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The Weather Channel Uses Fast IT to Harness Data

When you walk outside and notice dark clouds gathering, or a cheerfully bright sun, little may cross your mind except to grab an umbrella or your shades. But chances are, the team at The Weather Channel knew about these weather conditions days in advance thanks to Fast IT. And with this advance information, The Weather Channel offers what is relevant to you in the moment.

In our Internet of Everything (IoE) world, more consumers and employees are demanding more relevant content now. As such, organizations must keep pace. The Fast IT model built to transform and simplify IT operations is the way to evolve in today’s environment.

For many CIOs, including The Weather Company’s Bryson Koehler, a Fast IT model has resulted in more accurate, relevant and timely data with unprecedented and unlimited uses. Consider his insights in this video:

“When I look at network programmability, I see the same capability enablement that I see from all of the other things that have preceded it,” he said. “Which is how do we leverage technology to be more flexible, how do we free up engineers and developers to innovate quicker and how do we get the traditional shackles of rigid technology unlocked so we don’t have to be nailed down to a specific piece of infrastructure.”

Over the past year-and-a-half, The Weather Company, parent to The Weather Channel, has rebuilt their entire data platform, moving their forecasting over to the cloud, allowing them to ingest data through an extremely rich set of application programming interface (API). In doing this, the organization is able to improve the accuracy of their forecast, collecting data from across the globe and analyzing it at lightning fast speeds – essential when dealing with an unpredictable variable like the weather.

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The Not-So-Silent Revolution: The Internet of Everything in Higher Education

Change has come slowly to higher education.  This is understandable given the relative success that the American university system has had in granting four-year degrees that have helped students garner higher long-term earnings.  Regardless, the traditional university system is facing crushing pressure from increasing student loan debt, rising costs, and expectations of hyper-connected students who want to learn anytime, anywhere from any device.

While the MOOC movement raised eyebrows and started people thinking differently about new delivery models, the sort of cataclysmic change some thought would happen with the advent of MOOCs didn’t.  Most institutions, while including some form of virtual learning in their course line-ups, have remained doggedly tied to the traditional, in-person lecture-hall format for the majority of their classes.  Talk about the need for a major revolution.

We believe that the Internet of Everything (IoE) is the catalyst for a revolution that we necessarily need to see in higher education. In fact, I believe that IoE will take the industry by storm.  Successful universities will quickly learn how the IoE can and is helping to create compelling, Connected Learning Experiences for faculty, staff, and students, and then they will begin leveraging this important trend to transform how they’re educating students now and in the future.

IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things and represents the confluence of multiple technology trends: mobility (ubiquitous, high-speed mobile networks, smart devices, and apps); cloud computing, social networks, instant collaboration with anyone, anywhere; data analytics, and finally, an explosion in connected “things,” via inexpensive, intelligent sensors.  IoE brings these elements together with standards-based IP networks, and Cisco projects that it will generate a staggering $19T in value over the next ten years.  Of this, $258B of the IoE value-at-stake will come from solutions for Connected Learning alone.

The network, which is at the heart of IoE, must be stable, scalable, reliable, and capable of handling the increased rate of traffic from the explosion of mobile devices, the use of video, and the implementation of new applications for communications and collaboration.   It must be safe, secure, wired, and wireless, easy to manage and administer, and it must be designed to meet future growth requirements.

A number of universities have embarked on major change initiatives that take advantage of the IoE shift, and they are yielding concrete results: San Jose State University, Duke University, the 4-Virginia Universities, and others.  These institutions are providing ubiquitous wi-fi, access to a world of experts, immersive learning environments, collaborative workspaces, blended learning environments, and a sharing of courses, content, professors, and credit.  They have acknowledged that change is coming and that new technologies are accelerating change.

We are kicking off Educause today in Orlando, and we will undoubtedly be hearing a lot about IoE this week. Come by and visit the team in our booth at #Edu14, and check out this SlideShare to learn more about how IoE is transforming Higher Education.


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Take Advantage of Mobile Cloud. What Are You Waiting For?

As organizations seek ways to maintain real-time connections with their workforce and customers in an increasingly digital and mobile-centered world, the growth of mobile cloud will be a major force in shaping the business landscape and future tech decisions. The first blog post in this series, by Padmasree Warrior, explores how the convergence of mobility and cloud will deliver unprecedented transformation for all organizations. The second blog post in this series, by Sujai Hajela, answers the question of what mobile cloud really is and how it continues to provide new business opportunities. In the third post, Joe Cozzolino looks at what mobile cloud means for service providers and enterprises. In the fourth blog, Michael Fuhrman discusses the need for end-to-end security in a mobile cloud environment. And finally, this post will discuss actions that CXOs should take concerning cloud technology.  

Our recent mobility landscape study showed that organizations are looking for ways to maintain real-time connections with their workforce and customers in an increasingly digital and mobile-centered world.  The growth of mobile cloud is a major force in shaping the business landscape and future tech decisions. This blog series explores how the convergence of mobility and cloud will deliver unprecedented transformation for all organizations.

