Meet Cisco Spark

By Dean La Riviere, GM, Collaboration, Cisco Canada

Cisco Spark homepage

Last week at Collaboration Summit in San Francisco, we ushered in a new era of employee communication. As Cisco SVP Rowan Trollope wrote on the Cisco blog:

To get work done, people need to be able to message, meet and call each other without thinking about it and without stopping to consider what device they are using.  Whether they are on a room system, a desktop phone, or a mobile phone, they should all work the same. 

When you get a call you should be able to answer on any of your devices–and if you want to change the device you are using, that should be easy too.  Continue reading

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What is 802.11ac and How Will it Impact your Network?

By Karim Remu, Cisco Canada

This post is second in a series on Cisco mobility solutions.

Keeping up with technology can be difficult for companies of all sizes. At Cisco, we take pride in providing solutions that address the technology needs of all companies. Big or small, we have a right-sized solution to solve your business problem. Take, for example, one looming trend on the IT horizon: 802.11ac.


We’ve been slow to adopt 802.11ac in Canada, but it’s coming – and it’s going to create incredible efficiencies for businesses that send data over wireless networks (i.e. all of them).

So what is 802.11ac? Well, 802.11ac is the latest WiFi standard to be released and is the next step in WiFi’s evolution, taking us past the 1Gbps speed barrier. It is capable of delivering nearly three times the performance of its predecessor (802.11n) through a combination of wider channel bandwidth, more efficient modulation, and taking advantage of wireless spectrum less prone to interference. It’s welcome news for any business who wants to leverage technology to get ahead of their competitor, whether they have 10 or 10,000 employees. Continue reading

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I’m No Scientist

…but I’m not stupid either.

The environment and, more specifically, climate change are among the greatest challenges we face in the world (right up there with economic challenges, political instability, health, safety, and social inequality). It’s no surprise, if we consider the growth of the world’s population over the past hundred years [1927 = 2 billion, 1960 = 3 billion, 1987 = 5 billion, 2015 = 7 billion, and 2050 = 9 billion] and the consequent advances in industrialization to provide for prosperity, comfort and convenience.

Today, approximately 3.5 billion people (~ 50% of world population) live in cities and this is expected to double by 2050. Our cities occupy a small 2% of land but contribute 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The buildings in our cities consume more than 40% of our energy and, in general, popular consensus agrees that at least 30% of this is wasted.

Carbon Dioxide (Co2) accounts for more than 76% of GHG emissions and the remainder consists of methane (51% of which is being produced by cows), nitrous oxide (e.g. fertilizer), and fluorinated gases (e.g. refrigeration). Of all greenhouse gas emissions, 35% is generated by the energy sector, 21% by industry, 14% by transportation, and 24% by agriculture and forestry. Continue reading

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Bringing the Magic of Christmas to Hospitals Across Canada!

Written by: Abhi Gupta – Follow Abhi on Twitter @AbhigupK

Connected SantaChristmas is just around the corner and children around the world are eagerly preparing for their annual visit from their holiday hero- Santa Claus. The highlight for most children is meeting Santa, rather in a mall, at Christmas parties or another type of local event. This is the exciting moment where children get to sit on his lap and share their Christmas wish list. However, the children who are in hospital during the Holiday season, do not get these same opportunities, and miss the chance to meet their beloved St. Nick.

That is why, Cisco, year after year, continuously partners with hospitals across Canada to run Cisco’s Connected Santa program. The goal of this program is to bring the magic of Christmas back to these children and let them meet Santa Claus through the power of technology. Santa visits children in playrooms using Cisco’s personal Telepresence units, a high-definition video-conferencing device that makes the children feel as if they are in the same room as Santa. Those who are not feeling well enough to come to the playroom also do not miss their chance to meet St. Nick. In the spirit of helping Santa reach every child, iPad’s running Cisco Jabber software bring Santa live in real time, to them for a beside visit.

Santa himself is situated in a high definition Telepresence room in Cisco Canada’s Toronto office. The room is decorated to mimic the North Pole. Cisco elves at the hospital learn the name, age, siblings and likes of each child. Through Cisco WebEx Connect IM, a direct messaging tool, they then pass this information to elves in Toronto who are able to brief Santa so that the experience is personalized for every child.

This will be the fourth year I am involved with the Cisco Connected Santa program in Vancouver, BC. For me, this is the “must-do” event of Cisco Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. Seeing the smiles on the children as they spy Santa on the Telepresence unit from afar, or as they are pleasantly surprised to hear Santa already knows their name and that of their siblings, or when Santa comes to their room to visit them, even when they are sick, makes it all worth it. It is a testament to their resilience.

