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E-rate Modernization: It Just Goes to Show…

November 20, 2014 at 9:04 am PST

…what we can do as a nation to solve what appear to be some of the most insurmountable problems in the world, such as access to the Internet for students in schools across the county.  Astoundingly, 68% of all school districts (73% of rural districts) say that not a single school in their district can meet high-speed connectivity targets today.  And yet, the FCC’s E-rate Modernization Program is making great strides to successful addressing this problem today.

For an additional $1.90 per phone line subscriber per year, up 16 cents from 99 cents per phone line per month, we will be able to deliver Wi-Fi to an additional 10 million students.  This is less than the cost of a medium soda, and certainly less than the cost of a latte, and this is per year.  As a nation, less than $2 per year can provide what many of us take for granted, access to the Internet.

Yesterday’s announcement of a draft plan by FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler  to increase the E-rate fund by $1.5B annually is welcome news for schools struggling to provide access to students.  If approved, this means that the overall E-rate cap will increase from $2.4B to $3.9B, and it will include a series of targeted policy changes to enhance options available for schools and libraries to purchase affordable high-speed broadband.

Our chairman and CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, said in a statement yesterday, “This proposal, if adopted, will breathe new life into the program and will help our children and grandchildren prepare for an ‘Internet of Everything’ future where technology is integrated into all aspects of work, life, and education.”

In total, the program improvements will target an additional $5B for Wi-Fi over the next five years, which is sufficient to expand Wi-Fi networks in all schools and libraries. The effort will potentially provide a 75% increase in Wi-Fi funding for rural schools over the next five years and a 60 percent increase for urban schools, delivering Wi-Fi to an additional 10 million students in 2015 alone.

It just goes to show that, together, we can make a difference.  We can provide access, and we can prepare our students for the future.

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Continuing To Build Success with the Internet2 Community

When I was in college, I didn’t have e-mail.  Cell phones were rare and there was certainly no such thing as a smart phone, tablet, a laptop, or Google.   Sometimes I look back and wonder how I ever survived without those technologies that have now become a necessity in my everyday life.

As we go through our lives using these once cutting edge technologies, we don’t really ever stop to think that many of these amazing technologies got their start in the Academic Research community.    This type of research is happening daily on campuses around the world. I had the privilege to join close to 800 technology research masterminds in Indianapolis for the Internet2 Technology Exchange October 26th through October 30th. The objective of the Technology Exchange was to bring together a wide range of technical visionaries to address the challenges facing the research & education community as it supports data intensive research.  Members of the Internet2 community participated in a range of keynote, breakout and networking sessions over the 4 days. Indiana University was the hosting institution with their CIO, Brad Wheeler, participating in a number of panel discussions.

Our passion towards innovation and partnership with Internet2 put Cisco front and center at the Technology Exchange.  Cisco Software Engineer, Tae Hwang, spearheaded the Cisco booth handling a variety of questions and inquiries while delivering crisp demonstrations of the Cisco Modeling Lab as well as Flexible Traffic Steering through ODL.

In addition to our booth, Cisco participated in 3 speaking engagements during the event. Cisco Engineer, Eddie Ruan was an integral part of an industry panel discussing the trends and directions in the SDN market.  Steven Carter, Cisco Solutions Architect, gave a presentation on ODL Intercloud fabric. Christine Bakan , Cisco Director of Product Management, served on a panel discussing ODL and the impact it will have on research & education. Each of the Cisco sessions was standing-room-only and feedback was very positive from both Tech Exchange attendees as well as the Internet2 staff.

In a fascinating demonstration, Cisco teamed with Rice University to present a flexible traffic steering solution using an ODL controller during the Tech Exchange Community Showcase. William Diegaard from Rice University set up the university’s scenario and requirements as Cisco’s Eddie Ruan demonstrated an ODL solution that solved the specific Rice requirement.

Harper Reed, CTO of the Obama re-election team was the featured keynote speaker for the Technology Exchange. Reed was a popular speaker with his mix of technology insights and irreverent humor. He noted a few key messages that were critical to the success of the 2012 campaign that have broad applicability for Cisco and our customers. Reed noted:

1)        When execution is critical, make sure you build the right platform – scalable, agile, and adaptive.

2)        Big data is only important in its ability to drive big answers

3)        Micro-targeting is a big source of value in analytics of both structured and unstructured data.

Cisco is continuing to build its engagement with the Internet2 community. Plans are already underway to increase our visibility at the 2015 Global Summit which will be held April 26-30 in Washington, DC. Additionally, next year’s Technology Exchange will be held in Cleveland, Ohio with Case Western as the host institution.

We are proud to be an active partner with Internet2 in the university research community and look forward to the positive impact our partnership will make on these institutions. Together the possibilities are endless. We can’t even begin to fathom what the next generations will experience as they go to college and how their research will impact our world. Join me on this exciting journey as the next big thing unfolds into that staple technology we can’t live without.

