Well now’s your chance to re-enact your favorite moments, as Cisco begins renting TelePresence rooms to the general public. There will be over 100 rooms to choose from by the end of 2009, Reuters reported, so you and your 24 play pals will have plenty of spaces to choose from, and price points vary from $299 to $899 depending on the size of the room.
Considering TelePresence rooms (and they really are whole rooms, with everything from the carpeting to the tables to the angle of the HD TV’s pre-determined) can run $300,000 to install, a few hundred dollars an hour isn’t a bad deal, particular if travel expenses can be cut down several thousand while big wigs meet virtually instead of globe-trotting around the world (it’s also easier on the environment). And while Cisco’s plans were fairly modest for deployments, focusing on the global 500, this could help push the technology out to a much broader base.
Cisco is also supposedly touting telepresence as an option to bring together people together for distance weddings and births, according to Network World’s Cisco Subnet, but I’m a wee bit skeptical this will develop into a serious market … Do people really want to give birth in a sterile business suite? Maybe one of the lower end, less “total” solutions is more feasible here, but we doubt a whole lot of wedding parties will want to cram into a suite in the Pierre Hotel, however seamless the experience.]]>
A Cisco-EMC deal would probably lead to a big day on Wall Street, so it makes sense that the investment world would float such a rumor. Heck, it might even get the two companies talking. Perhaps Cisco CEO John Chambers and and his EMC counterpart Joseph Tucci read Savitz’s piece yesterday and have booked a TelePresence chat to toss the idea around.
Regardless of whether Cisco and EMC might take it seriously, many blogs in the tech universe are atwitter about the idea and for good reason. Cisco has $24 billion in cash, which is probably enough to grab EMC, with a market capitalization of around $35.5 billion.
Cisco has made no secret of its interest in transitioning from a networking vendor to an overall IT vendor. Buying EMC would make Cisco the leader in enterprise storage technology. It would also have a controlling interest in EMC software subsidiary VMware, the leader in virtualization, and RSA, EMC’s powerful security division. Cisco executives speak openly about the company’s interest in expanding its market position in both the virtualization and security industries. And Cisco already owns a a 1.5% stake in VMware.
Savitz says his source has no idea if such a deal is even being discussed between the companies, but Cisco has the cash to spend. It has set ambitious growth goals for itself, even though it’s already the dominant market leader in its core business – routing and switching. And EMC stock has been stagnant for awhile now (other than a brief boost late last year when VMware had a highly-publicized IPO), much to the consternation of its shareholders. A Cisco deal would no doubt cheer up EMC investors.
The question is – Is this good for the industry? Investors might like the deal, and it makes a whole lot more sense than a Blockbuster-Circuit City marriage. But how would the merger be handled? Would the world’s biggest networking company be capable of managing the world’s biggest storage company? How would a such a deal affect smaller players such as VMware, which has clearly benefited from a hands-off approach by EMC executives? Sometimes $30-to-$40-billion tech industry mergers don’t work. Just ask Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint-Nextel.]]>
My drama with finding a new phone continues — in part because I’ve been hesitant to commit to a phone I don’t love, and in part because I’ve been told that my old dual analog-digital phone is going to be shut off soon, so now I must upgrade. Other than the expensive BlackBerry Pearl I wish I didn’t have to pay tons of money or renew my contract to get, I finally found the perfect device — well, maybe. And no, it’s not the tattoo phone!
It’s Nokia’s new concept, the Morph. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. But this phone is amazing, and I’m in love. The only problem is, I’m eleven years too early for it.
Optimizing on nanotechnology, the device was first offered for viewing last month in conjunction with Museum of Modern Art’s “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition. The Morph bends, stretches, folds and twists — think Stretch Armstrong.
In addition to all that, this device will supposedly be the ultimate all-in-one-device. It can be shaped to fit your wrist like a watch or bracelet. Unfold it and it becomes a camera or, oddly enough, a device that can apparently detect whether your apple is at premium ripeness. (You can watch Nokia’s concept video on their site, or scroll down to view the short version below.)
The device is theoretically unbreakable and self-cleaning because of its use of nanotechnology. It’s also self-charging — simply having the device out in the sun, even if it’s in use, means its recharging as the entire device acts as a solar panel. That’s a convenient truth for anyone who hates to carry around extra batteries or cable wall re-chargers.
