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The Road to PaaS. What’s Post-IaaS – Network thoughts

Recently, I wrote an article on PaaS for IT BusinessEdge entitled the road PaaS, understanding your post IaaS options.  Here’s an excerpt.

The Road to PaaS

PaaS is an enticing proposition that has generated a lot of market buzz.

But PaaS forces tradeoffs and it shouldn’t be seen as a one-size-fits-all proposition.

To understand, I like to draw the distinction between what I call “Silicon Valley PaaS” and “Enterprise PaaS.” The majority of the discussion in the market today revolves around the Silicon Valley PaaS pattern, which is a truly abstracted “black box” approach to software platforms.

This form of PaaS exposes a set of standardized services to which you write your applications, completely sheltering developers from the underlying complexity below the PaaS abstraction.

It makes a lot of sense for brand-apps built with modern frameworks like Python and Ruby in greenfield development environments that are highly standardized.

The basic premise of the post is that PaaS for an enterprise is VERY different from PaaS for a Silicon Valley start up. And nowhere is it more  different than in the network requirements.

The PaaS customer is a developer who will code an application, use the underlying services offered by the PaaS stack, such a database, storage, queueing, etc.  The developer deploys the code, selects a few options and code is live.

So what’s going on with the network? Well, the PaaS layer will need to auto-scale, fail-over and deliver performance at some level. It may need it’s own domain as well. That PaaS layer will need to talk to underlying network services such as firewalls, switches, etc.  That PaaS really needs access to infrastructure models that deliver network containers to whatever PaaS abstraction the PaaS layer has.

Hard enough to do when all the containers are the same, as it would be in a Silicon Valley PaaS offering.

It doesn’t work with the existing enterprise platforms.  This is a big opportunity for innovation

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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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The new manufacturing workforce enabled by Cisco Unified Access

July 31, 2012 at 4:34 am PST

My eldest nephew is a recent college graduate.  He lives in Boston and walks to work, which is less than 2 miles from his apartment.  When I was his age, I commuted fifty miles in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to work (uphill, both ways)!

Young, skilled workers who want to live, work and socialize locally are pushing companies to locate in cities.  Many employers are accommodating the hiring demands of the new workforce, as a means to recruit and retain new talent.

An estimated 10 million manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled due to a growing skills gap.  As the talent pool shrinks, companies are paying close attention to what the next generation of skilled workers wants – all with the end goal of employing, retaining and keeping workers away from the competition.

Watch the video that I refer to later in the blog

An undeniable truth is that these young workers, and most of their not-so-young co-workers, want the freedom to use their own personal smartphones and tablets at work. And more than ever, they want to use them from anywhere, even when they’re on the move. This mobile BYOD desire is causing an avalanche of new devices (15 billion by 2015), applications and cloud-based services.

Business and IT leaders are paying attention.  A May 2012 Cisco IBSG Horizons Study reveals that IT is saying yes to BYOD. A whopping 95% of respondents say their organizations permit employee-owned devices in some way, shape or form in the workplace.  Have a look at Peter Granger’s blog to learn about how manufacturers are implementing BYOD.

Working according to our own terms does present a variety of new business and IT infrastructure challenges. And thanks to Cisco Unified Access, employers can safely accommodate the demands of the new workforce, and enhance their own business productivity in the process. 

The new workforce’s insistence on working their way may not only change the way we do business; it just might ease that bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic!

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How Much of Your Workday is Already in the Cloud?

When was the last time you went through a workday without emailing, conferencing, or researching on the Internet? If you’re anything like me, your day is filled with a mix of tools and activities in the cloud. In a workforce served by many clouds, our daily cloud impact continues to increase. Global data center traffic is projected to quadruple from 2010-2015, and more specifically, cloud traffic is forecasted to grow 12-fold during that period.

The Worklife Cloud experience weighs Read More »

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Does Cloud Really Matter When it Comes to Collaboration?

Recent numbers from Gartner suggest that by 2016, enterprise public cloud services spending will reach $207 billion, up from $109 billion in 2012.  Additionally, according to IDG’s Unified Communications and Collaboration survey, 90% of organizations plan to invest in new or upgraded unified communications and collaboration technology in the next 12 months.

It’s clear that businesses see a lot of opportunity in the cloud and collaboration, but how exactly can it help your business? At Cisco, we see four main ways that organizations can benefit from services that provide collaboration in the cloud, such as those offered with the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution:

You Can Create Unified User Experiences: Cloud-based collaboration solutions deliver a consistent experience across all devices – something important with the increasingly expanding array of devices used for work. This means, that someone using a smartphone from their car will be having the same WebEx meeting experience as the person joining from their desktop computer in a cubicle and the lucky coworker that is dialing in from their tablet at a sunny outdoor café. The application will look and feel the same so there isn’t a learning curve to use it on a different device and you can be assured that there won’t be any difference in the features and functionalities between users as well. 

You Can Optimize Resources: One of the many ways that collaboration delivers value is through operational ROI that allows organizations to avoid unnecessary costs and improve processes, but the resource gains from cloud collaboration go well beyond fiscal benefits.  Since the cloud can unify and automate operations across employees and offices, it allows IT and business executives to refocus their energy and investments less on operational issues and more on strategic priorities ultimately leading to business transformation.   Read More »

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