Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cisco brings 7 to the top 10 | 12/26/2005 | Top 10 tech trends for 2006

As I see it, Cisco plays in 7 of the top 10 tech trends listed here. The basic trend is that these 7 put greater load on the network and makes people more reliant on the network as their core operating "platform." We've often talked about our vision that soon people will access the Internet or their corporate network from any location, using any device, at any time. Most of the predictions made here would support that vision.

How do I figure? Well, here goes:

1. WiFi busts city limits
This one’s a no-brainer. WiFi covers a city and soon people are access the Internet (and VPN’ing into their corporate network) from anywhere in the city at any time using their labtop or PDA.

2. Cell phones do everything:
Cisco doesn’t do cell phone technology I hear you say! Well, yes, that is true, but if you are going to be watching the widescreen director’s cut version of the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy on your cell phone, you better believe that there is an IP network back there somewhere transporting all of that hobbit hilarity to you 2x2 inch screen. After that you can use your cell phone to look up a local optometrist to deal with your eye-strain problem.

3. Internet phone calls zoom:
And heck, maybe even one day voice will be free… sounds like anyone you know?

4. The office moves to the Web:
Again, more load on the network, good for Cisco. Pretty easy one there as well. This prediction is one that I’m a little more skeptical about. I’d love to see it happen but I’m not sure it will. If it does, however, where I see the most exciting implementation of an on-line office is in developing countries. Imagine people in emerging markets around the world accessing a word processor on-line using a $100 computer? I’ll admit, you’d get a pretty sore arm hand-cranking the thing through a 300-page PhD dissertation, but for basic productivity functions I think on-line office + $100 computer (or something similar) = great change.

7. Even small start-ups go global:
Internet helps companies go global. Cisco = the Internet.

8. Video comes to the blog:
Video, thy sweet user of bandwidth; thy precious driver of network demand. Come oh darling one to a blog soon. Come that all may demand bandwidth and SP’s may shell out for a CRS-1 to meet the demand. Oh precious friend, hasten thy sweet sweet arrival (I bought BBC’s Pride and Prejudice for my wife for Christmas and we sat through all 6+ hours of it on Christmas Day… it is starting to mess with my mind methinks.)

9. On-demand video everywhere:
(See above… I’m too burnt out to spare another P&P moment.)

Savings billions of dollars through crisis communications.

A compatible emergency radio system would be invaluable to helping first responders better coordinate in time of crisis. Too often during major disasters we heard of emergency crews being unable to communicate because they were all using different communications protocols (cell phones, walkie-talkies, push-to-talk technologies etc.).

But apparently implementing a compatible emergency radio systems would cost billions of dollars.

Um, no it wouldn't.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Baby Penguin Is Stolen From Zoo - Yahoo! News


If you have any information about the whereabouts of Toga, call your local authorities IMMEDIATELY!!!

Toga, a three-month old jackass penguin, was stolen from Amazon World on the Isle of Wight in southern England on Saturday.

Zoo manager Kath Bright said the bird, who was taken from a compound where he lived with his parents and four other penguins, would probably die of malnutrition if not urgently returned

BTW: the politically correct term for "Jackass" penguin is "African" penguin.

Baby Penguin Is Stolen From Zoo - Yahoo! News

The Internet vs. Web 2.0

We've all read all the hype around "Web 2.0." Personally I think it is a lot of wanker 2.0 hype, but hey, I'm editorializing here. (Sorry, I’m in PR so I’m immediately hostile to any pithy catch-phrase which I myself did not invent)

But love it or lump it, what is interesting is that Cisco and Web 2.0 pundits essentially focus on the same imperatives when it comes to computing. In both instances, Cisco and Web 2.0ers focus more on things like architectures, interactions, self-service and information convergence. Concepts that are relegated to the past are proprietary architectures, one-way communication, information hierarchy and centralized control.

The key difference between Cisco and the Web 2.0ers is where all of this resides. Cisco, obviously, is focused more on the Internet (i.e. the network) itself as the platform for this new wave of “Web 2.0” functionality.

Web 2.0ers look one layer higher to the web itself, and the find that the web applications themselves-- from Google to blogs to web services to wikis—in aggregate constitute the real Web 2.0 platform.

So who’s right? Actually I think that the more interesting question is who is wrong! Not between Cisco and Web 2.0ers, we agree on essentially the same thing, we just differ on what is really fuelling the change. But the real interesting questions is who is left out of this entire Internet/Web-as-the-platform debate altogether.

Interesting articles on Web 2.0

What Is Web 2.0

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005

Web Sites Let Users Send E-Mail to Future - Yahoo! News

I'm forwarding all the "herbal v1agra" spam to myself in the future.... I figure they'll be of more use to me then.

