How do you get a feel for things? Perhaps a little research online, a review or two, maybe a referral from a friend or co-worker. But big purchases, such as a new car may require more; more information. So you go to take a test drive. Well, we have something similar to a test drive.
As you may know, it is not often you get a chance to check out how an IT device’s graphical user interface (GUI) looks and feels. Sure you might see a couple of static screen capture and be able to point how the navigation menu is laid out. But beyond that, it is not until the device is purchased and in the installation process, that the real user experience is realized. It’s hard to get a grasp on on the level of complexity for set-up and deployment, let alone configure a VLAN or set-up a secure VPN.
Well, we have offered something better. Our team has delivered a set of device emulators, including switches, access points and routers. You can actually navigate through the actual menus, see how the wizards look and work, and truly get a sense of how easy the small business products are to configure, install, deploy and manage.
You will notice that all of the small business product user interfaces share the same look and feel, as well as similar general navigation principles. With our Small Business product line, we truly take to heart the need for a great user experience and are always looking to make our products easier to use.
Please, leave us a comment or suggestion good, bad or otherwise to help us improve our products.
CiscoLive 2013 concluded last week in Orlando. Some of the sessions are available for viewing at www.ciscolive365.com. One of the keynote addresses featured an AVA 500 robot from irobot (Registration required - Hour and 48 mins into the video). The robot brought a flood of memories from my days as a grad student. I was a student participant in a consortium of companies striving for manufacturing excellence. There was a major push in the 90’s to improve US Manufacturing and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was instituted to spur progress. It is now awarded to companies for performance excellence and the 2010 the winner was the parent company of two Texas restaurant chains – Rudys and Mighty fine burgers.
So what has this got to do with Cisco UCS you ask? Large scale data centers are ushering in the industrialization of IT services with standardization and stringent service level agreements. Cisco UCS is the infrastructure platform for delivery of IT Services and has the main ingredients to power service excellence.
Service excellence come about with reduction in variation in the process. Good service principles and practices bring about consistency, reliability and predictability. The slide deck which was a result of work with Forrestor analyst Glenn O’donnell a couple of years ago, gives more details on service orchestration, and the business case to invest in it.
The presentation addresses how orchestration goes beyond automation. The two key points were:
Automation is restricted to a single domain or systems whereas Orchestration encompasses multiple domains.
Orchestration takes into account real time feedback of the system where as automation does not do so.
To give a more concrete example, provisioning of a Cisco UCS server for a service with a script or software program, would be automation. Adding server capacity for the service when 90% of compute capacity is in use, would be orchestration.
Automation of tasks is however the foundation for service orchestration and Cisco UCS excels at it. The Cisco UCS XML API enables automation regardless of user preferences. Since I will be attending Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, TX next week, I expect to meet many Microsoft Powershell users who can now exploit Cisco UCS C-Series PowerTool to manage standalone UCS (needs CIMC v1.5) rack servers. With Cisco UCS PowerTool, users can enjoy the benefits of automation and hence service orchestration in their data centers. If you are attending the conference come by and check out all the Cisco solutions including the Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS PowerTool.
Mary Ann Azevedo is an award-winning journalist based in Silicon Valley. She has covered business and technology issues for Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the San Francisco Business Times and the Houston Business Journal.
An excellent piece by Mary Ann Azevedo is now available on the “The Network” (originally published June 24 , 2013) which expands upon many of the themes we have discussed on this Cisco Manufacturing Blog site. Start reading here, and the ‘Read More’ link will take you to the full article:
Ten years ago, an employee at a manufacturing firm would have to use pen and paper to conduct a plant floor inspection or quality control check. With handwritten notes, there was the potential for mistakes. The time it would take for a discovered problem to be addressed would vary considering how long it took for someone to learn about it and find the resources to solve it.
But as mobile technology has advanced, those same workers now have the option to instead use a mobile device such as a tablet or an iPad to perform the same functions. And those that do are finding that they are saving time and money while reducing the risk for errors and increasing safety in the workplace.
Manufacturers may have been slow to adopt mobility in the workplace but that reluctance seems to be gradually fading as once more conservative manufacturers are viewing the use of mobile as a way to get a leg up on their competition, notes Heather Ashton, research Manager for IDC Manufacturing and Retail Insights.Manufacturing employees “are becoming the smart connected worker by taking the technology with them,” she notes. “They’re moving throughout their workday connected at all times, which is huge.”
Not only they are adopting the use of mobile more, they are actually developing their own applications.According to a spring 2012 IDC survey (see chart in main article ), nearly 40 percent of 373 surveyed manufacturers across a variety of sectors said they intended to develop half or more of their applications for mobile platforms in 2012.
Eaton Corp. is one example of a company that has developed its own mobile application to enhance operations. John Gercak, vice president of information technology for Eaton’s $4 billion vehicle group, said his team in the United States and India spent about seven months developing the “Powertrac.”
The mobile application, which went live last December, uses a global positioning system (GPS) on an iPad and a cellular network to track the company’s test vehicles for supporting its products.
“With this app, the driver takes the iPad with them in the vehicle while on the track and we’re able to see in real time on the Web exactly where the vehicle is at all times,” he said. Gercak said this is particularly useful because “if there’s a safety issue, we’re able to tell and notify the drivers in advance so as to avoid any potential accidents. Before if a vehicle was broken down, we weren’t able to know right away and contact the other drivers so from a safety perspective, it’s very helpful,”Read More >
There’s no doubt that video is becoming more pervasive in business. It’s no wonder: humans are visually oriented. We’ve been reading people’s faces since we were newborns, so it’s natural for us to use visual cues as we build stronger relationships and better organizations.
As video makes deeper inroads in enterprises large and small, I keep hearing the concept of “good enough” video. So what does “good enough” really mean? Is there a specific number of pixels, or frame rates, or a certain standard that makes video “good enough”? How can you define “good enough” for your organization?
WebEx is a great tool for conducting a web cam video conference.
The WebEx Active Talker feature pushes the video image of the person speaking so you can actually follow the conversation via web cam. This means the person talking is the one you see featured and this works especially well in Theatre Mode [watch video]