Collaboration Control Panels: An Operational Perspective

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by Dan Stephens and Keith Ridgway

Collaboration is about results, the business value generated from being able to communicate efficiently and effectively with co-workers, business partners and customers.  Collaboration tools should enable and simplify that communication without cultural disruption.  Cloud enabled application deployments are happening faster than anticipated, BYOD is driving more than phone choices; user experience is of paramount importance.    Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Lync are two such tools that I refer to as Collaboration Control Panels because they are helping to coordinate communication methods effective to your business processes - getting information to people at the right time to reduce mean time to decision.

Both products function essentially the same way.  First, add a contact if they are outside of your directory or simply look them up if they are in your organization.  What is your contact’s presence status?  Online, Do Not Disturb, Presenting, In a meeting, Away or any custom status they choose to create.  Once the status is determined, the user can then determine to ignore it or use it.  Dan Stephens is available. I can chat, call, email, conference, desktop share, P2P video call or group him with other users that can be contacted as a group. It’s all about the freedom to choose how and when to communicate. Look at the adoption rate of these collaboration tools by Millennials.  Again both vendors provide similar results. 

New Collaboration Technologies Give Mobile Users a “Wired” App Experience

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By Matt Rehm, Director Collaboration-Strategic Technology Group, Presidio

If your company finds it challenging to get mobile employee and customers to give your corporate apps a chance, you’re not alone. The consumer experience that leading device manufacturers deliver on smartphones and tablets has raised the bar for what end users now expect. They want easy access to their apps, and they want an experience similar to what they see on desktop computers wired into corporate networks.

If you force mobile users to click a couple extra times to enact additional processes, such as setting up a VPN connection, chances are good you will lose them. No matter how great your collaboration tools perform on the corporate network, if you don’t make them perform just as well for mobile users, you won’t capitalize on the full value collaboration tools deliver. If you’re trying to connect with customers, your margin of error is even thinner.

Cisco is taking steps to improve mobile collaboration with new technologies that make the mobile experience truly feel like everyone is in the same room. One example is the recently released Jabber Guest—a Web-based and mobile-device video tool. Jabber Guest allows users without an account on the corporate infrastructure to utilize a Web browser or mobile application for high-def, quality video experiences inside the corporation. The technology can pay huge dividends to retail businesses and other customer service environments that want to enhance their services.

Don't underestimate the critical next step in the journey to optimizing your Hybrid IT environment – application and workload characterization.

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Steve Hanney, Sequoia

Optimizing Hybrid IT environments

OK now that we’ve covered the positioning of Services, Applications and Workloads, it is now time for us to talk through the critical next step in the journey to optimizing your Hybrid IT environment – application and workload characterization. The characterization process, sometimes known as workload placement, is a necessary step in the journey to Hybrid IT and is necessary to ensure that the right service, application and/or workload is placed in the best delivery model.

It’s important to also note that some applications are not suited to certain delivery models. With this in mind, most companies beginning to explore these options start with an Application Workload Assessment service. This service is offered by many IT integrators and Solution Providers – however there is a gotcha – the cost for this service can vary tremendously along with the capabilities of the provider. It’s recommended that careful attention is taken to select the best provider for this service.

Out typical rule of thumb is that it takes about 4-6 weeks for about 50 applications and/or workloads to be analyzed for placement in a Hybrid IT model. The Characteristics covered in this activity should include technology and business criteria including but not limited to: Risk, Compliance, Usage, Cost, Complexity, Security, Dependencies, and Criticality.


Selecting Providers

Part 1 of 2: Hybrid IT has become the weapon of choice for the progressive CIO

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Steve Hanney

With the introduction of Virtualization and Cloud Computing over the past 5-10 years CIOs have a growing number of options for how they provide IT services to their users. Each of these options are viable for specific situations and use cases. With this in mind, progressive CIO’s are actively taking advantage of these options to develop a Hybrid IT model encompassing on premise dedicated, shared and private Cloud services combined with colocation/hosting and Public Cloud services.

The trick, when mastered, is to ensure that each application or IT service is aligned and optimized to the appropriate delivery option. This blog will provide initial guidance as to how to go about aligning the services, applications and workloads to the best delivery model across a Hybrid IT environment.

Delivery Models for Hybrid IT

Let’s start with the delivery options. It’s interesting to note that each of these IT delivery options are actively being used across most fortune 500 companies today. These are:

Dedicated Internal IT                  Deploy internal IT infrastructure and applications dedicated to specific workloads.

Shared Internal IT                       Develop and deploy shared IT infrastructure supporting multiple applications and workloads.