But outside how cool this future device is, one has to wonder, with mobile devices like BlackBerrys and Palms already so integral to so many people’s lives, what a device like this might mean to how everyone functions.
The iPhone is already disrupting trends with its crossover appeal to both the consumer and the business user. While phones specifically designed for children haven’t been much more than a niche market, would something like the Morph change that?
Could a device like the Morph become an integral element to our daily lives — a required device for school children, the ultimate clothing accessory for teenagers, the best business tool for the corporate worker and the most important device to pack for the traveler?
Nokia reports that the Morph, still more in the research rather than the development phase with full-time collaborating University of Cambridge researchers, is not expected to be ready for the market for another eleven years. So one wonders whether, by then, we’ll all just have microchips implanted into our wrists that can project holograms and do everything but the shape-shifting that the Morph is being designed to do.
But, if a cyborg comes back from eleven years in the future (though hopefully not after some Judgment Day) to save me from my own cell phone drama, I won’t turn down the Morph.
Hasta la vista, baby!
- Kate Dostart
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Zto6aTZM9t0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
No, Kindle service does not violate net neutrality because the network operator does not preclude or degrade other traffic on its physical network. It’s more like a corporate VPN running on the Internet: special devices (company-approved PCs) are needed to use it, and the content transmitted is proprietary, yet other VPNs could operate over the same physical network.
Interesting take. I’m not sure if that meshes with how proposed legislation sees it, but I think that is part of the problem: The proposed FCC mandate is too unclear as to what falls under its domain. And as Ike Elliott points out, the bill covers neutral access over “broadband telecommunications networks, including the Internet.” Whether Whispernet counts as a VPN or Internet access, it is definitely a broadband connection and so could presumably fall under these guidelines.]]>
This pretty much summarizes network neutrality opponents worst fears, but it’s also a pretty accurate description of Amazon’s Kindle eBook appliance, which telecom consultant/blogger Ike Elliott told me might not exist if net neutrality regulation isn’t properly thought out. The device connects using Whispernet, billed as a “wireless delivery system” powered by Sprint’s EVDO wireless data network.
As far as I’ve been able to research, Amazon is acting as a virtual network operator in this case, not much different than Virgin Mobile or any other MVNO. Nobody would argue that these carriers aren’t restricted by the same rules that govern carriers that own their own networks. But even if Sprint is considered the service provider, someone is ultimately restricting ways an Internet connection could be used.
To review, the currently proposed net neutrality legislation seeks:
“to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of broadband networks that enable consumers to reach, and service providers to offer, lawful content, applications, and services of their choosing, using their selection of devices, as long as such devices do not harm the network; and
“to safeguard the open marketplace of ideas on the Internet by adopting and enforcing baseline protections to guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.”.
A quick checklist:
So why hasn’t there been an outpouring of public outcry against Amazon, a major network neutrality proponent? The simple answer is transparency. Amazon has always been very upfront about what the Kindle is and isn’t for, unlike, for example, Comcast, which has faced a backlash after is going back and forth on whether, and how, they throttle Internet connections. Another aspect might be Amazon’s radical departure here from traditional service models: There’s no monthly fees, no set usage agreements, just a pay-as-you consume model.
Elliott told me that while anti-competitive behavior by service providers is a real concern and must be regulated, he worried that net neutrality legislation which is too vague or too strict could cut out some possibilities for future devices and service plans like the Amazon Kindle. He’s blogged some other thoughts on what he thinks is wrong with the Markey bill.
Meanwhile, I’ve called and e-mailed Amazon for their take on whether or not the Kindle is “net neutral” and how this jibes with their public statements. I’ll post an update when they get back to me.
Update: Amazon responds, saying Kindle doesn’t violate network neutral principles.]]>
For more than a year, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the concept of the “new” networking pro from networking vendors and pundits alike. The idea is, in a nutshell, that the old-school network guy spent his time thinking about network plumbing — connectivity, throughput, and Layer 3 hardware. Our publisher likens this guy to the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. (Don’t you work with at least one IT guy who looks a bit like that, after all?)
