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Fibrenoire’s Jean-François Lévesque shares tips with Cisco on how to thrive in the fast-paced service provider world

May 27, 2014 at 8:54 am PST

Since its founding in 2007, Fibrenoire, based in Montreal, Quebec, has grown from a startup to one of Canada’s largest metro-fiber-to-the-business service providers. As further testament to their success Fibernoire was the first Canadian service provider to earn MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Services certification leveraging Cisco’s Carrier Ethernet Systems.

We recently had an opportunity to interview Jean-François Lévesque, Fibrenoire’s Chief Technology Officer, to hear how the company has stayed on the cutting edge while remaining lean and efficient.

Cisco: What makes you stand out in the service provider business?

Jean-François Lévesque:

One of the things that differentiate us is focus that we specialize exclusively in fiber optic Internet connections and fiber optic private network services for companies. We also offer a consultative engineering approach that accompanies solution engineering, from project delivery to 24/7 technical support and access monitoring from our Network Operations Centre (NOC).

In addition, we are midsized—lean but savvy—so we are essentially in the middle of the market. We contend with both smaller network service providers and Canada’s largest carriers. On one hand, small service providers often win out based on price, while the well-known brands may deliver “vanilla” solutions or put junior staff in charge of projects. On the other hand, we use both technology and know-how to create custom solutions for customers to stay ahead of the competition.

These efforts have paid off. We’ve gone from three to 50 employees in seven years and continue to expand.

Cisco: What services do you provide? Read More »

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Mining Copper Ore — and Digital Insights — in the Internet of Everything Economy

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a juggernaut of change, transforming organizations in profound ways. It sows disruption, and it grants enormous opportunities. But this sweeping wave of change is not reserved for what we normally think of as “technology companies.” In the IoE economy, even seemingly “analog” endeavors must be bestowed with network connectivity, no matter how venerable a company’s roots or old its traditions.

In a world where Everyone Is a Tech Company, there are some great examples of older companies that are heeding this new reality. Retail, manufacturing, transportation, and education are just a few of the places where people, process, data, and things are being connected in startling new ways. Companies that are ahead of the IoE transformation curve will ensure their competiveness in marketplaces that are ever more vulnerable to disruption.

Dundee Precious Metals provides a great example of a company that is embracing change. A far-flung global organization, the company, for example, runs Europe’s largest mine in Chelopech, Bulgaria, from which it ships gold-rich copper ore to a smelter in Namibia. Yet through IoE-related technologies, executives at the company’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada, have gained unprecedented visibility into all aspects of their operations.

The end result? A boon in safety, efficiency, and productivity.

Read More »

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Delivering Education And Mental Health Care to the Arctic Circle

April 8, 2014 at 11:25 am PST

willa_black_lo_resThis post was written by Willa Black, Director of Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada, and was originally published on the Huffington Post.

The territory of Nunavut, Canada is incredibly cold and remote. It’s roughly a four-hour plane ride north of Toronto, with temperatures well below the freezing mark for eight months of the year, dark in the winter months and light all summer long. The communities in the north face unprecedented challenges. The school dropout rates average around 75 percent by the time students hit Grade 8. There is high incidence of youth mental health problems and suicide -- the highest in the world. And yet, there is much hope and potential in this corner of our planet. And a deep, rich Inuit culture and tradition that informs us all as Canadians. When Cisco Canada set out to build a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program for Canada, it didn’t take long for us to connect the dots and understand the vital role we could play in bringing much-needed services to our most remote communities.

On April 2, Cisco Canada officially announced Connected North, a program that leverages our core competence in Internet, networking and collaboration solutions. Our first stop in the development of our strategy was Inuit Tapiriit Kunatami — the organization of the Inuit people of Canada. Their direction was clear: Find a way to make the classrooms more exciting. Help to stem the high dropout rates.

We knew video held the key.

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Cisco is Among Canada’s 10 “Most Admired Corporate Cultures”

February 4, 2014 at 4:00 am PST

Nicole_GeronimoThis post was written by guest blogger Nicole Geronimo, who works for Cisco’s Corporate Affairs team in Toronto, Canada.

On February 3, Cisco Canada was presented with an award, given by executive search firm Waterstone Human Capital, for being a national winner of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2013. Cisco Canada was among 600 nominees, and after a vigorous selection process by the program’s 30-member Board of Governors, we were announced as a winner for the first time.

With a dynamic and flexible work environment that promotes team effort and unity, we have proven that our culture drives our performance. From Ping Pong tables, to lunch-and-learns, to working from home, Cisco Canada has created an environment that results in high retention and appeal for new employees.

