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The Myth of Greenfield Technology Environments

This is part of a series on the evolution of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud platform, exploring the technical and design principles behind its unique architecture.

In the last post in this series, Jens Meggers talked about the huge importance of user experience, and how essential it is to simplify, connect, and delight. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is increasingly essential to delivering those three ingredients.

A true SaaS platform can provide continuous delivery, enabling rapid updates of software to make constant improvements on those ingredients. It also enables A/B testing and metrics-driven software development, which can ensure that the product is in fact delivering a great user experience.

The problem is that all of that works fine and well for companies that can get a complete collaboration solution from the cloud. But – the reality is – these types of greenfield environments are not all that common. Most companies have a huge amount of on-premises software. In fact, most of them have a huge amount of on-premises software that provides collaboration functionality. IP PBXs (like our own Unified Communications Manager), email servers, corporate directories – these all exist en-masse on-prem. And for many companies, these products work and work well, with quite a bit of life left in them. Consequently, even for a company that is excited about the user experience that SaaS can deliver, it’s not clear how to get there because they aren’t greenfield. Read More »

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The User Experience

This is part of a series on the evolution of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud platform, exploring the technical and design principles behind its unique architecture.

In the last post in this series, Rowan wrote about revolutionizing enterprise communications through the cloud to deliver amazing experiences. I am glad that Rowan mentioned experience, because that happens to be a passion of mine.

For me, experience manifests itself in several ways. It means:

  • Our technology is integrated and works easily across our platform;
  • Our technology is intuitive and easy to use by anyone at any level in the organization; and
  • Most importantly, it means users are delighted in every interaction.

But to deliver amazing experiences, we have to understand how people will use our technology and what they need to accomplish FIRST, before we build anything. When we understand the experience people want, we can tie that to the experience we deliver. Then, and only then, can we build a platform with products that are valuable and desirable.

We do this by leveraging three key design principles across Collaboration. Embedded in everything we do, they put users at the center of our platform and products. These principles are: simplify, connect, and delight.

Simplify: this is all about the experience. You’ve told us you need to connect with your teams quickly, no matter where they are Read More »

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Video in 2016: Saving Holiday Plans, Bettering Business

This is the time of year for crystal-ball gazing when everyone starts talking about what the new year might bring.

It’s no secret that I’m passionate about video. I can pinpoint when this passion was sparked: November 2012. It was my first month at Cisco. Excited to dig in and meet my far-flung new team, I started booking flights… and contemplating spending November, December, and a good chunk of January on the road. But then video gear showed up on my desktop. Suddenly I didn’t need to take a 10-hour flight to be with the team in Oslo; I could be there with the touch of a “join” button.

To say this rocked my world is an understatement. It also saved my family’s holiday plans.

It’s also no secret that others share my passion for video. Our customers are buying video gear at an amazing rate: We’ve had double-digit revenue growth in video endpoints for four quarters in a row.

We still have a long way to go.

In fact, we estimate that fewer than 10% of the conference rooms in the world are connected via video today. I see a future where 100% of conference rooms have video. People will be communicating via video on their phones and other devices all day long, and naturally they’ll want it in all the rooms they work in too. We won’t get to 100% in the next 12 months but we will take some pretty huge steps forward. In fact, I predict that by the end of 2016 one in every four rooms will have video.

What steps will get us there? Here are my predictions: Read More »

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Cloud Reimagined

As we gear up for our biggest collaboration event of the year, Collaboration Summit, I thought it would be a great opportunity to kick off a blog series leading up to the announcements we’ll be making there this December about the evolution of our Collaboration Cloud Platform.

At last year’s summit, we announced Project Squared, our foray into what Gartner calls “enterprise mobile messaging,” but also a proof of concept for our entire cloud platform. We created this app, now known as Cisco Spark, to help us collaborate better internally while we built a new collaboration infrastructure from the ground up.

Infrastructure is top-of-mind for enterprises today, especially considering the rise of cloud and mobile and the increasing pressure of business leaders to make a decisive move to cloud. As our CEO Chuck Robbins noted in a recent blog, “The critical timeframe to deliver on the transformation cycle is compressing, and we all must move faster than ever before.”

It’s not possible to simply move our current infrastructures into the cloud. We saw the need for a new kind of cloud architecture reimagined to work with enterprise and partner networks in a radical way.

We built our platform with modern cloud-based technologies focused on key customer and partner concerns, including user experience, security, flexible deployment options, and ecosystem. For the first time, we can deliver the incredible experience users want built on the dynamic and secure infrastructure IT demands.

Please follow this series of blogs from our cloud team as we track the evolution of our cloud from app to platform to ecosystem, allowing each of our cloud leaders to comment on the design and technical principles behind its truly unique architecture.

The future is going to be in the cloud, but not all clouds were created equal. With digital transformation looming large in the minds of business leaders worldwide, it’s important to choose a cloud deployment model that can actually get them there.

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Project Squared Update: Secure Media

The cloud is software in motion.

Our recently announced Cisco Collaboration Cloud did not stop moving once we launched it on November 17. We’ve been pushing code into the cloud multiple times per day and have release several client updates since we launched. The great thing about this model is that we can be delivering new features constantly without waiting for a giant release. This also means that, when a feature doesn’t get done by a particular date, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t need to wait for a huge release 6-12 months later. It might come just a few weeks later.

This is exactly what has happened with an important security feature which we didn’t quite finish in time for Collaboration Summit – secure media (also known as Secure RTP or SRTP). The version of the application that we launched on November 17 did not utilize secure media in all clients. Given our focus on security this was obviously something we weren’t happy about. But, we knew that it was almost done and we would push it soon enough.

I’m pleased to report that we have indeed pushed secure media. All of our Project Squared clients – the Mac, Android, IOS and web clients send all media in encrypted form to our media servers. The media is secured using a flavor of SRTP known as DTLS-SRTP, which performs the key exchange inline with the media itself.  SRTP is on by default and cannot be disabled. This is consistent with our general approach to security – to make it always there but invisible to end users. Neither our users nor our admins of the collaboration cloud need to do anything to make sure media is secure. It just is.

Of course – we’re not done yet! There is still a healthy backlog of features, including many more great security improvements, that we’re working on. Stay tuned, more stuff is  coming. That’s because the cloud is software in motion.

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