Widespread Private and Public Cloud Adoption

Cisco released the final installment of the Cisco Connected World Report, an international study about the behavioral trends of workers in accessing information anywhere, with any device, and the ability of information technology (IT) professionals to address their needs.

The latest results focus on data center, virtualization, and cloud computing trends, and evolving IT roles, in the context of increasingly mobile and distributed workforces.

The study found that global IT professionals are creating new job opportunities by increasing collaboration among teams in the data center, and adopting new technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing. But they’re also struggling to maintain security and data governance as employees demand more offsite access to networks and information.

Comparing Cloud Adoption Rates by Country
For example, across the 13 countries in the global study, 52 percent of the IT professionals stated they use or plan to use cloud computing, while much higher cloud adoption rates are predicted in Brazil (70 percent), China (69 percent) and India (76 percent).

Across the world, respondents rated the following as their top data center priorities for the next three years: improve agility and speed in deploying business applications (33 percent), better manage resource capacity to align demand and capacity (31 percent), increase data center resilience (19 percent), and reduce power and cooling costs (17 percent).

This report adds to the initial survey results released in October, which revealed that workers want flexible access to corporate information from any mobile device, anywhere, anytime, and to the results released in November -- which revealed disconnects in worker expectations around information access, IT policies and employee awareness of policies.

The latest survey results examine how IT managers are evolving their data centers and taking advantage of new technologies, while working to accommodate trends in the workplace like social media, device proliferation, video and an increasingly mobile workforce.

Summary of Cloud Computing Trends
  • Cloud use today: Across the study's 13 countries, only an average of 18 percent of respondents are using cloud computing today, while an additional 34 percent plan to use the cloud.
  • Top cloud users today: Brazil (27 percent), Germany (27 percent), India (26 percent), U.S. (23 percent) and Mexico (22 percent) top the list of countries that are already taking advantage of cloud computing, exceeding the average (18 percent) across all countries.
  • Future cloud use: A large majority (88 percent) of IT respondents predict that they will be storing some percentage of their company's data and applications in private or public clouds within the next three years.
  • Private clouds: One in three IT professionals said more than half of their company's data and applications will be in private clouds within the next three years. Private cloud adoption was predicted to be higher in Mexico (71 percent), Brazil (53 percent) and the U.S. (46 percent.)
  • Timing for public clouds: Of those respondents that will use public clouds, one of every three (34 percent) plan to deploy within one year, and 44 percent predicted their companies would use public clouds within the next two years; 21 percent are expected to do so within two to three years.

Managed Cloud Services for the Public Sector

Cloud is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – clearly, the right approach depends on your organization’s needs and priorities. Different service and deployment models can be adopted to match the requirements of different types of workloads from across the whole organization.

To illustrate some of these solution trade-offs, we’ll profile public-sector organization needs, and their related information technology and communications service requirements.

Government entities will use a variety of Cloud configurations. Those of sufficient scale will likely adopt similar Cloud models to those of large enterprises. Organizations with common needs and interests may join together to build and share community clouds.

Some government services may be provided through the public clouds of managed service providers. A major issue for public-sector organizations will be balancing concerns and regulations regarding privacy and security with aspirations for transparency and sharing information.

Community Cloud Use-Case Scenario
  • Governments are challenged to provide seamless, open, and transparent access to services and information while protecting security interests.
  • End-users (e.g., constituents, journalists, government analysts, law enforcement, military, intelligence analysts) need secure access to information from various media, formats, and geographies.
  • Traditionally, public sector organizations have taken a silo approach to data management (e.g., mapping specific information to specific communities of users). While the siloed approach offers some security benefits, it limits true collaboration potential.
Role for Cloud Technologies
  • Community clouds offer a consolidated approach to shared resources, allowing data and applications to be stored collectively.
  • Different end-users are able to work securely and collaboratively using these common datasets, thereby increasing transparency, cooperation, and efficiency.
Application Considerations
  • Security and compliance policies must still be defined and managed (particularly for sensitive data sets).
We anticipate that there will be growing demand for collaboration solutions to support secure and rich collaboration experiences within and across government agencies -- and with external organizations.

While government organizations may also see tangible benefits in using public clouds, we expect private and hybrid cloud models to be popular. Hybrid clouds will come in many flavors, including the virtual private cloud model in which an organization has access to dedicated resources in a public cloud. An increasing percentage of total IT spend will move to managed hybrid clouds as the technology and applications mature.

Government organizations should invest the time to determine where Cloud applications are most appropriate, based on workload-specific requirements around cost, risk, and performance.

Borderless IT Infrastructure for Competitive Advantage

Cisco commissioned a study of present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to address employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver applications and information more ubiquitously -- from virtualized data centers and cloud computing services to traditional wired and wireless networks.

The results of this international workplace study reveals that many people now believe that they no longer need to be "in the office" anymore in order to be truly productive.

This and other findings provide new insight into the expectations, demands, and behavior of today's global workforce -- that's influencing the way information is accessed and how business communications are changing.

"The Cisco Connected World Report gives further insight into the future of the workplace and it is clear from the research findings that the desire among employees to be more mobile and flexible in their work lifestyles is extremely strong throughout the world -- as strong as salary, said Marie Hattar, Vice President, Borderless Networks, Cisco.

She added, "It is also evident that organizations need to embrace a borderless IT infrastructure to capture competitive advantage and increase employee satisfaction. The employee desire to be productive anytime, anywhere, using any device provides an opportunity to embrace the agility and flexibility provided through a Borderless Network Architecture."

Key Findings from the Cisco Connected World Report include:

  • The study, which involved surveys of 2,600 workers and IT professionals in 13 countries, revealed that three of every five employees (60 percent) believed it was unnecessary to be in the office to be productive. This was especially the case in Asia and Latin America. More than nine of 10 employees in India (93 percent) said they did not need to be in the office to be productive. This sentiment was extremely prevalent in China (81 percent) and Brazil (76 percent) as well.
  • Two of every three employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device -- personal or company-issued -- to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere at any time, and they expect the types of devices to continue diversifying. In the future, employees expect their choice of network-connected endpoints to broaden to non-traditional work devices like televisions and navigation screens in cars.
  • For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, about half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more. However, extra hours do not translate to always-on, on-demand employees. They simply want the flexibility to manage their work-life balance throughout their waking hours.
  • Employees also feel strongly about having the flexibility to work anywhere that it would dictate their company loyalty (13 percent), choice of jobs (12 percent), and morale (9 percent). For example, two of three employees worldwide (66 percent) said they would take a job with less pay and more flexibility in device usage, access to social media, and mobility than a higher-paying job without such flexibility. This percentage was higher in some countries, such as Spain (78 percent), despite economic woes the past couple years.
  • Almost half of the IT respondents (45 percent) said they are not prepared policy- and technology-wise to support a more borderless, mobile workforce. Not surprisingly, security is the top concern.
  • Although many of the IT respondents felt security (57 percent), budget (34 percent), and staff expertise (17 percent) were the biggest barriers to enabling a more distributed workforce, employees often felt IT and corporate policies were the obstacles. This perception among employees was extremely prevalent in India, where more than half (58 percent) felt IT was the obstacle to a more flexible work style.