In this final post, Hans Hwang outlines two case studies where clients have used the reach of mobile cloud to improve customer interactions using real-time technology and results and speaks directly to business leaders on how to achieve the results they desire from mobile cloud technology.

In this series, we have covered a lot about what mobile cloud is and its capabilities, but can mobile cloud give you a return on your investment? As a Services leader, I see a lot of opportunity for you to get going with mobile cloud as a differentiator for your business. I’d like to close by talking about business outcomes. What is it you’d like to achieve? Increased efficiency? Reduced operating expenses? More revenue? A better experience for your customers? Or is it all of the above?

Let’s face it: your customers and your boss don’t care what particular technology you use to deliver results. They only care that you get there fast with minimal risk – and without extra funding. Investing in mobile cloud could be just your ticket, so let’s talk about business outcomes.

Mobile Cloud #5 8.4.14

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Connecting Windshield Wipers to Weather Forecasts with The Weather Channel

Bryson Koehler, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Weather Channel, shares his perspective on The Weather Channel and the Internet of Everything.


Did you know that the weather affects about 35 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, every day? And, as you might guess, humans make decisions every day that are completely based on the weather. Weather is the most primal decision making factor to everything we do. Just as a person’s demeanor can change if it’s raining or sunny, business decisions and outcomes can change in the same manner. The more information we have about the weather, the smarter we can be. So we, at The Weather Channel, have been utilizing the Internet of Everything to gather and analyze data and assist businesses, cities and everyday consumers like you and me.

The Internet of Everything has changed the game of what our teams at The Weather Channel can do. While our company began as a 24-hour network devoted to weather programming, we have adapted a number of innovations over the years, and today have become a tech-led media company. We’ve grown from providing accurate forecasts for 2.2 million locations, four times an hour, to forecasting 2.8 billion locations, 15 times an hour. With the IoE we have been able to bring weather information to people across the world, giving them the information they need when they most need it.  As a CIO, I try to unleash innovation. The more our technology tools can work autonomously of us, the more we can focus on our output and what they can do to impact our everyday lives.

Moving our forecasting platform to the cloud enabled more scalability and flexibility with our computing platform. This not only improved our processes, but it enhanced the data we gather. By embracing the new technology of the Internet of Everything, we have created a system that is unmatched when it comes to closely analyzing atmospheric data. The Weather Channel can now dig deeper and pin point the weather of a specific city, street corner or even a singular home address.

To further improve our data and weather models, we utilize state-of-the-art sensors to evaluate specific weather conditions. For example, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Apple iPhone 6 have imbedded pressure sensors, as do things like windshield wipers. All of these allow us to analyze storm systems, humidity levels and weather patterns in real time in any given area. Internet of Everything-enabled devices like those sensors allow us to continue to work to keep local residents informed and safe. The faster we can receive and interrupt data about a storm, the quicker we can inform local citizens of impending danger.

It’s not just local residents that we can assist when we spot an incoming storm, either. We can provide insurance companies in advance with information about the storms that will affect their policyholders, so they can send out proactive alerts. Say 50% of the people who receive an alert about an impending hailstorm, for example, will put their cars inside. That can save insurance companies money by limiting the number of payouts and makes policyholders happier with their choice of insurance company.

From hailstorms to sunny days, we can simultaneously improve businesses’ understanding of their customers’ behavior. Businesses that use weather trends can better predict spending patterns for their specific area. For example, we know that 34 degrees in Miami is an entirely different beer sales weekend than 34 degrees in Chicago. What drives a company’s product consumption? It could be humidity. It could be wind. It could be cloud coverage. Through the data we are collecting, we can provide businesses with the insights they need to understand how weather is driving consumer behaviors, both in real time and ahead of time.

At the end of the day, innovation requires risk. At The Weather Company, we have taken those risks and evolved from a cable network into a technology-led media company. Using Cisco’s technology and the Internet of Everything, the data we can collect lets us deliver so much more than a basic weather forecast.

How does the weather impact your business? How can the Internet of Everything help? Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #InternetOfEverything.

Read more  #InternetofEverything Perspectives

Transforming Property Management with IoE by Roger Vasquez– Director of Engineering of Transwestern

Integrating Cities with IoE and City24/7 by Tom Touchet – CEO of City24/7

Driving Smarter with Technology and UPS by Dave Barnes – CIO of UPS


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The Internet of Everything: New Job Roles, New Education Required

****This article has been updated to remove a factoid discussing IoE and manufacturing job growth.****

We have entered the world of the Internet of Everything (IoE)—a world that brings people, data, processes and things together into a vast web of connectivity. From wearable devices that monitor our vital statistics to household appliances that anticipate our needs to smart cars that detect traffic jams and automatically re-route our journeys, the IoE represents an increasingly digital and mobile world that promises to improve our lives.

Twenty-five billion devices will be connected by next year, and that number will grow to 50 billion by 2020. All of this new data that the IoE generates will change the job landscape forever.  These are exciting developments with unprecedented potential, but the rapidly expanding IoE requires specialized skill sets that don’t yet exist, resulting in a critical talent gap. Read More »

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