To learn more about Internet2, check out their upcoming events, and join us at the global summit in April.

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Introducing the Industry Talent Consortium

The Internet of Everything (IoE) will connect people, data, processes and things into a vast web of communication that is already dramatically changing how we live and work. Cisco projects that by next year, 25 billion devices will be connected, and that number will double by 2020. This expanded and enhanced connectivity carries tremendous opportunities for organizations and individuals as job roles and networks change.

An irony exists, though, in the midst of all this new opportunity. There are over 11 million unemployed people in the US today, yet 45 percent of employers cannot find qualified candidates for open jobs. Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum, encapsulates our current dilemma: “We have entered a global economy where talent and skills shortages challenge economic and business growth around the world.”

The debate about whether the skills gap exists is over. It is real, and it is serious. The 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report indicates a shortage of more than a million security professionals across the globe in 2014. Employers are facing challenges finding people with the necessary skills for new industry jobs such as data scientists, cybersecurity specialists, industrial network engineers, mobile app developers and network programmers.

The business outcomes, productivity gains and organizational efficiencies that are attainable through IoT can only be achieved with a skilled and competent workforce. There is a need for reskilling the existing talent pool and bringing new employees into the workforce to align with the skills needed for the future.

A skills gap of this magnitude must be met head-on and as quickly as possible. It’s too big for any one entity to tackle; it requires a group of dedicated stakeholders. Toward that end, the IoTWF Steering Committee is introducing an Industry Talent Consortium It’s a gathering of employers, academia, industry change agents and human capital solution providers to connect talent who have pre-requisite skills to employers – after necessary training and certifications.

Key players in each of these areas will bring their subject matter expertise to the table:

  • Academia (The New York Academy of Sciences, MIT, Stanford) will help prepare students through degree programs, professional development and in partnering with companies to provide training for the jobs of the future.
  • Human Capital Solution Providers (Careerbuilder) will help identify top jobs, regions, supply/demand and skill gaps.
  • Employers (Rockwell Automation, Davra Networks, GE) are looking to hire individuals for the new job roles.
  • Change Agents (Cisco, Xerox, Rockwell Automation, Udacity, Pearson, Knod) will create education curriculum, training and certifications that will help train and validate the skills needed for the new jobs.

Working together, we will identify skill gaps, find talent with the right background to up-skill or re-skill, create and implement the needed training and certification programs, recruit them into appropriate degree or certificate programs and hire that talent for the jobs that will power the Internet of Everything. The Industry Talent Consortium is, in a real sense, a battle stance on behalf of our collective, connected future. The Consortium will continue to evolve, adding new contributing partners as its scope and scale increases.

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The Global STEM Alliance: Collaborative Education and Mentoring to Solve the “STEM Paradox”

GlobalStemAlliance_Oct2014The New York Academy of Sciences has recently released a report that redefines the global STEM crisis as a “STEM paradox”: there are sufficient numbers of STEM graduates, but low numbers of grads who are actually prepared for work, “brain drain” from developing countries and the lack of women in STEM fields makes it impossible for employers to fill all their STEM job openings. The new report also outlines how partnerships between governments, corporations and institutions can solve problems in the STEM workforce pipeline.

Additional information on the Global STEM Alliance is available here: http://globalstemalliance.org/

To see Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalization Officer, discuss the initiative, visit: http://www.nyas.org/WhatWeDo/ScienceEd/GlobalSTEM.aspx

As a founding partner since 2013, Cisco is excited to support the Global STEM Alliance, an international collaboration of public and private entities that harnesses the collective mindshare of corporations, local and national governments, nonprofits, students and STEM leaders. This multimillion-dollar Alliance will bring together STEM professionals of different ages and cultures to develop often-missing foundational skills and adapt to specific environments. The Alliance will engage and prepare the next generation for careers that encourage global economic development and the innovation needed to address and overcome today’s biggest challenges. Read More »

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Five Ways We Can Prepare the Next Generation of Workers for Tomorrow’s Technology

Consider this: Many of today’s top jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago – jobs like app developers, social media managers, and cloud computing administrators. By 2018, it’s predicted that there will be 21 billion networked devices and connections globally. The Internet of Everything (IoE) will bring it all together, but it’s people that will make the connections possible.

The good news… the digital age is creating millions of information technology (IT) job opportunities for people. The bad news… we aren’t developing IT talent fast enough to keep up with the pace of demand.

A ManpowerGroup study shows that in the Americas, 39 percent of employers report hiring challenges caused by IT talent shortages. Acute shortages were reported by employers in Brazil, India, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan, where that number skyrockets to 85 percent.

These numbers show that career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are more plentiful than ever. Unfortunately in the U.S., many students lack foundational STEM skills, as shown by a recent Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education report. Read More »

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