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Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team: The MVP’s of NBA All-Star 2015

On Sunday night, some of the NBA’s best players competed in the 2015 NBA-All Star Game, putting on a show full of slam dunks and no-look passes. Behind the scenes, Cisco Networking Academy students worked side-by-side with the NBA’s IT team, monitoring the arena’s networks and telephones to make sure fans didn’t miss out on the exciting on-court action. The final night of festivities was the culmination of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 30 Networking Academy students, who spent a week in New York City as part of the Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team.

Andrew Torres and a few of his fellow Dream Team members secured the networks that made NBA All-Star 2015 possible

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Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team: On the Court with Andrew at NBA All-Star 2015

Last week, Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility followed Deborah Huyler and Andrew Torres, two Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team students, as they set up wireless access points, provided network troubleshooting, and soaked in the sights and sounds of NBA All-Star 2015. They shared their stories from Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center, and other event venues through journal entries, photo slideshows, and videos!

Read about Andrew’s experience on NBA All-Star Sunday!:

My final days working with the NBA’s IT Team in New York City were a little slower than before, as the weekend’s events kicked off, from the Slam Dunk Contest to the Three-Point Shootout.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the practices and rehearsals for the various events, including some of the musical performances — everything looked great!


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Who’s Got (Networking) Talent? Launching the 2014 Global Talent Competitiveness Index Report

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men – the balance wheel of the social machinery.” – Horace Mann, 1848

Mann, is he right. Education paves the way to opportunity and higher living standards. And today we recognize a technology with a similar power – the Internet. It’s been just twenty years since the spread of the commercial Internet, and evidence of its impact on employment, productivity and social development is all around us. But a major hurdle hinders the extension of the Internet’s benefits to more people: a worldwide shortage of skilled Internet technical (IP) professionals who ensure network connectivity for our homes, businesses, governments and economies.

Today Cisco participated in the launch of the 2014 Global Talent Competitiveness Index report, “Growing Talent Today and Tomorrow,” in Davos, Switzerland. And in Chapter 4 of the report, we specifically detail the shortage in IP networking professionals across 29 countries we most recently analyzed.

The headline: The shortage of skilled IP networking professionals will be at least 1.2 million people in 2015. In some countries, such as Costa Rica, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, there may be over a 45% gap. Even where countries have a relatively low shortage (e.g. Australia and Korea), the gap ranges between 10 to 20%. And in all countries, the networking skills gap is growing – due to increasing connectivity, the Internet of Everything, rising digitization of all business activity, globalization of trade and travel, and economic growth.

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So what can be done to close the Networking skills gap and ensure the benefits, and opportunities, brought about by the Internet continue to spread to more people on the planet?

When it comes down to it, specific programs and targeted policies are needed to expand the total pool of qualified people. More effort is needed to expand the total pool of qualified networking talent by: 1) increasing the number of new Networking employees (graduates); 2) encouraging and enabling mid-career professionals to transition to ICT and Networking; and 3) increasing a country’s total talent by encouraging immigration. The policies and programs created to achieve these results should:

Integrate more technology training into educational curriculum. Expand efforts to increase the number of trained ICT professionals from universities, vocational programs and technical training centers, particularly by integrating elements of computer science (CS) and IP networking into general education curricula at the primary and secondary levels. And ensure that when CS and networking courses are offered, they also are eligible to fulfill graduation credit, as opposed to only being peripheral electives.

Increase mentorship opportunities. Mentoring students provides opportunities to experience and learn about careers in technology related fields. Programs like US2020 aim to match one million STEM mentors with students at youth-serving non-profits. Girls Who Code is another shining example. The program involves summer training for girls in high school centered on project-based computer science education with real-world tech industry exposure.

Reduce limits on the number of temporary and immigrant visas for skilled workers. Current immigration policies directly impact the immediate supply of skilled networking employees. Applications for H-1B visas in the U.S., for example, consistently reach their annual prescribed limit within a week of becoming available.

Implement successful technical training program, particularly through public private partnerships. Tailored training programs can accelerate the number of skilled networking employees that enter the global workforce. Cisco’s own Networking Academy Program prepares students for entry-level ICT jobs through the PPP model. To date, globally it has trained over five million students, 92% of whom obtained a new job and/or further educational opportunity following their graduation from the Academy.

While the presence of the IP networking gap highlights a missed opportunity for countries to reach potential economic growth, with dedicated public policy, specific training programs, and public involvement on the part of governments, citizens and private enterprise, we can solve the talent gap.

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OPEN: A Fundamental Part of the Network of the Future

Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two important trends in the networking industry – the evolution of open standards and open APIs, and the definition of policy as the key interface to the network.

Open is an extremely important word to the future of networking. The simple dictionary definition for open means not closed or locked, allowing access to inside, and freely accessible.

The ultimate networking environment will allow a user the freedom to connect anything together in the cloud and to an existing environment. In order for this vision to happen, companies must work together to create a common language.

OpenStack has garnered a lot of interest in the development community and among our customers.  We at Cisco have been actively helping to shape the discussion around policy.  Working collaboratively with our partners and competitors, we helped create Group-Based Policy (GBP), an intent-driven policy API for OpenStack.

The Group-Based Policy initiative represents a significant innovation in how users conceive, manage, deploy, and scale their applications in OpenStack clouds.  And its now available as a 100% open source solution available to any vendor.  When coupled with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, we are able to offer our customers a completely policy-driven network.

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SAP HANA Tailored Data Center Integration (TDI) expanded for Networking

Cisco embraces SAP HANA TDI for Networking

SAP recently announced that they have expanded their SAP HANA Tailored Data Center Integration (TDI) to include networking.   So what does this mean?  It means that if a SAP customer installs SAP HANA, and that same customer has enough capacity on their existing networking equipment to satisfy the SAP HANA certification requirements for networking, then the customer can utilize their existing networking architecture for SAP HANA without having to purchase additional equipment to meet those requirements. Read More »

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