Learn how SaaS productivity tools like HOSTED email, instant messaging and web conferencing are coming together for the desktop. How are they radically reducing costs for enterprises? What really unifies these applications and how well do they integrate with your existing UC infrastructure? Join our Collaboration Software Group experts as they reveal what’s new with these technologies and the secrets to successful deployments.
Welcome to the shownotes for our 65th Episode where we dig into all the incredible things we can now do..in the clouds! If you have not seen the show, please check it out as soon as you can…the following notes assume you have watched it and may be looking for a bit more detail or some of the links. You can watch a quick preview teaser on our YouTube page if you like…check out the detail below and let me know what you think!
- Segment 1: What is collaboration in the cloud?
- Segment 2: Why the Cloud?
- Segment 3: Moving Mail to the Cloud
- Segment 4: Instant Messaging All Grown Up
- Segment 5: Web Conferencing meets Business Video
- Segment 6: Meetings on your Smart Phone
- Segment 7: Clearing the Clouds – Architecture and Trust
Segment 1: What is collaboration in the cloud?
Robb and I discuss what types of collaboration applications are moving into the cloud: email, instant messaging and IP phone applications. But I have questions: every good engineer knows what is going on in his or her network and on the servers. How can you safely give up control? And what is the benefit? I mean, I really loved spending hours explaining to people why they couldn’t send 20MB powerpoint files….
Segment 2: Why the Cloud?
Collaboration Expert and conferencing veteran David Goad joins me to discuss “why”.. David explains that recent focus groups with CIOs have revealed that cost is the number one factor for them to evaluation the cloud. However consumer applications creeping into the enterprise also raise security concerns for them. These applications are being used whether IT approves of them or not. (Try turning off Twitter on your employees’ personal phones – just try ☺) . CIOs are asking how they can harness the power of these tools and extend them outside their own boundaries to collaborate better with customers, suppliers and vendors. Many smart customers are asking about integration and the importance of hybrid solutions that can respect applications that remain on premise.
We also discuss some of the barriers faced by organizations, including company culture. However, with adoption of cloud-based collaboration tools are increasing (Forrester reports a 33% increase, year over year, in 2009 alone) these barriers are dissolving.
Segment 3: Moving Mail to the Cloud
Sina Miri and Steve Martensen join me in the lab as we discuss that most critical of collaboration tools: email. Sina explains that Cisco joined the email market after seeing a need to provide a solution for customers that reduces the complexities of email upgrade cycles, data storage and protection. As experts in enterprise requirements, Cisco WebEx felt we could build a Software-as-a-Service solution that really works for our customers. What was developed just may be the best of all worlds: Native Microsoft Outlook Compatibility without plug-ins with the back-end managed as a high-impact/low cost service.
One of my favorite benefits of the WebEx Mail solution is the ability to have both an on-premise and off-premise (“hybrid”) solution. Sina discusses how we here at Cisco are his most-demanding customer due to our culture, the fact that we are an international company, we have many mobile-users and end-users who do not want their desktop changed and want to use Outlook without changes to their experience, along with security controls and compliance needs. Cutting over 10s of 1000s of users all at once was just not possible. With the hybrid solution, end-users can be cut over end-users as needed (such as an acquired company). Most importantly, WebEx mail does not change the end-user experience – global address is still the same, active directory integration is the same.
And then Steve walked us through a super-fast provisioning of users and then we see the online-web tool for WebEx Mail. Hmmm… looks strangely familiar….
Also check out this whitepaper for more information on archiving in a hybrid solution.
Segment 4: Instant Messaging All Grown Up
Steve Thiessen, Senior Manager in the Customer Advocacy group within Cisco WebEx, shares with me his unique perspective to the latest productivity options re-shaping customer work flow. Cisco CUCI-Connect gives you more than just Enterprise Instant Messaging. XMPP integration allows federation of presence information. Connect allows you to “escalate” an IM session to a voice call, a video call or do an instant desktop share and allows you to gather all your standard collaboration tools in one place.
The cool thing: Connect allows you to leverage your current investment in Cisco Unified Communications.
But – what about the security if you can suddenly federate with all those other “consumer” IM clients like Yahoo and AOL? Policy groups allows us to turn off specific features by groups or specific users. We can comply disable outside federation or selectively choose what type of file types can or cannot be sent. For more information, click here.
Segment 5: Web Conferencing Meets Business Video
Robb and Steve join up in the lab and discuss how you can integrate your audio conferencing investments with WebEX and keep all the audio traffic on your network. For example, Meetingplace audio can be integrated with WebEx in order to keep audio on network and web conferencing out “in the cloud”.
When you bring video into the picture (pun intended), video features in WebEx have been around for awhile – but now we can integrate your existing video conferencing systems into WebEx, including TelePresence Engage.
Segment 6: Meetings on your Smart Phone
As people are able to do more and more on mobile devices, we have to provide more applications to them on the smartphones. James Duan and Robb look at how the intuitive the WebEx application on the iPhone is for the end-user. You can “pass the ball” to another presenter, zoom in and out, move the screen around and transfer the meeting back to your desktop and desk phone.
For another demonstration of this cool new capability, click here.
Segment 7: Clearing the Clouds – Architecture and Trust
We finally dragged Jimmy Ray from grilling the WebEx guys to bring his trademark skepticism to the whole “cloud” idea. What he found surprised even him: WebEx has the cloud architecture figured out. WebEx built the Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud on some of the same principals of the PSTN. However, the Internet is considered the “on and off ramp” to this network. One of the design principles for this network is that is should always only be at 50% capacity, even at maximum usage. Traffic is encrypted using SSL into the cloud, then re-encrypted with AES within the WebEx cloud.
Final word? Do yourself a favor and evaluate collaboration in the cloud. The benefits are compelling and may have significant impact on cost savings for you – while freeing up IT to really work on the “big” projects.
Don’t forget to check out our friends and join up with The Cisco Learning Network – our featured content for this episode was ‘The Transformation of Education Through Collaboration’
Let me know what you think about our collaboration topics – what else do you want to see? Drop me a note in the comments, join our facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/techwise), our show twitter (http://www.twitter.com/ciscocin) or at least follow ME on twitter! (http://twitter.com/tinashakour)