Archive for July 2014

With the FCC’s new in-school Wi-Fi initiative kicking into gear, schools need to take a few things into consideration before deploying.

If you follow either the K-12 vertical or the Wi-Fi industry, you probably saw the news that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revamped its E-Rate program and plans to boost the amount of money allocated to in-school Wi-Fi. At the time, I wrote a post discussing how the announcement would impact the vendors, and now I would like to discuss what school systems should be thinking about as they prepare to expand or deploy Wi-Fi. I had some thoughts about this, but also discussed the topic with Kezia Gollapudi, product marketing manager for K-12 at Aruba Networks. Aruba has a large install base in K-12, so I thought she would be a good person to discuss the topic with.

Earlier this week, Cisco announced DevNet – the company’s latest program aimed at wooing developers.

Focusing on developers is nothing new to Cisco, as the company has had different programs targeting developer partners for over a decade. Cisco’s first attempt at building an ISV community came when Cisco acquired Metreos to develop applications for Cisco IP phones. After that, the VoIP program morphed into the Cisco Technology Developer Program (CTDP) and was focused more broadly on UC.

Since then, Cisco has added more developer programs, including the Application eXchange Program (AXP), Mobile Service Engine (MSE), WebEx developer environment, a call center developer forum and others. Most recently the company has added developer tools for the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) for SDNs and for Internet of Things (IoT). The net result is that Cisco has many individual developer programs for the various business units.

The cloud and mobility have certainly changed IT over the past five years. However, there may be no area of IT that has been impacted more than security. Historically, securing a business was fairly straightforward. For most businesses there was a single ingress/egress point to secure. I’m not saying securing this point in the network was easy, but the architecture was fairly simple.

Cloud and mobility have created numerous points in the network that need to be secured, giving rise to a growing number of threat vectors. This, in turn, has caused organizations to deploy more security tools, creating a more complicated environment. In addition to firewalls, security professionals need a number of inline and out-of-band security tools, including malware, mobile security, IPS, IDS, next-generation firewalls, and the list goes on and on. The challenge with this multi-tier security model is that the effectiveness of these security tools depends on the quality of the data sent to them. Ideally, one would want a consistent set of relevant and accurate data sent to each of the security tools. Achieving this can be challenging, though.

With the FCC pushing to increase Wi-Fi investments in schools, these vendors could step up to fill the need.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years to bring Wi-Fi to underserved schools. The plan should impact at least 10 million kids is US schools. As part of the plan the FCC will be revamping E-Rate, which was originally introduced in 1996. Without going into a tremendous amount of detail, the revamped plan will remove funding to outdated technologies, such as pagers and dial-up modems, and devote more money to Wi-Fi.

Credit: Barrett Web Coordinator via Flickr

While I applaud the FCC’s willingness to reform E-Rate, it’s long overdue. I recently did some research in the K-12 vertical and while 95% of schools have computers today, 75% of U.S. Schools have inadequate network bandwidth to support 1:1 computing initiatives. Making 1:1 computing a reality should be a top priority for government leaders. U.S. schools are woefully lacking in technology today and given all the benefits of tablets, smart boards, and computers in general, it’s almost embarrassing how poorly outfitted our schools are with computers. Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets (including the purpose-built Amplify tablet) create an excellent, low-cost way of moving closer to the 1:1 student-to-device goal. But devices without a rock-solid wireless network will not solve the problem – hence the revamping of E-Rate to beef up the Wi-Fi networks.

Sonus has shifted to more of an “on-demand” buying model, in which the customer can start with a small deployment and then increase session and port capacity with just a license key.

This morning Sonus unveiled a number of enhancements to its line of session border controllers (SBCs). Unlike most product announcements we see in tech, there were no shiny new products or even new features spearheading the announcement. Instead Sonus focused on making it easier for customers to purchase, deploy and maintain its current products.

The company released version 3.2 of the 1000 and 2000 series SBCs. This version of code helps customers bring in an SBC at a lower cost and then offers a level of investment protection, particularly in Lync environments, a fast growing part of the company’s business.

Aerohive’s Personalized Engagement Platform packages up its own products alongside some from some strategic partners to remove much of the complexity around creating personalized services.

Remember in the movie “Minority Report” when Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, was running away from the pre-crime police unit for a crime he was going to commit? He was running through a mall and was greeted by a number of personalized ads inviting him to drive a Lexus, have a Guinness and use his American Express card. Later in the movie, after swapping out his eyeballs, he was in the Gap and was asked if Mr. Yakamoto was enjoying his new clothes.

Instead of workers clamoring to bring their consumer technologies into work, might we start seeing a trend where workers want to take business technology home?

For years we’ve been hearing about trends like bring your own device (BYOD), the consumerization of the enterprise, mobile computing and other factors that continue to push more and more consumer devices into business environments. Why? Well frankly, it’s because corporate IT vendors build products that are hard to use and require a significant amount of “human integration.” Consumer devices are easy to use, period. So easy to use that my technologically illiterate father can use an iPad. Let’s see him use an old video endpoint.

I was recently reading this blog from Chris May, VP of Business Development from VOSS (VOSS the UC automation company, not the water distributor). In his blog he was discussing the concept of the “plug and play” enterprise. That is, products that can be dropped onto a users desk and they “just work” – kind of like consumer technologies.

In his blog, Chris stated that Cisco seems to have “changed their spots” when it comes to quality of design and the openness of the DX80. I agree with this statement, and I think the spot changing came with the arrival of GM and SVP, Rowan Trollope.

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