Hungry For Secure Wireless – and Pizza!

November 8, 2012

by Mike Zozaya, Nexus Practice Manager, Security/Mobility/Infrastructure

My favorite restaurant makes great pizza, but I think they could use injection of wireless technology.  The entire process just isn’t very efficient, and that inefficiency often results in frustration for both customers and staff – and reduced profits for the owners.  Here’s what happened last Friday night:

  • Our server showed up at the table and took our order by writing it on a piece of paper.
  • The server took the piece of paper and waited in line with other servers to enter the order into the proprietary point of sale system.
  • The server must have made an entry error because instead of putting onions on our pizza, the kitchen staff added olives.
  • The server picked up our order and brought it to the table, but as noted above, the pizza didn’t have the correct topping.
  • So, our pizza went back to the kitchen (and became a loss), and a new one was prepared.
  • Meanwhile, we sat at the table waiting.
  • When the new pizza arrived, we were HUNGRY, and it vanished in a flash.   It was time for our check.
  • The server again waited in line at the point of sale machine to print out our check, then brought it to the table and left to take care of other customers.
  • I placed my credit card on the tray with the bill and waited for the server to return.
  • The server returned and picked up the check, then waited in line at the point of sale terminal AGAIN to process my credit card.
  • Finally, the server returned to our table with my credit card and my receipt.

Wouldn’t it have been easier if:

  • The server used a smartphone or tablet to enter orders wirelessly.
  • A secure, cloud-based application automatically sent the order to the kitchen and the restaurant manager and, at the same time, removed the ingredients from inventory.
  • The server picked up the order (which was correct because the server also owns a smartphone or tablet and is very comfortable using mobile apps) and delivered it to the table before customers were so hungry that they were ready to consume almost anything.
  • When it was time for the check, the customer had the option of viewing the check on the server’s device or requesting a print out of the check from a portable printer.
  • The server processed credit and debit cards at the table using a card reader attached to the smartphone or tablet.
  • Receipts could be sent to a customer email address or again printed at a local portable printer.

Using a secure wireless solution, my favorite restaurant would be able to:

  • Assign more tables per server
  • Serve more customers at peak times
  • Reduce waste due to errors
  • Track inventory in real time
  • Make their customers happier

Bottom line, my restaurant would make more money and I’d probably go there more often because I knew that I’d get great food, fast.

Because I can’t live without the good pizza my restaurant serves, there’s a good chance that I’ll be back at my favorite spot in the very near future.  But I’ll be dreaming about a place where the pizza is great and secure wireless technologies make the service fast, the orders accurate and the restaurant so profitable that they become an international chain.

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Shane’s Touchscreen Keeps Him In Touch – With Everyone!

September 22, 2012

For our Director of Managed Services, Shane Roberts, everything he does – at work, or at home – revolves around communication – email, instant messaging (IM), text messaging, and the telephone.  Shane is what many might call a communications “power user”.  He looks at the things that a technology will allow him to do, then figures out how to modify the technology to fit his needs. 

I wanted to understand some of the techniques and tools that Shane uses to stay on top of things – and still get some sleep.  So, I decided to follow him around for a day.  Here’s what I learned.

6:30 a.m.:  Shane arrives at the office.  And while he’s downloading his email on his laptop, he’s scanning today’s news on his iPad.  Shane likes the article he’s found on Cisco’s Nexus switch in the Wall Street Journal, so he shares it with colleagues and customers directly from his iPad.  And, because Shane has “favorites” set up on his iPad email, he’s already responded to important customer or company email last night before he went to bed.  Now, all he has to do is scan through what’s left, and respond only to messages that need his immediate attention.

7:00 a.m.:  Shane checks his iPad calendar for the day and realizes that he’s got a full day ahead.  A customer call, an onsite customer meeting, a company conference call, and the Nexus Open House.

To prepare for the customer call and meeting, Shane takes a quick look at each company’s web site.  What’s been happening?  Have they announced a new product or service?  Has the company won any awards or have the products or services been mentioned in a newspaper or journal?

8:00 a.m.:  Time to check in with the sales teams for the customer call and meeting.  Shane uses his company IP phone to do two short video calls.  Is there anything that he needs to know beforehand?

8:30 a.m.:  Shane’s first customer call.  Shane uses his laptop, IP Phone and Nexus’ Cisco Unified Communication Manager to share his desktop and a short presentation.  I’m intrigued by the Bluetooth headset that Shane is using.   With it, he can connect to, and switch between, his IP phones (Shane has two), laptop, iPhone and iPad with a single click.  It makes me wonder if he’s actually listening to me during our telephone conversations, or if he is switching over to speak with someone else on another device.  Hmmm….

