Why More Canadian Businesses Can Now Leverage the Cisco Unified Computing System

Back in March, I wrote about the 5th anniversary of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and the milestones we achieved with our partners and customers across Canada during that time.

Today, I’m excited to share the most significant announcement we’ve made in our data centre business since introducing UCS in 2009 – the expansion of our UCS portfolio.

cisco ucs- powering applications at every scale

Why? Because our expanded portfolio enables more businesses to leverage UCS to manage their rapidly increasing demands for data and applications. And with the introduction of our M-Series Servers for cloud-scale applications and UCS Mini for small-scale and edge environments, UCS – and advanced data management – certainly isn’t for the ‘big guys’ anymore.

And as the UCS general manager for Canada, this announcement is music to my ears. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Students succeed with Cisco!

The last Monday of July, I had the pleasure to talk about Teaching Technology and Technology for Learning at DevTO. I tag-teamed with Shanta Nathwani, who talked about her innovative program blending communication, design, and technology run at Sheridan College in partnership with the University of Toronto at Mississauga. I went second, with the help of Rohan Karamandi, to explain what fascinating projects Sheridan College students have been working on, why they are doing so well, and what opportunities lie ahead of them. The slides and the video recording are available online.
Today, it would be hard to find someone not concerned by the quality of public education. Most of us are mindful of the link between a good education and a strong economy. We’re all talking about student success, in term of higher achievements in school, but also in the job market, whether it is as job seekers or as job creators, energized by an entrepreneurial spirit. Needless to say, I don’t mean to underestimate the other benefits of a good education, which are essential for a strong democracy, as well as for a long, healthy and rewarding life. However, I find that few people are aware of Cisco’s strong commitments to education. Some people don’t even know what Cisco does (not to be confused with “Sysco”, the food company)… I have to thank DevTO for this opportunity to clarify and to explain what Cisco has to offer to students and educators.

Our great story of the day is that Sheridan College is at the leading edge of education, leveraging blended learning, virtual desktop, and collaboration tools, while demonstrating an authentic appetite for learning and doing that inspires students. And it shows on campus. Sheridan graduates created an app that shows real-time queues at Tim Horton’s locations to improve customer experience. Talk to them about making life better!

Marc Lijour, Lead for Cisco’s Business Transformation solutions for the Education Sector in Canada, at DevTO

Marc Lijour, Lead for Cisco’s Business Transformation solutions for the Education Sector in Canada, at DevTO

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Bringing education to rural Canada with “Remote Training Centers”

The success of a country depends on the innovation and productivity achieved in –and generated by– its communities. Communities are the heart of every nation and the people in these communities are the fuel for economic growth and prosperity. Thus, it is easy to recognize that education is a cornerstone of every economy. In a world that is changing rapidly with every passing year (economic shifts, political instability, urbanization, etc.), educational institutions are constantly challenged to stay current and ahead.

Add to this the digital revolution that is affecting all aspects of life and is triggering consequent shifts in the labor markets and goods-based to knowledge and services-based economies. “The skills we need to thrive in the 21st century are changing” – Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Continue reading

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Giving Back with Impact: How Cisco and Our Partners Work Together To Make A Difference In Western Canada

By Dean La Riviere, Director of Partner Operations, Western Canada

Good intentions abound, however it is those that take action who really impact change and showcase what is possible.

In Western Canada, we’ve seen an abundance of initiatives where Cisco and members of our amazing partner community have worked together to make a difference in the lives of others. Here are a few recent projects we’ve been a part of:

- Volunteer Disaster Relief assistance for those affected by last year’s flooding in Southern Alberta

- Working with TELUS in June to raise funds in support of Juvenile Diabetes Research via the ‘Walk to Cure Diabetes’ events across Canada

- Supporting Bell via ‘Clara’s Big Ride’ which heightened awareness of mental health issues impacting all Canadians as Clara Hughes rode across the country

- A screening of the award winning documentary ‘Girl Rising’ to 36 grade nine students from two schools in Calgary to inspire action to get girls into classrooms worldwide. This included local drives to secure money, books and clothing for women’s charities

A screening of Girls Rising we coordinated in Calgary.

A screening of Girls Rising we coordinated in Calgary.

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“Open 24 Hours A Day, Seven Days A Week”: How Virtualization Is Making This Possible For Banks

In the fast-emerging world of being “Open 24 Hours,” financial institutions have the opportunity to simultaneously increase their service capacity, market coverage, operating efficiencies, customer value and revenue.

Having the right people, with the right skills and access to the capabilities that process customer service requests is essential. More importantly, providing your service dynamically, while the customer is engaged in the conversation will set a new standard for customer value and convenience.

What is the secret sauce that will make this possible? To realize this potential, we need to re-orient our models for how we operate, organize, and distribute services to the marketplace.

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Healthcare Optimization: Effective Communication is the Key

Collaboration technologies are a sure way to reduce the delays that afflict the healthcare system.

The continuum of healthcare comprises a series of steps in which several players take turns to provide the patient’s care. Beyond purely medical issues, healthcare systems include a series of processes that require complex logistics.

A patient could, for example, call the Health Information line, where they may recommend that he go to the hospital. He may have to call an ambulance to take him to the emergency room. There, he goes though admissions, which could send him to another department to obtain his hospital card.

More administrative paperwork is required. Among other things, the hospital provides relevant information to his health insurance company and the patient contacts his insurance company to see if certain treatments or services (such as the room and television) are reimbursable. And when the patient leaves the hospital, his case is completed and closed, and then sent to the records department.

