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Ferguson Group Ltd keeps an Eye on Operations with Cisco Physical Security

April 11, 2014 at 9:21 am PST

I remember growing up in the UK years ago during the UK’s  ‘North Sea Oil Boom’. It was a time of great excitement and opportunity for the nation. A whole industry was developed to deal with offshore exploration to ‘bring the energy home’.

It was Aberdeen’s local ‘moon landing’ event -  just five months after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the North Sea oil fields were discovered off the east coast of Scotland. Certainly parts of Scotland, Aberdeen especially, saw an uptick in employment from the gloomy ’60s, and the economy changed from rural farming, fishing and textiles to include a more industrial oil and gas setting. Employment, property prices and investment in the City boomed.

Video Surv. from Ferguson Case StudyFerguson is a great Scottish name, but the founder is a great example of how folks were attracted  from outside Scotland (founder Bill Ferguson Jr. is an American) to help further the oil industry in Scotland. Today, Ferguson Group are a key part of the Aberdeen economy, as a leading suppliers of containers, accommodations, and workspace modules for the offshore energy industry (now worldwide).

I thought I’d share how Ferguson conquered a business challenge -- namely protecting high-value equipment and, at the same time, use a standardized system and process worldwide whilst keeping up with industry security standards.

As Graham Cowperthwaite said in a recent article: “For years our headquarters in Scotland relied on an analog video security system”. Graham is director of operations at Ferguson Group, and went on to say “That system wasn’t meeting our needs in terms of image quality and remote accessibility.” He added: “For example, our board members are often traveling between bases, and want to have the ability to check back on facilities from any networked location, even from an iPad. We simply couldn’t do that with an analog system.”

So Ferguson switched from a an analog security system to an IP-based solution, from Cisco. And it wasn’t just cameras and door hardware. They also needed to consider the security and reliability of the network on which camera images and access history would be transmitted and stored.

 ”We looked at other physical security offerings on the market, but nothing came close to Cisco in terms of comprehensiveness,” says Graham Cowperthwaite. “Only Cisco could provide us with a total combination of Cisco IP video cameras, door readers, firewalls, and routers, all available globally with the highest levels of vendor support. We were already a Cisco house in terms of our network infrastructure, and the interoperability of these solutions fit in perfectly with our goals for standardization.”

Ferguson Group now relies on the Cisco® Video Surveillance Manager to monitor its entire facility in Aberdeenshire, including doors, buildings, and the many valuable assets in the company’s storage yard. Supervisors on the Ferguson network can access live, high-quality footage on a laptop or mobile device. They can even review recorded footage as necessary. This all runs on an integrated Cisco architecture (based on Cisco Desktop Virtualization with VMware (VXI), running on the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS®), for the techies amongst you!).

The business results? Read More »

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Jabber for Virtual Environments

May 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm PST

TechWiseTV Spotlight on Jabber for Virtual Environments

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This spotlight takes a look at some of the continual advances being made for Jabber. In particular, we highlight technology where Jabber can run freely (and efficiently) in a virtual desktop environment These desktops, designed to be very thin on the equipment side, still need to be as feature rich as their thicker brethren.

Nothing should be sacrified at the altar of virtualization

Embedded communications that embrace more than just voice are a great start. But as you can see, add in the creature comforts we expect such as normal sized handsets, keypads or caller ID notification….this all helps us forget that amazing technology going on the backside…lets us focus on the communication.

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Behind the Storylines

Our spotlight series continues to morph a bit and try to find its sea legs. We are still going to change a few of story-telling methods in this series going forward…but a couple of fun things we did here that I hope are appreciated. The show is embedded at the bottom of this post so you can watch it..but first, a few notes on what we did here.

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  • We started to make fun of ‘scenarios.’ One of the hardest things about cost-effective corporate video is finding unique visuals. Even the little we did in this episode took an extra day…and that is nothing when it comes to most productions. What we did a little different here, was to create the ‘office scenario’ to help get our point across..but instead of using actors and falling prey to the easy cheese that usually develops here..we tried just doing it ourselves and then ‘breaking the 4th wall’ every so often to explain a point to the audience. Our hope is that we remain educational and a little bit fun. We should never be taken too seriously…but you won’t mistake us for actors anytime soon.

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  • We used a real whiteboard. Most video pro’s (including our own Producer Steve Ewertz) hate whiteboards. I agree with them from a TV perspective. They are really hard to light without getting hot spots/glares, everyone looks washed out in front of them…and the contrast when people write is just not that great. But as a Cisco guy, I love whiteboards. I love how much better every engineer can communicate when they have a pen in their hand. So Steve agreed to let us do this one with Jimmy Ray explaining the ‘tech behind the tech’ and I think with the two cameras and two lights we used…this scene came out great. Plus, I think it feels natural.

