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Vala Afshar
Vala Afshar is the Chief Marketing Officer for Extreme Networks. Afshar is the author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence.

Entries by Vala Afshar

Data-Driven Marketing Drives Customer Advocacy

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 9:06 AM

Data are the foundation of marketing in a digital world. Digital transformation of business processes provides CMOs with the ability to measure results and business outcomes, providing the credibility and proof that's needed for marketing to become a strategic business function. Data-driven processes empower marketers with the necessary business and...

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Leadership Advice From A Farmer, Emergency Response MD, Harvard Professor And Top Healthcare CIO

(0) Comments | Posted October 25, 2014 | 2:02 PM

Only a renaissance man can manage a fully functioning farm, practice emergency response, teach at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and also serve as CIO of one of the top hospital in the world. Dr. John Halamka's 20-year career as CIO of

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How Google Glass Will Transform Healthcare [Slideshare]

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 10:13 AM

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." - Henry David Thoreau

Whether or not by design, Google Glass is revolutionizing the healthcare world. As in fields like higher education, third-party application developers and users are embracing Glass to deliver highly empowering, meaningful Glassware with amazing results. Mark Taglietti, head of ICT delivery services and vendor management at London University College Hospitals says, "Google Glass represents a step change in technical innovation, wearable technology, and the convergence of personal devices in the workplace. The healthcare applications of Glass are wide-ranging, insightful and impactful, from enabling hands-free real-time access to clinical and patient information, to the transmission of point of view audio and video for surgical research and educational purposes. Glass marks the beginning of a truly remarkable journey for technical innovation within healthcare, enabling providers to improve the delivery of care, as well as overall quality and patient experience."

Here and in the accompanying slideshare are fifteen areas in which Google Glass is dramatically changing healthcare.

Virtual Dictation
Physicians typically spend hours each day on patient documentation and electronic health records (EHRs). Augmedix is a Glass application that provides a better way for doctors to enter and access important patient information in real-time without being tethered to a computer. Dignity Health uses Augmedix software and Glass to streamline the interaction between physicians and patients. Doctors can maintain patient eye contact while their conversations are securely recorded along with visual information. The software also makes it easy for doctors to access patient data and conduct searches using simple verbal requests.

The nature of telemedicine is to connect doctors to patients on-demand. The range of telemedicine scenarios is vast. Glass can provide synchronous video conversations with physicians at remote locations. Remotely-conducted procedures can be recorded and embedded in patient records for future reference. With Glass, physicians at rural hospitals can consult with specialists located anywhere in the world in real-time to provide world-class service to their patients. Telemedicine also plays a major role in streamlining care to hospice patients. Care providers can communicate with physicians remotely and proactively monitor patients whose EHRs can be transmitted in real-time. The seemingly high $1,500 price of Google Glass is significantly less than other types of hospital videoconferencing, which can run upwards of $40,000.

Resident Training
The Stanford University Medical Center Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery uses Google Glass in its resident training program. Surgeons at the medical center use glassware from CrowdOptics to train residents on surgical procedures. Fluid communication between surgeons and residents can be critical for improving the procedures. With the CrowdOptics software, surgeons can watch the progress of residents and provide visual feedback on their technique. This is truly like viewing a day in the life from the clinician's perspective.

Augmented Reality
Philips Healthcare uses Google Glass to overlay information directly into the clinician's field of view. The Philips IntelliVue solution allows doctors to monitor patients' vital signs during surgical procedures without ever having to take their eyes off the patient. Augmented reality gives doctors expedited access to the information they need in settings where they need it most. Live streaming of procedures can also be used with augmented reality applications for teaching.

EMS Communications
Google Glass can provide communications with a direct field of view for EMS ambulance staff and emergency department specialists performing triage and assessing acute strokes, heart attacks, and trauma in the field. MedEx Ambulance Service has partnered with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago on a Google Glass implementation for their ambulance fleet. The use of Glass allows EMTs and paramedics to stream images and video from the field to awaiting emergency room physicians who can view the trauma before arrival. Advice, diagnosis and treatment options can be given to the paramedic team from doctors at the hospital who can provide advice, diagnosis and treatment options back to the EMTs. This is especially helpful for more difficult and less frequently-handled procedures.