Shared Vision for the Future of Hosted Collaboration

With the increased reliance on IT from business leaders, it's important for CIOs to understand the concerns of CEOs and the implications they may have on IT, according to Gartner, Inc.

"Business leaders see very uncertain times ahead in 2011, and they must defend growth despite falling business and consumer confidence," said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

According to Gartner's assessment, CIOs should target at least one major business process to be revolutionized or obliterated in 2011 or 2012 -- substantively improving how companies collaborate is one example.

BT and Cisco have a shared vision for the future of hosted collaboration and unified communications services, built on their insight across a variety of networked IT and communications services.

The companies' mutual understanding of complex network environments and solution provisioning has helped them deliver superior capability, service, and value with global reach.

BT and Cisco jointly addressed the ongoing transition to hosted collaboration, unified communications and Internet Protocol (IP) telephony services, including the developing demand for IP telephony as a cloud-based service, at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2010.

Collaboration: New Realities, Rules and Opportunities
Stephen Bruce, head of UCC and Mobility portfolios for multinational corporations at BT Global Services and Matt Rowan, manager of partner operations at Cisco, discussed the new realities, rules, and opportunities that stem from a cloud computing-based collaboration and unified communications strategy, including the implications of a utility-priced service.

Bruce said, "As more of our customers contemplate their end-of-life traditional telephony environments and look to embrace the cloud, they are obviously interested in the notion of moving their IP telephony applications into the cloud. The carefully planned transition to cloud-based IP telephony can help customers dramatically reduce upfront investment costs while accelerating the adoption of IP telephony and unified communications on a global scale."

Rowan said, "As businesses analyze their options related to the consumption of collaboration solutions, cloud models offer compelling value. We are seeing enormous demand for cloud based collaboration solutions. Customers are asking for a low risk, minimally disruptive transition, and I believe BT offers a solid answer."

BT, in collaboration with Cisco, announced its hosted unified communications and IP telephony service to business customers in the U.S. in June 2010.

The service allows businesses to bring converged voice, mobile and data services to every desktop in their organizations, using BT and Cisco's cloud computing-based technologies. BT can rapidly deploy services to both large and small sites, offering business customers significant savings as well as operational predictability.

Value-Added Benefits of Video Collaboration

You may recall, we've reported on the compelling cost savings associated with TelePresence service usage. It's proven to be a key motivator for increasing adoption. That said, a new market study has uncovered value-added benefits -- such as building trust, improving group collaboration, and increasing competitive advantage.

Cisco unveiled the findings of a global study of perceptions of video collaboration technologies in the workplace. The research, conducted by Ipsos Mori, polled an international sample of workers from across 12 countries and found that the benefits of TelePresence and video conferencing are extending well beyond the highly touted benefits of cost and travel reduction.

Among the key findings, 90 percent of respondents believe video collaboration saves them at least two hours of valuable work time a week. One-third of respondents who frequently use video collaboration solutions estimate they save close to one full day -- seven hours or more -- per week.

That adds up to more than two months of time a single employee can gain back over the course of a year.

The Ipsos Mori market study highlights include:

  • Although both users and nonusers recognize the value of video collaboration technologies (76 vs. 60 percent, respectively), workers who frequently use the technology overwhelmingly value some of the qualitative benefits more than nonusers; for example, increasing competitive advantage (73 percent of frequent users vs. 42 percent of nonusers), bringing people closer together (71 percent of frequent users vs. 40 percent of nonusers), and improving work-life balance (70 percent of frequent users vs. 37 percent of nonusers).
  • All respondents, including users and nonusers, agree that video collaboration enhances the communication experience when they are working from home (68 percent), helps maintain operations if work is disrupted (67 percent), improves group collaboration (67 percent), reduces confusion (67 percent), and projects a forward-looking view of an organization (64 percent).
  • Globally, the highest percentage of workers who believe they can experience time savings of seven hours or more per week is China (46 percent). 20 percent of Russian workers report they are able to save more than seven hours per week through the use of video collaboration and telepresence.
  • More than half (56 percent) of the respondents in China use video collaboration technology, more than double the respondents of any other country.
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of all respondents perceive environmental benefits to using video collaboration technology, either through enhancing environmental responsibility or as a benefit of reduced travel. Across all 12 markets, at least half of the workers see some environmental benefit.
  • One-third of those polled who are not currently using video collaboration solutions say they would be likely to do so if it were available to them. The percentage of workers who have the technology available but do not currently use it is much higher in France (54 percent) than other markets, such as the United States. (21 percent), Sweden (13 percent), Germany (13 percent) and Spain (13 percent).

Managed Cloud Services for Enterprise Collaboration

Managed cloud services can accelerate your business by allowing you to transform ideas into marketable products and services with greater speed. Cloud can provide nearly limitless scalability, enabling your business to grow without time and resource intensive IT build-outs.

Cloud can transform the economics of your IT -- from capital-intensive, to pay-as-you-go. Service level agreements guarantee the capabilities you need, when you need them. Costs are tiered and metered to accurately reflect your requirements and usage.

All applications, including legacy, run more efficiently and sustainably with greater utilization of the underlying infrastructure.

Cloud can make new business models possible and unlock revenue potential. Companies can enter new markets, respond more quickly to changing customer needs, collaborate more effectively to drive innovation and business value.

Collaboration Use-Case Scenario
  • Global organizations face real collaboration challenges. Employee expertise is distributed across headquarters and regional and branch locations around the world. Technology and travel limit responsiveness to customer needs. Cultural differences hamper internal teamwork and organizational agility.
  • Enterprise-wide collaboration is particularly difficult to improve due to the communications silos created by existing infrastructure and disparate technology environments.
  • Rich collaboration enables organizations to extend services reach and improve relationships with customers. Poor collaboration can result in customer dissatisfaction and competitive exposure.
Role for Cloud Technologies
  • Cloud network-based collaboration strategies enable employees at all levels of the organization to connect and collaborate.
  • Collaboration services built in the Cloud can also integrate with and enhance business processes and applications.
Application Considerations
  • Proper collaboration architecture design relies on a thorough understanding of technology, people, and processes. The architecture must also be able to integrate with the desired business applications and processes.
  • High-quality collaboration experiences require end-to-end solutions.

However, Cloud is neither an instantaneous nor simple transformation, but can be adopted in a controlled and pragmatic way. Cloud involves new technologies, new service and deployment models, and new IT skills sets and processes. Migration of legacy applications to Cloud can be a real challenge. That said, legacy platforms can co-exist with Cloud deployments and be migrated only as appropriate.