Web Sites Let Users Send E-Mail to Future - Yahoo! News

Monday, December 19, 2005

Triple Pundit: The Downside of the $100 Laptop

Although there is a lot of excitement around the $100 computer,
Triple Pundit highlights a potential problem around disposal. I would look to the manufacturer for details on this issue. Whether or not they have thought of making the machines with disposal in mind-- i.e., made with parts easy to disassemble and recycle; made with lox-toxic materials and more degradable plastics.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Valley is back, people are happy

Two years ago, all we would get would be foreign journalists inquiring if the Valley was ever going to come back.

But now it seems that some feel that with the return of the BBC, the Valley has been vindicated and it's return has been validated.


(and to answer your question... he was happy to see me)

Online Extra: Can Technology Eliminate Poverty?

Looks like BusinessWeek had the same thought....

Online Extra: Can Technology Eliminate Poverty?

Micro Development

Muhammad Yunus: Microcredit Missionary

It is hard not to love the genius behind the Grameen Project. Just $27 started one of the most influential and successful development projects around. And it was a bottom-up approach, not top-down involving massive meetings, huge ceremonies and that resulted in grad visions that could never be implemented.

Grameen is microcredit where the most desperately poor in the world can borrow money to start their own businesses. The genius is that it doesn’t pretend to have all the answers and tell people how to be saved from poverty, it just gives them a couple of dollars and lets them figure it out for themselves. Genius.

Why do I bring this up here? I guess it is related to my earlier post that a few clever clever ideas and a couple of innovative business models have potential to alleviate some of the suffering in the world.

And the IT industry is good at coming up with clever ideas and innovative business models, right?

Om Malik on Broadband : � Can Broadband Predict Economic Shifts?

Great discussion on the relation between broadband and economic shifts. Om asks if broadband may predict them, some in the comments however say that it it a lagging indicator.

Me? I don't think it is a lagging indicator but I think "predict" is too strong a word. Catalyst would be the word I would use, I suppose.

It would also depend on the developed nature of your country. Small, less developed countries, with the right reforms, can grow at enormous rates off of a small base in a short period of time, with or without broadband.

But would India be where it is today in the services market were it not for huge connections to the US and the outside world?

Om Malik on Broadband : � Can Broadband Predict Economic Shifts?

I'll stop trying to save the world...

OK... i just noticed that I've published two posts, in rapid succession, with the headline being something about saving the world. I'll cut it out and stop trying to pretend I'm Bono.....

A $100 to save the world?

Far be it for me to question the likes of Craig Barrett, but I have to say I don’t think he is right on this one. This hand-cranked $100 computer sounds to me exactly what the developing world needs. I don’t think they want a full-function PC because they are too clunky, have too many unnecessary features and are far, far too difficult to maintain. A simple machine, with simple connectivity, able to do simple e-business or e-government-types of transactions pertaining to births, deaths, land ownership, market prices, payments to be easily, and most critically IMHO, transparently, is a huge step forward.

That level of easy and transparency, avoiding any sort of corrupt middle-man, would make an enormous positive impact to the lives of people.

The new kid from the bloc

Here is a look at two former Soviet bloc countries and what the very different ways they are handling the IT industry says about their overall economy. One on hand, you have Belarus, which has made the very odd decision of limiting internet dating. Now the argument is that this is to prevent human trafficking, which is a very real concern in that part of the world. But rather than curbing trafficking, this reeks of more authoritarianism and government control. Cut to Estonia, (or “E-stonia” as it is trendily, and sadly, being referred as) which is on the leading edge of e-business and e-government in the region. I’ve already seen quite a few articles on the high-tech trend in this country, which is poised to become a poster-child for the successful former Soviet-bloc countries.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The herd moves east

Two stories does not a trend make, unless the two appear in the alpha male publication Economist and BusinessWeek. Both have recently focused key coverage on Eastern Europe, and where they trod, the rest of the pack is sure to follow. Both look at different aspects of Eastern Europe but their presence begins to make me wonder if the whole China/India story has run it course and now the media is looking for other geographies to obsessively fixate upon.

Not that China/India stories will dry up, not by a long shot. But I’m finding there is little left to say that has not already been said. The comments and the information is a lot of these stories is the same, the only thing that changes are the talking heads.

European sensibilities combined with American drive and perhaps just a very faint touch of Asian prices make Eastern Europe a compelling region-du-jour.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Talk is cheap... and it's getting cheaper.

Both Om and the SV Sleuth highlight developments in the voice market. Whether it is Comcast offering voice to its cable subscribers, or BT and Yahoo trying to undercut Skpye, the conclusion is the same, voice is becoming free and is no longer a sustainable business model.

