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The Future of Cloud, Part 1: Six Cloud Providers and Their Vision

This year’s Cisco Live! was tremendous, with 25,000 attendees on-site and another 200,000 attending virtually.  There was a lot of excitement around all things cloud, from how the Internet of Everything will change the way we live, to the role of the Intercloud in forming a seamless fabric between the world of many clouds.

During the show, I spent time with six of our partners who offer Cisco Powered cloud and managed services.  In this series of blogs, I’ll introduce you to each of them and what they shared with me about the future of cloud.  Each of them had a different perspective, but all of them agreed: the cloud represents an incredible opportunity for businesses around the world.

Here are some of the highlights I’ll share in upcoming blogs:

Part 2: Chris Kemmerer, Director, Mobility Solutions, Verizon, shared that part of Verizon’s mission is to bring together the pieces needed to unlock the value of the Internet of Everything for their customers.  “The Internet of Everything has deep meaning to us as everything becomes connected, whether it’s business to business, people to people, people to machines, or machines to machines.  When you have all these things exchanging data, you can improve the way enterprises interact with each other, how consumers interact with enterprises, by leveraging all that connectivity.”  He also shared how Verizon adds value to cloud services by layering applications on the underlying architecture.

Part 3: The importance of transparency in the high performance cloud was described by Dusten Tornow, Director of Infrastructure Products, from OneNeck IT Solutions.  “When we decided to build out our cloud infrastructure, we knew that we wanted to align with enterprise vendors like Cisco because their technologies resonate with our customers as being high performance.  They recognize that if they were to go out and build their own cloud, it would likely look and feel a lot like what we’ve built.  Being able to be transparent with what our equipment is made out of and built upon is a huge advantage for us.”

Part 4: Derek Siler, Director, Solution Engineering – Channel Sales, Sungard Availability Services talked about how building a resilient cloud that can carry businesses into the future requires a resilient foundation.  “We’re building our cloud future around Cisco and around enterprise-grade architectures.  For us, Cisco is absolutely vital.”

Part 5: The value of integration to cloud services was another important topic at Cisco Live!  For Chris Ludwig, SVP GTM Cloud and Hosted Solutions from NWN Corporation, applications integrated with on-premises equipment still have to work when migrated to cloud.  “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.  We certainly look to Cisco for guidance.  It’s very helpful knowing that if they’re part of the ecosystem, we know that they are going to be a good partner.”

Part 6: Steve Harris, Senior Vice President, National Alliances at Peak 10, echoed the value of a partner ecosystem.  “Today it takes an ecosystem to deliver the business outcome that clients are looking for.  We’ve gone beyond the point where clients are just interested in the technology.  They want the technology to provide a business outcome for them.  Being able to provide that seamless solution with the Cisco ecosystem of partners is incredibly important.”

Part 7: Finally, I spoke with Andy Bird, Executive Director, Product Management and Development at eLoyalty, a TeleTech Company.  He expressed his excitement about Cisco’s Intercloud Fabric.  “Imagine trying to take your data from one cloud and move it to the next.  It’s very difficult to do, because when you look at clouds, you end up getting hooked into them, just like if you were to buy premise gear.  What Cisco has been starting to enable to happen is the idea of creating a fabric between the clouds that allows me to migrate data.  When somebody gets on my platform, they have the ability to go and leverage Cisco in other places.  So they have a different level of confidence.”

Next time: my interview with Chris Kemmerer at Verizon.  Until then, you can read more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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The Converging IT Landscape

With networks getting faster and the whole world going mobile, the number of connections is growing at an unprecedented rate. By next year, the amount of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on the planet, and by 2020, will reach 50 billion. And those devices are getting smarter all the time.

While there is no doubt that mobility, cloud and big data are each enabling business transformation, imagine what they could do collectively. That’s the power of convergence, and it’s revolutionizing the IT and business landscape.

