Six trends for cloud collaboration Pt. 2

Not too long ago, Cisco released a report by Andrew Vranjes, Senior Data Center and Cloud Specialist for Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, entitled “Six trends for cloud collaboration.”

He cited Frost & Sullivan 2011 figures that cloud computing was forecasted to grow 36.5% from 2011 to 2016, with Malaysia emerging as one of the next “hot beds for adoption.”

He also observed that conversations around cloud computing have moved beyond just basic infrastructure and platform technologies to the vast array of opportunities that come with cloud.

Especially for Malaysia with introduction of 4G LTE that in theory would enable greater and faster access to information, Vranjes outlined a few thoughts over what to expect over the course of the next few years.

In response, Enterprise IT News posed a few queries about these 6 trends, to which Vranjes answered as below:

EITN: Any-to-any video connection and the flexibility it offers seems to be the holy grail of video collaboration. How were previous challenges of cost, quality and especially interoperability overcome?

Vranjes: One of the main elements driving the improvements in call quality and interoperability while reducing costs is the advancements made in the core network infrastructure. This subsequently enable greater migration control and deployment choices that leads to not only better quality videos but also the ability to deploy video conferencing software across multiple devices and platforms at a competitive price.

By moving from the previously used Time Division Multitasking (TDM) network to Session Imitation Protocol (SIP Trunking) network, companies are able to employ the sessions border controller technology (SBC), a device used in the network to exert control over the signaling, streaming, setting up, conducting, and tearing down of telephone calls or other interactive rich media communications.

At Cisco, the strength in our high quality video conferencing and collaboration technology lies in our ability to develop and deploy our very own enterprise-focused SCB technology known as the Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE). The Cisco CUBE performs the four critical functions of an SBC: session control, security, interworking and demarcation. This enables businesses to provide voice and video connectivity from the enterprise IP network, which results in the lowering of costs, the simplifying of their voice network and the extension of rich collaboration services like video conferencing and unified communications.

EITN: Could you comment about the ecosystem and economies of scale for video collaboration technologies and solutions?

Vranjes: Video conferencing and collaboration technology are no longer new in the market. It is safe to say that it is a relatively mature market that has grown significantly to support a host of varying applications over the years.

Economies of Scale for Large Enterprises in Varying Geographical Locations 

When it was first introduced, videoconferencing was mostly immersive in nature, focusing purely on getting meeting ‘face time’ between employees and executives from different geographical locations. This proves beneficial for large organisations with operations in varying countries and regions as it was more cost effective to invest in the full length and breadth of video conferencing solutions than paying for the travel, accommodations and logistical arrangements of employees and executives to attend a meeting.

Therefore, an increase in the number of remote locations that a company conducts video conferencing in, increases the value of the technology. This is because, like most network applications, the usefulness and cost efficiency of video conferencing is proportional to the number of people that use it; creating great economies of scale for large businesses.

Mobile Video Conferencing and Collaboration: Cost Effective Solution for Small and Medium Organisations 

Due to the nature of conventional video conferencing, it was mainly regarded as the ‘big boys toys’; an expensive and complex technology that requires a huge infrastructural investment that small and medium businesses do not need and could not afford.

Nevertheless, with the global economic uncertainties, even large organisations are becoming more careful with the huge infrastructure investments required for video, taking longer time to decide and believing that it must be a carefully thought out strategic decision that will be aligned to the organisation’s long term business goals and bottom line. Thus, it is no surprises that IDC reported that videoconferencing as an industry globally, contracted by 4.8 percent during the third quarter of 2012.

Small and medium businesses on the other hand expect the best value from existing technology that they have already invested in and demand that these technologies and solutions run at an optimal levels.

This, coupled with greater employee mobility and the proliferation of personal devices such as smartphones and tablets at the work place, faster mobile networks like the 4G LTE and new powerful video softwares and technologies, have given rise to the emergence of mobile videoconferencing and collaboration tools; the more preferred, practical and cost effective option for businesses.  

Furthermore, with cloud collaboration, we now see more cutting edge software (that can enable good, high quality video conferencing for example) being hosted in the cloud, with most if not all of the IT work done remotely by the service provider, thus eliminating the need to have more IT personnel on site. This makes the entire system much easier to use and less costly in the long run. In addition, by having videoconferencing in the cloud, online video meetings are kept persistent, resulting in greater accountability of meeting information, more secure storage and the elimination of additional in-house technical resources.

