Over the past few years of being immersed in the Internet of Things (IoT), I have found that customers have very specific problems they are trying to solve; e.g. gaining energy efficiency, early fault detection or remote diagnosis and maintenance of equipment. Decisions are driven by the need to reduce Operational Expenditure (OPEX) and save on Capital Expenditure (CAPEX).

With all the data generated from IoT devices, having strong analytics and visualization capabilities can help in making accurate decisions and taking timely action thus achieving these critical business objectives. Of course, while this sounds appealing, it’s not quite that simple. In order to achieve meaningful value through reductions in OPEX and/or CAPEX, we need to effectively address data collection, analytics, visualization and control. Absent those essential elements, we are not able to harness the power of the IoT.

Read the full article Internet of Things: Realizing Business Value through Platforms, Data Analytics & Visualization on LinkenIn.


Pranay Prakash

Vice president

Product Marketing at Tridium at Honeywell


In Part 1 of this blog post, I described the circumstances that led to the creation and roll out of the Career Connection pilot and the formation of the Cisco Collaborative Knowledge digital workplace platform. Now I want to share more about the evolution of how all of this transpired.

Career Connection, as you may recall, is a learning platform for Cisco Service employees. It was developed after months of employee engagement, user testing, surveys, interviews, and executive input. The Career Connection platform offered employees a new way to collaborate and learn:

  • The Learning Plan provided an overview of learning opportunities scheduled by the employee and their manager, as well as an overview of progress toward learning goals.
  • Community offered social learning opportunities among employees and experts.
  • The Training Catalog offered a single portal through which employees could access training courses to support reskilling and upskilling.
  • Career Universe presented Career Playbooks, organized by job category or job family. These playbooks were created by management teams to provide employees with tracks they could follow to meet requirements for jobs they wanted to attain.

These technologies represented key foundational capabilities — knowledge sharing, formal and social learning – critical to the creation of Cisco Collaborative Knowledge. The proof-of-concept pilot for Career Connection went live in 2014, and it proved to be a breakthrough for Cisco Services, which until that time, relied heavily on formal learning programs. Once employees took to the solution, employees and managers benefited in a myriad of ways.

Career Connection as a learning and knowledge sharing solution, surpassed expectations for reskilling and up-skilling the workforce. Employees embraced the technology, too. Here’s how they responded:

  • 89 percent agreed or strongly agreed that learning from leaders via blogs about strategic direction and career development was important to how they create their own development path.
  • 76 percent agreed or strongly agreed that being able to share information through discussion forums was important to their professional development.
  • 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed that visibility into information for all jobs (Career Universe) helped them plan their career goals.
  • 79 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the intent and mission of the platform. Moreover, employees felt engaged on important business topics and empowered to share professional knowledge.

With such positive feedback to Career Connection, Learning@Cisco executives began asking: Could Cisco customers benefit from a similar platform to transform their own companies? To determine if there was an unmet need in the marketplace, Learning@Cisco connected with hundreds of customers to discuss their challenges and potential learning opportunities.

Armed with customer feedback, and the proof-of-concept pilot validated by more than 14,000 Cisco Services employees, Career Connection evolved from an internal learning offering into a fully integrated, cloud-based knowledge and learning digital workplace solution appropriately named Cisco Collaborative Knowledge.

To learn more about Cisco Collaborative Knowledge, visit our the Cisco Collaborative Knowledge site.


Kathy Bries

Director, Technical Support

Platform & Technology


Announced today, TPC-DS V2 is the Industry’s first standard for benchmarking SQL based big data systems.

Over the last two years, the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC), has reinvented itself in several ways – with new standard developments in Big Data, Virtualization, and the Internet of Things.