This convergence brings together applications, systems and processes to help meet current needs while preparing for future innovation. It’s at the heart of the Internet of Everything (IoE) in connecting people, process, data and things in new and innovative ways. And mobility is a driving force fuelling this evolving landscape, breaking down barriers and enabling the birth of entirely new kinds of business and economic models.

Mobility: A Cornerstone in the Converging IT LandscapeFuture of Mobility_v1-2

Mobile devices are already a pervasive part of our lives. As mobility continues to evolve, these devices will be primarily how a network connects to the user, helping shape and customize the end-user experience to deliver more personalized services and real-time engagement.

Imagine you are an online shopper who doesn’t want to wait overnight for your shipment. You want your product now. From your mobile device, you will not only be able to price-match with other retailers and see if the product is available in a store near you (a current capability), but also connect with real-time data in the cloud over an agile network to see if there are checkout lines in the store, reserve a parking spot, and tell the customer service rep you are on your way.

Gartner predicts that, through this year, mobile apps will drive “the next evolution in user experience” by “leverage[ing] intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.” This is already happening through smart devices and wearables, for example, as people (myself included) use health and fitness apps to help make better, healthier choices.

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Securing Employee Device Freedom

As a business or technical leader, you know you need to protect your company in a rapidly evolving mobile ecosystem.

However, threats are not always obvious. As malware and attacks become more sophisticated over time, business decision makers must work with technical decision makers to navigate security threats in a mobile world.

I’m excited to introduce a new blog series, authored by Kathy Trahan, which will explore the topic of enterprise mobility security from a situational level and provide insight into what leaders can do now to mitigate risk.

This first post will discuss the security concerns presented by the rapid-fire growth of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and how implementing specific policies can help organizations reap the benefits of true mobility now and in the future.

Kathy Trahan Senior Security Solutions Marketing Manager Global Marketing Corporate Communications

Kathy Trahan
Senior Security Solutions Marketing Manager

With the increasing amount of tablets, wearables, and other connected “things” in the workplace, it’s no wonder that the BYOD trend is causing a dynamic shift in security policies and protocol.

This heightened focus on security only increases when the security threat evolution shows that attackers seem to stay one step ahead of the security measures in place to stop them. And while the BYOD movement does present special challenges to ensuring data security, it also affords BDMs and TDMs an opportunity to collaborate and come up with security solutions that balance the need to secure company assets while still allowing employees to conduct business on devices that are familiar and comfortable to them.

As enterprises look for ways to improve productivity, efficiency, and flexibility for their workforces, mobility has become a key factor. A Gartner survey predicts that by 2017, half of employers will require their employees to provide their own devices for work purposes. And as use of and reliance on mobility increase, so does the need for security policies that allow employees to function in a work world that extends beyond their cubicle and office walls.

Read More »

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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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How Businesses Can Meet Next Generation Workforce Demands

Over the past 10 years, the consumption of technology has become more accessible than ever. The workspace has shifted from being heavily reliant on the fax machine to now allowing people to be in different parts of the world, yet flawlessly connected to their company’s network.

The result of these technological advancements – such as the growth of mobility, cloud and big data – is the evolution of the Next Generation Workforce, which has immense opportunities for businesses and interested candidates.

For example, considering that 74% of millennials want flexible work schedules, the Next Generation Workforce will seek remote collaboration more than ever before. Companies that will succeed at recruiting and retaining these candidates will be those that practice flexibility through the use of technology, while simultaneously showing employees that the work they are doing is both impactful and valuable.

Tailoring to the interests of these future candidates is an investment that companies must think about now – especially because by 2025, millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. Employers who take new approaches to management, offering flexible benefits and providing effective employee retirement planning strategies will benefit from a three-generation workforce that is engaged, energized and experienced.

Midmarket Next Generation Workforce Blog Image

However, as the Next Generation Workforce evolves, there are certain challenges businesses must overcome to successfully excite and attract top talent. Here’s a closer look at those challenges – especially for those in the midmarket industries – and what they can do today to remain competitive and innovative in a rapidly changing landscape. Read More »

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