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ACE Network: How Cisco Jabber for Windows Helps Me Do More with My Laptop

My laptop PC recently took on a new role: As a tool for centrally managing the different phones that I use in my work. The new Cisco Jabber for Windows client allows me to control the Cisco 9971 desk phone that’s in my Cisco office and the Cisco 7961 phone I have in my home office. But I can also use the Jabber client as a soft phone on my laptop, both answering and dialing calls as if I was at my hardware phone.

This flexibility means that I’m easier to reach and I can use the best phone that’s available to me at any given moment. Even better, I can use the Jabber client for more than just phone calls because it integrates features for instant messaging (IM), presence, audio and web conferencing, and visual voicemail.

I find the client’s IM and presence capabilities especially helpful. These features often allow me to answer those “got a second?” information requests from a customer, partner, or member of my team without needing to make a return call or play phone tag. It also means I don’t have to wait until I’m back in my office or at home to take care of it.

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Closing Windows on the PC Era

December 11, 2012 at 6:21 am PST

If this is the post-PC era, I first encountered computers in the pre-PC era. I remember a field trip to a room of giant kitchen appliances that turned out to be full of information instead of groceries. Despite the lack of snacks, I was enamored with the punch cards they gave us as souvenirs. My dad was amused enough to bring home a whole stack of punch cards from his work — Hewlett-Packard’s Santa Clara manufacturing facility. (Another day he brought home a cat.)

Not long after, I met my first desktop computer when I started learning very basic BASIC programming on a Commodore PET with an external cassette tape drive. Ah, the nostalgia of summer school and CRT displays.

In a recent internet trends presentation to BASE, the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students, Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, went through the charts and graphs showing the state of the union in the world of operating systems. In the late-1970s and early-1980s, the operating system world was a colorful place (especially when graphed). Then came Intel-based PCs. Microsoft started to take over, quickly flooding the universe with MS-DOS, then Windows.

Apple managed to maintain a Macintosh beachhead, but it was definitely a sea of PC.

For the most part, it was much like Henry Ford’s infamous “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” At most companies it was the same story, you can select any of 14 options, but they’re all PCs. Want a Macintosh? Provide business justification and get VP approval. Today at Cisco, the PC vs. Mac choice comes down to personal preference.

In 1998, Oracle introduced “the concept of hosted applications to the Oracle market, allowing customers to rent access to software hosted on Oracle computers and access those systems via a Web browser.” As eager as Larry Ellison might have been to displace the dreaded Microsoft and PCs with lightweight terminals, the rest of the planet wasn’t quite there yet. Hosted software? Internet storage? Thin clients? Web access? Huh, sounds a lot like cloud.

Fast forward and today we’re in the post-PC era.
Android and Apple iOS have made even quicker, more vigorous operating system inroads than DOS did, thanks in large part to devices and applications.

Devices
Smartphones and tablets have outplaced desktop and notebook PCs in global unit shipments since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Morgan Stanley Research data.

PC manufacturers need to adjust more quickly than most seem to be doing to survive. Says ZDNet’s Jason Perlow, “To put it bluntly, the Post-PC world represents a displacement of computing from the traditional, 30 year-old Intel architecture used on desktop to the Datacenter and the Cloud.” We no longer need the same processing power and storage for the things we do on a daily basis. We have web applications, we have clouds, we have mobile devices.

Today is about mobility, smartphones, tablets, and clouds — ideas impossible to picture on my first field trip to HP. Operating systems, bits, bytes, and cumulus accumulations of data aside, the biggest difference is in how we use our devices of choice today. Emphasis on choice.

“Within ten years, the majority of business professionals will be using extremely inexpensive thin notebooks, tablets and thin clients (sub $500) which will utilize any number of software technologies that run within the browser or will use next-generation Web-based APIs and Web Services … to provide line-of-business application functionality.”--Jason Perlow

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Automating Cisco UCS Management with Windows PowerShell

As many of you know, a big part of the UCS story revolves around the flexibility we’ve built into the UCS management model.  While we hear great feedback from customers about the native UCS management GUI, we know that many of you have already invested lots of time in building automated solutions to repetitive IT tasks.  To that end, we want to help you find ways to use the tools and processes that have already been built along side of UCS.

We know that many of our customers are already running Microsoft applications on top of UCS.  For many of you, that means that you’re also likely automating repetitive tasks using Microsoft’s PowerShell scripting language.  PowerShell is an immensely powerful tool in an IT admin’s bag of tricks.  Introduced back in 2006, it has matured to become common across not only Microsoft’s business software, but also among their partner community -- including NetApp, Quest Software, and even VMWare.

Shortly after we brought UCS to market, we got a specific request from an early adopter to build out PowerShell support for UCS .  Here on the team, nothing moves us faster than feedback directly from our customers, so it got the cogs turning and we’re happy to announce our first public release of the PowerShell Management Toolkit for UCSM.  We decided to even take that a step farther -- besides providing PowerShell support, we’ve also made available .NET managed code that can be used to natively build UCS support into a .NET application.  For the rest of the post, I’m going to spend some time talking about some of the nifty ways in which UCS PowerShell provider can be used.  Fair warning here, folks -- we’re about to get technical :-)

For the brave among you, read on……

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