For the children, it brings a small ray of sunshine amongst a painful time. Last year, one child got missed during our visit to BC Children’s Hospital because he suddenly had to go for tests. He was so upset over this that the Director called me and asked if we could make a special visit for him. Luckily Santa was scheduled to visit children in Edmonton the next day so we carved out time to bring Santa to meet that child. The child was overjoyed to meet Santa and was in high spirits the rest of the day.

For the hospital staff involved, this is a bright day too. Staff have confided with us that they try to make sure they are on shift, or around while we are on site so they can see the Christmas sparkle in the children and their family.

This year Connected Santa will be running the week of December 7 at eight hospitals across the country. Cisco elves are gearing up and making preparations to bring the Christmas magic to the sick children. Much like the children who visit Santa in malls, children in these hospitals will be able to talk to Santa and pass their wish list, giving St. Nick enough time to make his list and check it twice!

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Building the Most Innovative Workspace in Canada

By the Cisco Canada Smart Building Digitization Practice

Last week Cisco Canada and its design and construction team were awarded the CoreNet REmmy Innovative Workplace Award (over 20,000 sq. ft.) for our newly constructed Canadian headquarters. The REmmys recognize projects that raise the bar for real estate in Canada, bringing innovation and sustainability to the workplace. It was quite the journey, with the result being an impressive space, but the work is not done yet!

REmmy Blog Post Team Photo

Left to Right: Ron Gordon, Senior Advisor of Smart+Connected Communities; William MacGowan, Director of Smart Connected Real Estate; Andy Schonberger, Business Development for Smart Connected Real Estate.

Continue reading

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Increasing Collaboration with a Connected Workplace Strategy

Earlier this month, I was pleased to participate in a Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) webinar on the opportunities at the intersection of collaboration, office configuration, and workplace strategy. HRPA is a professional regulatory body and the association for more than 20,000 Human Resources professionals in Ontario, and the webinar panel also included Chris Hood, a workplace guru at CBRE, and Michael Gresty, CEO of Rifinity, a business intelligence and software company focused on workplace optimization.

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Introducing Cloud-Scale Networking in a 100G World

A few weeks ago, we announced a transformative technology offering for our service provider customers:  software solutions for cloud-scale networking.

At the time, Cisco’s SVP for service provider, Kelly Ahuja, had this to say about the announcement:

As cloud-based traffic scales, there will be a need for a transformed network and IT architecture and operational model. The new measuring stick for service delivery in the era of digitization is focused on operational efficiency, optimized utilization, and service agility.

 1 Continue reading

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Why Meraki’s Cloud-Managed Fullstack is the only Solution your Business will ever Need

By Karim Remu, Cisco Canada

This post is first in a series on Cisco mobility solutions.

Simplicity. That is what we strive for with every Meraki solution. So if you’ve ever thought Cisco networking solutions were too complex, we’ve got big news for you.

Meraki’s cloud based management provides centralized visibility and control over wired and wireless networking hardware, without the cost and complexity of wireless controllers or overlay management systems. In short, what was once a cloud-managed WiFi offering is now a complete solution with switching, security, iWAN and routing functionality.

In fact, Meraki’s cloud-managed networking solution now provides the tools Canadian businesses require to implement scalable networks…but with dramatically simpler management and powerful network visibility.

Continue reading

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Optimizing your Spark Experience

Author: Nicky Kearns – Follow @ciscokearns on Twitter.

I have had many great conversations with customers, partners and colleagues over the past weeks and months about Cisco Spark. They revolve around two things, what it is and how to best use it. The first part has been well covered in blogs by Rowan Trollope but in essence Spark is a team work application that is transforming the way we communicate and get work done. For the purposes of this blog, I would like to show how I have optimized Spark into a very powerful collaboration tool, to the point that it is now the first thing I look at when coming online in the morning and the last thing I look at as I finish my day.  It’s amazing how quickly my habits have changed.

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Why the Internet is Better than Hover Boards

It is 2015. October 21st. 4:29pm. Many of us are in great anticipation of where and when the DeLorean with Marty McFly will appear. Yes, it’s the year he is coming from the past to save his children… and it just happened to occur during the Jimmy Kimmel show. Notice Marty and Doc Brown’s disappointment as they find out that there are no such things as hover boards or flying cars?

Marty astutely asked “What have you been doing in the past 30 years?”

Well, Marty, let me explain how busy we have been. Continue reading

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