Moreover, Cloud does not always offer the best business solution. Some Cloud solutions limit the ability to customize functionality or cannot guarantee quality of service. Some workloads may have stringent compliance or technical requirements that demand other approaches.

Organizations will need to determine where Cloud applications are most appropriate, based on workload-specific requirements around cost, risk, and performance.

Global Alliance Paves Way for Enterprise Cloud Services

Orange Business Services together with Cisco, EMC and VMware have formed a business alliance, called Flexible 4 Business -- to offer end-to-end cloud computing services for enterprises. This business alliance will help customers easily transition to cloud computing and gain the infrastructure flexibility, cost reduction and business performance optimization cloud computing enables.

Orange Business Services will be the service provider for the business alliance and will deliver the four types of pay-per-use managed cloud solutions based on the industry-leading technologies from the four partners.

Through Orange Business Services cloud portfolio supported by the Flexible 4 Business alliance, enterprises can realize the benefits of having IT as a service without the concern of building their own cloud computing infrastructure. Through a single service provider, customers will be able to accelerate the deployment of highly secure cloud services across their enterprise while reducing management complexity.

Orange Business Services is certified at the highest level by Cisco, EMC, and VMware to bring the network, server, storage, virtualization and management expertise necessary to integrate the entire cloud solution on a global basis. As the service provider in all Flexible 4 Business engagements, Orange Business Services will commit to tiered end-to-end service level agreements (SLAs).

"Orange Business Services has a long heritage in providing managed datacenter services and hosting and has combined this with its networking and security expertise to provide a growing suite of cloud computing services," said Peter Hall, principal analyst at Ovum.

"The Flexible 4 Business alliance brings together leading players in cloud computing so enterprises can have the confidence that solutions, including private cloud, are delivered and managed on a global scale to the highest standards."

Managed Cloud Services offered by Flexible 4 Business:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS):
Private cloud: Customized solutions based on Vblock Infrastructure Packages that combine best-in-class virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security, and management technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware, together with a comprehensive service catalogue (computing, storage, operating systems, middleware) based on platforms hosted in Orange datacenters, sub-parties datacenters or in customers datacenters. The related services are managed by Orange Business Services on an "as-a-service" mode enabling the expected flexibility in a highly secured environment. Back-up services: Highly secure hosted and managed back-up solution delivered as-a-service: evolving and charged according to real usage, enabling customers to benefit from an effective solution that grows with their requirement and does not require initial investments.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS):
Security services: Enable the ability to offer anti-virus and URL filtering solutions as-a-service. These SaaS solutions enable all users to benefit from immediate protection even when out of the office, and for customers to roll out precise security policies within seconds. Unified communications services: Comprehensive unified communications solution hosted and managed from Orange Business Services datacenters to reduce costs. Services are available from all types of terminals. Administrators can allocate services as required and therefore adapt usage and costs to the precise needs of the company.

"Cloud computing has truly come of age with Flexible 4 Business," said Vivek Badrinath, chief executive officer, Orange Business Services. "Today's business alliance will make cloud computing a reachable reality for global enterprises, providing for our customers' security requirements and mitigating the complexity of technical migration. Orange Business Services has built its reputation catering to the global business needs of multinationals. With industry's top cloud players we will ease the migration for our enterprise customers."

The Fundamental Power of Cloud Services

We live in a more connected and fast-moving world than ever before. Small business start-ups overtake established incumbents to dominate their markets with increasing speed. Developing countries leapfrog massive landline telecom investments and jump straight to mobile communications.

While our growing interconnectedness brings many benefits, it also sometimes means greater vulnerability and a heightened sensitivity to risk.

Increasingly we look to enabling technology to support both our personal and professional lives. As individuals, we expect instantaneous and ubiquitous access to communications, data, content, and applications.

We increasingly look to social media to inform our personal and business decisions. As business leaders, we expect technology to deliver cost efficiencies, improve customer experience, drive revenue growth, and foster innovation. At the same time, we expect constant availability and end-to-end security.

Evolving Beyond the Legacy IT Models
This combination of rising expectations and a rapid rate of change challenge traditional
approaches for information technology. Business cycles keep shortening, but business system complexity keeps escalating. Traditional information technology solutions are too often described as equal parts business accelerator and business obstructer.

A new approach is needed -- to free individuals and organizations from the constraints of traditional information technology. Many forward-looking executives now believe that Cloud Services are part of the answer and will play a central role in the next era of Business Technology evolution.

Cloud is a new computing paradigm. In Cloud, IT resources and services are abstracted from the underlying infrastructure and provided on-demand and at scale in a multi-tenant environment.

Cloud Services have several fundamental characteristics:
  • Information technology, from infrastructure to applications, is delivered and consumed as a service over the network.
  • Services operate consistently, regardless of the underlying systems.
  • Capacity and performance scale to meet demand and are invoiced by use.
  • Services are shared across multiple organizations, allowing the same underlying systems and applications to meet the demands of a variety of interests, simultaneously and securely.
  • Applications, services, and data can be accessed through a wide range of connected devices (e.g., smart phones, laptops, and other mobile internet devices).
Cloud encompasses several variations of service models (i.e., IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) and deployment models (i.e., private, public, hybrid, and community clouds).

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be sharing some insightful customer use case examples of where and how cloud computing services can be applied to deliver business-oriented benefits.

Cloud Services Embraced by More Progressive Leaders

Once again, we return to the topic of managed cloud services lessons-learned, and the associated best practices that have been gleaned by the early-adopters. The need for agile organizations and adaptive business processes continues to fuel demand for alternatives to the legacy IT status-quo.

According to the latest market assessment by IDC, cloud computing is being adopted more widely for a larger portfolio of business applications, as IT and business leaders discover what works well -- and what doesn't work so well.

The active ingredients for cloud enablement are: just-in-time software stacks that are ready to provision, on-demand deployments, a self-service catalog of cloud services, the scalability to meet growing demand for computing resource and the flexibility to scale down resources -- when they're no longer needed by the user.

Cloud computing uses still focus primarily on public cloud services, with the early adopters leveraging cloud computing for application development, data back-up or archiving, and hosted collaboration solutions. IDC says that Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption has also been responsible for driving usage of cloud computing.

Cost Reduction is Still a Common Goal
No surprise, given the current global economic conditions, reducing IT operational costs has been a common goal of most cloud service adopters.

Moreover, the use of cloud technology is expected to speed time-to-market for new business services, to reduce ongoing operational costs through greater IT efficiency – and to make it inherently easier for users to consume and pay for IT services only when needed.

That said, IDC believes that users will have access to both old and new styles of computing within the enterprise, mapping specific apps to specific deployment models, including non-cloud implementations. Leaders are thereby reserving the right to change the IT service deployment model to fit the evolving business requirements.

A key trend that has surfaced is the selection cloud services from a number of different providers, raising the importance of service federation -- the ability to move from one cloud to another.

