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How IT as a Service Creates Competitive Advantage

Not a week goes by that I don’t talk with a customer about the reality of IT as a service (ITaaS). The question I am asked most often is, “Does ITaaS really create a competitive advantage for my company?” My answer is always “Absolutely.”

If you’re wondering why I’m so confident about my answer it’s because the ITaaS approach, when embraced by a company, empowers IT to sit closer to the front end of product and service creation. Repositioning IT to the front end allows us to become a strategic advisor to the rest of the company.

As a strategic advisor, IT can develop best practices, lessons learned, and business value examples from actual implementations done within IT’s own organization. These IT learnings help the sales organization and ultimately benefit the customer, which is what creating competitive advantage is all about.

Before I go on, a word about vocabulary. In the ITaaS model IT vocabulary and business vocabulary must be one and the same. If IT is to be a strategic advisor to the business and the decision-makers on the customer side understand business vocabulary, then business vocabulary wins. IT must be able to “talk the talk.”

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Energy Efficiency Makes Two Kinds of Green

March 23, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Would you believe you can have yourself a pretty successful business upgrading office buildings with more energy-efficient light bulbs and timers to switch off heating and cooling systems after hours?

I worked as a newspaper reporter for much of the 1990s.  I wrote an article in 1993 about how the city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County had hired a firm to retrofit its field services office with new lighting, timers and other energy-efficient solutions.  The improvements were expected to save about $70,000 per year.

What always intrigued me about the story was that the company that performed the upgrades not only allowed Santa Clarita to incrementally pay for the improvements out of the savings from lowered utility bills but also guaranteed those savings would more than offset the price tag of the improvements in 5 years.  If the savings didn’t materialize, the company would pay the shortfall back to the city.

Everyone wins.  The company performing the upgrades gets paid for doing the upgrade work, the city saves money on its utility bills for years to come and the environment is better off due to reduced energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.

Now, consider that modern Data Centers can have power densities 50 to 100 times those of conventional office buildings.  How much greater green -- both financial and environmental kind - can be had by saving energy in those environments?  With that in mind, here is an overview of several strategies being implemented in Data Centers to make them greener.

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Africa – Connected Continent – At Last

If you haven’t looked at opportunities in Africa in the last couple of years, it’s time to take another look. A massive amount of new internet connectivity is creating new possibilities for the continent, changing the face of Africa forever.  The economic and social development opportunities created by high speed, stable and affordable internet access were something that the people of Africa could only dream of until relatively recently – now that dream is fast becoming a reality. Read More »

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Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Update: Capacity, Diversity and Redundancy Limit Impact to Cisco’s Network

The recent earthquakes and tsunamis have brought wide-spread devastation to Japan, including to the domestic and international telecommunications infrastructure that companies doing business in Japan rely on. (See the article, “In Japan, Many Undersea Cables are Damaged”). This impact extends to Cisco where Japan is home to numerous field offices with Tokyo the site of Cisco’s North Asia network backbone hub. This hub provides an aggregation point for regional WAN and Internet connectivity in North Asia as well as direct connectivity to four other regional CAPNet hub locations in Asia and the US.


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Is It Me or Is It Getting Warmer In Here?

March 16, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

By reading this blog, you’re making someone’s Data Center a little warmer.

Playing the video below?  Warmer.

Navigating to another website?  Warmer.

Sending an e-mail?  Downloading an application?  Initiating a web search?  Warmer, warmer, warmer.

Everything you and I do online triggers computing activity in a Data Center somewhere that in turn consumes energy and creates heat.  Each action has a negligible impact on its own, but with more people conducting more tasks online every day – well, you see the concern.

Perhaps we could use some of that heat?  It’s a great idea, but specific conditions need to be in place for Data Center waste heat to be of use.

We’ll keep our eyes open for suitable opportunities to reuse waste heat in future Data Center builds.  Meanwhile, come back next week for a look at several green Data Center solutions that Cisco and others are using.

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