Things, Analytics and the Future of Cities

– September 29, 2017 – 0 Comments

Last year at Strata New York, we spoke about the first truly connected Olympics. This year we’ve chosen an equally interesting topic: the impact of technological innovation on our cities.

The technology landscape is changing faster than ever. What’s more, access to the technology is becoming far more widespread, almost universal. Take smartphones for example (defined as a mobile communications device that can also run general purpose applications): introduced just over ten years ago, there are now more smartphone users in India and China alone than the entire adult population of the United States.

Let’s take a closer look at the year 2020; this will be a year of milestones. Today we have 25 billion connected devices. By 2020, that number will double to 50 billion – we’re adding 25 billion devices in just two years! In 2020, there will be over six billion smart phones in use and 220 million connected cars; and the global IP traffic will reach about 100TB per second. 80% of the world’s population will be connected to the internet.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine all the knowledge of the entire human race available to everyone – we are clearly heading down this path. It’s not at all difficult to imagine every student in the world having access to educational resources like the Khan Academy, Wikipedia and YouTube. Or access to eDX whose mission is “Quality education for everyone, everywhere,” or the Digital Universal Library, or the Million Book Project with a vision to provide access to “all human knowledge, anytime, anywhere.”

It’s not just education, opportunity is everywhere. e-health is becoming a reality with initiatives like Last Mile Health, providing healthcare to the world’s most remote communities. Smart grids and smart meters are transforming the energy sector, benefiting both providers and consumers. Innovation through connected technology is transforming transportation (think Uber and Lyft), and Industry 4.0 is bringing the power of connected computing to manufacturing.

Let’s not stop there. Let’s focus on our everyday lives. What about cities? Most of us live in cities; some of us live in mega-cities. Living in a city offers many benefits of proximity and diversity: food, entertainment, shopping, social events, sports and medical care. But it comes at a price. Cities consume 75% of the world’s resources and generate 80% of the greenhouse gases; and our cities are growing. By 2030, the urban population will exceed five billion people across thousands of cities. About 40 of these will be mega-cities with populations in excess of 10 million people; and about 500 will have populations greater than one million.

This is clearly an area to focus on and one where technology can make significant improvements. I see tremendous potential to transform our cities using the IoT and analytics to tackle issues like our ever-growing demand for transportation, improving energy efficiency, and making our cities cleaner and safer.

There are many smart city initiatives around the world. Let’s look at India by way of example. When people think of India, they picture elephants, tigers, snake charmers, yogi’s and holy rivers.

The reality of India is quite different (well, except for the elephants). Today’s India is the world’s largest democracy. It has more internet users than the entire population of the United States. There are 300 million smartphone subscribers, and by 2020, India will account for 36% of new mobile subscribers worldwide.

There are six mega-cities (that’s one-quarter of all mega-cities in the world) and more than 50 cities over one million population. Each of these cities has its own unique story. There are also 98 Smart City initiatives – let me take you to one of those cities.

Jaipur, India is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s the 10th largest city in India with a population of 3.6 million. Known as the City of Palaces, Jaipur hosts 40 million tourists every year.

Jaipur’s smart city vision is to use technology and analytics to enhance the quality of life for its citizen while leveraging its heritage. Jaipur’s main business is tourism and a primary goal of their smart city initiatives is to increase the average number of days a visitor spends in Jaipur. Can you think of a better key performance indicator than that? Their target is to increase this metric from 2.8 days to 3.5 days. The specific projects aim to provide seamless access to information, make it easy to move about the city and create a safe environment. There is a smart mobility project to promote the use of non-motorized vehicles and increase the share of public transportation to 45%, as well as investments in smart and sustainable civic Infrastructure, smart metering in utilities, and smart waste management – all through the use of the Internet of Things and analytics.

Connected Cities are just one example of the digital transformation being brought on by the explosion of data and connected devices. In my most recent book, “Transforming Industry Through Data Analytics” I discuss the risks and the opportunities of a truly connected world, with a particular emphasis on cities, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. Available here.




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Threat Round Up for Sept 22 – Sept 29

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between September 22 and September 29. As with previous round-ups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavior characteristics, indicators of compromise, and how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of date of publication. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center,, or

Read more »


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Five to Thrive in an Amazon World

– September 29, 2017 – 0 Comments

The retail landscape continues to see disruption from changing consumer behaviors, and online disruptors, such as Amazon. Over 3,500 stores are expected to close this year and we are seeing decrease in store foot traffic of close to 6 percent per year. Visits to shopping malls went down 50 percent. [Business Insider].

