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802.11ac: That’s the Answer. What’s the question?

Everybody’s talking about 802.11ac, but we’ve sensed some confusion for next steps as far as how CIO’s and IT organizations should be approaching the new standard.

3700internal2Should I move to 802.11ac?

You’re probably thinking: Chris, you’re a leader at Cisco, of course you want me to migrate to 802.11ac. That, my friends, is where you are wrong. There is no simple answer to the question of whether you should move your network to 802.11ac. Here’s my simple rule of thumb:

There is no premium for 802.11ac from Cisco. If you are deploying new Access Points’s today, you should be buying 802.11ac. If you’re not buying, you are probably satisfied with your network and how it will handle the growth of more and more clients associating with your network and the bandwidth demands that come with that client demand. If you feel you have a plan to handle this demand, then you are one of the few that can pass on 802.11ac.

That said, there is a strong ramp up for Cisco 802.11ac products in the market, the AP3700 is the fastest ramping access point in our history and we have yet to see if the AP2700 will claim that crown in the coming months. ABI Research estimates that currently 50% of new device introductions are 802.11ac enabled, a statistic expected to increase to 75% by the end of 2015.  This is enough proof of the overwhelming interest in adding the benefits of 11ac to networks. Let’s take a step back and consider the basics of why people are moving to the new standard.

Why .11ac?

Today, everything is about getting what we want, when we want it. Instant gratification. It’s not just the millennials—we’ve all been conditioned to expect things within seconds. Could you imagine the days pre-Internet if you had the capability for on-demand movies? Read More »

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If You Want incredible Collaboration Experiences, IT Services Can Deliver

I must be in the right business. I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but one thing that gets me worked up is inefficiency. Lines at the store, info I need to enter again and again online, meetings that exist just to schedule another meeting…arrrgh. That’s why I am so excited by the direction coming from Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group. Simplifying work experiences. Removing clutter from the desk. Reinventing how we innovate and engage across corporate and physical office boundaries. That’s just what the DX80 desktop collaboration device, announced here at Cisco Live, is designed to do. Give me a DX80 bumper sticker, and I’ll put it on the back of my rental car right now (Sorry, Hertz).

I am not alone in my love of efficiency. In this age of “Pace of Change2,” the top of mind for every business leader is how to get more done faster. According to a recent CIO Insights Study, innovation, efficiency, and cost reduction are CIOs’ top business priorities, in that order (Cisco Strategic Marketing Organization, Nov. 2013). Collaboration holds the promise of greatly increasing productivity for organizations of all sizes, in every industry.

Technology-enhanced collaboration is more than a technical architecture or product. What do you think would happen if you put a DX80 on every worker’s desktop at your company? Without network optimization, training, and adoption services, there might not be much change in productivity. And how would you measure success?  Putting devices on a desk and making sure they are functional is not an effective measure of success.  Are they being used?  Is video being turned on every time?  Is it changing the way people work?  You need to measure whether use of the devices is resulting in the benefits you expected to see. And you’ll want to adjust your strategy and support structure based on what you’ve learned. Read More »

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RetailMeNot Leverages Cisco and Plixer for WLAN Optimization

Founded in 2007, is the largest digital coupon site in the US.  They help hundreds of thousands of customers save money when shopping online. They are headquartered in Austin Texas, in the hip “Live Music Capital of the World”.  Since the company went public in 2013, the company has doubled the number of employees from 250 to over 500.

In previous blogs, I have covered what is AVC, SuccessEHS and how Plixer’s Scrutinizer accepts Netflow, sFlow and IPFIX exports. This post will cover how these key products are combined by RetailMeNot in their WLAN deployments to optimize and support this fast growing company.

Recently Michael Patterson, the Founder and Product Manager at Plixer, Matthew St. Jean the Marketing Manager at Plixer and I had an opportunity to talk to Tim Tyndall, the Lead Network Engineer at RetailMeNot.  Tim shared with us the highlights of the wireless LAN deployment and explained how they use Cisco Application Visibility and Control and Plixer’s Scrutinizer to stay in control of how their WLAN is being utilized.

Tim described the environment and culture that has become a huge part of the company’s success.  RetailMeNot  provides hip new offices for its employees with open work spaces and other awesome perks.

The Cisco powered wireless network supports this initiative. In fact, nearly all network connectivity is wireless. He said that employees are issued a laptop by the company and many carry in their own smartphones and tablets as well; Most of those devices being from Apple.


Employees can roam freely with reliable service that spans the company’s five floors. Even during large meetings where access density increases dramatically, service continues without any interruptions and the performance metrics they can obtain using NetFlow is exceptional and reinforce that the traffic is optimized. Read More »

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Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve

In my last blog I talked about how optimization is shifting from a post-deployment activity to a regularly scheduled maintenance priority. Have we seen this shift in action? Yes, and it makes a big difference in how well your IT team can stay ahead of the curve to keep up with changing business requirements.

Case in point: A financial services company had teams all over the world, and conferencing was part of the company’s culture. Because of the popularity of video conferencing, conference rooms had to be scheduled hours or even days in advance. Wait times like these were unacceptable for urgent meetings. For a sales team, meeting delays can literally be a deal breaker. That’s why this financial services company decided to add on-demand video conferencing to its collaboration tools.

Responding quickly to unanticipated needs like this requires an understanding of the performance capabilities of your collaboration infrastructure. If you’ve taken a systemic approach to your collaboration performance, you’ll not only be able to respond to new requirements but you’ll be able to anticipate them.

This customer used Cisco’s Collaboration Optimization Services to keep their collaboration solution running at Read More »

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Customer Interactions in the Evolving World of Marketing

In a world where we are increasingly connected, and other’s opinions or reviews are more accessible than ever, marketing must evolve to keep up.  Consumers want, and expect, ‘on-demand’ marketing –customized marketing that caters to what they need, when they want it, and is extremely responsive.  59% of consumers who have experienced personalization believe it has a noticeable influence on their spending. That percentage cannot be ignored –and with all the data available from connected devices and social media –there is no reason it should be.

Social media interactions are a part of many customers’ routine. For marketing, these interactions provide valuable insights and data. Companies like Julep Beauty leverage social media to interact with their customers, discover what they want, and quickly create, test, and sell new products. When negative reviews or comments come up, they promptly address the issue. This allows customers to feel like their voices are being heard and helps position the brand as a company that cares and is responsive to its customers.

Read More »

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