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On The Edge: Increasing Online Sales with the Future of Shopping

“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.” Jeff Bezos

In today’s business climate, any sector that has doubled revenues in the past five years is considered a wonderful outlier to the economic norm – particularly in an industry as big as fashion retailing. How are they doing it? By changing the business model and selling more on-line. In fact, according to the Telegraph, over one third of all consumers have purchased clothing over the Internet in the past year, a 26% increase over the previous one.

So how can savvy retailers build on this momentum and do it again? By taking the on-line experience to the next level. Here’s one likely future of shopping experience solution. And you can see it only at Cisco Live! July 10-14 in Las Vegas:

Imagine being able to shop virtually from anywhere much more quickly and efficiently. No more crowded, clunky dressing rooms, or trawling racks of jumbled clothes in a sprawling megastore. No more changing ten times to find the perfect color combination. Simply scroll through the menu to see an unlimited amount of inventory in one place, and see how it looks on you virtually using the latest augmented reality and network technology.

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There’s no 1-tier network… Do you have a problem with that?

I’m not a car person and I don’t worry too much about what’s under the hood. That means that I’m just a car user, I only want to turn the ignition key and drive. In the Data Center world, the server team is typically a user of the network. Server guys don’t want to know how the network is implemented. They just want their VLANs to extend to the whole network so that they can connect their devices with no constraint, without having to worry about high availability, risk containment, link provisioning… network stuff. That’s precisely what FabricPath is designed to offer them: a network that looks like a single switch, the simplest networking entity. This “Fabric” offers efficient any-to-any connectivity with high bandwidth and low latency, all without having to understand how it works.

User view, a single switch

Figure 1

Of course, this user perspective is an abstraction. The following Figure 2 represents an example of the physical topology of the network, a Clos fabric, typical in Data Center environments. Note that this could just as well be a ring, a star, or even a network distributed across two sites. FabricPath turns an arbitrary topology into a Fabric and does not lock you into a particular model.

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Making the Switch to Stackable Switches

These devices can better accommodate a growing network and, therefore, your growing business.

As your business grows is your network prepared to grow with you?  When building your small business network, you undoubtedly used stand-alone switches to connect employees to the resources they needed. But as a burgeoning small business, you may be finding that managing individual switches and adding new switches is a complex process. If that’s the case, it may be time to consider implementing stackable switches.

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More Bandwidth Isn’t Always the Solution

When your network slows down, taking advantage of network intelligence can be a more effective and affordable solution.

Nowadays, more small businesses have a converged network running three types of traffic simultaneously—voice, video, and data. Delay-sensitive and real-time applications such as voice and voice applications have different characteristics and requirements from those of traditional data applications. Because they are real-time-based, voice and video applications will only tolerate a small amount of delay affecting delivery. Voice and video traffic will also only accept a small amount of network error and jitter, both of which degrade the quality of the transmission delivered to the end user. To effectively transport voice and video traffic over a network, mechanisms are required that ensure reliable delivery of packets with low latency. In addition, more and more companies are running automated backups during regular work hours, so converged network can easily get bogged down, resulting in slow and spotty performance. A simple and easy solution may be to add more bandwidth, but that isn’t always the best fix. Instead, network intelligence features in your switch can improve network performance more effectively and affordably.

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CRN Review: Latest Cisco 300 Series Switch Aimed At Non-Techies

Eddie Correia just posted a great review of Cisco’s latest 300 Series switch here . It’s filled with all kinds of juicy nuggets like, “Gone are the days when programming a Layer 3 Ethernet switch required special training or certifications.”

We know that most small businesses just don’t have the time or inclination to undergo detailed training simply to use technology to achieve their goals. In fact, Correia says, “Cisco’s 300 Series managed switches are designed to be maintained by the end-user, people that are usually more interested in processing orders from their small business’s Web site than in mucking around with IT technologies and protocols.”

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the review. It goes into a good, but helpful amount of detail, and of course my favorite part is the last sentence, where Correia says, “As tested…and for the small office or department, the CRN Test Center recommends Cisco every time.”

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