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Behind-the-scenes Technologies at Sea: Norwegian Epic and Cisco Networking

Several years ago, I went on a cruise with my family. There were fun things to do on board the ship, and we even had ample time left over for other things after dining, exercising, and relaxing on the sun deck. At one point, I came across a brochure about the on-board power system innovations that really impressed me. In the past, dedicated diesel engines were used for different purposes such as propelling the ship and generating electricity for cabins. The new system pooled output from these engines to form a single power plant that delivered power for everything on board, allowing greater control of power and better efficiency. That was an excellent example of system resource consolidation and pooling to me, which is showing up in other technology areas as well, such as data center virtualization.

A newly published Cisco switching case study provided a lot of insight on how Norwegian Cruise Line deployed the latest technologies to innovate guest experiences in the cruise ship industry,
and to optimize IT operations. Whether guests want to completely unplug or still stay connected, Norwegian is enhancing guest experiences with better access to entertainment, communications, goods, and services through a more advanced network on its newest ships.

The Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s largest and most innovative cruise ship, debuted in 2010 with a long list of never-before-at-sea features. What keeps the 19-story high “city at the sea”, 4100 cabins and 1900+ crew members all together? Here’re some ideas:
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IPv6 Peering, Part 1: Questions For Your Service Provider

Today, many organizations are focusing on how to integrate IPv6 services into their Internet edge. The World IPv6 Launch has come and gone with over 3000 sites now IPv6-enabled.  In addition, the US government has directed that all agencies must enable their Internet facing services for IPv6 by October 1st, 2012. These drivers are pushing organizations to take a harder look at how to approach IPv6 integration.  My next couple of posts will examine how to interface with your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The Internet edge is the point in your network where your organization will interface with the IPv6 Internet, and it is how customers will access your services. It is important that your ISP have the same Service Level Agreement (SLA) as your IPv4 point of attachment. After all, you are going to be running your business over both IPv4 and IPv6 for quite some time. To ensure that your ISP’s IPv6 services meet your business and technical requirements, I’ve compiled a list of questions to ask. The questions are grouped along the lines of how IPv6 is physically delivered, how the control plane is handled, and the services that are offered. The following are several example questions:

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Poll: How many mobile devices do you typically bring to the office? You could win an iPad or AppleTV

Last week I polled, What’s the one place at work where you’d like better wireless connectivity? and was honestly a little surprised by the number one answer. The second-place place where people wanted better wireless coverage was conference rooms, which makes sense. At some of the smaller companies I’ve worked at conference rooms were usually on the perimeter of the building and the coverage was poor.  Even within Cisco just a few years ago, a common refrain in meetings was complaints about the spotty coverage. We knew what rooms had better connectivity, and which rooms were to be avoided. So this answer wasn’t much of a surprise.

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Cisco Catalyst 6500 Momentum [INFOGRAPHIC]

News always gets attention, right? What happens afterward? Does anyone remember the stories? Or, to look at it another way, who buys what we’re selling?

With a presidential election at hand in the U.S., expect the candidates to continue to claim that their opponent has changed his story. If you bought what he was selling before, you’re being asked to buy something different now.

Thankfully, the networking business isn’t an election. And our story for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches in campus core and distribution isn’t changing…

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Have Your Doctors Gone Digital?

When you go in for your annual exam, does your doctor enter notes on a laptop, send your prescriptions direct to the pharmacy, and make your lab results available online for your? Or does your doctor still pull out that bulging manila folder full of patient history notes, write prescriptions on paper using unintelligible handwriting, and wait days to get results for X-Rays or MRIs? There are incentives for going digital, but how many doctors do you know who have taken the plunge?

A recent national survey of healthcare workers found that adoption and meaningful use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) is significantly below expected. For the uninitiated, “meaningful use” is a term indicating doctors have an electronic health record system with the capability to take specific actions with the system. Examples of these actions include sending and tracking pharmacy prescriptions, getting drug interaction warnings, and sending clinical visit summaries to other clinics.

In hard numbers, the survey found that in 2011 only 11% of physicians were both intending to apply and had an EHR system with the capabilities needed for the meaningful use designation. This is surprising as there are financial incentives to get to meaningful use. A recent case study shows that getting the right infrastructure in place can dramatically aid physicians in this goal and get them the designation in a matter of months.

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