E-commerce was the main driver of this large drop, but changing demographics and consumer preferences were also contributing factors.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Where there are competitive threats, there are also opportunities. Let’s dig deeper. Retail is definitely changing, but it’s not dead. Some sectors such as home-improvement retailers actually increased 5.9 percent  and food service and drinking places saw a modest increase of 3.2 percent, according to eMarketer. And while traditional department stores struggle, the number of “dollar stores” increased by 58% to 29,400, and many supercenters, like Walmart, saw 76 percent unit growth.

With all of this mind, I’d like to propose five ways that retailers can thrive in an Amazon world.

1. Create dynamic, personalized customer experiences. Customers shopping online are experiencing seamless, convenient, fast, and personalized shopping experiences. Retailers need to provide the same or better experiences at the store. 

Use real-time analytics generated from your network to understand and know who is at your store. Customer insights gives you the ability to be able to predict and personalize customer engagements. Let your customers guide their own shopping journey, just as they would online. Learn more.

2. Empower associates to be productive and customer-first. To deliver the best in-store customer experience, you need a workforce that’s ready and eager to deliver the experiences your customers demand. Over 50 percent of consumers believe that the amount of sales help they receive in stores has declined (Deloitte, 2016).

Mobile technology empowers associates to become trusted advisors —equipped to help customers with real-time inventory information, product specifications, and personalized recommendations. Digital capabilities, such as on-demand training, analytics, and collaboration tools yields better-trained, better-supported, and more-satisfied associates who remain on the job for longer. Learn more.

3. Optimize your retail operations.  To remain competitive in the modern digital marketplace, your retail infrastructure must balance customer demands for more personalized digital services with the operational requirements for unified commerce. Increasingly, stores need consistent information management combined with a consistent omnichannel experience to ensure rapid deployment of new business functions, services, and apps. Learn more.

4. Protect your brand and secure your operations. Cybersecurity attacks continue to make big headlines. For instance, the recent Equifax breach was said to have exposed the customer information of nearly 143 million people. Unfortunately, this is probably not the last cybersecurity attack we’ll read about.

Retailers need to build strong processes, IT networks and systems that secure their business from the store to the cloud to the data center. Learn more.

5. Build your store on the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA). The essential strategy for digital transformation in this rapidly changing environment, is to invest in a technology foundation that is flexible, automated, and secure – a digital ready network.

With Cisco DNA, retailers can revolutionize how they design, build, and manage the network. Meaning, faster deployment and simpler, centralized management of an intelligent network, to get multiple stores up and running in days rather than months.

Cisco has built a comprehensive digital transformation assessment for retailers to learn where they are on their journey to becoming a digital business to survive in this digital era. Take your assessment today: Get Started!



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The FlashStack Revolution

– September 29, 2017 – 0 Comments

Modern companies need to move quick. And to do so, they need things to be streamlined. From hosting 40,000 people at a big game, to churning out thousands of newspapers hot-off-the-press, to delivering millions of pizzas right on time. To keep up, companies need an integrated solution powering their IT that’s fast…REALLY fast.

Learn how Cisco and Pure Storage came together to build the FlashStack converged infrastructure solution, combining the innovation and compute power of Cisco UCS and the all-flash arrays of Pure Storage, for a solution that can power anything.

FlashStack is a streamlined, flexible, transformative approach to IT infrastructure. It fully supports mission critical enterprise applications and provides a robust platform for cloud services. FlashStack combines the latest in computing, network, storage components into a single, integrated architecture that accelerates time to deployment, lowers overall IT costs, and reduces deployment risk.

FlashStack is validated with common workloads and applications to reduce deployment risk and help IT organizations quickly and easily deploy the right infrastructure. FlashStack architectures are comprehensively documented and defined in Cisco Validated Designs, which are available at

So join the FlashStack revolution. To learn more, visit us at: or


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Innovating and Winning Awards

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

The Best of Interop 2017 award winners were announced at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

As the innovator and leader of these technologies, I was asked by several media representatives for an interview. Here is a short interview by Information Week news desk.