Apparently, support for federation is still nascent, with interoperability standards and interfaces that are in the process of being defined. Regardless, interoperability will become a gating-factor for cloud computing to become more widely adopted.

For the less progressive companies, moving their IT applications to the cloud typically requires considerable testing and eventually convincing the reluctant managers to experiment with small projects. Launching apps on private clouds can build confidence in the cloud services model, while minimizing concerns about security and data integrity.

Quest for Better Business and IT Alignment
IDC says that it appears the most critical factors to the success of cloud computing projects can hinge on human factors, not technical. Reason being, cloud computing is about aligning IT technologies to business processes, in a way that reflects the business imperatives and organizational structure.

IT and computing technologies are mere mechanisms, not ends in themselves. Therefore value is best reflected in business impact results, rather than system deployment benchmarks.

Orange Business Services Promotes Telepresence

Companies are increasingly turning to videoconferencing solutions, whether to reduce travel costs, ensure business continuity in the event of a natural disaster, or reduce their environmental carbon footprint. Service providers are also progressively working together to advance the adoption of new video communication capabilities.

Orange Business Services is offering its Telepresence Community, a solution that provides direct access to Cisco TelePresence in 800 existing meeting suites around the world, on a free trial basis. They are also promoting service interoperability with other global service providers.

As an established global provider of fully managed Telepresence solutions, Orange Business Services offers video communication solutions for on-demand collaboration with customers, partners and suppliers -- using the immersive virtual meeting experience of Telepresence.

"Through Telepresence Community, our B2B Telepresence solution, opening our network and customer base to work with enterprises connected to other operators' networks will create a global video community," said Marc Blanchet, senior vice president, Global Communication Services, Orange Business Services.

Working Together on a Common Cause
Orange Business Services has signed an agreement with Cisco to access its service platform. Customers in the Orange Telepresence community will thereby have access to an additional 800 private and public Cisco Telepresence rooms around the world, as well as to companies already connected via Cisco.

To encourage the B2B use and adoption of Telepresence, Orange Business Services is inviting its customers to experience their Telepresence Community solution free of charge until April 1, 2011, without any commitment.

With Orange Business Services, customers benefit from the largest Telepresence network, accessible in 140 countries, and the only one certified by Cisco in 46 countries. In order to give its customers the opportunity to maximize their return on investment in Telepresence, they are pursuing an active partnership policy with several global operators.

This interoperability is already in place with one partner, recently enabling a customer of Orange Business Services -- a leader in the pharmaceuticals industry – to apply Telepresence meeting capabilities to successfully connect to one of its partners via a different service provider.

"We aim to have at least three major interconnections in place before the end of the year and will continue adding to the community as required by the demands of our growing customer base," according to Blanchet.

Solving Economic and Environmental Challenges
As French Minister of State for the Digital Economy Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet emphasized in her commentary following a Telepresence debate held on June 9 "This conference was in itself an illustration of what Telepresence can achieve. It avoids many long and costly journeys which managers in globalized companies often need to make. This not only represents a major saving but also an obvious gain in terms of sustainable development. I can also imagine the possible effects of such a tool on remote working."

The debate entitled "The Rise in Digital Communications: a lever for emerging from the crisis" was organized in partnership with Cisco and involved 50 Orange Business Services customers spread over six sites in France and abroad.

Hannover Re Adopts Tata Managed Telepresence

The reinsurance business is evolving. Traditionally, reinsurance transactions are between two insurance entities: the primary insurer that sold the original insurance policies and the reinsurer. The companies in this industry are long-standing users of advanced communications technology, now including video collaboration.

Tata Communications announced that it has been chosen by German reinsurance company, Hannover Re, to deploy and run its Telepresence facilities -- serving the group’s internal teams in 18 locations across 16 countries, worldwide.

Tata Communications will deploy the Cisco TelePresence high-definition, immersive video collaboration systems to help employees based in Europe, North America, Asia, Middle East and Africa collaborate with each other on a daily basis.

Under this agreement, Tata Communications will provide Hannover Re with a solution that includes deployment and installation of rooms, maintenance, management and concierge service for scheduling and reservations, the world's first public rooms, open global Telepresence exchange as well as the Cisco-certified TelePresence network.

Reliable Integrated Telepresence Solution
Tata Communications' Telepresence services include managed private Cisco TelePresence rooms, public Telepresence rooms that can be rented by the hour -- and the ability for these private and public rooms to connect with each other.

"Tata Communications is the vendor that meets our expectations in respect of Telepresence operations and services. We are confident that Tata Communications will prove its reliability both in the course of the implementation project and in the operations phase," says Mr. Hartmut Fuchs, Hannover Re, CIO and Managing Director, Information and Technology.

"What convinced us is the option to integrate our internal Telepresence network into the general Telepresence infrastructure provided by Tata Communications. We expect that this will allow us to extend Telepresence based communication to business partners in a second phase."

Global Telepresence as a Managed Service
Tata will manage all aspects of Hannover Re's Telepresence needs, supported by its world-class global network. Tata Communications' open exchange also means that coverage can be extend to any public Telepresence rooms that Hannover Re chooses to use in the future, catering to external users such as customers, prospects and partners.

Tata Communications' Global Meeting Exchange enables meetings between any connected private or public rooms, and moves Telepresence from a private intra-company experience to a broader based inter-company collaboration tool of choice.

It meets the market demand for Telepresence meetings, regardless of the service provider network. With this collaboration, customers on either network can connect to each other extending their Telepresence coverage across their business ecosystem.

Claude Sassoulas, Tata Communications' Managing Director for the Europe and Africa Region, says, "This deal with one of the world's largest global reinsurance groups is a significant milestone for our organization. It will strengthen our position as a global provider in the German market, where we are looking to continue our expansion."

Enterprise 2.0: Hosted Collaboration Solutions

New cloud-based business technology applications are reinventing workplace collaboration -- to address the needs of forward-looking organizations and their essential employees, in today's more economically frugal operating environment.

Progressive business leaders are breaking down traditional communication silos by creating the environment for key staff to easily connect with peers and readily share information across globally dispersed organizations. How will they be able to fuel this ongoing transformation?

Cisco announced the availability of the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution that allows service providers to offer their customers a wide range of collaboration applications -- via the cloud, using a "business technology as a service" model.

The Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, which builds on existing hosted Unified Communications offerings, provides customers with unprecedented flexibility in choosing how they deploy collaboration applications throughout their organizations.

"Our customers are eager to put cloud-based unified communications applications to the test. Verizon Business' field trial of Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution builds on a proven track record the two companies have established developing and delivering innovative solutions to market, while marking an important milestone on Verizon Business' path to deliver 'Everything-as-a-Service' for our customers worldwide," said Anthony Recine, vice president of networking and communications solutions for Verizon Business.

How On-Demand Solutions Drive Business Agility
The hosted option helps businesses to rapidly deploy collaboration technologies while potentially lowering upfront capital and ongoing operating expenses.

The Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution gives service providers and integrators the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations.

"Delivering our customers the broadest-range and highest-quality hosted unified communications and collaboration services is one of our core businesses. The Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution will allow us to achieve this goal with an excellent operational efficiency and profitability for our clients," said Paul Molinier, vice president, Unified Communications and Collaboration Business Unit, Orange.

The solution is designed to be run from managed service provider data centers. It's optimized for delivery by the Cisco Unified Computing System, part of the Cisco Unified Service Delivery solution. It's proven to combine the power of the datacenter with the power of the network -- to transform service delivery and build the foundation for cloud services.

Leading service providers will offer one of the most comprehensive collaboration services available and can easily deploy large, multi-customer installations. By using a common infrastructure, providers can potentially save money while delivering their customers a superior user experience -- regardless of the service deployment model (hosted, managed, or on-premise).

"Delivering hosted unified communications and collaboration services is a demanding and complex operation. We're excited to be working with the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, which is designed to simplify operations and deliver services in the most efficient and profitable manner," said Roger Wuethrich-Hasenboehler, executive vice president and member of the board, Swisscom.

Savvy business executives and their IT leaders continue to benefit from the operational efficiencies of out-tasking core business technology applications. They're shifting their internal resources to more strategic initiatives -- while enabling the just-in-time provision of feature rich communications service delivery.

The Cius Mobile Collaboration Business Tablet

In today's fast-paced world, the need to be constantly connected and always accessible has made mobility a strategic corporate asset across the enterprise. Business can come to a halt when employees do not have access to network services and when they cannot easily reach the people they need -- or be reached by the people who need them.

Cisco has unveiled Cisco Cius, a first-of-its-kind mobile collaboration business tablet that delivers virtual desktop integration with anywhere, anytime access to the full range of Cisco collaboration and communication applications, including HD video.

Cisco Cius is an ultra-portable device weighing just 1.15lbs (0.52kg) that extends the productivity benefits of Cisco collaboration applications to a highly secure mobile platform.

In addition to full telepresence interoperability, Cisco Cius offers HD video streaming and real-time video, multi-party conferencing, email, messaging, browsing, and the ability to produce, edit and share content stored locally or centrally in the cloud.

Based on the Android operating system, Cisco Cius is an open platform for communication and collaboration whose form factor and applications are designed to more securely connect employees on-the-go with the right people in real-time, and to provide those workers with the ability to access and share the content they need from any place on the network.

Cloud-based Collaboration and Communication Services
Cisco Cius offers IT professionals new options when it comes to equipping mobile workers with computing devices. Through virtual desktop integration, Cisco Cius offers flexible computing options with cloud-based services -- providing dramatically lower capital costs and cost-per-user for desktop maintenance.

Businesses can also tap into the growing Android developer community that is building business-class productivity applications with appropriate IT controls. The combination of applications and flexible computing options provides a compelling alternative to today's PC-on-every-desktop paradigm.

Cisco Cius provides support for the comprehensive suite of Cisco collaboration applications including Cisco Quad, Cisco Show and Share, Cisco WebEx Connect, Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Cisco Presence, and interoperability with Cisco TelePresence.

Customer trials of Cisco Cius will begin in the third quarter of calendar year 2010, with general availability in the first quarter of calendar year 2011.

Enterprise IT Challenged by User Demands

Cisco announced the results of a survey exploring the security implications of social networking and the use of personal devices in the enterprise. Perhaps the most telling finding was that employees continue to work around restrictive corporate IT security policies.

Why do businesspeople, including senior corporate executives, continue to bypass their own IT organizations? Typically, the most common complaint is a lack of agility -- an inability to meet the business technology needs of internal stakeholders in a timely manner.

Another significant finding: 71 percent of the survey respondents said that overly strict security policies have a negative impact on hiring and retaining talented employees under age 30.

Conducted on behalf of Cisco by InsightExpress, the survey polled 500 IT security professionals across the United States, Germany, Japan, China and India. The results illustrate that the consumer influence on enterprise IT is growing and that more employees are bringing personal devices and applications into the network, presenting new business opportunities and security challenges.

Unrelenting Demand for New Business Technology
The survey explores the changing enterprise security landscape due to the evolving requirements of today's borderless networks, the benefits and drawbacks of accommodating an increasingly mobile workforce, and the challenges of protecting sensitive and proprietary data.

Highlights of the latest market study include:
  • More than half of the survey respondents have determined that their employees use unsupported applications – such as Social networking (68 percent), Collaborative (47 percent), Peer to peer (47 percent), Cloud (33 percent).
  • Nearly half (41 percent) of the respondents have determined that employees have been using unsupported devices, and more than one-third of that number said they have had a breach or loss of information due to unsupported network devices.
  • Despite these trends, about half (53 percent) of the IT respondents said they are likely to allow personal devices on the network in the next 12 months and 7 percent already support personal devices.
  • More than half (51 percent) listed "social networking" as one of the top three biggest security risks to their organization, while one in five (19 percent) considers it the highest risk.
  • Social networking tools are an unprecedented and highly beneficial tool for many parts of organizations, including human resources, marketing and customer service.
  • Nearly three out of four survey respondents said that overly strict security policies have a moderate or significant negative impact on hiring and retaining employees under age 30.
"Increasingly, unapproved and unmanaged personal devices in the corporate environment are hastening the need for more intelligent security management. These solutions must deal with difficulty of protecting individuals and corporations while providing a positive user experience and corporate data access from any device, anywhere, anytime," said Chris Christiansen, program vice president, Security Products and Services Group, at IDC.

Managed service providers and their cloud-based managed security service offerings can enable corporate IT leaders to be more responsive to the business technology needs of their internal and external customers -- by out-tasking routine networking applications and thereby freeing up staff time.

Cisco TelePresence via American Express vmX

American Express Business Travel and Cisco announced the global availability of public Cisco TelePresence Suites through American Express Business Travel's virtual meetings eXpert (vmX) solution.

This agreement provides corporate clients with virtual meeting consulting services which will enable clients to make better decisions about the best method of face-to-face collaboration -- by leveraging publicly-available Cisco TelePresence rooms and increase use of private, corporate-owned systems around the world.

Cisco TelePresence uses high-definition video and audio to create the experience of face-to-face meetings. People appear life-size around a virtual conference table, creating an environment where meeting participants feel as though they're sitting in the same room.

Public Cisco TelePresence Suites offer convenient access to organizations, travelers, remote workers or business partners to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners. Public Cisco TelePresence Suites are currently available from a growing ecosystem of partners supported by Cisco in major business centers around the world.

These include, Marriott International, operated by AT&T, as well as the Tata Communications operated rooms at the Starwood and Taj Hotels and the Singapore public room at the Rendezvous Hotel.