When it comes to treatments, the procedures are equally complex. In fact, a multitude of people – nurses, urgent care doctors, family physicians, radiologists, social workers, etc. – intervene, communicating with each other and with the patient and other resources such as homecare, specialists, administrative staff, etc.  Continue reading

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Another busy year of learning

The summer holidays are always a period conducive to meditation and reflection. The world of education evolves very quickly. It is difficult to assimilate fundamental changes, those that will profoundly revolutionize our teaching practices, in the heart of the action, in the midst of the school year. Therefore, the regenerative summer break is the ideal time to calmly review what worked the previous year and what did not work quite as well, to reflect on the causes, to seize the major drivers for change, and to explore new tools and pedagogical practices. In my case, after almost a year at Cisco, it seems important to highlight the questions that deserve more of our attention as educators.

Smart cities and schools

The school board housing inventory is antiquated; consequently, a lot of the energy expended could be reinvested in their modernization. The facilities at the post-secondary level must also adapt to current industry standards. In energy savings alone, it is possible to extract a 20 to 30% margin (for example with Cisco EnergyWise) thus allowing to improve pupil and student experience. Building management offers similar savings opportunities.

At Cisco Canada, we have a very successful global team that is actively involved the world of education (e.g. on the new George Brown campus and on the Carleton University campus). Our VP, Rick Huijbregts, teaches two courses at Harvard this summer. Andy Schonberger has just left Earth Rangers to join our team as an expert consultant in sustainable real estate. We work with architects upstream of the construction project to maximize savings opportunities as well as the intelligence capabilities of construction.

Cisco estimates that, in the next 10 years, the Canadian public sector can recover 92.8 billion dollars in productivity gains and additional revenues (almost twice the amount of our federal budget). A significant share of these profits should come from smart buildings. To this we must add the learning benefits for our students (e.g., sustainable management of the environment, open access to school building data for analysis, programming of the smart environment by students). In addition, certain organizations want to increase their sources of income by offering online courses. Let us invest intelligently to save our money while improving learning and student experience.

Let’s have a conversation about the standard we want to ensure in our schools!

The smart classroom

It is in the classroom that students and teachers spend most of their time. However, this area has not evolved much since Babylon, until now!

Illustration: Collaboration makes its entry into the classroom, after 4,000 years of lecture-style teaching

Illustration: Collaboration makes its entry into the classroom, after 4,000 years of lecture-style teaching

In my previous post, I gave several suggestions to improve collaboration in the classroom using digital media, namely video. The essential idea is that all of these tools work together to create a simple, smart and reliable experience. It is not just about juxtaposing tools that will add complexity to the teacher’s task, but rather to simplify and automate administrative tasks as much as possible in order to allow them to spend as much time as possible with their students. Finally, it is possible to teach in a delightful way!

For example, Cisco and San Jose State University collaborate to offer what is perhaps the largest range of learning experiences to date. Two videos explain the project, the first from an academic perspective and the second from a technical perspective.

The classroom of the future looks a lot like the offices of the future. At Cisco Canada, we design our own offices, which will become a global showcase for innovation. In fact, Toronto will be one of the four multidimensional Internet innovation centers in the world. We invite you to come visit us as soon as we open our doors in Spring 2015! In the meantime, see how Cisco sees the working world in the 21st century and our latest collaborative tools.

In the next posts, we will explore the concept of smart and connected classroom. Feel free to use the thread below to start the conversation today!

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My Experience at the One-Year Countdown to the TO2015 Games

What a day I had on Friday July 11th! I had the privileged honor of unveiling the Cisco TO2015 countdown clock which officially marked the one year countdown to the Pan Am games!

My day started off by bumping in to fellow Cisco colleague Ron Dekker, Cisco Canada VP, as I exited the elevator of the hotel. For those who know Ron, you will agree that his enthusiasm and high spirits got me more excited to be there than I already was before even entering Nathan Philips Square. I then met my fellow clock “unveilers” Melanie Hawkins, Canadian athlete, and Nitin Kawale, Cisco Canada President. To my amazement, Melanie had just competed in the Wheelchair Basketball World championships where Team Canada won the gold medal. Way to go Melanie! Nathan Philips Square was quickly filling up with kids, press, cameras and Torontonians eager to see the clock. The ceremony started, and after a few memorable speeches and a particularly inspirational speech by Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne, Nitin took the stage and introduced Cirque du Soleil. I was fortunate to have a front row seat to watch the amazing acrobatic display which ended with the clock being unveiled. We then all huddled together to take the official first selfie with the TO2015 mascot, Pachi!

First Official Photo

First Official Photo

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Increasing ethics training is the answer to cyberthreats

By Stephen Ibaraki

This article is an excerpt of a larger piece that appears on IT World Canada and is republished with permission.

Over 90 per cent of networks are compromised and this can happen in less than 20 minutes when exposed to the Internet.

Mobile is the focal point of this trend. With embedded computing, the Internet of Things forming the planetary nervous system, a total disruption or failure is possible. Imagine the global economy of 77 trillion dollars dropping to under 10 trillion. Compounding this are the growing privacy breaches and in the wake of HeartBleed, what other vulnerabilities are lurking?

These privacy and cybersecurity failures are one of the symptoms of the digital quake where there are wholesale changes of over 50 per cent of all enterprises and roles. All disappearing! Thus, there is an urgent need for growing professionalism and ethics training.

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Engaging Students in the Classroom with Video

Today’s generation of students are digital natives. Their lives outside the classroom are dominated by the non-stop rich media experiences delivered by video games, smartphones and the Internet. Education has to keep innovating to catch up with its students, particularly in the way it’s delivered, and technology will be one of the most powerful drivers of this evolution. In order to truly engage these students, their learning experience has to match the quality of their personal lives and devices. This realization has been our guiding light in the development of active learning classrooms, to improve classroom experiences for teachers and students. Learning in class should be fun, and technology can help.

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