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Networking is Cool Again…and that’s good for Cisco

Is networking really cool again?  Obviously, all of us at Cisco think so. Judging by the hype around a few networking start-ups, and moves by major IT vendors to add  networking capabilities, we’re not alone.

The activity and innovation in our category validates something we’ve always believed: the intelligent network is the most strategic asset for our customers,  partners, and even our competitors.

And we expect to see new competitors. As we often say at Cisco,  if you don’t have good competitors, then you’re probably in the wrong markets.

Now the question on many people’s minds is whether the current transition in the market – a transition defined by terms such as Software Defined Networking and network virtualization -- represents a threat or an opportunity for Cisco. As you might expect, Cisco has a strong point of view on this.

First,  SDN, network virtualization and overlay networks (choose your favorite descriptor) are not going to commoditize the underlying networking infrastructure. These architectures actually place more demands on the core infrastructure to enable network virtualization securely, with high performance, at scale.

Why? Because customers expect their core infrastructure to be seamlessly integrated with servers and fabric interconnects. They want a common management framework across all switches (physical and virtual), and they want the ability to support heterogeneous server and hypervisor environments. Our experience is that they expect their networking vendor to fulfill those needs.

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Virtualization In Healthcare: To Be Or Not To Be?

August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm PST

Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in the healthcare industry with many industry pundits calling this technology a potential game-changer.  There seems to be a lot of excitement around how this technology can help the healthcare industry in terms of cost optimization and efficiencies. Some of the key virtualization drivers include the move towards electronic medical records (EMR) deployment, support for increasing number of mobile devices, and providing secure access to patient-sensitive data to authorized individuals (HIPAA compliance).  

I do believe that healthcare organizations have much to gain by embracing virtualization in their networks, data centers, and end-user workspaces, but they must have complete confidence that benefits can be achieved without compromising core requirements for clinicians, administrators, and IT.  In order to build this confidence, one must clearly articulate the “incremental” return on investment for adopting virtualization technology.  I have seen and heard several bold claims as to how virtualization is going to transform the healthcare industry but yet those very claims are light on how it’s truly going to help healthcare organizations be “incrementally” better.  I keep emphasizing “incremental” because that is the true value-add customers are looking for in order to justify their investments.  In today’s macro environment, everyone is being tasked to do more with less. 

In most healthcare environments, clinical and administrative applications are client-server based.  Often a nurse or a doctor who has to enter data into an application ―for instance, an EMR application― does so from a shared workstation. This task starts with the user identifying himself/herself through a secure login process that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. After entering the data, the user often immediately logs out, leaving the station available for the next user.  In an average healthcare setting, clinicians will repetitively access such workstations for data entry, sometimes as often as 50 to 70 times per shift.  The cumulative productivity loss can add up to about an hour (60 times, with a 1-minute login procedure each time). The nurse or the doctor could use this time more productively by meeting with patients or other clinicians and increasing the number of patients they can see.  This is just one example where virtualization could provide the “incremental” value-add by significantly cutting the productivity loss, which has a direct positive impact on patient experience. 

Healthcare industry is at an interesting cross-road due to the confluence of virtualization and cloud computing.  Several healthcare organizations are viewing virtualization as a stepping stone in their cloud journey. Increasing number of healthcare applications are being used in a virtualized environment – either at server level or desktop/mobile level.  This is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need, wherever they are, to support positive patient outcomes.  Over the subsequent blogs, I will articulate how Cisco virtualization platform is providing the “incremental” value-add that gives the healthcare organizations the complete confidence they need to embrace this capability.  Until then, stay tuned.

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Alcatel-Lucent’s New Core Router: Contender or Pretender?

Cisco in the Hot Seat Addressing Alcatel-Lucent’s  Core Network Offering

Service provider core networking has been a very difficult market segment for technology providers to penetrate based on its importance to global service providers and because it requires costly, ongoing innovation and investment to meet ever-changing customer requirements. While many vendors have attempted to enter this market – Avici and Caspian Networks come to mind – most have failed. In fact, Alcatel introduced a product in this space in the 2000s with the 7770. It was unsuccessful and ultimately discontinued.

While Cisco continues to be No. 1 in the core, we are not sitting on our hands by any means.  In fact, our innovation engine is in high gear, and we are confident that we’ve got the right strategy to lead our customers into the next decade and beyond. Our architectural approach was designed to enable the best delivery of video and mobility by leveraging the network intersection points of the cloud, network, and client.

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Productivity Gains Through Culture, Visuality, and Collaboration (Part 3): Extended Workplace Visuality and Pervasive Collaboration

In Part 2, I explained why organizational culture and leadership are probably the most important factors contributing to gains in employee productivity and innovation. This week, I’d like to describe two additional, highly essential enablers: extended workplace visuality and pervasive collaboration.

Extended Workplace Visuality: A visual workplace is one in which information needed to collaborate, engage, and stay productive is made available at the right time and place, rather than hidden away in spreadsheets and other documents on various employees’ laptops.

Visual displays have complemented lean manufacturing practices on the plant floor for many years, significantly reducing work-in-process inventories and manufacturing lead times, while driving cost and quality improvements. Visual thinking has also been adopted in environments such as airports and hospitals to improve operations, customer service, safety, and quality. Read More »

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BYOD on a University Campus: A Student’s Perspective

There is a new generation of college students out there, I would know as I recently was one of them.  Information being at your fingertips is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  Professors’ expectations of their students have increased dramatically due to the wealth of information on mobile devices.  Every class I attended leveraged some form of wireless access to the web.  Instant message in response to real-time questions and online submissions are just two of many examples of how network access has been integrated into the education system.  Professors would consistently use online tools such as online drop boxes for projects and web conferencing tools.  According to MarketWire 92% of college students feel a laptop is a necessity, this indicates that the requirement of mobile access at a university is a given and the college experience is defined by the ease of that access. 

Professors are on tight schedules and are generally available only at certain times of the day.  Imagine- wanting to contact a professor during open hours only to fall short because your laptop had difficulty getting any kind of connection.  I remember the frustrations of wanting to revisit PowerPoint presentations on a class website in the library, only to realize that I was sitting by the one window notorious for being a wireless dead zone.  Dorms were infamous for spotty coverage.  Having the dorm room located closest to the access point for best access was purely by luck of the draw.  I was not so lucky.  In my dorm, you would not get any wireless access unless you were sitting right next to the hallway.  That’s why I am especially envious of the students of Colorado University, whose alma mater upgraded to enterprise-class coverage. 

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