Growing Demand for Online Collaboration
"As virtual meetings gain traction among corporations of all sizes, it is critical to offer a network of locations that companies can use to connect to and integrate virtual meetings into their overall travel and meetings program," said Lisa Durocher, senior vice president, American Express Business Travel.

"Cisco is a leading provider of telepresence technology and facilities and we are pleased to add its public Cisco TelePresence Suites to our solution. Our ultimate goal is to offer clients the guidance they need to optimize virtual meeting options while providing the widest coverage of publicly available rooms extending the reach of private rooms companies may already have available."

By combining the availability of public and private telepresence suites, virtual meetings eXpert offers companies a broader pool of virtual meeting options to help achieve corporate travel objectives and savings. The vmX platform is currently available through an offline reservation desk and is expected to be available online in 2011.

Announced last year, vmX is a unique, patent-pending, solution that serves as a central hub and aggregator of both publicly available telepresence facilities and private corporate facilities.

As a comprehensive virtual meetings solution, virtual meetings eXpert not only provides the necessary inventory, technology and physical locations to connect virtually, but also guides travelers through scenarios that determine whether to meet virtually or in person based on criteria such as price, trip duration, meeting purpose, environmental impact and more.

Green, Financial Gains from TelePresence

Telepresence video communication systems enable groups of people to meet and collaborate in multiple locations worldwide -- while feeling as if they were all in the same room together. Executives can now equate the full positive impact from several tangible benefits of utilizing telepresence systems, according to the results of a new market study commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project.

U.S. and U.K. businesses that substitute some business travel with telepresence meeting services can cut CO2 emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total -- the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year -- and achieve total economy-wide financial benefits of almost $19 billion, by 2020.

Other conclusions of the global market study determined a business with $1 billion or more in annual revenue that utilize four telepresence rooms could:
  • Achieve a financial return on investment in as little as 15 months.
  • Save nearly 900 business trips in the first year of using telepresence.
  • Reduce emissions by 2,271 metric tons over five years -- the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 434 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
The study also revealed that telepresence solutions can help speed decision-making, improve employee productivity, and provide workers with a better work-life balance.

Modeling the Benefits of Telepresence Applications
The study was produced by Verdantix, who conducted in-depth interviews with executives of 15 Global 500 firms that are early-adopters of telepresence. They used the findings of those interviews to develop a detailed model to calculate the financial return on investment (ROI) and carbon reductions of telepresence.

The model looks at projected telepresence adoption among companies with $1 billion or more in annual revenue and forecasts how the financial and carbon reduction benefits achieved by early adopters of telepresence would translate into economy-wide financial and environmental benefits in the U.S. and U.K. by 2020.

Carbon emission reductions among U.S. companies with annual revenues over $1 billion were forecast at approximately 4.6 million metric tons by 2020 -- the equivalent of removing more than 875,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

Among large U.K companies, carbon emission reductions by 2020 were forecast at approximately 940,000 metric tons -- the equivalent of removing more than 179,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

Total economy wide financial benefits that could be generated by 2020 as a result of large companies using telepresence in place of some business travel were forecast at over $15 billion for the U.S. and almost $4 billion in the U.K.

"Companies that invest in carbon cutting technologies and re-engineer the way they do business will not only be better placed to succeed as we transition to a low-carbon economy but can experience considerable business benefits during this transition," said CDP chief executive officer Paul Dickinson. "Telepresence is a good example of a low-carbon solution that can bring financial savings and increase productivity while reducing emissions."

Study participant Zelda Bentham, senior environment manager of global insurance company Aviva, said, "We compared executives traveling from the nine months prior to telepresence with the nine months following implementation. From an air travel perspective, we observed a 25 percent carbon footprint reduction."

Managed and Cloud Services Market Study

Cisco and Verizon Business will host a live webcast to unveil new findings from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cisco and discuss new opportunities in managed and cloud services for service providers and enterprises.

Key findings from the market study include:
  • Global managed services growth will outpace technology growth in 2010 by more than double.
  • The total global managed services opportunity will be $217 billion by 2014.

Join Ellen Daley, Forrester Research vice president; Will Scott, Cisco global director of managed solutions; and Joseph Crawford, Verizon Business executive director of IT solutions, for an online discussion on these major market trends.

Managed and Cloud Services: Opportunities in a Transitioning Market

Date: Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time: 8 to 9 a.m. (PDT) / 11 a.m. to noon (EDT)

Register, in advance, at:
Cisco Verizon Business Webcast

Managed Telepresence Gains New Converts

As the European aviation sector encountered major disruptions, online business meeting services attracted growing interest and new demand. Apparently, few traditional globetrotters plan for, or even anticipate, the effects of a natural disaster so many were searching for last-minute alternatives to international air travel.

Online visual collaboration platforms -- that enable just-in-time face-to-face meetings -- were a natural choice for the informed business travelers who, like most of us, only recently discovered that Iceland has an active volcano.

According to the latest market study by Frost & Sullivan, renewed awareness of videoconference solutions will create further opportunities for TelePresence service providers.

Telepresence Market Growth Predicted
Frost & Sullivan estimates the global Telepresence market value was $396.2 million for 2009, and forecasts this market to reach $825.9 million in 2015. Their research assessment included both ready-built Telepresence room solutions, and component parts that are used by third parties to construct customized Telepresence room solutions.

The effectiveness of the latest technologies and the impact of the global economic downturn are impelling businesses to re-assess Telepresence -- as a viable solution to facilitate reduced operation costs and create new sources of productivity increases.

"The volcano ash clouds from Iceland are just the latest in a long line of issues that have impacted business travel," says Frost & Sullivan principle analyst Dominic Dodd. "Telepresence in particular, has played a pivotal role over the last two to three years in helping build greater awareness and in re-focusing executive-level attention on visual collaboration."

Frost & Sullivan believes that Telepresence offers a unique proposition that can deliver effective and reliable visual communications. Its development and growth in popularity parallels advancements in other forms of collaboration as a service. Visual collaboration is also an essential part of a comprehensive Unified Communications (UC) strategy.

Immersive Experience will Accelerate Demand
The majority of Telepresence systems continue to rely on significant network bandwidth and quality of service management to perform up to their maximum potential. Globally, managed service offerings remain an essential ingredient for many users, as service providers continue to add new meeting room locations to their expanding networks.

Visual collaboration endpoints are expected to do well in the long term. Although, according to Frost & Sullivan, while the product format by which immersive Telepresence is delivered is likely to change, the overall demand for its unique features and benefits will continue to gain new user converts.

"While the latest research indicates that the market for today's ready-built systems will ultimately reach its upper-limit within the next five years, it also shows how growth demand for the immersive experience can accelerate as it is fed by other product sets such as high definition videoconferencing and custom Telepresence solutions," concludes Dodd.

Quest for Integrated Collaboration Service

Examining the ever-changing landscape of online collaboration, and assessing the growth of social networks, Cisco announced findings from a recent market study about end-user collaboration applications and individual preferences within the workplace.