Spotlight on Jabber for Virtual Environments

Robb
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Twitter: @TechWiseTV, @robbboyd, @jimmyray_purser

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BizTech Production Notes – Virtualized Workspaces

May 8, 2013 at 6:23 am PST

This BizTech video is a first in a new series where I am hoping to find a middle ground that is certainly more business oriented than TechWiseTV but not so distant and high level that we can’t be specific.

Storywise -- these can be a challenge. Coming up with good visuals in a story like this is more difficult I think because you need both time and budget to cover these subjects well.

Before I share some of the production stuff I enjoy talkng about -- let me set up the content…let you watch it, then read on if interested in the other stuff.

The subject for this one was cross-departmental with underlying technologies from both Cisco Collaboration and Borderless teams. Virtualized Workspaces , a very specific term to denote something beyond (but certainly including VDI) is covered with Laura and her guest Phil Serburne. Jaishree brought in Neil Anderson to talk strategy around mobility…an area of incredible impact these days. We also secured Kenneth Daniels from Samsung to talk about SAFE: Secure Architecture for Enterprise . We finish out with an intro level voice over for Cisco Remote Expert

Our first step here was using co-hosts Jaishree Subramania and Laura Powers. Both great Cisco managers in thier own areas (and frequent hosts for topics on TechWiseTV). But we also stretched with a few metaphors during the transitions.

Part of this becomes an excuse whenever I can to practice my weak skills in walking and talking to a camera…(not as easy as one would think), but also, again, just to try and keep the pacing up a bit. We were shooting the Samsung interview in Richardson, TX. We had to scramble and capture that interview at the Cisco campus since we did not have a room at Samsung reserved. No worries…we shot that inside one of our conference rooms (not easy to make look interesting…but Director Steve Ewertz did his normally creative touch and made it great). We then shot my standups outside the Samsung building to make it look like we had been there. This was all authorized..but its funny how quickly security always shows up. I could only flub my lines so many times with pressure increasting from the building security guys…we pressed on…but if you look closely, you can see we are about to get approached for the last time…

Screenshot

One other bit of ‘behind the scenes’ I think was interesting. This same shot, if you watch it in the video, was done on a slider. These are great little additions to your camera gear for video as they can give you that cinematic movement IF you set it up correctly. Good slider shots require foreground objects or you can’t see the move. Once again, Director Steve to the rescue…if you look at the beginning of that shot…

Foreground

The cameras movement is only apparent due to that green leafy branch at the start. Reality is -- Steve picked that up off the ground and held it in frame just so we could see some foreground motion and sell the shot. I love that stuff…it dawned on me that he could have kept the camera still and just pulled the branch over and we would have THOUGHT the camera was moving. So keep that in mind if you need a slider shot for you next video and you don’t have a slider!

Hope you enjoy this first BizTech. We are working on a few others that we will to bring to you soon.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Robb


Robb Boyd

Reach out on Twitter: @robbboyd

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MegaTrends: The Need for Securing Data Center Traffic

Data Centres are evolving rapidly, in response to the many industry IT Megatrends we have previously discussed. Services and applications are increasingly being delivered from very large data centres and, increasingly, from hybrid and public clouds too.

Specifically, a good example of services being delivered from data centres is Hosted Desktops. I discussed in my last post how technologies such as TrustSec can help secure VXI/VDI deployments. VXI is a good example of a service originally delivered only from private data centres, now being delivered As A Service as well.

Video is (and will be) increasingly delivered from data centers as a service. Infrastructure services (servers/VM, storage…) are also delivered internally more and more through Private Clouds.

Consequently, securing those environments is now perceived by our customers CTOs and architects, as the biggest barrier to adopting clouds on a much larger scale.

We will therefore look at how TrustSec can pervasively help secure all data centre traffic. Read More »

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Partners: Evolving Your Mobility Conversation

By the year 2015, connected mobile devices will overtake desktop usage and Wi-Fi access traffic will surpass wired access traffic. From 2012 to 2017, mobile data will grow 13-fold. Looking at statistics like these, it’s clear that mobility isn’t just another trend or hot topic – it’s a fundamental transformation of how businesses and their employees access information and accomplish work. And it’s creating more opportunities for Cisco partners to engage with customers than ever before.

But the mobility opportunity is more than just a discussion of one or two technologies. A true mobility conversation includes examining your customers’ mobile workforce strategies and taking a solutions-based approach to increasing worker productivity.

Read More »

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