At the other end of the spectrum is the “new” networking pro, who is supposed to look like the guy below, in the suit. This person takes into account evolving technologies and network convergence. His concerns go beyond just plumbing; he concentrates on maximizing bandwidth, optimizing application and WAN performance; he troubleshoots a network that must accommodate voice and video traffic. The new networking pro realizes that he isn’t operating in a silo, but must cooperate (and, increasingly, share responsibilities and tools) with the security, voice, and data center staff.
Last week, two of the major network vendors — Cisco and Juniper — launched new switch offerings that are very much attuned to the “new” network pro.
Cisco’s Nexus 7000 super-switch may sound like it’s all about increased throughput, but perhaps the greater benefit, one which appeals to our new network pro, is that it is designed to eliminate redundant connectivity by allowing for converged Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks. And Cisco’s strategy, according to Doug Gourlay, senior director of marketing for Data Center Solutions at Cisco, is all about new network trends like convergence and virtualization (as quoted from an article by Shamus McGillicuddy).
Gourlay said Cisco has recognized several drivers that are leading higher-density data centers to turn to the network for help in improving operations. First is a “new class” of applications, such as voice and video, which consume significantly more bandwidth. The second driver is server virtualization. When you consolidate 10 virtual servers onto one physical server, that single box now deals with the aggregate bandwidth demands of the 10 servers. The third driver is Input-Output consolidation.
Similarly, Juniper’s new switches — the EX 3200, the EX 4200 and the EX 8200 — appeal to the network performance-minded enterprise, with their emphasis on uptime and reliability. As quoted in an article by Michael Morisy, Eddie Minkill, executive vice president of Juniper’s worldwide field operations, says that the view of the network as “plumbing” is outdated because consumers and businesses expect instant responses and more and more communications are carried through IP.
So the vendors and the pundits have their ducks in a row, but I wonder whether real-world network pros are getting in line. Surely these new switch offerings bode well for network reliability and productivity — but whenever I talk to actual people who are down in the IT trenches, I hear again and again that a) they would like to implement new technology, but instead spend more time keeping old stuff running and b) they don’t have time to think about anything besides putting out fires. (Maybe disgruntled IT pros are more verbal about this stuff.)
This skepticism isn’t unique. In the same article about Juniper’s new switch, Morisy writes that Jim Metzler, vice president of Sanibel, Fla.-based consultancy Ashton, Metzler & Associates, was doubtful about the current market for the powerful switch:
“I don’t know who they are going to appeal to,” he said, adding that most enterprises are not prioritizing carrier-grade robustness and millisecond latency. A few major exceptions exist, particularly in the financial sector, but he disagreed with the assertion that enterprises see the difference between 5 and 4 9′s of uptime as a critical tool in keeping customers.
“Is it good technology? Absolutely,” Metzler said. The problem is that people will not switch simply to use good technology, or even better technology, when what they have works, and Metzler said Juniper has found a solution for a problem people do not currently have. If the EX Series is to become a success, he said, a better marketing strategy must be implemented that could focus on cost reduction or other, more enterprise-focused problems.
Ultimately, I think that defining the network pro according to any stereotype is going to prove inaccurate, but the successful IT person may be the one who can look beyond their departmental silo and embrace “new” networking concepts like mobility and application performance. For that to happen, though, network pros may have to find a way to prevent those fires from happening in the first place.]]>
I’m not suggesting the technology itself is a problem; what I mean is that users have to change the way they think about their devices. Even calling these devices “smartphones” does the products some disservice by keeping “phone” in the name. Sure, the device looks similar to a phone and it has voice capabilities, but that doesn’t mean a user can think it is merely a phone.
What happens is that users may often practice the same disregard for their mobile device that they would their old cellular phone, like leaving it in their hotel room or cab, or wherever you’ve lost a phone before. (I’ve had the strange misfortune of dropping mine into a bowl of soup.)
When we lose mobile devices, it presents a very real threat for enterprises: whatever corporate information is stored in the device can be compromised. It may not be the end of the world (depending on what mobile security precautions you’ve put in place beforehand), but treating a mobile device like a phone can cost a company.
