With advanced collaboration technologies like video conferencing and enterprise social software, companies are rethinking the way they traditionally have done business. Social collaboration adds a new layer to the communication experience, allowing companies to innovate, grow, expand into new markets and increase productivity. It can provide unmatched benefits to an organization including:
Easier access to resources and expertise
Contextual, real-time communications through integration with voice, IM, conferencing and video.
Time and resource savings that drive better utilization of existing systems
Social networking with less risk though rules-based policy management
Simplified content management
More effective information discovery
This week at Enterprise 2.0 in Boston, Cisco makes some announcements around our social collaboration strategy and the extension of our market leading Cisco WebEx cloud, which I describe in detail in this video blog. Read More »
Being at Cisco Live was a very different experience for me this year. Previous years I spent most of my time in the Intelligent Automation booth discussing functionality in the areas of service catalogs, portals, and orchestration workflows. It was mostly a technical conversation of how to build private cloud catalogs and how to provision infrastructure. This year my Cisco Live experience started off in talking to about 80 partners at the Cisco Connected Architecture Forum Summit; a very interesting crowd. It was here that I talked about what Cisco IT and our Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit experience was in deploying private clouds for end users. I discussed Cisco’s private cloud CITEIS, and our new product release Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition. I discussed Physical and Virtual Clouds and there was much interest in the concept of a services portal and automation construct for both Physical and Virtual clouds, something that is enabled very elegantly with the UCS Manager API. Partners asked great questions: How quickly can they deploy this starter cloud? How do customers chart out their journey to the cloud? Where do they start and what do they do first? Great conversations ensued…
Service Delivery Partners are a key strategy for the deployment of Cisco Cloud software stack. Watch the following interview with Sydney Morgan of Cisco IT and Dave Kinsman from World Wide Technologies, a partner of ours in this area as we talk about the Journey to Cloud and our experiences on the deployment side.
I spent the rest of Cisco Live talking to some great IT organizations about their cloud plans and journey that they are on. Some interesting examples are:
Financial Services: This customer of ours was focused on the deployment of cloud and the changes to the organization as they were coming off of Mainframe centric workloads, deploying them to x86 architectures on UCS. How the application developers would use the newly minted cloud was top of mind.
Service Provider: Many Cloud Service Providers are right at the intersection of business and technology: what service offers can I offer out of the chute to differentiate my company? Discussions around how our IA for Cloud technology stack and pre-built services and automation can make that easier. We also discussed the need and desire to train up their staff to become service designers and workflow authors.
Manufacturer: This customer is focused on operational efficiency and how automation software can reduce the mundane and routine tasks in operations. Replication of system configuration in a standardized way allows their deep application support teams to focus on differentiating their business.
You know by now that we live in a world of many clouds, but what exactly goes into those clouds on a daily basis? Cisco recently reported that global data center traffic is projected to quadruple from 2010-1015, and more specifically, cloud traffic is forecasted to grow 12-fold during that period. By 2015, .8 ZB of that traffic will be in form of web, email, VoDs, etc. That’s the equivalent of:
Sending 4.6 quadrillion emails
Browsing 1.8 quadrillion web pages
Watching 99 trillion minutes worth of YouTube videos
Attending 15.5 trillion hours of standard-def web conferences
The self-evaluation of your own cloud activity during the workday provides clarity into the real-world impact of these numbers. Cisco’s Worklife Cloud experience weighs daily business activities against each other and provides a personalized data visualization of an average day.
Cisco Live 2012 has been another great opportunity to show the power of the partner ecosystem that Cisco built to provide compelling solutions to the IT organizations, interested in deploying a Unified Data Center, and a private cloud infrastructure.
I invited this week VCE Tom Chatham to blog about the collaboration between VCE, Cisco and EMC to support workload mobility and business continuance, and EMC Brian Gracely to write about VSPEX. But I also took advantage of the presence at Cisco Live of EMC Parmeet Chaddha VP Partner Solutions and VCE Jay Cuthrell, Office of the CTO, to invite them to a short video panel with Cisco Senior Director Data Center Cloud and Enterprise Solutions Shashi Kiran to talk about the different architectures that can simplify, automate and transform IT while helping customers accelerate the journey to cloud computing.
There is no doubt that the collaboration between our 3 companies over the past years has been very productive , and today this “triad ” is able to offer to the customers 3 clear options depending on their unique business IT needs:
Build Your Own—Solutions built using tested and proven products and services
Reference architectures through VSPEX—Pre-packaged reference architectures
Converged infrastructure through joint venture VCE—Vblock
It’s almost Summer—the season of road trips. And recently I had the privilege of driving across the country. While some might fear loss of productivity with a trip like that, I was actually able to work quite productively, mile after mile—thanks to a WiFi hotspot, Cisco’s VPN, and a laptop charger that plugged into the cigarette lighter. Of course, it helped having someone else do the driving. From Oakland, California to New York City, I participated in Webex meetings, wrote and edited documents, and generally got stuff done. But enough about me.
In Salt Lake City, I met up with kindred spirit Mike Sumsion, chief information officer for iTransact, which helps businesses accept customer payments via credit, debit, and gift cards, as well as electronic checks. “I’ve spent the last 10 years making sure our company could be productive from anywhere,” said Mike. Clearly, he’s one who likes to stay ahead of the curve: A blog post from last month cited a Cisco report that said 46 percent of people surveyed expect to be able to access their corporate network from their personal mobile devices.
Mike’s company employs 50 people. While it keeps customer service employees onsite, sales people can work from home with their same IP office phones and computers that they use in their cubicles. The company is also looking to extend this flexibility to other employees.
In a nutshell, iTransact offers services that let merchants accept transactions without a lot of heavy lifting. Its service is offered directly to customers and their trusted advisors, like accounting firms, banks, and others. A dashboard interface lets them log in to check on the status of accounts billable, as well as manage real-time interactions remotely.
Given the sensitivity of the information that’s exchanged with each transaction, iTransact’s top concerns are compliance and security. So when it comes to working in the Cloud, things are still evolving. As an interim measure, the company uses Dropbox to make sure employees have updated documentation to share with everyone in real time. Each new employee is set up with a Dropbox account, providing instant access to all necessary documents for his/her role. Since Dropbox is Cloud based, employees who are traveling or working remotely can access the documents from wherever. Plus, it simplifies the information management. Even though the document repositories are managed by a single individual, all employees receive instantaneous updates.
Looking ahead, iTransact does see more Clouds on the horizon. “We’re building a gateway 2.0. that will absolutely use the Cloud. We’ll be able to drop a node anywhere in the world, fire up a virtual machine and have it accept transactions,” notes Mike. “We’ll be able to scale geographically, and offload geographically as needed, to the server that makes most sense,” he adds. And the icing on the cake: All the databases and self-contained software will allow for 100% uptime. This becomes especially important as they cater to smaller businesses, with transactions and updates happening constantly.
So what does a fast-moving small business see for its future? “It’ll be more mobile,” says Mike, without hesitating. “Look around you—increasingly, anyone can buy anything from anyone at any time. We need to manage the data, accordingly. The dashboard we built—that will become a mobile app; our internal employees will update records via their phones and customers’ transaction processes will become more mobile than they are now,” he adds.
Amen to that. As one who thrives on traveling—and getting stuff done regardless of where I am and regardless of whether I’m a customer or an employee—I think the future looks absolutely sunny. With a few clouds, of course.
To learn more about how Cisco can help your small business, click here.