Best of Interop Awards are like the Oscars of the Networking industry.

We were the finalists in 6 categories and won 3 awards!

It was a privilege to be featured on the front page of Information Week. Here is a link to the article.

Here are more details of these innovations:

Catena information

PLB information

iCAM information


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A Last Chance for WebEx

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

It’s not always easy to try new things. The old things are comfortable. You know how to use them and what to expect.

Except when they break. Or slow productivity. Then you need something new. For our partner Meet Me In The Cloud, that’s their sweet spot. They don’t sell Cisco. They help customers use and get value out of WebEx, Spark, and Jabber. And when one of their customers gave up on on-premise collaboration tools and bought Webex, the transition was complicated.

Meet Me In The Cloud says… 

When it came to using collaboration tools, one of our pharmaceutical customers had tried everything.

They had already tried moving from on-prem to the cloud 3 times. They’d tested out different providers. They’d bought 4200 WebEx licenses.. They’d used an outside company to train people on WebEx and Collaboration Meeting Rooms. Nothing seemed to work—because they didn’t have a clear plan preparing their end users for the change. People just weren’t catching on. Half of those licenses were sitting unused. And calls to the help desk for support were climbing.

Then they met us: Meet Me In The Cloud. We don’t sell Cisco. We’re part of their Lifecycle Advisor program. So, we help companies get the most value out of the Cisco products they buy. In this case – training sessions for collaboration technology. We convinced them to give Cloud CMR and WebEx one more try, if we provided an upgrade plan from CMR Hybrid to CMR Cloud.

They agreed, but gave us two tasks:

We got straight to work: built a comprehensive migration plan, rolled out communications around the upgrade and training sessions for new and existing users.  We even ran talks onsite in the cafeteria.

WebEx is no longer something our customer has but doesn’t use. It’s a day-in-day-out part of work, like team huddles in meeting rooms or grabbing coffee with a colleague.

Looks like the last-ditch attempt got the best-yet results.

Thanks, Meet Me In The Cloud! Pretty impressive results. We’re glad your customers are getting the full value of the collaboration products they buy from Cisco.

Find out more about how Meet Me In The Cloud helps customers make the most of their Cisco products.

And learn more about our Lifecycle Advisor Program here.

The story doesn’t end there. Read more stories on what our customers and partners are doing all over the world.


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Preparing Today for Tomorrow’s Threats

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

For the European Union, the U.S., and many countries around the world, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time to broaden awareness and expand the conversation on staying safe and secure online. This time of year presents an opportunity to reflect on the state of cybersecurity – how we’re dealing with today’s challenges and how we are preparing for the future.

Progress is great, right?

We live in a truly amazing time – a hyperconnected, digital world where people, processes, data, and things are connected in ways that stir the imagination. In this digital age, 30 million new devices are connected to the Internet every week. IoT devices create almost 300 times the data that people create and that number will increase exponentially as we connect more devices. Mobility, cloud computing, smart devices, and our ability to connect globally in real time are so pervasive today that we already take them for granted.

Our research forecasts that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and some say that estimate is low. By 2018, 78 percent of all computing will be done in the cloud. By 2025, 1 million new devices are projected to be connected to the Internet every hour. Global mobile data traffic will reach 11 exabytes (EB) per month by year’s end, and 49 EB per month by 2021. To put that in perspective: 1 EB is equivalent to 1 billion gigabytes; 5 EB equals all the words ever spoken by human beings.

Who could have anticipated this level of connectivity and growth just a few decades ago?

Preparing today for tomorrow

So how can we prepare today for tomorrow’s threats? To be successful in the age of digital disruption, we need to commit to cybersecurity that enables as a critical foundation. To capture the benefits of this digital age, cybersecurity must be sewn tightly into the fabric of every organization and business process. It has to be a mindset that permeates governments, businesses, education, and our lives.

The volatility of the geopolitical landscape, specifically tied to cyber, continues to keep governments around the world and businesses with a global footprint on notice. What’s at stake? According to the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Handbook on Cyber-Risk Oversight, “some estimates predict that between $9 and $21 trillion of global economic value creation could be at risk if companies and governments are unable to successfully combat cyber threats.”

