Archive for November 2014

Two years in, collaboration chief Rowan Trollope is seeing his vision realized in the product portfolio.

This month marks the two-year anniversary of Rowan Trollope’s arrival at Cisco as chief of the company’s Collaboration Technology Unit. That makes it a good time, I think, to take a look at how collaboration at Cisco has changed since his arrival.

If you’ve met Trollope or seen him deliver a keynote, as he did last week at Collaboration Summit 2014, then you know he’s not your typical Cisco executive. He dresses differently, wears funny shoes and does push-ups before he presents. Clearly, he thinks differently than others who have held his position at Cisco.

When Trollope came on board, change had definitely been in order. The group, for years one of those that carried Cisco, was facing a stretch of declining revenues.

An entirely new app built from the ground up, Cisco’s Squared is a much-needed attempt at simplifying collaboration.

Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit kicked off on Monday in LA. I believe this is the second collaboration event under GM Rowan Trollope, who has reshaped Cisco’s business unit. During last year’s event, Trollope was pretty matter-of-fact in acknowledging that collaboration at Cisco needed a face-lift. The various products didn’t work well together and, in his words, Cisco technology was too complicated to deploy and hard to use. While he wasn’t ready to discuss his long-term vision for the industry, he did say that his initial focus was on improving interoperability and making the products easier to use.

Since his arrival in late 2012, Cisco has upgraded many of its hardware platforms, improved product interoperability, and rebuilt the interface for WebEx. Despite all of the work and upgrades, Cisco hasn’t really come out with anything new under Trollope’s tenure. Don’t get me wrong – the new WebEx CMR is great, as are the new hardware endpoints, but I’ve considered those improvements on products that already existed.

At this week’s Collaboration Summit, Cisco took the covers off something it is calling “Project Squared,” its next-generation collaboration tool. Squared isn’t an upgrade of an older product or something Cisco patched together; it’s an entirely new application Cisco built from the ground up. Cisco has described the product as “an app where teams work together, where their work lives and how they stay connected to it all.”

A look at some real-world IoT deployments that have actually delivered on the technology’s massive promise.

Much of the media focus on IoT has been on connected devices like smart appliances, wearable devices, and other novelties. However, at Cisco’s Internet of Things World Forum in Chicago last month, a number of complex deployments that have transformed cities or businesses were highlighted. Here are 10 of the more interesting deployments.

At Westcon’s recent Connect event in Orlando, it became clearer how the channel can adapt models and perspectives to embrace the cloud and cast fears aside.

Westcon runs a number of “Connect” events throughout the year, and I had the pleasure of speaking at its recent Orlando event as well as at its UC-focused Connect event earlier this year. The theme for the Orlando event was “cloud,” which makes sense given that Westcon acquired a cloud distribution platform called Verecloud earlier this year. The goal of the event was to make the cloud a more integral part of the VAR business model, which is a big change for most channel partners. Cloud UC, in particular, has become a hot topic over the past 24 months as the number of UCaaS offerings has skyrocketed.

After my presentations I had a chance to speak with many of the VARs about the topic of cloud and while almost all of the VARs had great interest in the cloud, the ability to sell and monetize the cloud varied quite a bit from reseller to reseller.

Based on the questions I got at the event and other interviews I’ve done over the past few months, here are some key points the channel needs to consider regarding the cloud as sales strategies are developed:

An oddly timed ouster of CEO opens the door for a trusted employee who’s been with the company since the beginning.

For all you youngsters out there who don’t appreciate classic rock, check out the Billy Joel song called “Goodnight Saigon.” In it, Joel pines about perils of war and how terrible it was. However, in the song there’s a message of being part of a unit, with lyrics that go “And we would all go down together.”

As the SDN market shakes out, the companies that can help companies bridge the gap with traditional networks will be in a good position.

As hot as the topic of software defined networking (SDN) has been over the past few years, many organizations have stayed away from it. It’s not because SDNs don’t provide value, but because the technology can be quite disruptive to network operations. Most of the network managers and even IT leaders I interview seem to have a good grasp on the long-term value that SDN can bring, but there’s a fear that the operational challenges it creates may outweigh the benefits.

One of the challenges that organizations face when deploying a software defined network (SDN) is bridging the traditional network with the SDN. Traffic on a traditional network moves around based on the rules established in layer 2/layer 3 networking. OpenFlow, on the other hand, uses different protocols, custom policies, and a different set of rules to determine network behavior.

Neither of these approaches to moving packets on a network can be considered better than the other – they’re just different. The challenge for networking teams, though, is building and maintaining these two networks independently. Many network managers I’ve interviewed have stayed away from SDN because the operational challenges of running two networks outweigh the benefits it can bring.

With a virtual offering of its flagship product, Juniper takes a huge step forward in network functions virtualization.

Cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things have raised the bar on network agility. Service providers require an agile network to rapidly deliver services that can create new revenue streams. Network functions virtualization (NFV) has been viewed as a panacea to enable service providers to shift to a more agile network.

Juniper Networks has been among the most aggressive network vendors when it comes to NFV and has a robust set of virtual security offerings available today. This week, Juniper took a huge step forward with its NFV strategy by announcing it had virtualized its flagship product, the MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routing platform. The MX series has long been the workhorse for Juniper and is widely deployed in every region of the globe. It is arguable the company’s most successful product ever.

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