The conundrum at the other end of the spectrum lies in thinking your mobile device is a computer. I know people don’t use these two words interchangeably or have a sudden relapse and think their computer is a phone. What I mean is that we want to do all the computer-esque actions on our devices — such as typing — and this is physically impossible. In this way, a handheld is very much like a spork: A spork saves you the trouble of carrying a fork and a spoon, but fails to really fork your meal or contain liquids; a mobile device brings portability to network data, but seriously lacks keyboard functionality and ergonomic earpieces (they’re about as comfortable as pressing a brick to your head).
I find a lot of irony in the fact that we want, and still try, to type on our handhelds. Logically, whatever we’re typing on must expanse the length of our two hands across — and this optimal typing size (we’ll say 11″x4″) could never fit into the palms of our hands. How will a handheld contain something at least twice the size of the hand (and fit into a pocket or purse)?
There are some remedies for the situation: foldout keyboards, for example — but having this extra piece of equipment does bulk up your load. Unless you have the deep pockets of a trench coat (which I’ve seen many a techie wear) it’s inconvenient to bring a foldout keyboard with you everywhere. QWERTY keys on smartphones work faster than traditional touch-dial phones, but typing with thumbs severely sacrifices the speed you get out of typing with all 10 fingers. Let’s not forget voice recognition software either; it has come a long way and might be the best solution for this problem.
If you’ve had no issues with the form factor of your mobile device, by all means, stop me now. There are plenty of wish-list gadgets out there that work great. But if you’re struggling like the rest of us, I’m all ears to your horror story or solution. Maybe we’re stuck for now — until someone invents an inflatable keyboard.]]>
For example, digital images could be changed depending on the consumers who are in close proximity to the sign. So, if you’re attending a punk rock convention, digital signs in the area could feature a mohawked teen snarling at you to promote a certain product, event or service. Similarly, say that same convention center hosts a video game convention, those signs could quickly, easily and cheaply be switched up to feature Ms. Pac Man or Link staring you in the face. Those advertisements would be sent to the sign via IP video.
To me, it sounded like a deviation from Cisco’s core competence of routing and switching.
But recently I had a chat with Rick Sizemore, chief strategy officer for MultiMedia Intelligence for a SearchNetworking.com story. Sizemore, an expert on digital signage and other next generation mediums, broke it down for me. He pointed to several strategic moves Cisco has made in the IP video arena that, coupled with Cisco’s networking expertise, makes the vendor a top competitor in the digital signage and interactive advertising spaces.
I’m not exactly sure how companies are going to leverage all of this next-generation technology, or how Cisco is going to build on its digital signage and IP video plans to make it a viable revenue-generating medium for those companies. But if Sizemore’s discoveries and predictions ring true, which they have so far, it won’t be long before we’re greeted in an airport or a shopping mall with advertising and signage that can target us specifically.]]>
> View all our IT Guy cartoons on SearchNetworking.com.
This cartoon is partially based on an idea suggested by our reader, Jim Shumaker. Jim will receive The Cubes IT Guy playset (not affiliated with The IT Guy or TechTarget) for his suggestion. Thanks, Jim!]]>
After a quick trip to Sears to grab some extra tools — a wrench and a screwdriver set — the 25 switches have been configured and assigned names and IP addresses, which will allow the team from ProCurve Networking by HP to manage them centrally. The more than 700 PCs have been fired up and assigned to their switches, making each gaming station its own miniature network. Ben Van Kerkwyk, the lead engineer, said each switch will provide gamers with 1 gig speeds and localizing the network to each gaming table cuts down on hops, which could degrade performance, which in a gaming environment could be disastrous.
Crews laid down more cable, creating a maze of multi-colored wires streaming to and from all of the ports. Once cabling is complete, the network will be segmented into separate VLANs and subnets, making it easier to manage, Van Kerkwyk said. The ProCurve team will also make some sections of the gaming area wireless for VIPs and admins.
There is also an overflow of extras — two more core switches arrived today, and there are extra 2650 switches on hand in case something goes wrong.
“We have three core switches and 15 power supplies, so we’re good if something goes down,” Van Kerkwyk said.
Here’s a draft of what the network will look like upon completion:
And here’s ProCurve technical consultant Chris Ruybal rack-mounting the 8212 core swtich: