Reduced CapEx Isn’t the Only Reason Our Customers Love Nexus Connected Collaboration

September 11, 2012

– by Mike Heiman, VP of Engineering

One of the services that is becoming very popular with our customers is our hosted collaboration service – Nexus Connected Collaboration (NCC).  The service is based on the Cisco collaboration suite and integrates voice, video, web conferencing, messaging, mobility, and customer care.  It also includes our next generation wide area network (WAN) service – Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN.  Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN automates more than 50 network management functions, allowing companies to provision remote teleworkers, branches, and retail offices world-wide.

Nexus Connected CollaborationMany of our existing customers chose NCC as a way to expand their existing premise-based Cisco collaboration solution to new sites without spending precious capital dollars.  However, once they began to use the service, they realized that NCC provides much more than just a way to conserve their capital.  The NCC solution is not new technology – it’s a new consumption model.  It also:

  • Gave their businesses greater flexibility – With NCC, our customers were able to integrate remote staffers and contractors as well as personnel and sites secured through corporate acquisitions quickly and easily.   Instead of weeks or even months of planning, design, and implementation, our customers can add new users in just minutes.
  • Saved money– Using NCC, our customers didn’t have to overprovision existing systems to accommodate growth.  Instead, they pay only for the services they use, when and where they need them.  Additionally, NCC removes the need for additional maintenance contracts and the time-consuming process of software upgrades.  Keeping things running and up-to-date is our job!
  • Enabled IT staff to be more productive – Our customers love the fact that their staff can now concentrate on deploying new technologies that will differentiate them from their competitors, not the mundane tasks of deploying and provisioning basic voice, data, and web services.  Using NCC’s management interface, adding users is a snap – and a task that is easily handled by customer service or administrative personnel.

Finally, our customers like the way that Nexus Connected Next Generation WAN (which uses military-grade encryption and has a full Public Key Infrastructure with automated certificate maintenance) combines with NCC to extend corporate collaboration services to trusted third parties (suppliers, contractors, customers) without supplying them with access to internal systems. 

Both new customers and existing on-premise customers are finding value in the fact that the same Nexus deployment and managed services teams are supporting them regardless of solution model.  NCC is fast becoming one of our most popular service offerings.  It’s easy to deploy, saves money, is secure, and, most importantly, provides our customers with the flexibility they need to grow.


What will drive “the cloud”? OpenStack!

September 4, 2012

– by Mike Heiman, VP of Engineering

Like most of you, I’ve been reading a lot about OpenStack lately.  For an initiative that is just over two years old, it has gained considerable momentum and industry support.  OpenStack membership has grown from founders NASA and Rackspace to include AT&T, Canonical, Cisco Systems, Cloudscaling, Dell, HP, IBM, MorphLabs, Nebula, NetApp, Red Hat, and SUSE.  It’s expected that in October, VMware, Intel and NEC will be added, making OpenStack a very powerful rival to competitive implementations touted by Amazon (Web Services) and Citrix (CloudStack).

However, most of my reading just left me wondering.  Why are all of these companies so eager to be part of the OpenStack foundation?  What will OpenStack mean to the companies that provide cloud services (both public and private) and to the companies that will use them?  In other words, why should we care about OpenStack?  Our engineering staff here at Nexus was happy to fill me in.  Here’s what they told me.

  • OpenStack is a framework for managing virtualized computing, storage, and networking resources in a multi-vendor environment – an essential capability for delivering cost-effective, high-availability, cloud-based applications and services.
  • OpenStack is not a virtualization engine like VMware or Citrix, it’s the glue that ties everything together.
  • Vendors like those listed above will package the OpenStack components.  (Compute for managing large networks of virtual machines; Storage includes object and block storage for use with servers and applications; Networking that provides pluggable, scalable API-drive network and IP management; Dashboard which gives administrators and users a graphical interface to access, provision and automated cloud-based resources; and Shared Services that include Identity and Image Services that span the Compute, Storage and Networking components.)  They’ll add their own “secret sauce” to the common stacks, making it easier and more cost-effective for them to provide cloud-based services.  (End user companies probably won’t utilize raw OpenStack components.)
  • OpenStack will allow companies who provide cloud-based services (public or private) to operate and manage very large, multi-vendor, virtualized environments – cost-effectively.  They can choose “best of breed” components from a variety of vendors, yet manage them as a single, consistent “whole”.  Something that is very hard, if not impossible to do today without the common APIs that are included in OpenStack.
  • Companies that are using or plan to use cloud-based services will be able to choose from a variety of services that can accommodate the mobile worker, are more cost-effective than traditional premise-based server implementations, and deliver the speed, flexibility, and accessibility they need to compete.

After listening to our staff, it was clear to me that all of the buzz about OpenStack was warranted.  That’s why Nexus is listed a participating company in OpenStack, and our engineers and architects are contributing code to the project itself.  We firmly believe that open standards and platforms like Linux and Apache fueled the explosion of the internet of today. In our opinion, OpenStack is becoming the open platform that the next generation of Cloud Computing will be built on, driving the industries growth and our growth with it.

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”

Weathering the Cloud

May 17, 2011

Hidden in one of the weekly newsletters I subscribe to this week was a gem called Amazon Cloud Outage: 10 Lessons Learned. It has been widely reported that Amazon experienced outages and interruptions of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) services in the U.S. East Coast region on April 21. Later, Amazon published this rather complicated document explaining what went wrong.  But more important than understanding the cause of the outage is applying some thinking to what we can all learn from this and how we could all be affected by our choices in regards to cloud. Written (incredibly well) by the folks at CRN, the “10 lessons learned” list looks something like this:

  1. The Cloud Will Go Out – outages are inevitable and a complete cloud strategy must take this into account
  2. Disaster Recovery, Failover Strategies Are Necessary
  3. Pay Attention To SLAs – organizations need to evaluate what their tolerances are for each service or system being migrated to the cloud and secure the appropriate SLA’s.
  4. Partner With An Expert – support from a trusted advisor is key
  5. Don’t Put ‘Blind Trust’ In The Cloud
  6. Beware Cloud Charlatans – competitors will look for ways to capitalize on this outage, but companies shouldn’t be looking for a “quick fix” promise
  7. Cloud Management, Maintenance Are Still Required
  8. Amazon’s Outage Will Make The Cloud Stronger
  9. Assume Nothing – don’t assume resiliency, backup, disaster recovery and other services are offered by cloud providers
  10. Transparency, Communication Are A Must – cloud providers’ reputations will be based on how they communicate with their customers – before, during, and after an outage

Hot on the heels of that article was the keynote address by EMC CEO Joe Tucci at this past week’s EMC World. In this recap by, Tucci is quoted as saying, cloud is the “biggest and most disruptive change” the IT industry has ever seen. He went on to tell the audience, “Addressing today’s issues will require more efficiency, choice, and control of companies’ IT infrastructure. And what addresses these pain points? It’s the cloud. And more specifically, the answer is the hybrid cloud.”

There’s no doubt that cloud is gathering momentum. But with a solid strategy and strong partnerships, you can leverage the power of cloud and still weather potential storms.

Ignore At Your Own Risk

March 25, 2011

Gartner Research recently posted the recording of a webinar they hosted called “Technology Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore.” An intimidating title for sure, and since I’m generally of the opinion that no one in this industry can afford to ignore any technology trends, I gave it my full attention. The webinar was chock-full of surprising statistics, namely:

  • 50% of U.S. 21 year olds have created content on the Web. 70% of U.S. 4 year olds have used a computer.
  • Over 31 billion Google searches were performed —last month —vs. 2.6 billion 3 years ago.
  • More video was uploaded to YouTube in the past two months than if ABC, CBS and NBC had been airing new content 24/7 since 1948.
  • The average American teenager sends 2,282 text messages per month.
  • If Facebook was a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. Twitter would be 7th.
  • In 1997, a gigabyte of Flash memory cost $7,870. Today, it costs $1.25.