Within the group of respondents using social networking for work, fifty-nine percent say that their usage of social media applications has increased over the past year. The study also found the most frequently used application for collaborating with others is email (91 percent).

However, what people want from their email application is changing -- the findings highlight the potential for email service evolution.

The market study, conducted by Harris Research, surveyed more than 1,000 end-users from across the United States and found that email is the preferred collaboration application at work for a variety of reasons.

Navigating within the Comfort Zone
Respondents like the fact that email provides an easily-accessible record of communication and the ability to communicate with many people at once. Users also rank email prominently among various online collaboration tools because there is a high-level of comfort in using the application to easily communicate with others inside and outside their organizations.

However, the poll showed there are many problems associated with the way most email solutions function today.

Many survey respondents complained they receive too much irrelevant email (40%) and that they lack the ability to collaborate in real time (32 percent). End users also dislike the fact that they have very limited storage (25 percent) and that large volumes of email come into their inbox with no organizational structure (21 percent).

In addition to email, the Harris poll found that other applications being used by respondents to collaborate with others in the workplace include shared spaces (66 percent), voice calls and teleconferencing (66 percent), web conferencing (55 percent), video conferencing (35 percent), instant messaging (34 percent), and social networking (17 percent).

Half of those using social networking for work by-pass IT restrictions to do so. The study participants who prefer to use social networks indicated they would like to have control over who sees their content as well as be able to share with groups of users using different tools.

Designing an Intuitive Collaboration Experience

The respondents also indicated the desire to collaborate in real time without having to open up an additional application.

To address the needs of end users, Cisco is focused on providing an integrated collaboration experience between its recently announced hosted email solution and a variety of the company's other collaboration offerings including enterprise social software, unified communications, IP telephony, instant messaging, and presence.

This collaboration platform combines various data sources and allows communications to turn into shared content. This new type of collaboration -- plus the evolution of email -- helps enable better teamwork, whether ad-hoc or formal, internal or external, and will deliver improved inbox efficiency, via topic organization, to accommodate growing email volume.

Managed Security Services Gaining Adoption

Enterprise leaders say that it's becoming difficult to find the highly qualified IT and network security talent they need that's affordable, and so they look to service providers for a solution. According to the latest market study by Forrester Research, demand has been growing.

That said, Forrester believes that using a managed security services provider (MSSP) is more than just a lower-cost alternative to doing the same work in-house. MSSPs are not just managing devices, they also provide insightful analysis that can help with business decisions.

CIOs and other business technology leaders used to resist out-tasking their IT and network security requirements. The talent scarcity issue has helped to change that mindset.

Now, one in four out-task their email filtering, and another 12 percent are very interested in doing so in the next 12 months. Another 13 percent already out-task their vulnerability management and an additional 19 percent say they are very interested in doing so within the next 12 months.

CIOs Budgeting for Managed Security
Although security-related spending didn't grow during most of 2009, Forrester estimates that the managed services market actually grew by approximately 8 percent.

Managed security services (MSS) has evolved considerably. Service offerings exist in various forms -- from pure system management to more sophisticated log analysis using a number of delivery mechanisms, from software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud services to on-premises device monitoring and management.

According to Forrester's assessment, while many MSSPs have started to respond to the human resource challenge by offering consulting services, not all providers are equally capable. However, CIOs should expect more MSSPs to further invest in qualified professional services capabilities to provide appropriate integration and consulting guidance.

Managing Security within the Cloud
Forrester said they've received inquiries about providers offering cloud services -- such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection and clean-pipe services. Broadband network service providers that own the access circuit have an inherent advantage, because they typically detect and prevent potential attacks sooner than others.

Again, lower cost was the primary driver for moving to a managed services provider, but now cost only ranks fourth in decision criteria. Today there are a number of other incentives to use MSSP services. They include improving the quality of protection; gaining 24x7 support; getting better skill sets and competencies; a reduction is the cost of protection; and decreasing complexity.

Internal security managers are now expected to provide value-added services in support of business objectives -- such as enhancing privacy, achieving compliance, and protecting intellectual property. Therefore, they are demanding additional services from MSSPs, which in return are responding by broadening their traditional service portfolio.

In summary, Forrester offers a key procurement recommendation. They suggest selecting a provider that excels in the specific area you're looking to out-task. They believe that it's extremely important to assess organization culture. It's considered the most important factor that determines whether a relationship is going to succeed. So, start the process by talking to some of the provider's customer references.

Business Online Collaboration Dichotomy

The goal of creating a collaborative enterprise might seem like an essential requirement that all forward-looking business leaders would actively support. However, fear of the unknown sometimes makes intelligent people react in ways that, in hindsight, appear totally illogical.

A case in point, Cisco announced results of a global study that found that while 77 percent of IT decision makers surveyed plan to increase spending on internal collaboration tools, company employees believe that their ability to collaborate is constrained by their own employer policies.

That said, more than a quarter of those who work at organizations that prohibit the use of social media applications admitted to changing the settings on their corporate devices to gain online access -- claiming they "need the tools to get the job done."

This new insight was attained by investigating practices at medium to large enterprises -- those with more than 250 employees. The study, conducted by InsightExpress, surveyed 2,023 corporate end-users and 1,011 Information Technology Decision Makers (ITDMs) from 10 countries.

Progressive Use of Online Collaboration Tools
The research found that ITDMs around the world recognize the importance of collaboration tools to the future success of their business, with India and China being the most progressive in adopting the technology.

Consequently, many ITDM respondents said that they are planning to increase their spending on collaboration technologies over the next year, identifying video conferencing, Web conferencing and IP telephony as primary areas of investment.
  • Globally, 96 percent ITDMs and end users recognize that collaboration tools have a role to play in the future success of their business.
  • Of those surveyed, 77 percent of ITDMs expect investment in collaboration tools to increase between now and October, and 56 percent expect their spending on collaboration tools to increase by 10 percent or more.
  • Productivity and efficiency were identified by both end users and ITDMs as the primary benefits of increased collaboration -- with 69 percent of end users regularly using advanced collaboration tools, such as video and Web conferencing, to help them complete tasks at work more efficiently.
Why Employees Defy the Policy Restrictions
Employees identified a variety of frustrations with devices and applications at work. These include restrictions set by IT managers on the types of collaboration technologies that can be used at the workplace, a lack of integration among the applications, non-compatible formats (video, data, voice), and the limited number of collaboration tools at their disposal.
  • Slightly more than half (52 percent) of organizations prohibit the use of social media applications or similar collaboration tools at work.
  • Half (50 percent) of the end users admit to ignoring company policy prohibiting use of social media tools at least once a week, and 27 percent admit to changing the settings on corporate devices to get access to prohibited applications.
The study also highlights how end users are clearly motivated by the benefits gained from increased collaboration, but also identifies a need for some enterprises to adapt their corporate processes and organizational culture.
  • When asked to identify how collaboration benefits them, 45 percent of the end users pointed to improved productivity and efficiency, 40 percent noted they receive assistance in solving work-related problems, and 31 percent enjoyed accelerated decision making.
  • Ease of use (58 percent), the ability to communicate anywhere and at any time (45 percent), and features and functionality (37 percent) are the three most desired attributes of a device or application.
  • End users believe that elements of corporate culture can inhibit their ability to collaborate successfully: 46 percent feel that all decisions are made by people at the top of their organization, and 39 percent say colleagues are not willing to share information when it does not benefit their own business unit.
The research is the second of a two-part series that Cisco has commissioned to explore the impact of social networking and collaboration in the enterprise. Cisco previously shared findings that explored how organizations use consumer social networking tools to collaborate externally.