Videoconferencing has also evolved to include added functionality for real-time sharing, annotation and content viewing. This includes documents, video, audio, images and graphics, with the ability to annotate and markup, as well as the ability to embed presentations. This creates true new mobile apps and services that are making productivity during meetings more about doing actual work than face time.

At Cisco, we have long been the pioneer of video conferencing and collaboration tools on the cloud. The Cisco WebEx solution for example, is a SaaS video conferencing and collaboration solution optimised for real-time and asynchronous interaction on a global scale. Delivered over the Cisco WebEx Cloud with enterprise-grade performance, reliability, and security, some of its online collaborative tools include Web Conferencing, Instant Messaging as well as enterprise software that combines social networking, real-time communications, and content creation in a single, personalised user experience.

EITNCan you share about how Cisco’s networking solutions are addressing the trend of seamless cloud ie. seamless experience across cloud, on-premise and hybrid; if at all.

Vranjes: Cisco has always been at the forefront of advancing its core network solutions and infrastructure to enable our clients to take full advantage of new technological platforms like cloud computing. As more organisations migrate to cloud-based models to adapt to new business needs and reduce costs, the network has become more pertinent to deliver a high-quality user experience with ample security and operational efficiency.

With the Cisco Cloud Intelligent Network, for example, organisations can transparently connect users to all types of clouds, be it public, private and hybrid. This delivers the efficiency of cloud technologies with the confidence that comes with a private network. The solution provides an optimised experience that increases resource utilisation and reliability, cloud security that protects business assets and meets compliance requirements and simplified operations for process efficiency, accelerated deployment and lower costs.

Cisco CloudVerse®, on the other hand, is a framework that combines the foundational elements needed to enable organisations to build, manage and connect public, private and hybrid clouds. It combines key cloud elements such as Unified Data Center, Cloud Intelligent Network, and Cloud Applications and Services to enable businesses to realise all of the benefits of clouds: improved agility, better economics, enhanced security and a dynamic, assured experience.

EITN: How do solutions in Cisco’s stable drive your Internet of Everything global campaign?

Vranjes: We define the Internet of Everything as bringing together people, process, data and things to create networked connections that are more relevant and valuable than ever before. For example, today, mobility is associated with a device, but in the future, mobility will be associated with the persons or things that are connected to the network. 

Likewise, as more of these people, process, data and things become connected to the network, there will be more data produced, thereby increasing the intrinsic value in what we call  ‘data-in-motion’; real-time and near real-time information such as connection type, location, device type, access speed and other contextual and personalised data. When this data is extracted, combined and correlated at multiple layers, it will deliver predictive intelligence that is extremely valuable for many business and consumer services.

In light of driving the Internet of Everything, Cisco recently introduced a range of major innovations which center on the following ;

Enabling service providers to deliver new, better and more personalised connected experiences
Analysing and monetising these new network connections and “data in motion”.

The Cisco Quantum™  for example, provides an unparalleled mobile network intelligence to service providers and enables greater network programmability, a key building block for the delivering of new network services. The suite includes:
Cisco Quantum Network Abstraction Suite: provides a real-time network abstraction layer for network data collection, aggregation and orchestration to augment available information in all network decision processes.
Cisco Quantum Policy Suite: offers a next-generation policy management solution that enables service providers to scale, control, monetise and personalise any service on any type of network through a flexible, interactive architecture that supports application-centric policy capabilities.
Cisco Quantum Analytics Suite: provides business and network analytics capabilities that enable both historical and real-time predictive policy decisions. It includes dashboards for data visualisation and programmable interfaces to create system alerts in conjunction with policy.
Cisco Quantum Wide Area Network (WAN) Orchestration Suite: provides network management tools to simplify capacity and traffic management, increase network efficiency, and reduce operational costs for service providers, particularly in IP/MPLS (Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching) environments.

To provide improved coverage and capacity to the mobile network architecture, Cisco is also transforming small cells into a platform for business and service innovation, with new small-cell licensed radio technology. These new innovations include :
Cisco 3G Small Cell Module for Cisco Aironet® Access Points is Wi-Fi compatible and integrates licensed and unlicensed small cells with a plug-in 3G radio for ease of deployment.
Cisco 3G Small Cell expands Cisco’s proven solution for enterprises with an unsurpassed channel to market for premises-based deployments.
Cisco ASR 901S is designed to enable wide-scale deployment of outdoor small cells by extending carrier-class small-cell routing to the outdoor installation pole to break the backhaul bottleneck.

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