What is PCI Compliance All About? Four Q&A's to Explain

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Sean Walls, Senior Consulting Practice Manager

The world's largest corporations and small Internet stores have one thing in common and that is keeping their customer’s payment card data secure.  The industry standard for security standards and compliance has been set by PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This is a key business driver for all merchants who accept credit cards, online or offline. The number of transactions processed annually determines the specific compliance requirements that are required; however, compliance enforcement is managed by the individual payment brands.

  1. What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS is an actionable framework for developing a robust payment card data security process including prevention, detection and response to security incidents provided by the PCI Security Standards Council. This standard has been universally accepted.

Presidio Announces PCI Qualified Security Assessors Certification

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New York, NY – September 26, 2013  Presidio announced today that they have met the requirements as a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) company by the PCI Council. Presidio is now authorized to assess compliance to the PCI DSS for all level 1 through 4 merchants and service providers. The PCI Security Standards Council maintains an in-depth program for security companies seeking to be certified as Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs), as well as to be re-certified as QSAs each year.

Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) companies are organizations that have been qualified by the PCI Council to have their employee’s assess compliance to the PCI DSS standard. Qualified Security Assessors are employees of these organizations who have been certified by the PCI Council to validate an entity’s adherence to the PCI DSS.

The PCI Security Standards Council created the comprehensive standards and supporting materials to enhance payment card data security. These materials include a framework of specifications, controls, measurements and support resources to help organizations ensure the safe storing, processing, and transmission of cardholder information. The keystone is the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which provides an actionable framework for developing a robust payment card data security process -- including management, prevention, detection and response to security incidents.

Chilton Hospital builds infrastructure solution for the future with integrated wired and wireless solutions

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Business Challenge
Since its opening with 50 beds in 1954, the story of Chilton Hospital in northwestern New Jersey has been punctuated by a few significant growth spurts. The addition of a second facility in 1971 was followed by a consolidation and further expansion of its two buildings in 1984. The most recent leap forward - a $24 million renovation and modernization project - got underway in 2012.

Now a 260-bed acute care facility staffed by more than 650 physicians and 1450 employees in total, the hospital treats some 160,000 patients each year. It is the center of the Chilton Health Network, which delivers health services to more than 30 communities across 350 square miles in its primary and secondary service areas. The network offers a wide range of health care services, including laboratory testing, physical and occupational therapy, and physician partnerships in primary care, internal medicine, breast and colorectal surgery, cardiology, and orthopedics.

Vmworld 2013: Day 1 - Dell, Simplivity and storage...oh my!

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Mark Vaughn, Consulting Principal

I spent most of Monday evaluating products for the Best of Show awards for VMworld 2013. Not only is this a great opportunity to take a deep dive in to some products, but I also got to spend about 2 hours in a room discussing a wide range of products with a 10 member panel of judges made up of authors and bloggers. I always learn a lot from their collective insight on and experience with the products being judged.

There were a few surprises this year. Personally, I was surprised by how impressed I was with Dell AppAssure; specifically its ability to protect workloads on a range of mediums, including physical hardware, vSphere, Xen and HyperV, and then restore to any other medium on the list. It will also perform 288 daily snapshots for granular restores, as well as perform regular integrity checks on data. It will even mount Exchange, SharePoint and SQL backups to perform application specific integrity checks. This product first reminded me of Platespin Protect, but with the added features of inline dedupe, advanced replication and even WAN optimization built in. I rate this as worth taking a look at. I actually used to use PlateSpin protect to keep a virtual copy of physical servers that could not be virtualized (for either load, licensing or purely political reasons), to have a 100% virtual DR. This is everything I like PlateSpin for and then some.

Cisco ‘s Purchase of Sourcefire is a Game Changer

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Joe Leonard , VP of Cyber Security Solutions, Presidio

Security breaches and cyber attacks cost businesses billions in lost revenue and recovery costs every year.  It’s not surprising to see Cisco making the latest move to enhance their own security group with the recent acquisition of Sourcefire.  Sourcefire provides best of breed NGIPS, Advanced Malware Protection and endpoint protection and is highly recognized a leader in cyber security initiatives.    

The Sourcefire NGIPS is ranked in the Gartner Intrusion Prevention Systems Leader quadrant and consistently achieves high marks by NSS labs on its overall security effectiveness.   

Cisco recent acquisition of Sourcefire fortifies their cyber security portfolio by adding the best of breed NGIPS and malware solutions.   This is a great strategic play by Cisco and a game changer as Cisco is now able to compete against the best of breed standalone security products.    This acquisition will force the competitors to rethink their strategy to compete against Cisco’s new cyber security portfolio offering.   In the short-term, it certainly puts security at the forefront of technology priorities once again. Most will agree, threats are persistent and continue to push businesses to remain agile and persistent.

Related Press Release:  Cisco has announced they are acquiring SourceFire to enhance the Cisco Security Group -