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The Changing Enterprise Desktop Environment

Today’s workplace is radically different from ten or even five years ago.  Work has changed. The way people work has changed, and technology needs to be in synch with these changes. In the office, people still want access to traditional conveniences, including a desk phone.  They also want access to high quality video from the desktop, and, some want to use many of the capabilities they use every day on their smart phones.  It’s the whole “consumerization of IT” in action.

At Enterprise Connect 2013 this week, Cisco is debuting our latest addition to the enterprise desktop: the DX650. The DX650, orderable globally today, is an Android based phone that delivers traditional voice functionality, high-definition 1080p video, and many features commonly associated with today’s smartphones  straight to the desktop.

And, on top of the Android operating system, we’ve added Cisco software, which provides better security, quality of service, manageability and higher fidelity audio and video. In short, this new disruptive technology is doing for the desk phone what smartphones did for mobile devices. Imagine – a smartphone experience for the desktop where users will never have to worry about battery life or dropped calls.

New capabilities include:

Cisco DX650

Cisco DX650

  • High quality video: In addition to extending the 1080p high quality video experience to the desktop, users can also dial directly into a TelePresence meeting or connect to any standards-based video endpoint from the device.
  • Smartphone capabilities at the desktop: The phone has many “smart” features or attributes, including a familiar Android user interface, instant access to critical applications and the ability to create multiple unique user profiles. Each profile can easily integrate with the user’s email and calendar as well as a full directory of contacts and speed dials. Applications such as Cisco Jabber, WebEx, and AnyConnect come preloaded on the phone.
  • Cloud-readiness: This new phone enables users to access on-premises or cloud-based applications. Given that this is a fully compatible Android device (Compatibility Test Suite certified), users can now access enterprise applications such as customer service portals or CRM solutions from the DX650’s built in browser. Or, they can view content and share video with colleagues through cloud collaboration applications such as Cisco WebEx, available natively on the phone or through the Google Play store.
  • Teleworking: We’ve also ensured that the DX650 supports multiple connectivity options. The DX650 can connect to the network wired or wirelessly. It also has a built in VPN client so remote users, working from home or in branch locations, can access their enterprise applications as needed.

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Closing Windows on the PC Era

If this is the post-PC era, I first encountered computers in the pre-PC era. I remember a field trip to a room of giant kitchen appliances that turned out to be full of information instead of groceries. Despite the lack of snacks, I was enamored with the punch cards they gave us as souvenirs. My dad was amused enough to bring home a whole stack of punch cards from his work — Hewlett-Packard’s Santa Clara manufacturing facility. (Another day he brought home a cat.)

Not long after, I met my first desktop computer when I started learning very basic BASIC programming on a Commodore PET with an external cassette tape drive. Ah, the nostalgia of summer school and CRT displays.

In a recent internet trends presentation to BASE, the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students, Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, went through the charts and graphs showing the state of the union in the world of operating systems. In the late-1970s and early-1980s, the operating system world was a colorful place (especially when graphed). Then came Intel-based PCs. Microsoft started to take over, quickly flooding the universe with MS-DOS, then Windows.

Apple managed to maintain a Macintosh beachhead, but it was definitely a sea of PC.

For the most part, it was much like Henry Ford’s infamous “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” At most companies it was the same story, you can select any of 14 options, but they’re all PCs. Want a Macintosh? Provide business justification and get VP approval. Today at Cisco, the PC vs. Mac choice comes down to personal preference.

In 1998, Oracle introduced “the concept of hosted applications to the Oracle market, allowing customers to rent access to software hosted on Oracle computers and access those systems via a Web browser.” As eager as Larry Ellison might have been to displace the dreaded Microsoft and PCs with lightweight terminals, the rest of the planet wasn’t quite there yet. Hosted software? Internet storage? Thin clients? Web access? Huh, sounds a lot like cloud.

Fast forward and today we’re in the post-PC era.
Android and Apple iOS have made even quicker, more vigorous operating system inroads than DOS did, thanks in large part to devices and applications.

Smartphones and tablets have outplaced desktop and notebook PCs in global unit shipments since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Morgan Stanley Research data.

PC manufacturers need to adjust more quickly than most seem to be doing to survive. Says ZDNet’s Jason Perlow, “To put it bluntly, the Post-PC world represents a displacement of computing from the traditional, 30 year-old Intel architecture used on desktop to the Datacenter and the Cloud.” We no longer need the same processing power and storage for the things we do on a daily basis. We have web applications, we have clouds, we have mobile devices.