Surgical Training
Glass can provide a you are there experience to walk students through surgical procedures. Dr. Paul Szotek, MD, of Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital has used Glass to live-stream hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction surgery to an audience of 600 physicians in Las Vegas during the Americans Hernia Society's annual conference. In his live stream, Dr. Szotek removed a rare type of midsection tumor from the patient as well. He was able to summon the patient's MRI and x-ray scans, hands-free, in the midst of the procedure. In the UK, my company, Extreme Networks, is helping one of the largest healthcare trusts use Glass to record surgeries for educational purposes.

Improved Rounds
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has developed custom Glassware that lets doctors scan a QR code on the wall of each room in the emergency department to instantly call up information about the patient. While the clinician examines the patient and performs procedures, Glass displays alerts, vital signs, lab results, and other data.

Improving The Patient Experience
Patient satisfaction as reported by patient surveys is now vital for all hospitals. With Google Glass, patients can get world-class care from the comfort of their homes. Specialists can be summoned remotely by doctors anywhere in the world to offer the best patient experience possible. These five hospitals across the country are pioneering the use of Google Glass in healthcare. The use of Google Glass will provide better-coordinated care and better outcomes with fewer office visits; all while reducing costs.

Procedure Analysis
That which is not measured cannot be improved. With hands-free, augmented point-of-view features, Google Glass enables clinicians to review emergency triage and operating procedures for training and self-assessment. This helps improve accuracy for future procedures as well as reduces the likelihood of mistakes. Glass-based recordings can also provide teaching tools for resident students and a means of compiling best practices for procedures.

Patient Communications
Communication between medical staff and patients is critical. For nurses, patient alarms and communications via Glass will allow a more natural workflow than is provided today with traditional wireless phones and pagers. Clinicians and patients can have uninterrupted communications during office visits. Follow-ups can consist of more efficient remote videoconferencing, rather than requiring onsite visits.

Improved Visibility
In the tight space of a surgical procedure, streaming perspectives via Glass from multiple angles will improve real-time visibility and provide recorded videos for future use. Doctors can broadcast their surgery in real-time to students located remotely in a campus conference room. This gives students much better visibility into the procedure, rather trying to view it from around a crowded operating table.

Telemedicine For Acute Patients
The cloud-based telemedicine platform Twiage is designed to accelerate care to heart attack and stroke patients. By using Glass, Twiage provides hospitals with a complete picture of incoming patients to help in managing resources like operating rooms and hospital beds. The innovative pilot project GRACE by Cronos Group shows how Glass can be used to assess acute patients and relay information to hospital ER teams. Quick access by specialists to the patient is critical in stroke cases. Glass can provide EMS teams with real-time neurological evaluations of stroke patients to improve decision-making and expand the therapeutic window for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an injection for patients suffering from a stroke due to blood clot. CrowdOptic and medical transportation provider ProTransport-1 are making this rapid access time and assessment of acute patients a reality with Google Glass.

Patient Care Instruction
Every patient is unique and seeks medical insight on widely different issues. Clinicians with Glass can improve medical records by logging what has been said to the patients and families during consultations. These recorded patient care instructions can eliminate any chance of the patient forgetting instruction or recalling it incorrectly. There will be no paper trail to lose sight of. California-based Kareo has created an app that offers Google Glass for patient care instruction.

Faster Access to Information
Hands-free access to patient records will allow clinicians to look up vital information without taking their attention away from the patient. Information from patients and doctors can be fed into patient records through Glass. Instead of loading EMRs on a tablet or laptop, the doctor can simply start a conversation with the patient, summon the EMR from Glass, and continue without missing a beat. Faster access to this information means more valuable time with the patient.

Google Glass can insure that the proper processes are followed and that communications are conducted in accordance with hospital policies and government regulations. HIPAA-compliant application developers like Pristine and CrowdOptics are making sure that streaming audio and video across the hospital network through Glass is in accordance with all regulations.

These stories and use cases of Google Glass adoption paint an amazing picture of how the technology is revolutionizing healthcare. Glass provides an open canvas for application developers to shape the future healthcare landscape, and Google Glass is but one of the emerging wearables transforming healthcare.

This post was co-authored by Bob Zemke, Healthcare Solutions Manager, Extreme...

