Enhance Communication with Digital Media Systems

October 26, 2010

Nexus has just been named a Cisco Authorized Digital Media System Partner. This designation recognizes Nexus as having fulfilled the training requirements and program prerequisites to sell, deploy and support Cisco Digital Media System solutions. But perhaps more important than this official recognition, is the fact that Nexus has operated DMS units in our own offices for quite some time. We’re uniquely positioned to recommend this technology because we’ve seen first-hand how this system really engages our customers and effectively delivers our messaging,

There are several obvious applications for a Digital Media System. I’m sure most of us have seen digital messaging in the lobby of a business or in a retail store or maybe even at a sporting event – used to promote a brand or product, or to play a company profile. But there are several other valuable applications that may be less obvious at first.

Digital signage units in a school or university setting can be used to display schedule updates, on-campus promotions, notifications to students and parents, and even to broadcast ceremonies and events. In addition, many schools have begun to leverage this technology to incorporate guest speakers or interactive content to enrich classroom instruction.

Using digital signage in lobbies, waiting areas, cafeterias, staff lounges, and nursing stations can save labor costs and enhance the patient experience. They can be used to display check-in instructions to speed the registration and admissions process or show helpful information on patient wait times, queue length, and status. In waiting rooms, digital signage can provide video education about nutrition, exercise, disease prevention, and more.

Public Safety
Digital signage is already widely used to provide up-to-the-minute public safety information or communications about changing transportation conditions, for example at airports, stadiums, train stations, and roadways. It’s actively being used in schools and government buildings to display emergency information and to coordinate evacuation procedures.

Using the Cisco Digital Media Manager, all the units in a system can be easily controlled from one user interface. This means that a network of endpoints can be programmed and updated independently or in small subgroups, but can also be easily “overridden” to convey emergency information or to broadcast a universal update. Different users can be assigned different access rights and permissions to change only certain devices or endpoints.

In short, Digital Media Systems are helping forward-thinking organizations to promote and sell products and services, deliver entertaining and educational content, reduce training costs, and enhance customer and employee communications – all of which adds to the bottom line.


Millennial Workforce Strengthens the Case for Collaboration

October 19, 2010

Collaboration is now an enterprise-wide phenomenon, one that crosses organizational silos and boundaries. But what explains collaboration’s expanding impact?

“It stems from social technologies in the workforce, converting companies from a ‘need to know’ environment to a ‘need to share’ culture that promotes an open collaboration approach where sharing is the norm and information control is at the discretion of the individual,” argues Rob Koplowitz, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. “This shift toward increased collaboration is apparent, even as enterprises emerge from the economic downturn.”

He cites research showing that 65% of organizations now support “Web 2.0” technology for internal or external collaboration and communication purposes.

Koplowitz contends that enterprises are embracing collaborative technology to gain a competitive advantage in the post-downturn environment. They are intent on grabbing market share and driving up profitability and think that collaborative technologies can help them meet these objectives.

The entrance of the “Millennials” in the workforce is recognized as a key factor in this movement. They are expected to bring a new digital fluency to their jobs, creating new ways to engage in productive work.

They wield social and real-time communication tools to influence their peers and the world around them, helping to amplify the conversations employees have every day,” he says. “This is great news for firms looking to enhance their innovation strategies. As firms move toward greater levels of sharing as part of embracing the changing workforce and the wide availability of social software platforms designed for business, the drive for innovation within the organization starts to naturally occur.”

Forrester defines Web 2.0 as “a set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.” It believes these technologies will help to drive innovation when these collaboration-focused programs are:

  • Visible: Well publicized and transparent to workers, enabling them to ask questions, share ideas, and discover what others are doing.
  • Respectful: Recognizing and promoting different perspectives and open, ongoing dialogue. 
  • Inclusive: Capable of breaking down organizational and cultural barriers including time differences.

Further gains will be made as these collaborative approaches extend beyond the immediate enterprise to encompass vendors, partners, and customers. “But most importantly, social tools promote open collaboration that encourages the sharing of ideas which might not have been possible without them,” Koplowitz writes. “This approach can set the innovation pipeline process in motion.”

