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