The world is definitely changing, and Gartner has identified 10 trends to stay on top of to ensure you don’t become extinct along the way. Some are a bit obvious – I think we’ve all heard plenty about Virtualization and Cloud Computing lately – but others are things you may not have thought of – or may not have considered the importance of to your business. Here’s the list itself:

  1. Virtualization Is Just Beginning
  2. Big Data —The Elephant in the Room
  3. Energy Efficiency and Monitoring
  4. Unified Communications —Extended
  5. Staff Retention and Retraining
  6. Social Networks —Ready or Not
  7. Legacy Migrations —Your Users
  8. Compute Density —Scale Vertically
  9. Cloud Computing
  10. Converged Fabrics

For decades, the move to “go green” has been at the forefront of consumer awareness, but with the explosion of content creation and the need for increased storage, data centers have been consuming ever more real estate, power, and cooling costs. In fact, Gartner now estimates that data centers can consume 40x more energy than the offices they support. The power issue is definitely moving up the food chain and EPA metrics aren’t far away.

The other “sleeper” on this list is the issue of staff retention and training. Not for the fact that it made the list, but how high up the list it made. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that people in today’s workforce will have 10 to 14 jobs by the age of 38. While technical depth and expertise is growing, broad general experience in IT is becoming more and more rare. Companies must find ways to increase cross-training and encourage continuous learning.

IT Must Become the Center of Business

February 3, 2011

The Gartner 2011 CIO Survey shows some pretty drastic differences this year in relation to the previous three years. In fact, in several ways it appears that the IT agenda has been flipped on its head.

The number one IT strategy ranked by CIOs this year is developing or managing a flexible infrastructure. This initiative ranked at #8 in 2010 and #11 in both 2009 and 2008. On the flip side, the strategy to improve/link the business-IT relationship has been either #1 or #2 from 2008 – 2010. Now, it’s in 10th place, at the bottom of the priority list.

However, these rankings may not give the right impression of what CIOs have in mind. According to Gartner:

“The first wave of the digital revolution measured an enterprise’s digitization by its Web presence; but by today’s standards, most enterprises have much work to do before they can become fully digitized (see figure below). Now they must become digital from the front office to the back office. This may not be easy, but it gives CIOs the opportunity to re-imagine IT as the center of the next digital revolution.”

Reading between the lines, this restructuring of IT from infrastructure to process to people that will be necessary to digitize companies will actually serve to link IT closer to business objectives as they seek to enable them. In fact, the next wave of the digital revolution will mean extracting more revenues from information as well as the ways in which technology is used within the organization.

One of the ways this will be accomplished is by embracing non-traditional IT models:

“New lighter-weight technologies – such as cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), and social networks -and IT models enable the CIO to redefine IT, giving it a greater focus on growth and strategic impact. These are two things that are missing from many organizations.”

But this doesn’t mean success will come easily for CIOs. Two of the obstacles that must be addressed include delivering business benefits and improving IT skills to manage and evolve the new technology models to serve the business. Let’s face it, all IT projects these days involve some level of IT, but each and every project undertaken by a company is developed with a strategic objective as its goal. It’s all about the business.

The Gifts of Cloud

January 4, 2011

It’s the New Year, and like school children coming back from their holiday break, we took a minute to compare notes on our gifts. This article by James Urquhart seems to sum up, as he puts it, “The top 12 gifts of cloud from 2010.” The “gifts” that make his list:

  1. The growth of cloud and cloud capacity
  2. The acceptance of the cloud model
  3. Private cloud debated…to a truce
  4. APIs in–and out–of focus
  5. Cloud legal issues come to the forefront
  6. Cloud economics defined
  7. The rise of DevOps
  8. Open source both challenged and engaged
  9. Introducing OpenStack
  10. Amazon Web Services marches on
  11. Platform as a Service steps up its game
  12. Traditional IT vendors take their best shots

Whether or not you agree with the list, or consider them gifts, it’s a pretty good look back at 2010 and how far the cloud has come.

As we enter 2011, it’s time to start taking stock of how the cloud will change business models and the traditional roles of IT. To kick-start your thinking (and maybe some planning), here’s a great summary of virtualization and cloud computing predictions for 2011 from leading analysis firms.

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