Virtualization Meets the Mission-Critical Data Center

October 13, 2010

Mission critical applications are fueling the dramatic growth in data and processing within organizations. Such applications, from Supply Chain to ERP to CRM and more, have become the core of every business.  The ability to provide these application services in a ubiquitous, always available way is crucial to successful business operations. Yet as data and application processing volumes increase, IT budgets are flat or down-leveled, creating a challenge for every IT organization.

Data Center Virtualization offers a beneficial solution to the challenge of lights out, always on, ubiquitous delivery of mission critical applications services. 

Benefits of Data Center Virtualization for mission critical applications include:

High Availability
Virtualization empowers new levels of reliability and cost effectiveness. By virtualizing resources, businesses achieve high availability without the cost of replicated systems or data centers.

  • Redundancy is provided as an inherent aspect of a virtualized infrastructure.  Rather than creating dedicated stand-by systems, redundancy comes from the virtualized servers, storage, and networks within the active  IT infrastructure.
  • Proactive, automated  response to any component outages  creates a lights out approach to availability.  IT teams are notified of critical events so that they may respond appropriately, even as service levels are automatically maintained across the virtual architecture.
  • Performance and availability of individual virtual machines helps the IT team more quickly identify and respond to application performance issues.

Accelerated Provisioning
New instances of applications, additional instances for scale and application upgrades are accomplished transparently and quickly.  For example, provisioning a new server to support applications such as SAP can occur within 30 minutes  using the Cisco Unified Computing Service.

  • Automated provisioning enables IT staff to create  a profile for each application or service.  By applying a profile to new servers, provisioning is fast and effective.  By upgrading that profile and then applying it across all associated  servers,  application upgrades or changes are  deployed seamlessly across the infrastructure.
  •  Application development  is also enhanced since development servers they be temporarily provisioned and then returned to the server pool as needed.

Increased Efficiency
 Initial capital investments are reduced, thanks to the use of commodity  blade servers and storage appliances. Traditional operating costs including power, cooling  and data center space  are reduced thanks to a virtualized,  shared infrastructure.  

Operating costs  associated with IT personnel are dramatically reduced,  since a small IT staff can effectively manage a wall  large  virtualized infrastructure.  IT staff can now focus on next-generation services delivery rather than server and storage management.

It’s clear that virtualization is the solution we’ve all been waiting for to provide cost effective yet highly available, scalable and ubiquitous mission critical application service delivery.

Mobility Increases as Wireless Prices Drop

October 5, 2010

One factor that can be expected to continue driving borderless networking to new levels is the continuous decline in the price of wireless services. Despite consolidation in the wireless sector, prices have steadily fallen over the last decade, according to a study from the General Accountability Office (GAO).

While AT&T and Verizon now account for 61.7% of all wireless subscribers (up from 51.5% in 2006), the average price for wireless services was “approximately 50% of the price in 1999,” the GAO finds.

Moreover, the agency points out that buyers are generally receiving more services for their money, such as more voice minutes to use for lower costs.

What explains the drop in prices in a post-consolidation environment?

Speculation from the GAO indicates that economies of scale resulting from increased wireless penetration and the development of truly nationwide networks might be the reason. Wireless penetration has increased significantly over the past decade, rising from 38% in 2000 to 91% in 2009.

Now able to reach many more people, the total cost of providing service per user has steadily dropped. What’s more, nationwide networks have helped to reduce the roaming fees of the past, making mobility more affordable and efficient for the right-now, real-time demands on workers—regardless of where they may be.
The GAO’s research also points to a steady expansion of wireless handsets and devices in the market. “Wireless handsets have evolved from the more traditional handsets that offer basic features such as voice and text messaging, to smartphones that offer Internet connectivity. Over the past two years, the industry has experienced an increase in smartphone adoption, led by the Apple iPhone.” It’s no longer unheard of for participants on a video conference to be connected from their smartphones.

So what does all this mean for enterprises intent on reaching new levels of performance and growth?

It means that that the border associated with wireless access is steadily being spanned. While concerns remain about the availability of bandwidth to address the multimedia-rich demands of today’s workers, there is now an opportunity to cost-effectively expand the application of wireless services to create a more mobile and agile enterprise when supported by a borderless network.

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