Read More »

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Exploring the Internet of Everything in Canada

We sat down with Victor Woo to see how the Internet of Everything is creating innovation in Canada.

Victor, when we first talked, you were just settling in your new role with the Internet of Everything. Since we last spoke, is there anything interesting that you have noted about IoE in Canada?

Absolutely.  One aspect is that Canada is well known for its natural resources with a high concentration of industries in the energy sector. In oil and gas, for example, there is constant requirement to improve performance of existing assets, reduce capital expenditure and operating costs, and increase efficiencies with a limited number of experienced personnel. The opportunity to attach and intelligently connect sensors, or converge multiple systems and equipment used in energy extraction or delivery would yield tremendous benefits. The result of collecting vast amounts of data and turning it into meaningful, real-time information through big data analytics that optimizes the business of oil extraction, production and transport on a continual basis would create huge efficiencies and, at the very least, be transformative.

FOCUS is highlighting people across Cisco and in different parts of the world that are focusing on IoE. How are you approaching the IoE opportunity in the Canada market versus other parts of the world? How is IoE in Canada unique?

Cisco has outlined a vision of being a catalyst for innovation in Canada. Our approach to IoE leadership in Canada is similarly aligned. We seek to help Canadian organizations understand the potential of IoE and to realize how it can be transformative for them in achieving much greater levels of productivity and innovation. Our Cisco objective is to be good for our customers and good for Canada, and as such our strategy focuses on how IoE might help solve some of our national challenges in productivity and innovation, and create new and exciting opportunities. We are looking to change the innovation trajectory of Canada by establishing research chairs and investing in Canadian university research centres to support the advancement IoT/IoE technologies. And, we are working to increase the Cisco Canadian engineering footprint for the development of IoE related products.  Ultimately, our IoE strategy aligns and contributes to Cisco’s vision for Canada: to create a more productive Canada that invests in research, development and job creation.

One of the items you discussed in your first blog post is the importance of innovation and productivity in Canada. As you noted, Canada is ranked 14th in productivity for the second year in a row by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There is a natural tie between innovation and IoE. Can you share a more of your thoughts about Canada’s role in being an innovative country and how IoE can help?

The importance for Canada needing to improve innovation is crucial. Canada’s growth in labour productivity has been weak – less than 1% annually on average for more than 10 years. It’s among the lowest rates throughout OECD nations. And it’s putting this country at risk to maintain its current standard of living, which is directly linked to productivity and innovation. Canada’s low rate of investment in IT for business also means innovation is likewise weak – especially among small and mid-sized companies where ICT investment in general is extremely low. Innovation fuels improvements in labour productivity. It’s all tied together.

IoE presents an opportunity to perhaps address these things. If we choose to lead the way in IoE adoption, Canada can position itself for success in today’s global economy AND perhaps address many of our current challenges in low ICT investment, which as mentioned ties to innovation, productivity and ultimately raising Canada’s standard of living.

And there are significant profits to be had. For 2013, the Canadian IoE value at stake is estimated to be $57 billion. With approximately $30 billion of value currently realized in the market, there remains much more on the table. The time to move towards innovation and productivity is now.

Can you comment on Canada’s progress on IoE?

I think we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible for Canada. As you might expect, adoption of IoE is limited, but there’s strong belief and support for the concept. A recent Cisco Consulting Services survey of more than 7,500 businesses and IT decision makers from around the world shows that 80% of Canadian respondents surveyed say they’ve already seen the value and significance of IoE.  In healthcare, we see efforts to bring telemedicine into remote parts of Canada. An inspirational example is how patient care is being improved in Takla Landing by extending frequency of healthcare delivery to this remote community by using video connections to physicians located in urban locations. In the transportation industry, Cisco technology is connecting sensors and controllers, processes and personnel. For example, Bombardier, a global transportation industry leader is embedding IP technology to help its customers enhance rail operations and provide superior customer experience. In energy, BC Hydro is implementing a bold smart-grid initiative. More than 1.9 million smart meters have been deployed, all connected through an intelligent infrastructure to efficiently manage and monitor utilization while providing information to customers and helping them to better manage consumption. On the research front, Cisco Canada has partnered with the University of Waterloo in the area for the advancement of smart-grid research. These are just some of the examples of how the Internet of Everything is changing Canadian lives for the better. And it’s only the beginning.

Are there another opportunities that you would like to see Canada take a leadership role with the Internet of Everything.

Well, Canada is well known for its love of ice hockey. I have no doubt that we’ll see sensors on pucks and players in the near future. I’m excited to see how we work to transform the fan experience through the potential of the Internet of Everything!

 

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