Voice is becoming just another service--and in many cases a loss-leader-- and is only of use for an SP (telco or cableco) or an ”over-the-top” service a la Skype to get in with the customer in order to sell other, value-added data and video services.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

How 35-40% growth can save the world

The issue of the Middle East is one which I would like to come back to now and again. As mentions, Israel is a strong IT market but some may feel like that is not the case for some of its neighbors as well.

The Cisco Networking Academy is helping to address some of that lack of IT infrastructure, and that is important work not just for the local economies, but for overall stability in the region as well. What I like most about this is that it is good business, and not all warm-and-fuzzies.

I’m glad Cisco considers itself s good corporate citizen and as an employee, that makes me feel better about my company. But to be honest, I’m a little skeptical of CSR as a whole. If a company wants to do good, fine, but as a society we shouldn’t have to rely on the whims of a corporation to ensure that basic societal needs are met. Also, as a shareholder, I want the company in which I invest to make money; I pay taxes so I can have schools and shelters and so on. Also, if a nice-guy initiative doesn’t make money, it is vulnerable. So a CSR-conscious company may fund a good project one year, but if times get tough, that project will be axed to the detriment of those who rely on that project.

That is why I’m particularly interested in what Cisco is doing in the Middle East. Cisco does a lot of great socially-responsible stuff in the region and it is paying off, our business is growing by 35%-40% in there. JEI and other initiatives isn’t your typical CSR fluff. I’d call this more market development than CSR AND with the extra double added bonus of doing something to bring stability to a troubled part of the world.

The true cost of “cheap"

Much has been said about the cheap cost of products supplied by companies from China. Well, first off, we don’t really know how some of those companies can provide cheap products AND apparently turn a profit as they are not publicly held so we can’t take a look inside of their finances.

But even leaving that to one side, let’s look at the total cost of ownership of networking gear. As I have it, 25% is the cost of the gear itself, 25% is physical space and amenities (air conditioning and so on) and a full-on 50% is service. Now that’s in the best of scenarios. But if you gotta up your services by another 20% because you have reliability issues, compatibility issues or the #$%@! red-blinking “danger” light won’t go off and you can’t figure out why, that 10-15% you saved on the sticker price isn’t looking like such a hot deal after all.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Live@WWAC: Emerging Markets by the numbers

The most exciting part IMHO of Cisco’s business is what it is doing in the emerging markets. What are broadly called “emerging markets” by much of the world are by Cisco re-defined somewhat. China and India, which are the emerging markets most people focus on are part of the APAC theatre. “Emerging Markets” as Cisco defines it is Russia&CIS, eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

Anyway, no matter how you slice and dice it, they are cool markets to focus on.

Cisco in India by the numbers: half the size of China but growing at 2x to 3x China’s growth. This underscores why Cisco made some key investments in India a few months back.

But the real undiscovered country (or countries) are the Emerging Markets (Cisco’s definition, that is). By the numbers: 129 countries, 61% of the planet and 37% of the population.

What to know something else? In these areas broadband goes to only 5% of the households and only 1% of the population. This to me sounds like opportunity on top of opportunity.

Opportunity for companies like Cisco because they get to sell the gear to up overall BB penetration. That’s interesting, but not earth-shattering interesting.

What will turn heads is what people in emerging markets will do once they get the fat pipes to the Internet. We’ve already seen what can happen in more developed parts of the world when people get BB access, they turn into shopkeepers, bloggers and other engines of economic and societal growth. BB is helping to power and sustain the huge GDP growth we are seeing in China and India. And hopefully the same positive impact on economic growth and standard of living will be seen in Cisco’s Emerging Markets as BB increasingly gets rolled out more.

Live@WWAC: It's the processes, stupid

Cisco is a networking company and if you walk around our campus, you’ll see that we practice what we preach. Everything is networked and the most common answer to virtually any question is, “It’s on the web.”

But is that enough for Cisco to reduce costs and increase productivity? Uh-huh… not by a long shot. Cisco is the first to admit that IT alone does not improve productivity. Added IT use needs to be coupled with a change in business processes, which take into account the new IT infrastructure.

In fact, Chambers even highlighted today how Randy Pond, Cisco’s SVP of Operations, told him that to change Cisco’s processes to accommodate its own technology would take 1-2 years.

Bottom line, change may be painful but altering business processes to accommodate new technologies is the best way to reap productivity gains. Plan for 3-5 years, because that is how long it will take.

Cisco did a Net Impact study on this very topic looking at how business process change helped improve eGovernment in Europe.