10:00 a.m.:  It’s time to run down the hall for the customer onsite.  Instead of loading up his laptop, IP phone, cell phone, pen, and paper like I do, Shane just grabs his iPad.  He uses Microsoft’s OneNote to take notes in the meeting.  When he gets back to his office, he’ll just sync up his iPad to transfer the notes to his laptop.

Shane needs some files that are only on his laptop during the meeting.  Does he panic?  No way.  He merely invokes the remote desktop app that he has on his iPad and accesses the files.  I discover that Shane’s remote desktop app can access his laptop using our VPN and the Internet as well as the company wireless LAN.

I’d been noticing that Shane’s laptop never seemed to leave his office – yet he was still getting work done on the road and at home.  Now I know how he does it!

11:30 a.m.:  Lunch, but there’s no time to go out.   Why that sneaky Shane!  He has a flat panel TV installed in his office with a Sling Box.  He’s catching up on the last episode of Sons of Anarchy while he gets a quick bite.  Now I know how I can watch some Ryder Cup matches in a couple of weeks!

While Shane is watching – and eating – he’s also doing his expense report.  How?  Using Concur, he merely takes a picture of his receipts with his iPad, then forwards them in a message to Finance.  Cool!

12:00 p.m.:  Time for the company conference call.  It’s a long one.  During the call, one of our important customers calls Shane on his second IP phone.  Shane uses his slick wireless headset to switch over to the customer, answer his question, then return to the conference call.  No one even knew he was gone!

1:30 p.m.:  Open house duty for Shane.  Customers come by the booth and ask for status on their tickets.  Shane whips out his trusty iPad and gives them updates from his Salesforce.com app.  In between, he sends some quick IMs using his iPAD’s Cisco Jabber client.  That’s when I notice something odd.  When I open another app on my iPad from the Jabber client, I get disconnected from our Unified Communications Manager.  Shane doesn’t.  What’s going on here?

Shane’s been up to something again.  He has done a “jailbreak” on his iPad.  His iPad, unlike the standard one, can run multiple apps concurrently.  Shane can switch from video or voice to Salesforce, to OneNote seamlessly.  What a timesaver!  I think Shane might have another iPad to work on very soon – MINE!

6:00 p.m.:  It’s been a long day.  Shane faced some tough questions today, and everyone seemed to want to speak with him at once.  While I was grabbing a beverage, I look around and Shane isn’t around.  Hmmmm…  I head back to his office, and there he is.  Hey!  What’s that on his dual wide screen monitors?  That looks like Need for Speed Hot Pursuit!  It IS! 

Shane’s in his office relaxing from a stressful day.  O.k., but, I’m still wondering how he got the Xbox 360 in here without anyone knowing about it!

6:30 p.m.:  Shane’s out the door – with his iPad. 

So what did I learn during my day with Shane?  That there are lots of ways to use communications and other technologies to help us get things done.  And, that taking a break and having a little fun during the day, only helps to make us happier and more productive.

For Shane, his iPad is the hub that keeps him connected to all of his devices, applications, and most importantly to his customers and colleagues, friends and family.  Shane’s iPad touchscreen definitely keeps him in touch – with everyone!


Keeping an eye on what’s important

August 23, 2012

– by Waheed Choudhry, President and COO

I just returned to the office yesterday from a family vacation to France and London for the Olympics.  Like any executive, I realized that the trip was going to present me with a big challenge.  I had to figure out a way to stay in touch with the business without letting it interfere with the quality time I planned to invest with my family.    

To meet that challenge, I put together a plan – a “family plan”.  My “family plan” allowed me get a needed break from the daily grind and spend time with the most important people in the world – my family.   It also allowed me to take care of business – important business.  Here’s how it worked.

  • Before we left for the trip, I got in contact with my wireless provider to put in place the service I’d need to make and receive voice calls only.   Text messages were out, as were their constant interruptions. 
  • Prior to the trip, I also met with my staff and made sure that all of them understood that they were in charge of the business.  I would be available, just not necessarily instantaneously. 
  • During the trip, I confined Email and other data capabilities to WiFi connections and hotels, Internet cafés, and Cisco’s Cisco House in London.  This ensured that I would share my family’s memories of the people we’d met, the places we’d seen, and the experiences we’d enjoyed.

My “family plan” was a huge success.  I’ve returned to the office renewed and rejuvenated.  My family and I have tons of wonderful memories from the trip – and the incredible opportunity to actually attend Olympic competitions.   And the business?  My staff has kept Nexus on course for another great year.