Governments must drive a national security strategy and work with state and local law enforcement to address the threat of malicious, well-funded adversaries seeking financial reward, social instability or political gain. With cyber and financial controls now on par, businesses around the world must ensure the protection of their customer’s information. They both must examine how the threats of geopolitical instability and improper business operations affect risk, and take direct action to protect our collective interests.

To that end, the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) Chair Jay Clayton recently commented that publicly traded company’s obligations of protection exceed a breach. It extends to disclosing the risks companies face from cyberattacks and revealing more readily and quickly when a breach occurs.

What is Cisco doing in this domain? One aspect is that we’re applying Unified Security Metrics that measure the security posture of an IT service, enable reporting and feedback, and promote continuous improvement over time. These indicators bring visibility and intelligence to critical systems that assess security posture, help manage risk, improve security hygiene, and drive better operational and business outcomes.

The results? Security is now more strategically driven. We have more operational control and flexibility to manage security actions, policies, processes, and investment. Most importantly, we’re focused on measuring outcomes based on risk and efficacy, not budget spend, and more effective at protecting our customer’s and our own information.

Businesses need to approach cybersecurity as a strategic business imperative, not a defensive necessity. Cybersecurity needs to be a cornerstone of our digital strategy and our business strategy. That’s why security is a strategic imperative at Cisco and pervasive across everything we do. It’s embedded strategically into our business operations, processes and polices, and how we educate our employees, customers, and partners around the globe.

Filling the skills and diversity gap

In preparing for the future, we also need to resolve two factors that hinder our ability to fight the good fight: drive greater opportunities for diversity in cybersecurity and fill the skills gap. Today, there are more than 1 million global cybersecurity jobs unfulfilled. We need diverse thinking, diverse candidates, and a diverse workforce to fill these roles.

For example, while globally women hold about half of the nontechnical positions, they account for only 25 percent of computing-related jobs, and 11 percent of the information security workforce. We can’t possibly meet the needs of the Digital Age if only one in four STEM professionals are women, and less than half of them are focusing on security.

Our blog on women in cyber shares how women can be better-represented in the future and links to perspectives from other Cisco leaders on this critical initiative that I wholeheartedly support. Let’s also broaden opportunities for underrepresented populations to find STEM-related jobs – and particularly those in cybersecurity – to enrich our industry with greater diversity.

How can jobseekers looking to break into the cybersecurity industry get a start? Attend the Finding a Career in Cybersecurity: Panel on Job Success webinar on October 25, in which a panel of experts will share how they got their role, lessons learned, and tips and advice.

Cisco has overhauled its learning curriculum to set people up for the next 20 years of their careers. We’re reskilling 3 million certified professionals, adding new digital skills to existing certifications. We’ve evolved our certifications to include cybersecurity, cloud, and next-generation curriculum. We’re expanding learning options for Architects through to the entry-level certifications with virtual labs, learning libraries and custom training. All of our education programs are geared to aid the global digital workforce to move forward effectively, and help our customers reach their desired outcomes securely.

Building a culture of cybersecurity is critical for any organization as is creating advocates in functions beyond the security team. Industry and government can help by partnering with learning institutions to raise awareness and promote available opportunities to train IT and security professionals, as well as the general public. Educators must continuously develop creative new training approaches that will prepare the next-generation workforce for the cybersecurity needs of the future.

The future is still bright, despite these challenges

Every individual with an online presence must get involved. Stay informed, apply the appropriate security controls, share what’s working and call out what needs to improve. Help one-another to be cyber resilient and raise our collective security posture. Safe web, email, and social media habits, patching and updating systems, and better password management are actions we can all take today.

October is a time to lean in and engage. Learn new techniques and share your insights with your colleagues, family, friends, and us. National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S., the European Cyber Security Month, as well as other cybersecurity advocacy programs around the globe offer tremendous resources, as does Cisco’s Trust Center.


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IT Services Can Ensure Your Investment Isn’t Wasted

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

IT services have changed a lot since I first became involved with them, but then, so has networking.  We use to laugh about putting an IP address on a refrigerator and now the Internet of Things has made that a reality.

However, as technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, it becomes increasingly easy to overlook the full range of capabilities it offers. This is a problem for all organizations, but federal agencies operating under tight budgets and accountable to the White House may be especially sensitive to it.

