ITEXPO is just around the corner. We invite you to join us this fall in Austin, Texas, to take part in the many educational, marketing and networking opportunities this TMC (News - Alert) event provides.
Keynote speakers at ITEXPO West include Chris Hummel, chief commercial officer with Siemens Enterprise Communications, and David Tucker, vice president and general manager of the Small Business Unit at Cisco (News - Alert), both of whom will give afternoon addresses on Oct. 3, as well as Robert B. Carter, executive vice president of information services and CIO with FedEx, and Raymond P. Dolan, president and CEO at Sonus Networks (News - Alert), who are scheduled for Oct. 4.
TMCnet recently interviewed David Tucker, vice president and general manager of the Small Business Unit at Cisco, to get a sense of what he will discuss during his ITEXPO keynote speech. The planned theme for his talk, he says, is how small businesses can leverage new communications technologies to their benefit.
“Small businesses are generally the first to ride the wave of change that technology transitions provide, such as cloud applications, bring your own device, social communications, mobility and IP telephony,” Tucker said. “It’s about enabling the small business owner to do more with less people and fewer dollars. The trick to serving small businesses is providing very simple products to deploy and manage, with sophisticated functionality under the covers.”
Cisco’s Small Business Unit addresses switching, routing, storage and WLAN. Tucker said that the focus on small business continues to be a priority at Cisco in terms on not only product development, but how the company takes the product to market and builds small business-focused solutions for its partners and customers.
“On the product side, we develop products that are purpose-built for small, not scale enterprise solutions down,” said Tucker. “A complete portfolio is critical to our growing success and focusing on how small business customers can easily and securely leverage mobility, cloud, voice, video and social networking trends and opportunities.”
When asked what interesting and innovative things are happening in switching and routing as they relate to small business, Tucker responded: “With regard to switching, as 5G and 10G interfaces become more affordable we will see more switches in the small business area with these interfaces which allow the connection of server and storage solutions at a very high speed, and also prepares the network to be fully ready for Wireless N speed and beyond (802.3ac). Switches for small business customers have become quite intelligent and play a key part in the network. A managed small business switch can be auto-provisioned, which is an important role for network security. Additionally, ports can be authenticated and set-up dynamically based on the connected device and/or user which enable features like network-wide voice and video settings.”
“The router is a key component in the network, playing a crucial role in security and network access. Trends in the routing segment are growing in regard to security, VPN, multiple WAN and GB. On the security front, routers will provide small businesses more than the basic firewall functionality, for example some models will feature full unified threat management functionality. VPN is a safe and secure way to access the company network from anywhere and from any device which is a key factor in all BYOD strategies. Multiple WAN options include 3G/4G (LTE (News - Alert)) ensuring that the company is always connected – a major factor when it comes to cloud-based services. Gigabit interfaces is another trend as a fully GB network is currently more affordable than ever. Of course, not to be forgotten, the router is essential in provisioning other devices on the network.”
Tucker noted that another switching and routing trend is application awareness.
“With UTM and wireless, it is all about being application aware, as devices are increasingly claiming they can block, limit and prioritize applications,” he said. “Closely related, businesses want to increase productivity by booking or limiting social media interactions and shopping. Within the LAN, switches can enforce that priority giving applications the right experience. Switches can identify various endpoints, such as phones, present and automatically instruct these devices how to set the voice traffic and enforce it.”
More compliance requirements are also appearing, he said.
“For the payment industry, there is PCI-DSS compliance, in the medical industry there is HIPAA and for U.S. public schools and libraries there is Children's Internet Protection Act,” he said.
Of course, he noted the proliferation of wireless devices.“There are handful of apps and solutions that can turn your mobile device into a POS terminal which is an extremely functional feature for small businesses,” he said. “Additionally larger retailers, such as grocery stores and home improvement warehouses are increasingly using wireless scanning to quickly help customers via a mobile device. As this wireless POS technology becomes more advanced and affordable, small businesses will increase their use of mobile devices, but security in the infrastructure becomes increasingly important. This is where advanced capabilities such as ACLs and IP Source (News - Alert) Guard, help to protect the network from external malicious attacks.”
He mentioned that networks have become mission critical for business. “Without a secure and reliable network connection in place, many small businesses simply can’t function,” he said. “As such, business are willing to invest in redundant Internet connections, such as cable and xDSL, to ensure they always have their network connectivity should their preferred connection fail.”
And he pointed to the trend toward big data.“We are hearing a lot about big data these days,” he said. “The term big data draws a lot of attention, but behind the hype there's a simple story. For decades, companies have been making business decisions based on transactional data stored in relational databases, but beyond that critical data is a potential treasure trove of less structured data such as weblogs, social media, e-mail, sensors and photographs that can be mined for useful information. The challenge for small businesses is they have big data coming at them, without the data center to collect and analyze the information in house. Small businesses are interested in the new possibilities that cloud and cloud-based services can provide. The advantage for small business is that they now have access to highly sophisticated systems without needing them onsite. This allows small business customers to focus on their business and not on maintaining IT systems.
Of course, BYOD and mobility are also front and center at most businesses these days.
“The BYOD trend is not limited to a certain company size as this is something we see in both small businesses and the enterprise,” he said. “In fact, many employees in today’s small businesses are already using their own devices. The benefits for small businesses include increased productivity and employee satisfaction by being able to use their preferred device. But, as the number of devices on a network increases so does the demand for ensuring that only certain devices can access specific data. For the small business, single user policies, threat management security at the edge and hotspot technologies are critical.
“Small businesses are the definition of mobility and creating networks easily that link office to home to mobile device securely is critical for scaling and offering the ability to work anywhere, anytime,” he added.
To find out more about David Tucker, Vice President and General Manager Small Business Business Unit (SBBU), and Cisco, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Tucker will be a keynote speaker at the event. For more information on ITEXPO West 2012 click here.
Edited by Brooke Neuman