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Should women consider a career in cybersecurity? Absolutely!

With the United Nations’ International Girls in ICT day fast approaching on April 23rd, this is a great opportunity to discuss how we can get young women involved in careers in technology. Cybersecurity is an ever-present issue with companies and individuals suffering attacks daily. At Cisco, we believe that protection from threats does not rely on a single technology or solution, it incorporates both the processes and of course, the people. It is predicted that by 2017, an additional two million security professionals will be needed, but what many young people – particularly women – underestimate, is how rewarding and far-reaching a career in cybersecurity can be.

Taking, the UK as one example, cybersecurity employs 40,000 people and is worth £6 billion to the economy. Yet according to the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report, more than one million positions for information security professionals remain unfilled around the world. What’s more, is that female cybersecurity staff only account for 11 percent of the global workforce. In Europe, the figures are even worse, coming in at only 7 percent .

Today there still remains a notion that IT is a “man’s job”. Women thinking of applying are often dissuaded as they may lack the confidence needed at the very start to pursue this career path. Yet, not only is this job market growing, but these jobs pay higher than other industries. We must do what we can to encourage young women to be fearless and pursue these fields of study, because they add new perspectives in the workplace that benefit business outcomes.

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Myth-busting: Is Cisco’s Approach to SDN Open?

In our continuing myth-busting series, Cisco SDN expert Frank D’Agostino and I are debunking trendy technology myths around SDN.

The more I speak to customers these days, the more I hear them talk about open. Customers want an infrastructure that is programmable and based on open standards. They want rapid feature integration and network automation. And they’re looking to take advantage of third-party tools and existing assets, and integrate them efficiently and cost-effectively into a modern network.

To address these needs, Cisco has modernized our operating system NX-OS through programmability, provided open northbound and southbound APIs for ACI, and established an open Partner Ecosystem—which even includes some of our competitors—for the integration of third-party tools.

But that’s not all. Cisco has a history of contributing technology innovations to open and standards initiatives, and things are no different with SDN. In the past year, for example, we’ve opened up and published our ACI interfaces and have contributed ACI’s Group Based Policy model to OpenDayLight and OpenStack.  We’ve also published the OpFlex standard to the IETF and worked with the open source community to provide a reference implementation of the OpFlex agent, which is leveraged by the OpenStack and Linux communities. In addition, we’ve created an open model to enhance SDN network agility and make it easier for customers to manage virtual machines using BGP-EVPN (which stand for Border Gateway Protocol and Ethernet Virtual Private Network respectively) with VXLAN. Our goal is to provide openness and scale in a multi-vendor environment.

Bottom line: Cisco embraces an open approach through open APIs, open standards, open source contributions. Customers benefit because they can integrate with their existing tools and appliances, and that really represents true investment protection.

We look forward to reading your comments and feedback.

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New Oil & Gas Study Reveals a Disrupted Industry Primed for Digital Transformation, Fueled by the Internet of Everything

If ever there was an industry and a time that epitomize “disruption,” it is the oil and gas industry today. Price declines of more than 50 percent since June 2014 have upended the sector, and dominate the agendas of industry executives. In fact, a new Cisco study identified “energy price volatility” as the external market force causing greatest concern for the industry today. The study, “A New Reality for Oil & Gas: Complex Market Dynamics Create Urgent Need for Digital Transformation,” shows an industry ripe for transformation by the Internet of Everything (IoE).

In the past, oil and gas (O&G) companies have attempted to address oil-price declines by resorting to short-term cost-cutting measures to see them through the slump. But this time is different. For one thing, it does not appear that prices will recover any time soon—if at all. Demand is down, and new production technologies are driving efficiencies that will increase production and keep prices low for the long term. This time, O&G firms will need to do more than cut costs – they’ll need to change their operating models through digital transformation.

For the study, we interviewed oil and gas executives, consultants, and analysts in 14 countries about the industry’s challenges, opportunities, and priorities. These experts identified intelligence from data as the key area needed to improve operational efficiency, and data analytics as the No. 1 driver of faster, better decision-making.

Additionally, the survey named faster problem resolution, better process control, and improved worker safety as the top three business benefits of IoE-powered technologies. The top three IoE-driven operational benefits were improved production efficiency, reduced downtime, and equipment performance optimization.

As an industry, oil and gas has been “digitized” for some time. True digital transformation, however, now requires adoption of the Internet of Everything — the networked connection of people, process, data, and things — throughout the value chain. Innovative firms are using today’s turbulent market landscape as an opportunity to grab competitive advantage by harnessing new IoE technologies. Read More »

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Myth-busting: ACI or NSX, which is the Real SDN Leader?

I speak with customers every day and often hear they are confused by conflicting vendor claims, marketing hype and embellishments. This is especially true when discussing SDN, where both the technology and the market have evolved significantly over the past few years.

I’ve invited Frank D’Agostino, one of Cisco’s top technical experts on SDN, to join me in separating fact from fiction. Frank and I are on a mission to debunk trendy technology myths, and this is the first in a three-part video series that we’ll bring to you over the next week.

In this first episode, Frank and I discuss the differences between Cisco’s ACI and VMware’s NSX. Frank is in a unique position to discuss both technologies, since he’s the only expert that has been deeply involved in the development of both NSX and ACI.

We think that ACI and Nexus is the most complete solution on the market. It does everything customers want from SDN, while offering more capabilities than NSX, and being two to three times less costly in typical customer configurations.

Cisco also collaborates very closely with our customers on technology, and we work with a wide variety of industry leaders, including competitors, to offer the best level of technology integration and interoperability. The reality is that the choice between ACI or NSX is not “either or:” if customers want both, NSX can run on ACI just like any other application, and in fact NSX will run better over an ACI infrastructure than over any other infrastructure on the market.

Take a look at our first video below, and then compare for yourself which solution makes the most sense from the perspective of cost, performance, scalability, and features.

We look forward to reading your comments and feedback.

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Embracing Data & Analytics in the IoT with Our Partners

Massive amounts of data are being created in new places. A Boeing 787 creates half a terabyte of data per flight. An offshore oil well can create up to 10 terabytes in just 24 hours. These are examples of the Internet of Things (IoT). Within the IoT, a huge volume of these non-traditional devices (i.e. things) are being connected by the network.

Imagine if these ‘things’ could talk.

What could they tell us about safety, operational efficiency, and interactions with people using this technology? Well….these things can talk. In fact, they are talking all the time through the large volumes of data they produce. In order to utilize this data to empower business decision-making, we need to understand it. That is where analytics come in. Simply put, analytics is using software to look for patterns in large volumes of data. Patterns help you understand some aspect of your business, so you can make better decisions to achieve the desired outcome.

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