Guests Check-in to a TelePresence Suite

The American hospitality industry has suffered from the global economic meltdown. While room rates sank nearly 9 percent for the U.S. hotel industry overall, luxury hotels saw their rates decline more than 16 percent, according to a market study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Was the "frugal consumer" phenomenon to blame? Actually, they're not the main culprit. Business people that chose to travel to meet their customers and suppliers are still not likely budgeted to stay at the pricier hotel properties.

What's a savvy upscale hotelier to do, given this scenario? Follow a customer demand trend that has gained momentum -- where spending has risen, based on a solid ROI justification.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts unveiled its first in-hotel Cisco TelePresence meeting suites with a virtual, interactive meeting spanning across two continents. The W Chicago City Center and Sheraton on the Park Sydney are the first in Starwood's global portfolio to introduce the new meeting facilities.

Borderless Face-to-Face Collaboration in Action
Guests and corporate clients were brought together in a true-to-life meeting setting, despite more than 9,000 miles apart and the 17 hour time difference. Participants in both locations had a seat at the table and were able to meet "face-to-face" -- utilizing ultra-high definition video, superior audio and life-size imagery of all participants.

In June of 2009, Starwood announced a partnership with Tata Communications and plans to build Cisco TelePresence rooms in 10 properties worldwide. In addition to the Chicago and Sydney hotels, two more TelePresence meeting suites will open in the first half of this year -- including the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Centre Toronto.

Other planned locations include The Westin Los Angeles Airport, with the anticipation to expand the offering to key domestic and international business markets such as Dallas, San Francisco, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. As an industry first, reservations for these TelePresence rooms can be made instantly using the Tata Communications online portal.

"The launch of the new Cisco TelePresence meeting suites at the W Chicago and Sheraton on the Park Sydney is another example of Starwood's commitment to innovation by offering our clients an exciting, new meetings solution that facilitates a 'face-to-face' meeting in the same room regardless of global location," said Christie Hicks, Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Starwood. "We have a great partner in Tata Communications and look forward to continuing opening new meeting facilities throughout our portfolio of hotels around the world."

Latest Video Meeting Technology, On-Demand
Cisco TelePresence provides life-like, high definition, conferencing facilities with superior audio, video and environmental qualities allowing participants to meet their colleagues, customers and business partners across a virtual table. The public facility enables those who don't have a corporate TelePresence room to utilize this new benefit at an affordable per-hour rental rate.

Tata Communications has several operational public rooms in India (Mumbai, Bangalore (x2), Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Gurgaon), UK (London) and USA (Boston), Manila with PLDT in the Philippines and Johannesburg with Neotel in South Africa.

TelePresence Gains Momentum at Retailer Show

The National Retail Federation (NRF) released its 2010 economic forecast, projecting retail industry sales to increase 2.5 percent from last year. In contrast, total industry retail sales for 2009 had actually declined by 2.5 percent.

"As we continue to see signs of improvement throughout the U.S. economy in 2010, overall sentiment will begin to lift, making way for slight increases in consumer spending," said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells.

While this past year certainly has been a challenging one for most retailers, they continue to seek out ways to apply business technology that helps to transform both their in-store communications and the way they interact and collaborate with their primary suppliers.

Earlier this month, the NRF 2010 "Big Show" attendees were able to once again experience Cisco TelePresence systems and AT&T services in action. The above video includes insights from some of the people who shared their perspective about how business video adoption will positively impact their customer experience and operational productivity.

TelePresence Provides Competitive Edge
"Telepresence gives us something up on the competition, by being able to leverage the expertise that we have in one of our stores, and now use it across an entire region" said David Bash, CIO at Nebraska Furniture Mart, after participating in the AT&T Telepresence Solution demonstration.

To thrive in today's economy, you have to be able to collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers around the globe at a moment's notice. At the same time, you need to conduct your business in such a way that it enhances the quality of your key relationships.

In 2010, we'll likely see more creative applications of visual conferencing technology, as borderless collaboration continues to mainstream across all manufacturing industries and commercial service sectors.

Business Social Networking Upside-Downside

Social media tools are entering the workplace, either by thoughtful intent or purely by accident. To date, for those organizations that actually have a plan of action, most tend to focus more on "damage containment" policies for their employees.

Is a protection-centric strategy the prudent approach for concerned -- but otherwise uninformed -- business leaders, or is it shortsighted thinking that undervalues the upside opportunity?

Cisco released the results of a third-party global market study designed to assess how organizations use consumer social networking tools to collaborate externally.

The use of these tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, are connecting organizations with their external stakeholders. On the upside, the tools connect people and information, establish potential new routes to market, and enhance customer intimacy and brand awareness.

According to the third-party researcher, the study findings indicate that we're at the early stages of adoption and in the process of identifying key challenges -- such as the need for increased governance and IT involvement.

Market Study Highlights
Of the organizations interviewed, 75 percent identified social networks as the consumer-based social media tools they primarily use, while roughly 50 percent of the group also identified extensive use of microblogging.

Social networking tools are spreading into core business areas, including marketing, human relations, and customer service. Within marketing and communications, these tools have already become an integral part of early-adopter initiatives.

Small and medium-sized businesses are actively using social networking channels to generate sales leads, but this remains a growth opportunity for larger companies.

Only one in seven of the companies that participated in the research noted a formal process associated with adopting consumer-based social networking tools for business purposes.

Only one in five participants identified any policies in place concerning the use of consumer-based social networking in the enterprise. Within the respondent base, social networking governance typically involves more stakeholders than standard corporate initiatives.

Due to the unstructured nature of social networking, companies continue to struggle with policy creation and adoption, as copying an established governance process from other more structured areas often doesn't work for social networking.

Only one in 10 respondents noted direct IT involvement in externally facing social networking initiatives. Although IT typically isn't involved as a primary decision maker, respondents did recognize the need for these tools to scale and properly integrate with existing business processes to reap maximum benefits.

The new study is based on extensive interviews with 105 participants representing 97 organizations in 20 countries around the globe. Conducted between April and September 2009, the research was carried out by leading business schools in the United States and Europe.