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Talkin’ Tech: Switches

A new series that defines the terms behind the technologies that run your business.

When it comes to technology, there’s so much to know that it’s often overwhelming. As a small business owner, your brain is already overflowing with the myriad details and tasks involved in running your company. With our new Talkin’ Tech series, we define the basic terms behind a product category so that you can more easily understand and make decisions about the technologies that run your business.

In this first Talkin’ Tech, we tackle switches. The cornerstone of any reliable network, switches are the glue that connect your business to your employees, giving them access to the resources they need to do their jobs, including laptops, servers, printers, and storage devices. Switches are used to create a local area network (LAN). Although there are many different types of switches, the list below provides a glossary of the essential terms common to this category.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Talkin’ Tech series next month, when we’ll take a look at the terms behind unified communications. If there’s a product category you’re interested in having defined, we’d love to hear from you.

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Preparing Your Business for Growth

These 5 building blocks will help ensure your network supports your business today and in the future.

If you’re just beginning to build your network for a fledgling small business or you’re expanding the network of a more established smaller company, you should plan your network with an eye toward preparing your business for growth. Your network should be a secure, reliable foundation; one that’s flexible and can adapt to the changing needs of your business as well as give you a competitive edge.

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Energy Optimization for Manufacturing

Last week at the ODVA Annual Conference--as part of ODVA’s announcement of a new energy initiative and white paper--Cisco’s Bryce Barnes roused a packed-house audience representing ODVA’s ~200 industrial and automation suppliers with a compelling speech on the immediate need for Optimization of Energy Usage (OEU™) in the Production domain. Energy consumption statistics for the industrial sector are staggering, most estimates suggesting half of the world’s total delivered energy, and that amount is projected to increase by 40% over the next 25 years.  For Manufacturers, energy typically constitutes the first or second highest portion of product variable costs, and most manufacturing companies now report as part of their governance a sustainability strategy that is core to their overall business strategy.  Furthermore, volatility of energy markets--closely linked to the stability of governments, international relations and policies--raises the risk profile for continuity of supply, production and satisfaction of customers.  Optimizing energy consumption, minimizing energy costs and mitigating energy risks are clearly top of mind business imperatives for the Manufacturing CEO.

Mark Wylie discusses the importance of energy optimization to sustainable manufacturing operations.  Check out Mark’s December blog on factory energy management.

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Automation: Custom Automation the New Craftsmanship?

This year for Christmas my wife gave me the wonderful gift of membership to our local gym, and in addition,  a discounted gift pack of 8 personal trainer sessions.  My first reaction was to be offended by the gesture until I gazed at the sincerity on her face and the “keg” below my chest. So, instead of wallowing in self pity. I proceeded to pull out and dust off my 1998 Brooks track shoes, my knee high athletic socks and my 2000 Los Angeles Laker’s Championship head band, and proceeded to walk out the door on my quest for a new and improved six pack.

How does this story relate to manufacturing? Well let me explain.

I did not make it out the door before my teenage daughter glanced at me, chuckled and stated, “Dad. Where are you going with that outfit? And where did you get those shoes!!!”, “You need some new “stompers” (translation for the tweet challenged generation…new shows. Oh and I needed the translation.) She directed me to the NikeID website to find some new “stompers”

Nike -- Custom Solution

Global manufacturing stalwarts like Nike and Harley Davidson are re-engineering their plants to address the growing trend of custom “productization.”   Where customers can personalize and customize their product with unique detail and style. Customers end up paying a little more for  this service, but in many instances it turns out to be more reasonable than exclusive branding.  Is Custom Automation the new craftsmanship of the 21st century?  If so, what is required to implement this new paradigm into a viable business and operational reality -- a sort of Industrial Intelligence? Read More »

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From Rust to Gold: The Olympics Makes East London the Ultimate Winner

The Olympic torch hasn’t been carried into the Opening Ceremonies yet – it’s still a year and a half away before the Summer Games consume London – but there is a crescendo of energy that is already palpable as you tour the main site where the competition will play out.

East London, a community that has longed for rejuvenation, is finally getting it. At Cisco Live! Europe, held a few days ago in London, we had a chance to tour the expansive construction site that is fast becoming the heart of the 2012 Summer Olympics. If the pictures below are spotty, apologies. It’s the best I could do with a smartphone camera and a tour bus rocking gently over gravel and muddy roads. But quality aside, you will be able to see that the arenas and main stadium are taking shape. The architecture is distinct and contemporary. The athletes’ village is modern and amenable. The construction is ingenious and environmentally friendly. For example, the basketball arena can actually be folded up and transported to another location. Hundreds of thousands of local newts were carefully relocated to a temporary environment prior to digging.

With all the care that is being taken, Cisco is making sure it does its part. Cisco is the official network infrastructure partner of the London 2012 Games.

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