Foreseeing the demand for standards for characterizing big data systems, in August 2014, the TPC announced the TPC Express Benchmark HS (TPCx-HS) – the industry’s first standard for benchmarking big data systems. The TPCx-HS was designed to evaluate a broad range of system topologies and implementation methodologies related to big data. The workload is based on a ‘simple’ application that is highly relevant to Big Data, especially for Hadoop based systems. ‘Simple’ is great – historically the end user customers have adopted simple workloads and easy to understand metrics. (Look at TPC-C! One of the most successful industry standards, with over a thousand publications demonstrating the progress of application performance inline with Moore’s law for over a quarter century. Metric is – transactions per minute – can we think of anything simpler than that?). TPCx-HS has done well so far as a standard, giving verifiable performance and TCO, with over a dozen benchmark publications with products from more than six vendors definitely broke the records for standards since the TPC-H in 1999.

That said, there is an important play for ‘complex‘ workloads, especially in developer and researcher circles. One such example is TPC-DS, originally developed to evaluate complex decision support systems, based on relational database systems. There is a long and interesting history with TPC-DS, it took over ten years for the TPC to develop this standard. Though there have been several research papers and case studies, there has been no official results submission since it became a standard in 2011. There are several technical and non-technical reasons, top among them are (i) the complexity of the workload with 99 query templates and concurrent data maintenance, (ii) complex means uncertainty, vendors are concerned about “over exposure” of their technologies and products in terms of performance and price-performance. So its a successful benchmarks in terms of serving the academic and research community but a failure in terms of serving the customers (purchase decision makers).

Interestingly, in the last two years, the Hadoop community has adopted the TPC-DS workload for performance characterization; this is mainly due to the richness and broad applicability of the schema, data generation, and some aspects of the workload, and its non bias towards relational systems. And, not surprisingly, there have been several claims that are not verifiable and reproducible by the end users – and obviously in violation of the TPC’s fair use polices. To put an end to this in a positive way, the TPC stepped up and created a work stream to extend support for non relational (Hadoop etc.) systems, resulting in the creation of the TPC-DS 2.0. If you go through the specification, you will see well thought out changes to make it Hadoop friendly in ACID compliance, data maintenance, and metric.

I am most excited about it’s use in comparing SQL based systems – traditional relational systems vs. non-relational – in terns of performance and TCO – something on top of mind for many.

The TPC is not stopping here. We are developing another benchmark – TPC Express Benchmark BB (TPCx-BB), that shares several aspects of TPC-DS, which will be offered as an easy to run kit. TPCx-BB is currently available for public review. The TPC is encouraging interested parties to provide their reviews by January 4, 2016 by clicking here TPCx-BB. And, if benchmarking IoT is of interest to you please join the  IoT working group.

Significant contributors to the development of TPC-DS include Susanne Englert, Mary Meredith, Sreenivas Gukal, Doug Johnson,  Lubor Kollar, Murali Krishna, Bob Lane, Larry Lutz, Juergen Mueller, Bob Murphy, Doug Nelson, Ernie Ostic, Raghunath Nambiar, Meikel Poess (chairman), Haider Rizvi, Bryan Smith, Eric Speed, Cadambi Sriram, Jack Stephens, John Susag, Tricia Thomas, Dave Walrath, Shirley Wang, Guogen Zhang, Torsten Grabs, Charles Levine, Mike Nikolaiev, Alain Crolotte, Francois Raab, Yeye He, Margaret McCarthy, Indira Patel, Daniel Pol, John Galloway, Jerry Lohr, Jerry Buggert, Michael Brey, Nicholas Wakou, Vince Carbone, Wayne Smith, Dave Steinhoff, Dave Rorke, Dileep Kumar, Yanpei Chen, John Poelman, and Seetha Lakshmi.


TPC-DS V2 Specification
TPC Press Release
Vendor-Neutral Benchmarks Drive Tech Innovation
The making of TPC-DS
Transaction performance vs. Moore’s law: a trend analysis



Raghunath Nambiar

No Longer with Cisco


The post was authored by Ben Baker and Earl Carter.