After all, what good is new technology if you don’t take advantage of all the embedded features and functionality? Just having the latest and greatest whiz-bang software or device is only half of the equation. Have you realized the full value of your investment?

All rights reserved to Sandra Cifo

Thankfully, as IT has become more complex, services have evolved to help C-Suite Executives and network administrators make smarter choices to support long-term strategy and day-to-day operations. Basic break-fix is fundamental, but adoption and proactive intelligence regarding your network is better.

Think about implementing the following best practices when it comes your IT investments:

  1. Assign someone — directly or via a valued and trusted partner — to proactively manage your network inventory. Be sure to agree on detailed processes to reconcile changes, including RMAs.
  2. Make sure all deployed hardware and software components have break-fix service contracts, either via subscription or purchase. This will ensure your operating systems and applications are up to date, provided your IT team has the bandwidth and necessary expertise to keep up with changes.
  3. Purchase Adoption Services to ensure your organization actually uses the technology once deployed. This is especially important with collaboration services.
  4. Consider purchasing the following to minimize lengthy and expensive outages, deployment delays and unnecessary expenditures:
    1. Proactive break-fix services, like Cisco Technical Services Advantage, to supplement your staff.
    2. Optimization Services to identify problem areas that may limit your ability to realize your overall strategy.
    3. Advisory Services to develop a fully vetted roadmap and achieve your business objectives.

No matter what stage you have reached in planning, designing, implementing or optimizing an IT network, Cisco can help ensure you realize the full value of your investment and your strategic goals.

Find out more about Cisco services here.


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TechWiseTV LIVE: Introducing Cisco Intersight for UCS and HX and the New ACI Anywhere

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

It’s a long blog title, but there’s a lot of information packed into this show! We pulled it off, our second ever live TechWiseTV show and we’re back in the data center talking about all the new announcements surrounding Cisco Intersight and ACI 3.0. This show is packed with guests, customers, and technical demos. If you’re more familiar with either UCS or ACI, don’t worry, we’ll catch you up!

Robb interviews a lot of the heavy hitters starting off with Frank Palumbo.

Frank gives us the outlook of the Cisco data center moving forward. After a primer on both technologies, we jump into Intersight, and all things UCS and HyperFlex with Liz Centoni and Satinder Sethi.

Intersight is a brand new product, which as Chris Nichols explains in his demo is not just another management platform. It is allowing us to connect all sorts of UCS and HyperFlex devices, from all different geographies, using a cloud managed platform. Intersight will allow us to move toward an intent driven data center, while increasing security, providing us with Telemetry for ourselves and troubleshooting information for TAC, and of course still driving towards more automation with all the integration, zero-touch deployment, and open APIs.


We then get into ACI with Tom Edsall. ACI 3.0 was just released a few weeks ago and this is a major new release! While ACI has always embraced open APIs from the beginning, the programmability, automation, and integration with third parties is just getting better. Edsall mentioned the new Kubernetes integration specifically for folks moving towards more cloud native applications with containers. ACI Anywhere is also a huge play, providing customers with the ability to manage policy as they do in ACI, directly with public cloud partners. The main event was around ACI Multisite, though, which Lilian Quan showed us in her demos.

Just a jam-packed show with a lot of information, education, and even a polka band! Make sure to watch on YouTube or you can register here to watch and get more information.


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Watch now: Top 5 business expansion strategies for system integrators

– September 28, 2017 – 0 Comments

Earlier this month, I was involved in a webinar in partnership with CSIA and Panduit that focused on system integrators and expanding their business. The system integrator role is evolving from being project-centric into a long-term solutions partner who can help manufacturing clients in critical areas such as:

Additionally, manufacturers are increasingly working with system integrators as an extension of their internal teams. In this webinar, we discussed how the implementation of state-of-the-art technology is affecting this space, as well as best practices, architecture design, and key considerations for working with customers. Topics covered included:

The webinar included areas for system integrators to expand their training, as well as a promo code for classes with Industrial IP Advantage. The replay is available here.


Sneak peek of next month’s webinar

The next webinar in the series will be in October and is titled “Secure Cloud Networking Solutions for Complex Manufacturing Operations.”

Some of the topics touched upon will include how cloud networking offers greater reliability, easier management, and a lower total cost of ownership. We’ll explore the cloud managed networking solution, the ease of integration, performance and security.

Full details are coming soon and will be available here.


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