 IVR vendor--by a wide margin. Some of the world’s largest, most mission-critical IVR systems are built on Cisco. Moreover, Cisco was recently honored to receive a “Strong Positive” rating (the highest level) from Gartner in their annual IVR Marketscope report. In particular, Gartner noted Read More »

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The Future of Cloud, Part 1: Six Cloud Providers and Their Vision

This year’s Cisco Live! was tremendous, with 25,000 attendees on-site and another 200,000 attending virtually.  There was a lot of excitement around all things cloud, from how the Internet of Everything will change the way we live, to the role of the Intercloud in forming a seamless fabric between the world of many clouds.

During the show, I spent time with six of our partners who offer Cisco Powered cloud and managed services.  In this series of blogs, I’ll introduce you to each of them and what they shared with me about the future of cloud.  Each of them had a different perspective, but all of them agreed: the cloud represents an incredible opportunity for businesses around the world.

Here are some of the highlights I’ll share in upcoming blogs:

Part 2: Chris Kemmerer, Director, Mobility Solutions, Verizon, shared that part of Verizon’s mission is to bring together the pieces needed to unlock the value of the Internet of Everything for their customers.  “The Internet of Everything has deep meaning to us as everything becomes connected, whether it’s business to business, people to people, people to machines, or machines to machines.  When you have all these things exchanging data, you can improve the way enterprises interact with each other, how consumers interact with enterprises, by leveraging all that connectivity.”  He also shared how Verizon adds value to cloud services by layering applications on the underlying architecture.

Part 3: The importance of transparency in the high performance cloud was described by Dusten Tornow, Director of Infrastructure Products, from OneNeck IT Solutions.  “When we decided to build out our cloud infrastructure, we knew that we wanted to align with enterprise vendors like Cisco because their technologies resonate with our customers as being high performance.  They recognize that if they were to go out and build their own cloud, it would likely look and feel a lot like what we’ve built.  Being able to be transparent with what our equipment is made out of and built upon is a huge advantage for us.”

Part 4: Derek Siler, Director, Solution Engineering – Channel Sales, Sungard Availability Services talked about how building a resilient cloud that can carry businesses into the future requires a resilient foundation.  “We’re building our cloud future around Cisco and around enterprise-grade architectures.  For us, Cisco is absolutely vital.”

Part 5: The value of integration to cloud services was another important topic at Cisco Live!  For Chris Ludwig, SVP GTM Cloud and Hosted Solutions from NWN Corporation, applications integrated with on-premises equipment still have to work when migrated to cloud.  “That was something we did a lot of research on, to make sure that all of the third party companies that we work with on-premises are going to work in the cloud.  We certainly look to Cisco for guidance.  It’s very helpful knowing that if they’re part of the ecosystem, we know that they are going to be a good partner.”

Part 6: Steve Harris, Senior Vice President, National Alliances at Peak 10, echoed the value of a partner ecosystem.  “Today it takes an ecosystem to deliver the business outcome that clients are looking for.  We’ve gone beyond the point where clients are just interested in the technology.  They want the technology to provide a business outcome for them.  Being able to provide that seamless solution with the Cisco ecosystem of partners is incredibly important.”

Part 7: Finally, I spoke with Andy Bird, Executive Director, Product Management and Development at eLoyalty, a TeleTech Company.  He expressed his excitement about Cisco’s Intercloud Fabric.  “Imagine trying to take your data from one cloud and move it to the next.  It’s very difficult to do, because when you look at clouds, you end up getting hooked into them, just like if you were to buy premise gear.  What Cisco has been starting to enable to happen is the idea of creating a fabric between the clouds that allows me to migrate data.  When somebody gets on my platform, they have the ability to go and leverage Cisco in other places.  So they have a different level of confidence.”

Next time: my interview with Chris Kemmerer at Verizon.  Until then, you can read more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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Big Data: Observing a Phishing Attack Over Years

google_drive_attack

Overview

Phishing attacks use social engineering in an attempt to lure victims to fake websites. The websites could allow the attacker to retrieve sensitive or private information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. Attacks of this kind have been around since 1995, evolving in sophistication in order to increase their success rate. Up until now, phishing attacks were generally viewed as isolated events that were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The dawn of big data analysis in computer security allows us to store data indefinitely and watch the changes and growth of attacks over long periods of time. In 2012, we began tracking a sophisticated phishing campaign that is still going strong.

 

The Target

Google, one of the largest players in the cloud business, offers dozens of free cloud services: Google Email, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Analytics, YouTube, etc. To enable easy access across all of these properties, Google built what they call, “One account. All of Google.”   Read More »

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NERV: The Brain Behind Networked Disaster Response at Cisco

Hurricane season is upon us, and storms have already begun to harass the Gulf Coast with torrential rains and violent winds. The threat of such a storm doesn’t cross my mind as I sit in my cubicle in San Jose, enjoying the comforts of an air-conditioned office and a hot cup of coffee on my desk. But behind building J on Cisco’s San Jose campus, Rakesh Bharania and the Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) team are on 24/7 alert, ready to respond the moment an earthquake strikes or a tornado touches down anywhere in the world.

I had the privilege of visiting Rakesh and his team this week, getting a behind-the-scenes look at Cisco’s investment in using networking technology to help those in need when disaster hits.

After disaster strikes, the TacOps team can deploy within 72 hours – the most critical stage of a response.  When a disaster cripples communications systems, the TacOps team can establish satellite-based communications  so first responders, government agencies, and relief organizations can coordinate relief efforts and speed delivery of food, water, shelter, and medical care to those affected.

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