December 17, 2015

Cisco Spark – is this the New Collaboration Era?

Kudos to Cisco for taking a bottom-up approach to redefine the solution around a problem set that decision-makers can understand. Nobody has really cracked the code yet, but based on what we saw last week, I think Cisco has come the closest so far. Rowan rightly noted that two key UC building blocks – telephony and video – were designed pre-mobility and pre-Internet, and that just won’t cut it for today’s collaboration needs. So, they’ve re-designed these as part of Spark Service for the cloud and from the cloud, and when you start like this from a clean slate you’re already ahead of the pack. As to whether we really are in a new era, we’ll find out next year, but I’ll start with three distinct things Cisco has done to change the game.


9 ways corporate fitness and wellness programs will change in 2016

The trend of incorporating "mental well-being" into corporate health programs is gaining traction in places such as Silicon Valley, according to Nichol Bradford, founder of the Transformative Technology Lab in Palo Alto, Calif. Some tech companies are "looking into ways to incorporate wearable gear that measures brainwaves, as well as meditation programs that help employees better communicate and become leaders," he says. ... Many modern corporate fitness and wellness programs already employ activity trackers, but 2016 will bring additional technologies and applications into the mix. We can expect to see a more "multifaceted" approach to delivering new features, according to Jeff Ruby, Newtopia founder and CEO, including live fitness coaching delivered to employees via two-way video conferencing.


The Connected Person’: IoT, Big Data, and the Cloud

In the relatively near future, a standards- and cloud-enabled IoT for service providers will likely also serve “the connected person.” This is already happening to some degree via apps on mobile devices. The personalized cloud for individuals will be populated by devices, software and data that ultimately bring the world to one’s digital doorstep. This will provide a means to access, monitor and to some extent control one’s digital world, from the home area network to the larger world. Cloud-enabled IoT and associated Big Data processing has implications for healthcare, education, transportation, personal finance – all the industry verticals served today by the Internet. In this vision, cloud-based hardware in conjunction with cloud-based software will capture, share, route, process and visualize information.


Refactoring Code to Load a Document

Much modern web server code talks to upstream services which return JSON data, do a little munging of that JSON data, and send it over to rich client web pages using fashionable single page application frameworks. Talking to people working with such systems I hear a fair bit of frustration of how much work they need to do to manipulate these JSON documents. Much of this frustration could be avoided by encapsulating a combination of loading strategies. ... Specifying just the bits I need via databinding is a really good way to get hold of a reduced set of data like this. Libraries that use databinding like this usually have a configuration parameter that indicates how the databinding should treat fields in the JSON that don't have a binding in the target records.


Hidden colocation cost drivers that add up

When it comes to colocation deals, there is absolutely no substitute for due diligence. Consider the value-added services and support level that are most appropriate for the business, as well as what happens when you need more. Are there cost penalties, for example, or will excess support requests simply go unanswered? Read the contract, service-level agreement (SLA) and any price lists or addendums carefully. Ask the provider directly about any costs or fees that weren't covered, such as early termination. When you select a colocation provider, don't be afraid to start small and expand services later, and don't hesitate to negotiate for the most cost-effective services. You can often negotiate services and support costs, and competitive providers want to talk when a long-term contract is on the line.


5 Ways ADCs Can Improve Performance of Network Infrastructure

Optimizing network performance is a task that spans multiple domains – from architecting the network, with capacity and topology (segmentation) considerations, through redundancy, bandwidth management and security aspects. But today, I would like to raise 5 additional ways to optimize overall network performance by best utilizing advanced Application Delivery Controller (ADC) capabilities for front end applications. ... A lot has been said about the 30 year old Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and how it was designed for reliability. This impacts efficiency and performance and on top of that challenge, there’s also the chatty nature of the HTTP protocol to consider.


The 10 most important lessons IT learned in 2015

The end of a year is always a good time for reflection, especially so if you're evaluating what your business did right and what you can improve upon. In an increasingly digital world, IT has quickly become one of, if not the most, important aspects of an organization. So, it should be with great care that executives and admins look back on their year and try to glean some wisdom about what can be done differently in the year to come. ... "BYOX is the new mantra with consumers bringing their own applications, cloud sharing tools, social media into the enterprise; essentially bringing their own expectations of which technology they want to use and how and where they want to work in a corporate environment," said Chuck Pol, president of Vodafone Americas.


“Outsourcing Is Bad:” Why Good Vendors Agree

For both obviously tech driven and less obviously tech driven companies, success hinges upon strategic software development that meets business goals. IT is now more than ever in the driver’s seat—or has the chance to be. That means ensuring “t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.” You can’t do that unless your internal software development folks are strong, and your external software development resources are integrated with them in a meaningful way. I refer to this latter integration as “team augmentation”—not to be confused with staff augmentation. Team aug requires any third party team members to be grown up and into, embrace and support today’s business and IT culture of rapid development, big picture thinking, knowledge sharing, ownership, and quality.


It's Time For IT Teams to Digitize Like The Startups Do

Unlike a manufacturing plant, a knowledge work factory has no industrial engineers who recognize errors as valuable redesign opportunities. Instead, each employee in the knowledge work factory is expected to manage a dizzying array of one-off corrections. If they think of these corrections at all, they and their managers view these as valuable activity. After all, they are preserving revenue, making the sales force more effective and keeping customers happy. This is virtuous activity – “virtuous waste.”  Despite its circular logic, the virtuous waste misperception provides an opportunity for knowledge workers to continue the status quo. Startups exploit this opportunity.


IoT startup Afero goes end to end for security

At the heart of the company's platform is the Afero Cloud, which performs services like security and includes long-term data storage. Devices with the Afero ASR-1 Secure Radio Module, which uses the low-power Bluetooth Smart protocol, will connect to that cloud with encryption end to end. Other types of IoT devices can communicate with Afero-powered products through cloud-to-cloud integration, but without the same security, the company says. For security, Afero looked to the larger world of digital security for best practices. For each session, the device and the cloud service both are authenticated using an elliptic-curve key exchange, usually with 256-bit key pairs.



Quote for the day:


"Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance." -- J. Donald Walters