Staying connected anytime, anywhere, and anyplace is important to every business, everywhere.  But sometimes we as individuals have to remember that we need to disconnect as well.  When we disconnect it allows us to reconnect with the people who matter most– our family, friends, and community.   It allows us to keep an eye on what’s really important.

Click to watch a video on the Nexus corporate culture of “Success, Family, and Fun”


The net impact of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

August 7, 2012

– by Tom Lyon, VP of Managed Services and Shane Roberts, Director of Managed Services

the multitude of consumer devices facing ITA member of our staff at Nexus was surprised to discover that his family of four had consumed 8.26GB of data in just one month.  After interviewing family members, it was pretty clear that the culprits were streaming and downloaded video along with Pandora radio.  But his experience got me thinking about the number one issue our customers talk about when we ask them to name the biggest network management problems they face.  Almost without fail, it’s how to deal with all of the consumer smartphones and tablets that are proliferating on their networks. 

Our customers, and our own experience here at Nexus, tell us that allowing users to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), significantly impacts the network infrastructure in three main areas:

  1. Bandwidth – If four consumers can use 8.26GB of data in one month, how much more will an executive, sales person or field technician generate that uses TelePresence to stay in touch, views high-quality 1080p video, and downloads multimedia documents like PowerPoint presentations, brochures, and comprehensive reports?  Our experience, and that of many of our customers, is that users consume bandwidth almost as fast as it is installed.  We’ve found that providing the bandwidth users need at a cost the company can afford requires an approach that includes policy (limiting devices or types of traffic), technology (bigger pipes, improved infrastructure), and operational improvements (better tools, more efficient processes).
  2. Security – It’s just a little scary to realize that the Vice President’s “business” tablet is also a toy for his/her nine-year-old son or daughter.  And, that both of them are probably making the four biggest smartphone/tablet security mistakes:

    * Downloading apps from unverified sources
    * Using an unlocked device
    * Using a device without a password or using a password that’s simple to break
    * Failing to keep the device’s OS updatedIT professionals know that it’s difficult to change user behavior.

    Therefore, it’s protecting the network that’s key.  We’ve found that single sign-on, context-based access rights, and SSL VPN’s – along with policy – can help insure that a nine-year-old’s mistake doesn’t result in a network intrusion.

  3. Storage – To users, storage is like bandwidth – the more there is, the more they’ll consume. However, all of that video, all of those documents have to be stored somewhere.  And for companies that must comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and other state and Federal laws, simply deleting all of the video isn’t an option.  We’ve helped our customers – and ourselves – to manage the storage storm by implementing robust storage area networking solutions and using virtualization to help cap costs. 

Mobile devices aren’t going away.  And, since companies can’t just stay on an unlimited data plan with their wireless vendor to cap mobile data costs (like our colleague), it’s important to prepare for their impact on network bandwidth, security, and storage.  

Information on Nexus solutions that can help solve BYOD issues is available at:
Identity Services
Network Security
Meet the Demands of End Users
Keeping Up with Bandwidth Demands
The Role of the Network in Data Center Virtualization
Overpaying for Your Communications Infrastructure
Managed Services Provides a Predictable Cost Model


Best Practices: Technology interoperability

May 14, 2012

Best-in-class companies are focusing on building that collaboration vision, understanding where they want to go, understanding what their associates need, and understanding the steps they need to take to get where they need to go. Overall, that’s going to give them more effective, happier, and hopefully long-term associates and happier end customers as a result. Click below to watch a short video for more:


3 Statistics to Make You Think – Round 1

October 25, 2011

Earlier this year, we compiled a short video to highlight how pervasive technology has become. This clip is the first in a series of excerpts from that video. Each one contains some fairly startling statistics, and all of them will make you think. Is your network ready? 


Virtual Collaboration

July 29, 2011

With the consumerization of IT in the workforce today, businesses are spending more and more time chasing down support for virtually unlimited types of devices. From iPads, to PCs, Macs to Android devices, every day seems to introduce a new device that employees want to use.

By decoupling applications from operating systems, we can deliver information securely to virtually any device today – and devices that have yet to be introduced – without significant effort. With virtual collaboration, applications can run on devices such as iPads, Cius tablets, zero client backpacks, PCs, and Macs transparently. Applications such as WebEx Connect can run in a virtual environment, yet still control physical phone devices on the user desktop.

Nexus experts understand the data center, borderless network, and collaboration elements involved in delivering applications to any device safely and securely. This demo we recently gave at Cisco Live shows you the first phases of virtual collaboration, and where the technology is headed:


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