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Partner Voices: Cloud, Data Security, and Business Continuity with Cisco Cloud-Powered Solutions from TekLinks

November 20, 2014 at 7:30 am PST

Well we’re deep into football season, so I decided what better time to chat with David Powell, TekLinks Vice President of Managed & Cloud Services, than when his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide are fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. (Meanwhile, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons are mired in their sixth straight losing season.)

In short, I thought a little distraction for David would be good for him, and he agreed to give me some insight into how TekLinks is ramping up data protection for their customers using Cisco Cloud-Powered Solutions.

Natural Threats

With all of the malware attacks in the world today, sometimes Mother Nature is still the biggest threat to data security. When a deadly tornado outbreak in April 2011 occurred, Peoples Bank of Cullman, AL, experienced firsthand how important it is to have a backup data center location for their core infrastructure. The TekLinks’ networking team was already watching the tornado’s activity via Skycam when they were alerted that the connectivity at all of the Peoples Banks in Cullman had gone out simultaneously.

The team’s suspicions were confirmed when they received word that the bank’s entire second floor was gone. However, the bank’s primary servers were still intact. Early the next morning, the bank’s CTO and technical staff transported the servers to one of TekLinks’ Birmingham data centers, where an entire team of TekLinks engineers were waiting to get their core servers re-cabled, properly powered up, and reconnected to the network. The TekLinks team worked around the clock with the bank’s IT staff to get the bank’s environment and online customer services back up in less than 36 hours after the incident. Read More »

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So you’ve got a cloud strategy? Sorry. What you need is a roadmap.

November 20, 2014 at 7:29 am PST

Like many IT organisations, yours probably knitted a “cloud strategy” some years ago. But do you have a clear roadmap to execute the required changes at all levels (people, processes, technology, services) in a stepwise approach? If not, your strategy is likely to remain just that -- a “strategy” -- for a long time. And you might miss all the benefits brought by cloud.
Cisco’s Strategic IT Roadmap (or SITR, introduced in my earlier post) is a 3-phased methodology destined to help you make this transformation. Here below, I am sharing an example of what the third (and last) phase usually looks like -- a detailed roadmap built around a number of key IT programmes, each composed by specific projects.

Strategic IT Roadmap

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What Is the Cisco Collaboration Cloud?

Today at Collaboration Summit, we announced a bunch of really exciting stuff: the IX5000, the Project Squared client, and the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. This third announcement is a big one for me personally. Since my arrival at Cisco, I have invested a lot of my time and energy working on the Cisco Collaboration Cloud.

So, what exactly is it? Simply put, Cisco Collaboration Cloud is the server-side software that powers the Project Squared client. But, it’s also a whole lot more than that. We see the market going through a substantial transition around cloud and mobile. We knew this required us to place a big bet on the technology platform that would help us leapfrog through this market change. Cisco Collaboration Cloud, or C3 for short, is one of those big bets.

Iteration

The first thing we needed was a software platform in the cloud that would deliver a fantastic user experience. More important, we needed to build a platform from which we could continuously evolve and improve the user experience. The reality is that it’s incredibly hard to just sit in a room, think about how the product should look, ship it to customers, and be completely right – on the first try. Unless you are Steve Jobs, you need to iterate based on feedback.

The best client experiences in the market today are powered by cloud platforms that iterate incredibly quickly, with new software pushes in the cloud on a daily basis. Doing that is hard. It requires software that is capable of hitless upgrades (meaning, no downtime when doing an upgrade). And it requires tons of automation for everything from testing to deployment.

So, we built all of that. Iteration is a key tenet of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. But frankly, iteration is almost table-stakes in modern cloud software design.

Security Read More »

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How I Manage a $4B Business from my Phone

I don’t use my laptop to run my business.

It’s not that I don’t like my laptop. It’s just that I really love using my mobile device — for everything. My mobile is incredibly convenient, small, and functional. Let’s face it: we’re lucky to be in the era of the smartphone when one device can do almost everything. And best of all, I actually can run my business with just this device.

Two years ago, when I started at Cisco, it was not possible for me to run my business with a smartphone. Something was missing. I used email and SMS and voice/video on my phone, but it wasn’t quite enough. I realized that I needed one place to stay connected to the work we were doing and to stay connected to the people I needed to work with. And do it both in real-time, and non real-time.

That need is pretty obvious to other people too, as it now seems every week there is a new messaging app targeting mobile workers like me. What all of these apps are missing is a way to connect real-time collaboration with non real-time conversations. Most of these apps treat this problem as an afterthought, but we didn’t. So while everyone is running in one direction, we’re going a different way. A better way.

Today, I’m excited to tell you that Cisco has developed that very tool and we launched it today: Project Squared built on our new Cisco Collaboration Cloud.

Project Squared is our brand-new enterprise business collaboration application. Read More »

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Take Out the Stress of Choosing the Right Cloud Provider

For many organizations, buying cloud services can be stressful. After all, as your business moves more and more into the cloud, you need to know your services and cloud provider are as reliable or better than if these services originated from within your own data center.

Buying cloud services can feel a lot like buying a car. How many of us really know what’s going on under the hood? We look at a few key stats like gas mileage and drive it around the block. Yeah, it accelerates and brakes. We know we’re safe and going to get relatively good gas efficiency. After all, cars have to meet certain standards. So in the end the decision comes down to price and comfort features such as how much we like the center console and cup holder.

But not all clouds are created equal. Low pricing and a fancy user portal are nice, but they aren’t what keep your business growing. Is best-effort service good enough for your operations? Can your organization afford to experience down time? Does your provider offer the flexibility you could get from other providers? Is your service truly enterprise-class?

The good news is that, just like there are standards in the car industry, there are standards for cloud. Services that are Cisco Powered, for example, have to meet strict requirements to carry the Cisco Powered logo. These requirements include certification and a third-party audit of every service to verify they deliver as promised.

You can learn more about what it takes to have confidence in your cloud provider from our partner, OneNeck. In their recent blog, “How to Reliably Offload IT Management to the Cloud,” they share a comprehensive list of factors to consider when choosing a cloud provider.
Selecting the right cloud provider and services doesn’t have to be frustrating and arbitrary. By understanding what comprises a reliable cloud, you can ask the right questions to ensure your provider is the best partner for your business.

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