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Quick Insights from the Big Boulder Data Event

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I attended the Big Boulder data conference, which brings together vendor, academics, analysts and practitioners of social data.  The purposes were many: discuss emerging trends, acknowledge the issues and challenges around privacy and security, and make introductions to encourage discussion of how we all envisage social data technology and by extension social data maturing.

I spent two days fastened in on how vendors believed social data could be used and how companies and researchers were ultimately using it. At times, there was a wide gulf and not only because the rate at which technology is evolving is rapid but because we, as an industry, recognize the importance of this data and don’t want to compromise the trust our customers and clients have for us.

The people at GNIP/Twitter are well aware of this and have spearheaded the Big Boulder Initiative, a task force created to address critical issues around stewardship, enablement, availability and value. If you’re interested, you can learn more here.

Over the two-day conference, there were over 45 sessions with topics ranging from Sina Weibo to the challenges of analyzing unstructured data to user-generated content vs. brand-created content.  Despite the wide scope of topics discussed, there was an underlying recognition that we were all in this together, that we have an obligation to manage the growth of social data in a responsible and secure manner and that we still had some growing up to do.

I could probably write several pages of themes and insights that I noted during the two days but here are three I thought we’re particularly interesting.

Visualize Whirled Peas

This year there was a lot of discussion around visualization and the impact of Tumblr and Pinterest, respectively.  One of the panelist believed that visual channels were happy because people like to engage with images.  I’m not sure I entirely buy that and other members of the panel were quick to argue to the contrary. However, watching the world wake up and go to sleep with Twitter was very compelling and did make me smile (if not happy).

Some members of the panels wanted customers to more fully recognize the value in sharing their location via a social platform.  I can see the benefits to users of the data; it was amazing to see the outline of common maps reveal themselves not through traditional boundaries but rather through social activities—outlines of cities, airports, etc. emerged as people Tweeted.  The panelists didn’t seem to share some of the anxieties I had about sharing my whereabouts in real-time.  Issues of safety and cyber-bullying can and should influence what people share online.  However, I liked the idea of using imagery to guide discovery and finding someone on say, something like Tumblr, with a similar aesthetic to encourage that connection.

We Do Have Some Standards Around Here, You Know

This was the first year, where I heard the admission that social does not have the same standard of measurement as say TV advertising, print ads, etc.. This wasn’t the familiar beat of the ROI drum but rather a recognition that we need to, as an industry, better define the value of social.  To date, we don’t have a verifiably mature model that clearly defines what comprises that value.  We don’t have a clear idea of when engagement matters most and how to attribute that activity. But honest conversations are beginning and everyone seems to recognize the importance to sales, marketing, HR, etc. to answer these questions.

Millennials vs. Digital Behavior—Which One Truly Matters

I have to admit this topic really intrigued me and I was excited to learn the digital characteristics of this generation. I don’t know if the resulting information was meant to make us all feel better (read: younger) but some of the panelists felt that generations should be segmented along the lines of digital behavior over age.  Susan Etlinger  suggested that we’ve been using demographic behavior as a proxy for categorizing customers and it’s losing its value.  It’s certainly true that using the blunt instrument of age to determine a person’s online social persona may omit a lot of detail but with each succeeding generation the use and proliferation of online tools can’t be entirely overlooked. Susan certainly wasn’t minimizing the influence of social technology broadly across generations but that we should perhaps adjust our lens to include more than just demographics to segment an audience.

#InformationOverload

In the two days, I met some great people, discovered that everyone is facing very similar changes and that it’s never been more exciting to be involved with Social Data.  Learn more about the Boulder Initiative here and the Big Boulder conference here.

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Wi-Fi Roaming 101

Wi-Fi roaming is often a tumultuous subject.  The crux of the issue is, with Wi-Fi the roaming decision is left to the client.

In the recent years, there have been great strides in improving Wi-Fi roaming with the creation of standards-based roaming technologies.  Cisco first pioneered fast roaming many years ago with CCKM (Cisco Centralized Key Management), which was the foundation for 802.11r.  11r which was ratified by the IEEE in 2008, allows for fast roaming, even on a secure 802.1X SSID.  With 802.11r it is possible to roam without disruption during a voice or video call.

While client support of 802.11r is largely lacking in the laptop space,  there is large support in the smartphone realm.  Apple iOS devices have supported 11r since iOS 6 (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5535).  The recent Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3, also support 11r.

Note: Some non-802.11r clients can react adversely when connected to an 11r WLAN.  The current recommendation from Cisco is to have a separate WLAN for 802.11r clients.

802.11k is another amendment from the IEEE that helps to improve roaming.  802.11k provides a whole slew of information to the client, which allows the client to understand the RF environment and make an informed roaming decision.  This information can include channel load and AP neighbor lists.

11r and 11k help, however, that does not mean the infrastructure is irrelevant in the roaming picture.  With the help of a model train, we did some testing to figure out just how much impact the infrastructure could have.  We compared Cisco to one of our competitors, whom we will call Vendor A.

This video summarizes the results and shows the train in action, or continue reading for more details:
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Summary: Renewable Energy Agency Deploys Scalable, Power-Resilient Network

With its fast-growing economy, India faces significant challenges in meeting the energy needs of its population and industry. And given the growth of the renewable energy sector, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) was established in 1987  to promote, develop, and extend financial assistance for projects involving renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and conservation. IREDA recognized the need to optimize use of its resources and leverage technology advances to better serve its constituents.

To improve the efficiency of its increasingly complex operations, IREDA sought to replace its aging heterogeneous campus network infrastructure with a scalable, unified solution. Key requirements included superior reliability and security as well as energy efficiency to foster the agency’s values while providing cost savings. There was an immediate benefit in lowering network energy consumption and the network would be the tool to both help ensure the security of confidential information and provide high performance for applications such as video.

How did this renewable energy agency approach deploying a network that would be scalable and power resilient while optimizing network efficiency? Click to read the full blog

 

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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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Getting Started with Cisco CMX 7.6 Analytics

First we rolled out the MSE tech blog series to give our customers an in depth look at the various features of the location-based technology behind Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine (MSE) and Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution. Now, we’re kicking off a CMX Techtorial video series to provide a visual and helpful walkthrough of how to maneuver and get started with CMX and location-based services.

First up, we have the charismatic Darryl Sladden, Technical Marketing Manager for CMX, taking us through CMX 7.6 Analytics. In this quick video, Darryl will cover:

  • What is CMX 7.6 Analytics?
  • What is the analytics dashboard?
  • How do I visualize dwell time, heat maps, device density?
  • What kinds of reports can you get with CMX 7.6 Analytics?

Read More »

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