Silicon Valley Sleuth: Cisco CEO beats the "interactions" drum

Also caught the Sleuth liveblogging.... I think he's making a break for the donut table...


Silicon Valley Sleuth: Cisco CEO beats the "interactions" drum

Live@WWAC: Interactive blogging economy

Bloggers represent the type of Internet Cisco is looking to build through its “interaction economy” vision. The vision posits that companies can no longer afford to just transact with their customers because that form of communication is distant and does not build the right type of intimacy. Rather, companies must strive to use their networks to engage in a give-and-take interaction with their customers in order to build better customer service. What’s an example of this, says Chambers? Bloggers of course! Give-and-take media is what is driving throngs of online users to blogs.

Live@WWAC: Home videos

Got coax running into your home? Got copper? Got a tin can connected by a piece of waxed string? It doesn’t matter, you’ll still be able to get IP video into the home. Video has long been the domain of cable companies but with IP TV, high-quality video can now be brought into the home via a telco link. Shouldn’t surprise anyone as cablecos have begun to offer voice so with telcos going into video, I guess you could say that turn-about is fair play. The Cisco/Scientific Atlanta deal provides a complete end-to-end offering that will help any type of SP—cable or telco—bring video to the home. So now, it doesn’t matter what sort of broadband connection you have, there will still be nothing good to watch on TV.

Live@WWAC: Cisco's war on terror

In the war on terror, perhaps the most successful font is being opened up by companies such as Cisco, battling the lack of education and economic prospects in some countries, namely ones in the Middle East. Cisco’s Jordan Education Initiative has already gotten a lot of coverage, but the problems it directly address still need to be highlighted. As John Chambers highlighted in his keynote at the Worldwide Analyst Conference, in many countries in the Middle East, you have 60% of population under 18, and have little or no economic prospects for the future. As Chambers rightly pointed out, if you don’t change that, “you will have terrorism forever.” Cisco and other companies recognize this and are proactively something to combat lack of education.

See here on how important economic stability is to peace in the region.

Liveblogging from WWAC

Over the next few posts, I'll be Liveblogging from Cisco's Worldwide Analyst Conference (WWAC) and highlighting a few ideas that I find interesting, and that may not be covered elsewhere.

In the interest of full transparency, I'd like to remind all Cantina patrons that I am a Cisco PR manager in real life. But that's no reason to hate me is it???

Oh yeah... by the way....

This site is a forum for individuals to express various personal opinions and viewpoints. It is not used by Cisco Systems, Inc. as a means of disseminating company information. The messages posted here express solely the views of the author of each message, and do not represent the views of Cisco or of any entity or person associated with Cisco. Cisco does not adopt, ratify, approve of or endorse in any way the contents of any message. Cisco does not actively monitor the contents of posted messages and is not responsible in any way for the content of any message posted. Cisco does not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message or any hyperlinked pages appearing in any message, nor does it undertake any obligation to correct information contained in any message.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Of pirates and innovators

In an earlier post, I highlighted some admiration for Bill Gates, but it looks like all the malaria funding and Xboxes isn’t going to help him out much when he lands in India to discover that the country is continuing its march forward with open source.

Interesting comparison with India and China (such comparisons are all the rage now) is that while in China, they copy and distribute versions of Widows, in India, they just invent a way around it. This highlights a difference between India’s more services/innovation economy and China’s more manufacturing/copying economy. Of course, this is a gross shorthand for the actual situation and China is rapidly moving up services/innovation stack.

But it is worth noting that when a company makes major announcement in India, it is around innovation, but when they land in China, the first question they are faced with is if they want to use the Windows or a pirated version of it.

For Gates and co., this is a formidable battle on two fronts, pirates on one side and innovators on the other.

IP arms

Although we think of innovation coming out of places like Silicon Valley , Bangalore and Shanghai, good to remember that there are other centers of innovation. Nice story here on robotics development in Europe. This sort of thing I think is extremely interesting from a networking point-of-view. Right now, there is a lot of focus on bringing the network into the home with entertainment, games and greater broadband to the home. This is all well and good and is a trend that will be interesting to follow. But how about bringing the network to the robot? Making a highly secure, highly reliable IP network the “arms” that can control highly sensitive and life-like robot hands at the end-points would have great application. Expanded tele-robotic surgery alone is worth the price of admission.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

IT parasites

I have no problem with companies enforcing a legitimate patent. But it feels somewhat parasitic if a company exists only for the purpose, and offers no other good or service to the market.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Om Malik on Broadband : � The Truth About Ala Carte Cable

Om Malik hits the nail on the head with his look at a la carte cable... not that its a bad ideas, mind you.

Om Malik on Broadband : � The Truth About Ala Carte Cable