Payment cards without an EMV chip have reached their end-of-life. Point of Sale (PoS) malware, such as PoSeidon, has continued to threaten businesses. The news is continually filled with stories of payment card data being stolen through a breach in the company’s PoS system. From high-end hotels to large retail firms, threat actors are attacking PoS systems in the attempt to capture payment card data. PoS Malware is just another threat category that Talos is monitoring and developing defenses against. In this post, we will examine the functionality of Pro PoS so that you can better understand how this malware can be used to exfiltrate payment card information and potentially other valuable information from your network.

Beginning in October, merchants in the United States were required to use PoS terminals that provide support for chip-enabled cards or otherwise risk liability for fraudulent charges. These new chip-enabled readers help minimize the chance for PoS malware to steal payment card information because the chip on the payment card generates a single use token. This transition, however has been bumpy at best because the cost of new chip-enabled readers has made it difficult to upgrade to the newer readers. Another loophole is that gas stations have a different timeline and are not required to move to chip-based readers until October 2017. These two factors mean that many establishments still rely on card readers that are not chip-enabled and sending payment card data that can be duplicated and reused.

Pro PoS is simple-to-use PoS malware that is available for purchase, enabling multiple threat actors to easily take advantage of this malware to target businesses. The functionality of Pro PoS seems fairly extensive according to recent press releases. These claims include the following:

  1. Tor support
  2. Rootkit functionalities
  3. Mechanisms to avoid antivirus detection
  4. Polymorphic engine

In order to analyze the actual capabilities of Pro PoS, Talos collaborated with Flashpoint, a pioneer in threat intelligence from the Deep & Dark Web Not all of the claims in the press releases seem to be totally accurate given the Pro PoS version 1.1.5b sample that Talos analyzed. For instance we did not identify any significant mechanisms to avoid antivirus detection, other than a trivial packer that seemed to be more for compression than obfuscation. Unless you include tor2web, we did not find support for Tor. We did not find a Polymorphic engine. And finally, we did observe a rootkit being installed but it did not appear to be used by the malware.

Read More>>


Talos Group

Talos Security Intelligence & Research Group


I just recently returned from the Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) in Dubai. This was the third annual IoTWF, which has quickly become the premiere event showcasing innovations and opportunities made possible by the Internet of Things. I was dazzled and a bit dizzied by all the activities at this exciting three-day event.

Tony Shakib IOTWF Blog_1217The agenda was chock-full of breakout sessions, case studies and expert talks on how IoT is changing the way companies and cities do business. In addition to networking and connecting with peers, partners, and customers, the Forum provided a great opportunity to join the world’s leading technology researchers to discuss new frontiers of IoT research. A fitting end to this incredible event was a closing keynote delivered by Executive Chairman John Chambers, who provided invaluable insights, observations, and a vision for IoT.

With 2400 attendees, the guest list included industry titans such as 3M, IBM, Intel, GE, Rockwell, Accenture, Siemens and many others, as well as startups and other significant IoT stakeholders.

The theme of the Forum was “A New World,” with day one focused on Awakening; day two focused on Activating; and day three focused on Accelerating. For a limited time, you can view many of the keynote presentations on the IoTWF website. Continue reading “IoT World Forum”


Tony Shakib

No Longer with Cisco


This is Part 2 of our blog series about NG-Firewalls. See Part 1 here.

Part 2: Enter Threat-Focused NG-Firewall

What does a Threat-focused NG-Firewall do differently? Just about everything. Let’s compare the most popular NGFW systems on the market (typical NGFW) with the Cisco Firepower NG-Firewall system, (a Threat-Focused NG-Firewall).

If you consider the typical NGFW available from your choice of vendors, you are staring at a system that was designed for, and normally sold to, Network-focused Admins that need more visibility into their policy and desire some additional depth of what they can choose to allow or deny. Typical policy has been circumvented by the ever-present danger of threats, and thus policy management that actually has any effect on protection has become extremely difficult. The limiting factor with the standard NGFW is that it can only accurately enforce permit or deny on what it understands. The classic example is the firewall that employs IDS/IPS signatures in the packet path to ‘detect’ what it understands and take an action – with an output event that something was seen and some basic information about who and what, along with the action taken.

A Threat-focused NG-Firewall system by contrast, looks at the world differently – with its foundation a set of detection engines that leverage both signature-based and signature-less technologies to hand out verdicts on data flows, files and other bits of information. How well this is done depends on the intelligence built into the verdict engines – not only allowing detection and dispositions of point-in-time events, like many other vendors do, but also detection beyond the event horizon, which is the Cisco Firepower NG-Firewall’s most obvious differentiator. The event horizon is the point-in-time where a system first sees something good, bad or unknown and issues a verdict or disposition.

Point-in-time analysis, used by every NGFW that you can buy today
Figure 1a – Point-in-time analysis, used by every NGFW that you can buy today

Continue reading “Threat-Focused NG-Firewall – Who Cares? Part 2”


Mike Storm

Distinguished Engineer

Security Business Group


Everyone knows that data is important. Modern enterprises compete with data and win with the agility and insight it provides.

Thus the “Big Data Era” as metaphorically captured by terms such at Data Lakes, Data Reservoirs, Data Swamps, Data Streams and myriad others that attempt to describe the pools of liquid gold that this valuable data represents.

It seems everyone today is swimming in data. With many figuratively drowning in it.

The Rise of Data Swim Teams

With so much data and so much opportunity, big data has become a team sport at most large organizations today. This makes sense. There simply aren’t enough data scientists to carry the entire load. And while IT has skills and is ready to help, they already have a huge backlog. So business leaders are redirecting their resources to “jump in” with both feet.

Continue reading “Drowning in Data: Data Preparation to the Rescue”


Bob Eve

No Longer with Cisco


I am a millennial and my entire financial life fits in my front pocket.

Whether I am setting up automatic credit card payments, paying a friend back for a dinner he paid for, making my monthly rent payment, or buying the latest Wall Street darling stock; it can all be accomplished with four or five taps on my smartphone.

Since the advent of the iPhone in 2007, the app economy has flourished, and now there seems to be an app for everything. This is particularly true for the financial services industry. There are apps for banking, investing, measuring net worth, tracking expenses, processing payments, and for things that probably neither you nor I have even thought of yet.

This trend has spilled over from the world of simple financial transactions to the complex financial world. Exemplifying this perfectly is the astounding success of Quicken Loans, which has grown to become the third largest United States mortgage lender (by volume) after adjusting its strategy in the late 90’s to become a direct digital lender. And as you may have guessed, they have an app for that. Continue reading “Mortgage Lenders Imperative – Engage Millennials”


Michael Walker

Senior Analyst

Cisco Consulting Services


Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

We’re ready, are you?

We are now in an age so normalized by the proliferation of technology that the United Nations has declared access to the Internet a basic human right and securing ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband is a common goal around the world. Communities and countries are actively engaged in learning how to best capture the unparalleled advantages that can be realized across the urban landscape. As smart digital communities cover more and more of the global map, the social, economic, political, and environmental benefits afforded to broadly-connected digital societies are becoming crystal clear.

Technology has and will continue to dramatically change the world. It already affects all of our lives in myriad ways. Digital transformation or digitization—the connection of objects, devices, sensors, cameras, machines, and people to the Internet—has now emerged as the most transformative means to ignite sustainable growth and improve society. Those countries and communities that get ahead and embrace digital innovation will uncover limitless possibilities to drive change, embrace economic growth, attract talent for jobs of the future, reduce their carbon footprint, and keep citizens happy and healthy.


Around the World in 106 (Business) Days

Since July, we’ve met you here each Wednesday to discuss and explore important themes, challenges, and observations of digital transformation. We’ve visited cities, countries, schools, hospitals, and businesses around the world that all share one common thread in their story—the quest toward digitization. Taken together, this series demonstrate the significance of digital technology innovation in shaping our future.

Continue reading “#WednesdayWalkabout Series Finale: Building a Global Digital Community”


Anil Menon


Smart+Connected Communities and Cisco Deputy Chief Globalisation Officer