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No-Holds-Barred Inspiration

I’m currently basking in the afterglow of an intense three days of non-stop inspiration, stimulation and general brain expansion. I’m referring to EG6/EG Everywhere, an amazing conference centered around the exchange of stories and experiences of creative brainiacs that included scientists, musicians, magicians, geographic and oceanographic explorers, artists, and others that tickled my neurotransmitters.

Cisco was not just a sponsor, but the provider of the technology that made this traditionally 300-person-limited-audience event available for people around the world to participate in—as audience members and as speakers. With the interactive platform developed for the event, anyone could watch live stream and see fun things happening online that those at the live event couldn’t because they were “on break.”

However, where the technology really made a splash was when retired Astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife Congresswoman Gabby Giffords were stranded when their flight to the conference got cancelled.  A little bit of a problem since they were listed as the closing speakers. NPR’s Scott Simon, slated to host Mark and Gabby on stage, captured the situation brilliantly in a tweet about the airline being “The only force that can ground @ShuttleCDR & family to keep them from EG conference.” Talk about an ironic twist. The email exchange among those on the Cisco team trying to come up with a solution carried the apt subject line: “Houston, We Have a Problem.” The good news is that Cisco TelePresence came to the rescue —and Mark (in Houston) and Scott (on stage in Monterey) had a wonderfully warm conversation that was both interesting and moving.

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Cisco Partners with EMC on VSPEX

Yesterday, I had the honor to participate in EMC launch of VSPEX, a new EMC channel program designed to deliver virtualized infrastructure solutions for the private cloud.  We are collaborating with EMC to deliver these pre-tested infrastructures that combine EMC storage solutions with Cisco UCS and Nexus networking solutions and our other ecosystem partners, Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware. Cisco solutions are incorporated in 13 of the initial EMC VSPEX configurations.

Our customers have been telling us that they want data center infrastructure solutions that are easier to deploy but offer the best of breed vendors.  In 2009, Cisco and EMC  launched a joint venture, VCE , that delivered the Vblock converged infrastructure that integrated our technologies to help our customers accelerate their cloud infrastructure deployments based on VMware.  We have been very pleased with how our larger enterprise and Service Provider customers and channel partners have responded to the Vblock solutions.

Now EMC is expanding the flexibility of these integrated solutions with EMC VSPEX.  EMC VSPEX and Cisco Validated Designs offer our customer more “choice” when it comes to choosing an integrated data center solution that meets their needs – while taking the out the risk for our customers by ensuring the integrated designs have been pre-tested in Cisco and EMC labs.

For our Cisco channel partners, integrated solutions offer more market opportunity in selling complete, highly-flexible solutions to their customers, resulting in a higher attach rate of components, and a bigger sale – which will be good news to our thousands channel partners flying down to San Diego for our Partner Summit conference.

Here I am (Wendy Bahr) with Chris Panzeca at EMC’s VSPEX event on April 12, 2012.

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From the Grammy’s to LA Kings Hockey – Transforming STAPLES Center to Deliver a Technologically Advanced Fan Experience & Drive Business Impact

“What they are doing for our fans – on a daily basis, at every one of our games, be it during the day or at night – is truly remarkable. We are able to create a better experience for our fans using this technology. Our only wish is that we had done this a little bit earlier.”
Todd Goldstein, President, AEG Global Partnerships

Cisco recently upgraded the digital capabilities at STAPLES Center, one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in the world that hosts four major sports franchises (LA Lakers, LA Clippers, LA Kings, and LA Sparks) and more than 250 events a year (Grammy’s, concerts, etc.), so the venue could better service its fans.

The result? Over the past year AEG (the operator of the facility) has been able to deliver a more engaged fan experience and is seeing a strong return on its investment from the digital and dynamic menu boards at concession stands. For example, AEG saw a 9 percent increase in revenue (year over year) from concessions for Los Angeles Kings games. Even more impressive was the 400 percent increase in revenue (year over year) from select promotions offered this past season (2011).

Cisco delivered a Connected Stadium environment, including Cisco StadiumVision, an innovative digital video and content delivery system that transformed STAPLES Center and provides fans with a more memorable experience.  All of this was done over the course of just a few months and AEG never missed a beat in hosting world class events at the venue.

Today more than 30 marquee properties are operating new business and revenue models with Cisco digital sports technologies at the center. From Real Madrid to the Pittsburgh Penguins to Sporting KC to Eden Park, Cisco is transforming the sports and entertainment environment around the world.

I witnessed the transformation earlier this year at the Grammy’s…and I just might have sat next to a couple of celebrities – well, that was where my friends told me I was going to sit!

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Milestone in Connecting the Internet of Things – RPL Routing Standard Completed

After four years of hard work behind the scenes, Cisco is delighted today to say that new ground has been broken for IPV6 implementation. Ahead of World IPV6 Launch on June 6, the standardization of RPL, a new IPV6 routing protocol designed for large-scale implementation of IPV6 in harsh environments, has been completed.

