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Mighty Stephen Hawking, CVO and Hedging Your Bets

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant author and physicist, earlier this year explained that the human race’s sole hope for long term survival is for us to spread our bets by colonizing space, thus eliminating a potential single point of failure (Earth) which could be the end of us all. Smart guy. When we build networks, best practices dictate not having single points of failure, so why not architect the survival of the species in a similar way?

A bit extreme, arguably requiring some technology that doesn’t exist yet, but similar things can be said about businesses. Replace the planet with an office and Stephen Hawking’s theories start to fit.

Let me explain.

Here at Cisco, we not only believe in teleworking, or working from home, but we also manufacture equipment to support such efforts, such as our Cisco Virtual Office package. Just like humanity with all of our eggs in the Earth basket, in the past, businesses used to place all of their eggs in the office basket. No office, no work, no company. Fire? Blizzard? Flood? Pandemic? Sorry, you are down, perhaps out of business.

Solutions like the Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), where the teleworker has wireless data, IP telephony and video protected with encryption and QoS, allow businesses to provide employees with the bonus of being able to work from home.  This is a competitive differentiator from the HR perspective, but it also allows companies to hedge their bets and put the company in a far stronger disaster recovery/risk management/business continuity position by ensuring that no single event outside of a comet strike or a nuclear war would completely shut the business down because the people doing the work are geographically dispersed, safe, sound and able to work from home.

Professor Hawking (who by the way, is said to have enjoyed not only appearing on the Simpsons but also his rap alter ego the MC “Mighty Stephen” Hawking) is a smart guy.  He worries about things like dinosaur killer comets. The rest of us may be tempted to leave the big thinking to others, but winter is coming and brings snow storms and bad weather. Remember swine flu? Sure, the world is unlikely to end tomorrow, but how unlikely is a flood, a blizzard or a bad flu variant this month, this winter or next year?

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Optimizing the WAN with the Next Generation Integrated Service Router (ISR G2)

Enterprises have become increasingly dependent on their networks to deliver applications and data access to users throughout their organization, not only at corporate headquarters but also to branch offices and locations around the world. As employees become increasingly dependent on access to applications to perform their job functions, it is paramount that the Wide Area Network (WAN) provides the highest level of performance possible.

The emergence of WAN optimization in recent years has resulted in significant gains to the enterprise in terms of application performance, reduced network costs, and improved employee productivity and customer satisfaction.  To date, the majority of WAN optimization efforts that have been concentrated in branch offices deployments were available primarily as dedicated appliances.

IDC research has found the demand for WAN optimization to be broad based among a large variation in the types of users, types of traffic patterns, and geographical mix of remote offices. As a result, in addition to evaluating the immediate benefit of WAN optimization, customers evaluate a number of factors within their own unique network configuration, including the cost to deploy and manage appliances as well as their relationships and contractual obligations with service providers.

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Better Together – The Inevitable Integration of Networks and Rich Media Applications – Part 1

Enterprises are beginning to take video seriously and its integration into every day business is starting to become commonplace. Rich media collaboration is no longer just about video conferencing, it now covers everything from Telepresence to desktop video with existing web conferencing solutions adopting video as part of the user experience. Added to this, we have digital signage in retail stores and sports stadiums and corporate TV solutions to get messages out to the troops. Even long standing solutions like surveillance are migrating from their closed circuit environments and migrating to IP based infrastructures to gain the benefits of cost reduction and a common physical security platform. The common denominator to these trends is the converged IP network. Just as it was for unified communications and the migration of TDM voice to IP voice, the same transition is occurring for rich media applications. But the question is how ready are today’s Enterprise networks to support these new demands and what will the industry need to do to deliver multiple concurrent rich media applications on the same infrastructure?

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Cisco’s Internet Router in Space

Brad Boston, Cisco Senior Vice President in the Global Government Solutions Group, discusses the recent milestones in Cisco’s Internet Router in Space program, including the first-ever software upgrade of an Internet Protocol router aboard a commercial satellite while in orbit, as well as completing the industry’s first VoIP call made without the use of any terrestrial infrastructure to route the call.

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International Borderless Young Thing

I’m going to date myself here, but when the Berlin Wall came down I was lucky enough to go over to Berlin and trade smokes through holes with the East German guards on the other side. I have a piece of the wall, a chunk of cement with paint on it, somewhere. CNN was disruptive new media, mobile phones cost $1400 and you could talk on them for $1/minute. The Internet was a curiosity for academic and government use; many mail servers were run as open relays and a good dialup modem would get you 14,000 bps. Networks were simpler too, for the most part you were either inside the building and on the network or you were not on the network. Work was both a place and a verb.

The British pop band Jesus Jones captured perfectly the zeitgeist of those days with the song “International Bright Young Thing” which I first heard in a friend’s apartment in Kyoto. The refrain “Right here, right now, there’s no other place I would rather be,” seemed so perfect, so right.

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