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The Future of Cloud, Part 5: The Value of Integration to Cloud Services

(This is part 5 of a 7-part series sharing insights from Cisco partners about the Future of Cloud.)

“A lot of things go into building out a cloud practice that most people don’t realize until they get into it.  Because we have been a systems integrator, we know the on-premises environment very well.  That gives us an advantage over some cloud providers who may be more like service providers.  They just don’t understand the integration piece. ”

This was just one of the insights Chris Ludwig, SVP GTM Cloud and Hosted Solutions from NWN Corporation, shared with me at Cisco Live!  NWN is a provider of Cisco Powered cloud and managed services.  Their first service offering, hosted collaboration, has created substantial pull-through for the later IaaS services they have added.

Integration is an important part of a successful migration to cloud, according to Ludwig. Cisco has a whole ecosystem that has built applications to integrate with on-premises equipment.  When moving to cloud, all of these integrations still have to work.  “That was something we did a lot of research on, to make sure that all of the third party companies that we work with on-premises are going to work in the cloud.”

For NWN, the value of the Cisco partner ecosystem cannot be underestimated.  Regarding which partners to work with, Ludwig said, “We certainly look to Cisco for guidance.  We don’t want to pick a partner and then find out something doesn’t work right.

“It’s very helpful knowing that if they’re part of the ecosystem, we know that they are going to be a good partner.  That they are going to be around.  That they know how to work with the Cisco team and technology.”

You can also learn more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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The Future of Cloud, Part 2: Adding Value to the Cloud

(This is part 2 of a 7-part series sharing insights from Cisco partners about the Future of Cloud.)

Chris Kemmerer, Director, Mobility Solutions, Verizon, had a lot to share with me at CiscoLive! “What I’m seeing this year is very transformational,” said Kemmerer. “What we’re seeing is how to take some of these foundation services and layer applications and more value on top of them.

“For example, our Cisco Powered hosted collaboration service has been very successful as we see the market shifting from premises-based phone services to cloud-base phone systems. Our traditional focus in the cloud space has been infrastructure as a service (IaaS). We’ve taken the underlying infrastructure of our IaaS platform and started to layer applications to provide software as a service (SaaS) on top of that with some key partners.”

Organizations can benefit greatly from these value-added services. “Why put your communications in the cloud? I think customers learn very quickly about the speed with which they can execute in a reliable, responsible manner. When customers are looking to stand up new locations, in the old days, it would be a month or two just for planning. Now we’re doing it in weeks.”

However, not all clouds are created equal. “Being a carrier, there’s an expectation from our customers that we are five 9s reliable, however you want to calculate that,” said Kemmerer. “The way we look at it, when we say we’re providing an enterprise-class service, it’s going to be over an application-aware network. It’s going to be secure. It’s going to offer SLAs. These are the things that, in my mind, are going to differentiate our services from say a commodity or best effort service.”

You can also learn more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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Use Cloud Collaboration to Improve Your Agency’s Communication

Collaboration technologies power a new way of working where everyone, everywhere can be more productive through face-to-face and instantaneous communication.  In previous posts, we’ve discussed how VoIP, TelePresence and Mobile Collaboration are reshaping the government workspace. For those organizations that often forced to do more with less, flexibility in service models is essential to accessing these transformative technologies.

As we’ve seen in education, the move from on-premise service models to the cloud gives organizations the ability to deploy advanced collaboration services while minimizing the requirements of an upfront investment. But a hosted delivery model not only minimizes cost, it also increases efficiency and effectiveness, reduces the burden on IT staff and ensures access to the latest releases.. With the right deployment model government workers can access the collaboration tools they want, whenever they need them.

When the City of Charlotte, North Carolina was preparing to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention cloud was the easy choice. With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) the city was able to integrate its contact call centers and deliver excellent caller experiences to citizens and visitors before and after the political convention.  With Cisco HCS the city found a solution that scaled to meet their needs during a major event and continues to better serve its citizens. But the benefits of choosing cloud don’t end there. With cloud services the City of Charlotte has lowered the total cost of ownership for the contact centers saving the city more than $100,000 a year!

With that kind of financial and operational flexibility, it’s not a surprise that more agencies are turning to hosted solutions. Is your government organization ready to take advantage of the cloud?

 

 

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Transform the Way Your School Collaborates with New Service Models

After more than 15 years of working in the telecommunications and IT industries, I’ve seen firsthand how people use technology to make a difference and change lives. While there are innovative uses of technology across all industries, nothing continues to impress me more than how collaboration technologies are reinventing education.

As we’ve seen time and time again technologies like video and mobile devices are enhancing 21st century learning. But no matter what technology schools and educators are using, the delivery of services matters. Thanks to the cloud, schools can deploy advanced collaboration technologies with increased financial and operational flexibility.

With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), organizations can implement unified communication applications while saving money by switching from a capital expenditure model to an operational expenditure model. The flexibility of the cloud enables customers to accelerate rollouts, improve business agility, lower maintenance and utility costs all while continuously delivering services.

Take for example Perspectives Charter Schools, which serves more than 2,300 students across several Chicago communities. When Perspectives Charter Schools made the shift from an on-premise unified communications system to a cloud collaboration solution they lowered monthly costs, simplified system maintenance and improved administrative efficiency. With Cisco HCS, Perspectives’ monthly bill is now 25 percent less than their previous monthly costs for phone lines, maintenance, software support contracts and repairs. But while the total cost of ownership for communications has dropped, the quality of services hasn’t. The schools have added new collaboration capabilities such as voicemail-to-email and single number reach help make staff members more accessible.

And they’re not the only ones…

Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina made the same shift from on-premise to the cloud for voice services and experienced much of the same benefits. With Cisco HCS they’ve lowered the overall cost of their voice system by eliminated the need for one connection for each school and freeing up the IT team. Not only are they saving money, they are also increasing collaboration. The switch to the cloud gave students and faculty access to more advanced collaboration capabilities such as video and instant messaging.

Alamance-Burlington School System and Perspectives Charter Schools’ use of Cisco HCS are classic examples of doing more with less. Powered by the cloud they can both deliver the advantages of Cisco’s collaboration solutions with the financial, operational and strategic benefits associated with the cloud.

Is your school ready to start benefiting from the cloud?

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – March 15, 2013

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind. Every Friday, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco partner news and stories of the week, as well as point you to significant Cisco-related content you may have missed along the way. Let’s have at it.

Off The Top
Edison Peres, senior vice president, worldwide channels, highlighted significant wins for Cisco at this week’s Channel Champions awards, presented by UBM Tech and CRN at XChange Solution Provider in Orlando. Cisco won an overall 16 awards – not too shabby! – and several overall category wins, including Unified Communications, for the 10th straight year, and midrange servers.

Photo Courtesy of CRN

As Edison notes, that server win, for technology crucial to Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) strategy, is particularly significant.

“Just look at how much this community has grown: 3,000 partners actively selling UCS Solutions and more than 20,000 end customers,” Edison writes. “Partners are building software solutions using the UCS developer tools we’ve provided and major strategic allies like VCE, NetApp, and Hitachi are winning in the data center with our combined technology and solutions.”

Check out photos of all the Champs winners, including Cisco, here, and Cisco’s Wendy Bahr, Richard McLeod and Thomas Wells collecting the hardware (at right).

Speaking of UCS, there are now build-to-order and configure-to-order options for UCS available from distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data in Canada – part of an ongoing push toward UCS enablement for Cisco distributors around the world. As ChannelBuzz.ca’s Robert Dutt notes, it’s an important move because it “could drop the leadtime for a UCS order from months to days.”

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