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Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve

March 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm PST

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.

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When Your Collaboration Infrastructure Starts Making Odd Noises

December 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm PST

If your car is overdue for a tune-up, it may let you know in unexpected (and unsettling) ways — rough handling, sluggish acceleration, and even an odd (“that can’t be good”) noise from under the hood. If you’re like me, you don’t want to find yourself waiting on the side of the road for a tow truck. You schedule your car for regular tune-ups to make sure your tires aren’t worn, the wheels are aligned, no fluids are leaking, and the engine is performing to the right specifications.

Just like your car, a collaboration infrastructure needs regular tune-ups. In fact, just like your car, a collaboration infrastructure will let you know that it’s not running optimally. But by the time you actually notice the performance problems with collaboration applications, the odds are that those problems have already started causing issues with your end-users.

Traditionally, optimization has been looked at (even by Cisco in the early days) as the final step in the deployment cycle. But IT projects queue up so fast that optimization for the last project may not happen because the next project is already underway. Today, however, we look at optimization in an Read More »

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Steps To Optimize Your Network – An Introduction

Harness the Power Infographic

Infographic: The Before and After of Using Optimization Services on a Network [Click to see full]

One of my passions in life is sailing, both cruising and racing.  There is nothing quite like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face to paint a perfect day.  The difference between a great day on the water and miserable one comes down to preparation.  Basic maintenance of the vessel, proactively checking the weather, wind, and tides, and understanding how to optimally operate the vessel for the best performance will enhance the experience.  It’s not something that one can fully master, and you will always be learning and striving towards perfection.  This is very true of my other passion, which is helping customers get optimal performance out of their networks.  Once again, success is all about preparation.

Over my career, I have been through more customers than I can count and have seen widely ranging degrees of success amongst these customers.  Why is it that some customers are extremely successful with no outages or performance issues whilst others seem to never be able to keep pace with outages and performance issues are a near daily occurrence?  Some deploy a new technology without a glitch while others dread the thought of adding new technologies to their network in fear of the potential impact to their business.

You need a holistic approach that takes into consideration all of the systems involved in a solution.  You can design and deploy the best voice/video solution but if the underlying network is not designed and configured to support this business service, it will not likely meet the performance requirements of the business. For example, imagine your business has the requirement to deliver a periodic streaming video broadcast from senior management to the employees of the company.  Your company consists of campuses globally along with remote and mobile workers.  So, you need to be able to stream across  your wired, wireless and VPN network to users both local and remote. This is where the role of architecture comes into play.

The importance of architecture is that it pulls together a complete holistic view of the business services and the requirements to effectively support them.  How much bandwidth is required, what is the tolerable round trip delay, tolerance for packet loss are all considerations that will go into building that strong foundation that is required for success.  In today’s world of BYOD, the expectation is that these services will be available and perform flawlessly over wired, wireless and VPN.

I set a goal to increase the speed performance of my sailboat and purchased brand new sails to reach this goal.  After installing the sails, it was clear that I had gained no additional speed.  After doing a bottoms-up assessment of the vessel,  I realized that the hull was covered with barnacles.  Without a clean hull, adding sails will not deliver the desired result.  Trying to deploy a business service, such as a voice or video solution, over a network that is not designed for it will also fail to deliver the desired.  Most problems with deploying advanced technologies lie within the foundational network rather than the advanced technologies themselves. Your network, like the hull of my boat, is the foundation of your business services.  If this is not solid, the chances are the higher level services that rely on this “foundation” will likely not delivery the desired results.  A holistic approach will take into consideration the business services that must run over the network and use this to build out an effective foundation.  Read this success story on how Ecobank deployed collaboration solutions based on a solid infrastructure.  You can also see how optimization has benefited other companies in this infographic.

Stay tuned for my next posts where I’ll cover proven strategies for optimizing your network.






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What is the longest running item of Cisco equipment in your data center? Can you beat 13 years?!

June 18, 2012 at 4:33 am PST

Where were you in 1998? Somewhere in one of our customers, a customer booted one of our 3640 routers, and it’s been running ever since without a reboot!

It’s been running since last century! Wow.   It’s been running since around the time my daughter was born, and a good few years before my son was born!  It’s been running longer that some of our competitors have been in existence, and longer than Juniper Networks has been a publicly traded company!

I learned this from an email was passed around my office, that highlighted this remarkable evidence of reliability.  It made me wonder, in your data center, what is your longest running piece of Cisco data center equipment?

And it also reminded me of some of our best practices for network reliability, such as Cisco Smart Services, described in this short VoD:

So now for the evidence.  As you can see from the “show version” Cisco IOS output below ……

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