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Summary: The First 4 Steps to Simplify Your Small Business Information Technology

Sam O’Daniel (better known as the Startup IT Guy) has put together a short list of steps to take when starting or just simplifying your business information technology.  If the next couple of months are your slow season, you can get these steps in motion to have a better handle on IT in the new year. From signing up with a cloud productivity suite to establishing a vendor relationship for purchasing to streamlining network hardware (on Meraki gear, of course!), these 4 steps will help get you out of IT support and put your focus back where it belongs -- your business.

Read the full article here.

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Judging the Future at Cisco’s Silicon Valley Innovation Jam

As a recent graduate of San Jose State University (SJSU), I’ve seen how technology can improve education. Wi-Fi access in every classroom is eliminating the PowerPoint lectures of old and replacing them with 21st-century lesson plans. Students are interacting with professors using social media, answering questions with a tweet or streaming videos during presentations to make learning more engaging. At Cisco’s Silicon Valley Innovation Jam on October 24, I served as a pre-finalist judge and saw how over 60 SJSU students would use this same technology to solve social problems in the near future.

By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. Today, I can name more than 10 “smart” devices in my house that require an Internet connection. As more people, processes, data, and things become connected, the “Internet of Everything” will require people to change the way they work, live, play and learn. Students at the Innovation Jam were tasked with creating a solution that harnesses these connections to improve society – whether education, healthcare, energy, retail, or city/public services.

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Perspective on Talent

A perspective on talent

In today’s economy, available jobs, career opportunities, education background, and finding the right  talent appear to be close to the front, if not the very top, of many discussions.  Companies of all sizes are working to maintain a sufficient talent resource pool, while many of the talented are trying to maximize their value to their current employer or potential employer.  There was an article in Forbes Magazine about LARGE companies failing to keep their top talent.  The author pointed out ten (10) potential reasons why, including Corporate bureaucracy, shifting project priorities/whims, lack of accountability, etc.  All of the reasons given are valid, but I don’t believe they get down to the real reason why resource retention is a problem in today’s climate.

Even with the current employment rate in the US, there is an alarming statistic that 49% of US companies seeking to hire technically skilled employees are having a difficult time finding qualified talent to fill openings in their organizations, openings that range from IT support staff, engineers, and mission critical skilled trades.  Research has shown the bulk of US companies in search of top talent look to schools/colleges (where CompSci and technology degree majors are starting to grow), veterans from the US military (in-depth training and hands-on skills from years on the job), other competitors (let the other guy pay for the resource’s training then a competing company throws money and incentives at them later), and various other talent pools. However, in addition to seeking to hire resources with necessary skill set, companies also need to be more diligent in searching for candidates with an ability of adaptability, where inevitable change is met with professionalism and mature attitude.

Putting all of this in perspective, the lack of balance between management and the top talent is what brings about turnover.  An effective employer will keep their top resources by creating an environment where they are able to be managed successfully and where management is aware of the needs of their top resources.  At the same time, the skilled resource also has to be willing to participate with the management team in growth that is mutually beneficial to both.  If your company’s talent is top notch but their maturity level is low to the point they become high maintenance then it’s no longer cost-effective to retain their skills, and balance is lost.  Management has to be able to manage well, but the skilled resources also have to be mature enough for both to be successful.

Opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of Cisco!  Remember that!

Marc Buraczynski, Solutions Architect, Cloud IT Transformations, Cisco Advanced Services, Boston, MA

Semper Fi!  marinecrest_500

Copenhagen Accelerates Green Growth with Internet of Everything

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen again, five months after signing an agreement with three local mayors to establish an Internet of Everything (IoE) strategy throughout their municipalities in greater Copenhagen.

My purpose was to catch up on progress made since our May 28th Memorandum of Understanding, and to collaborate with the fellow signatories on next steps for implementation.

I like working with bold city leaders who not only have visions for transformation, but also who create and execute to deadlines.  Copenhagen’s leaders clearly exemplify all these characteristics. The greater Copenhagen municipality has a bold collective vision and detailed plan on how to become carbon neutral by the year 2025 – and its execution toward that goal continues to be on track.  Tangible progress here serves as a global role model for public entities everywhere that want to deliver on climate and sustainability goals.

Copenhagen’s Internet of Everything strategy – connecting people, things, data and processes to the Internet — is an integral part of its overall green game plan. I am delighted that we were able to quickly agree to “go live” dates next year for a number of IoE-based projects to digitize urban services through application-centric infrastructure.  City of Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen, Albertslund Mayor Steen Christiansen and Vinge Mayor John Schmidt Andersen, and their highly capable staff, should all be commended for their rapid decisions to accelerate deployment of ambitious IoE projects in each of their locations.

Surveying DOLL progress with the Cisco team

Surveying DOLL progress with the Cisco team

Amazingly, considering the MoU was signed just a few months ago, two other IoE projects here are already under way.

The first is the Denmark Outdoor Light Lab (DOLL), which went live in September. In Albertslund in western Copenhagen, DOLL has carved out one square mile of the town as kind of “outdoor living laboratory,” where 37 competing outdoor LED light solutions have all been installed over six miles of roads.

A Cisco city Wi-Fi network covers this area, connecting the light solutions, providing online controls, digitized information, public access and video – all converged onto one network. The architecture reflects proven experience from work done in our IoE-based Smart City engagements in Nice, Barcelona and Chicago.

What is new in DOLL is that so many different outdoor light vendors are converging their solutions onto one network, thereby creating a seamless communications standard for the light industry. I’m excited about this innovative and unique lab, which is set to expand to a larger array of networked urban services

For more information, you can view this video,

The second current IoE development is a traffic monitoring proof of concept, which has gone live in downtown Copenhagen. This pilot represents the first step towards a broader traffic management platform providing real-time views of traffic that can help reduce congestion and travel times.

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Can the Elephant Dance to a Security Tune?

HadoopThere is a great debate in the security world right now: have SIEM and logging products run their course? Will Hadoop ride to the rescue? Can machines “learn” about security and reliably spot threats that no other approach can find?

Gartner calls this phenomenon Big Data Security Analytics, and they make a strong point to define BDSA solutions as a three-layer pyramid. At the bottom is the “data lake,” which is what most people equate with Hadoop. The next layer is context—the addition of relevant business, location, and other non-traditional security information to increase the precision of the next layer: applications and analytics (such as Machine Learning). It is this top layer where the real value of BDSA is realized in terms of finding new threats and remediating them before they do damage.

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