Today is about mobility, smartphones, tablets, and clouds — ideas impossible to picture on my first field trip to HP. Operating systems, bits, bytes, and cumulus accumulations of data aside, the biggest difference is in how we use our devices of choice today. Emphasis on choice.

“Within ten years, the majority of business professionals will be using extremely inexpensive thin notebooks, tablets and thin clients (sub $500) which will utilize any number of software technologies that run within the browser or will use next-generation Web-based APIs and Web Services … to provide line-of-business application functionality.”–Jason Perlow

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Deciding Upon a Collaboration Solution: Do Open Standards Still Matter?

While I was participating in a web conference from my home office, I started thinking about how much and how fast things have changed in the last decade around communications and how we use collaboration tools in the office, at home and on the road and most importantly the number of devices available to me so I CAN collaborate over distance.

One thing that stays constant in this industry is change, especially when it comes to devices. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see if you can remember any of these once “have to have” mobile devices. The Nokia 9000, The Motorola “Flip phone” and The “Razor”, Palm Pilot, dare I say the Blackberry and of course at the start of 2007 the IPhone came on to the market — and we all know how that is playing out — this being a rarity. More recently, Samsung is challenging Apple with the Galaxy and DROID OS is becoming more prevalent than IOS. Last I checked, there was an estimated 1.3 million Read More »

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AnyConnect 3.0 for Android Product Announcement

Following up on my last note about BYOD at Cisco, I wanted to update you on the latest numbers here at Cisco. As Sheila Jordan had pointed out here, we have surpassed the 20% tablet penetration among our workforce and mobile devices continue to grow at a rate of 1,000 each month. I highly recommend you doing a quick read on her six steps of approaching device deluge. Meanwhile, the latest IDC report (Aug 8, 2012) reaffirms the 2-horse race in the smartphone world. Android and iOS powered 85% of all smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2012 (2Q2012).

Maintaining our market leadership in supporting the broadest set of Operating Systems (desktop and mobile) and Web Browsers, Cisco Security is excited to announce the availability of AnyConnect 3.0 for Android (Download here). As in the past, we have worked with the market leading Android device makers along with supporting the Android VPN Framework (AVF) to ensure the latest AnyConnect functionality. These new features are now available on any Android device running on version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher (including Jelly Bean).


  • Intel Android (IA): The Android VPN Framework (AVF) image is now compatible with x86 Intel Android devices.
  • IPsec IKEv2: AnyConnect users can connect via IPsec IKEv2 connections to their corporate Cisco ASA in addition to SSL (TLS or DTLS). (Requires ASA 9.0+)
  • Suite B Cryptography: AnyConnect users who need NSA’s recommended Suite B Cryptography will be now able to do so from their mobile devices. (Requires ASA 9.0 and AnyConnect Premium Licenses.)
  • Untrusted Certificate Warnings: Reduces Man-in-the-Middle attack risk by rejecting untrusted certificates by default and requiring end-users to acknowledge risks before connecting to a gateway with an untrusted certificate.
  • SCEP Proxy: AnyConnect users can enroll their mobile device with an internal Certificate Authority (CA) Server, using SCEP without opening up the CA Server directly to external threats. (To embed the identity of the mobile endpoint in the certificate request, Mobile Host Scan must be utilized, which is an AnyConnect Premium License feature).
  • FIPS 140-2 Compliant: AnyConnect users now have access to the latest FIPS 140-2 cryptographic compliant module to meet industry compliance/mandates.

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Summer’s Ending – But You Can Still Work Free From the Office

I always dread summer coming to an end.

Sure, it’s not like the old days when summer meant no school and running around free, but like most people, summer still makes me feel like I have more personal time and freedom. It must be the extra daylight.

Even if I can’t have the feeling of summer, it makes a huge difference to me if I can  work in different ways – from home or even handling some to do items from the car.

One of the best things about the new, free version of WebEx, is that having a host account (yes, it’s free) means you can host a WebEx on your mobile. And that means I don’t have to be tethered to your computer.

Get your own free, basic WebEx account here.

In 2007, Cisco commissioned a study: Understanding and Managing the Mobile Workforce that looked at ways to really grasp how mobility was emerging. Of course, since then, “going mobile” has really become the norm.

In that study, they found:

Successful mobile workers tend to be resilient extroverts. They are open to new experiences and highly adaptable. And, contrary to the stereotype of the harassed and disoriented road warrior, they are supremely organized and independent-minded. With the right kind of tailored support, their productivity and adaptability make them superlative operators in an era of increasing demands and constant change.

In 2007, the Cisco study cited a prediction that “within two years, one quarter of the world’s working population will be mobile workers.” Not to freak anyone out but this was BEFORE Apple’s iPad was even released!

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