What’s the significance of the standard, you might ask? The Internet of Things – the term used to describe the billions of intelligent end points that collect and send data back to a centralized computing resource like a server, or to each other. The Internet of things refers to IP private networks and smart objects connected to the public Internet. The number of applications is only bounded by imagination with applications on Smart Grid, Smart Cities, Industrial Automation, Connected Cars to mention a few. The number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the world population in 2008 – and will only grow. Projections have the number of things connected to the Internet at 50 billion by 2020.

Routing is a fundamental piece of the overall IPV6 architecture for the Internet of Things, and RPL will translate the potential of Internet of Things into reality. When many people think of devices connected to the Internet, they think of smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. They don’t often think of the devices that will greatly dwarf those personal computing endpoints in volume – gas pumps, for example, or cars, railroad tracks, weather sensors and smart meters to name a few. These devices live in the outdoors, sometimes in harsh weather conditions, 24 hours a day. And not only do they require physical design that will protect them from these elements, but also a robust networking protocol that will work in these harsh conditions as well, while providing high scalability.

It became clear as intelligent devices were proliferating into all aspects of life, that a new routing protocol would be required for devices on the smart grid as well as other smart devices operating in harsh environments such as smart grids, manufacturing plants, commercial buildings, and on transportation networks. The networks in these environments can be described as Low Power and Lossy Networks (LNNs), meaning they often operate with significant constraints on processing power, memory and energy—translating into high data loss rates, low data transfer rates and instability. Compounding these issues, LLNs are comprised of anywhere from a few dozen and up to thousands and even hundreds of thousands of routers handling point-to-point (device to device), point-to-multipoint (central computer to devices) and multipoint-to-point (devices to central computing) traffic. All of this adds up to what we engineers love: solving a good challenge!

So four years ago, in 2008, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) formed a working group to specify the routing solution for LLNs. The protocol would address the issues outlined above, and would involve a successful collaboration between a number of stakeholders and other active IETF working group members.

Fast forward to today, and the protocol, called RPL, has been completed. The complete set of RPL routing standards are:

• RFC 6550: RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks
• RFC 6551: Routing Metrics Used for Path Calculation in Low-Power and Lossy Networks
• RFC 6552: Objective Function Zero for the Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL)
• RFC 6553: The Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL) Option for Carrying RPL Information in Data-Plane Datagrams
• RFC 6554: An IPv6 Routing Header for Source Routes with the Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL)

To date, there have been a number of independent implementations and several deployments in the field using RPL, and other standards alliances have adopted RPL as the routing protocol of choice, including Zigbee/IP and Wave2M alliances.

For Cisco, RPL is a fundamental block in the end-to-end IPV6 Field Area Network architecture and will be used as the standard for other areas of the smart grid as well. We have several large-scale on-going deployments with million of nodes, and we successfully validated RPL. The results of the internal tests showed that RPL was performing extremely well, as expected, and also successfully passed a number of stress tests.

So where do we go from here? Cisco anticipates we will soon be able to report successful deployments in several utility networks. While the majority of the work is behind us with regards to developing, defining, validating and testing the RPL protocol, field deployments almost always present new challenges – and new learnings – that will help Cisco and others continue to improve the protocol as it is being used. For today, we’ll be celebrating this major milestone. Tomorrow, we’ll be working on RPL in the field to ensure it performs its part in making the vision of smart grid a reality. We will keep you posted on our stories, and look forward to hearing from you as well on your successful uses of RPL in the field.

Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire ClearAccess

Today, Cisco announced its intent to acquire privately held ClearAccess. ClearAccess provides TR-069 standards-based, cloud, and onsite management software for residential and mobile devices. This acquisition is yet another example of Cisco’s commitment to help service providers improve customer experiences by enhancing their ability to manage mobile and cloud-based services, including video entertainment.

Service providers are faced with growing network complexity, massive amounts of data, and increasing numbers of devices on their networks—many of them in the home. Together, Cisco and ClearAccess will enable service providers to more effectively deliver value to end users by improving the delivery of video, data, voice, rich content, and other services into an increasingly complex residential environment. ClearAccess helps to complete Cisco’s end-to-end management solutions for service providers, extending from the core of the network all the way into the connected home.

As we continue to use all of Cisco’s tools to drive innovation, acquisitions such as ClearAccess will help bring top talent, new technology, and business models into Cisco. M&A remains a key part of our build, buy, and partner innovation framework and supports our strategy of providing best-in-class solutions for our customers. The ClearAccess acquisition is well-aligned to our strategic goals of building software platforms and driving business and technology architectures. I am very excited to welcome the world-class team from ClearAccess to the Cisco family.

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