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10 Uses of Drones in Higher Education [Slideshare]

(8) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 8:30 AM

The commercial and private use of drones is soaring. The devices are capturing news video, assisting farmers, filming movies, delivering packages, surveying real estate, recording vacation travel logs, and providing disaster relief. Lux Research projects the market for commercial drones will reach $1.7B by 2025. Each year, $6.4 billion is being spent developing drone technology. As the Internet of Things continues to expand, drones of all sizes are taking their place among IoT devices feeding back torrents of data for analysis.

Along with the drones come new jobs. In the US alone, 70,000 new drone-related jobs are projected within the next three years; 100,000 new jobs are expected by 2025. In order to provide a trained workforce capable of meeting this demand, schools are already jumping in and offering drone programs and degrees.

Brian A. Rellinger, CIO Ohio Wesleyan University has been experimenting with drones on campus to see firsthand how they can used to enhance teaching, learning, research, and service to society. Some OWU students are already bringing drones on campus, further extending the bring your own device concept. I spoke with Brian about all the ways drones can be used for educational purposes. We compiled the list of Ten Uses of Drones in Higher Education below, which is presented in the accompanying slideshare.


Brian Rellinger (Twitter: @rellinb) learning to fly a drone on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University

  1. Enable student projects exploring the intersection between art and technology and research, such as gathering data from sacred forests in Ethiopia, mapping lava flows in Ecuador, and surveying the forest canopy in Costa Rica.
  2. Loan drones to students for checkout and experimentation.
  3. Drones are used to capture unique footage of sporting events.
  4. Create promotional flybys of key campus buildings and features and virtual holiday greeting videos.
  5. Record footage of unique campus events, such as picnics or move-in weekend.
  6. Take unique photographs from hard to reach places.
  7. Facilitate inspections of buildings and monitor construction projects.
  8. Enhance field projects, such as studying wildlife from a distance, and detailed 3D archaeological mapping
  9. Monitor agricultural and environmental conditions
  10. Teach a course on designing and building drones

Drones are also finding their way into K-12 education. The Drones for Schools program is one such K-12 activity. The Greenon High School in Springfield, Ohio, has another program in which students use drone software and perform tasks like mapping out data from a natural disaster and creating a safe evacuation plan.

The cost of drones for educational use ranges from $500 to $3,000 depending on the features, battery life, camera quality, and accessories. They are small and easily transportable, and can fit in a ruggedized hard case for travel. It is possible to utilize open source software for real-time telemetry and to create 3D flight path files viewable with Google Earth, expanding the possible research uses.

Like many new, leading edge technologies, drones come with some concerns. It is important to plan appropriately to achieve a positive outcome. Privacy, policy and the negative connotation of the word drone, are all issues to be considered. Many users of the devices for commercial purposes prefer to call them by other names, including flybot, copter, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), RPA (remotely piloted aircraft), UAS (unmanned aircraft system), unmanned aircraft, or just robot. Understanding the concerns and setting clear objectives are key to successfully using drones on your campus.

On the policy front, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), a leading community-based organization, has provided guidelines. The AMA, established in 1936, 22 years prior to the founding of the FAA, is petitioning the FAA for a reasonable approach to addressing drone usage. In the meantime, the FAA has issued an interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft which may seriously impact the use of small drones by institutions and the general public.

Dr. Coye Cheshire, associate dean and associate professor at University of California Berkeley, who led a drone lab experiment in 2013 found that, "Our students emphasized the fun, creative, social and playful side of autonomous flying devices. They developed ways to navigate the devices by voice commands, to 'air dance' to music, and other creative applications that become possible when you put a bunch of sensors on a quad-copter and tinker with it."

Ohio Wesleyan University senior Andrew Wallace, who purchased his own drone, states, "I think the possibilities are endless. From a marketing standpoint, drones offer a way to see the entire campus in a different way. You can capture almost any outdoor event in a less intrusive manner and in a way that people really get excited about."

In addition to co-author Brian Rellinger, the following people contributed to this post:

The topic of drones in higher education is just beginning to emerge; we would love to hear more ideas on ways drones can be used in higher education. Tweet us at @rellinb, @hamcio, @mzyw, @raidercio, @RHnilsson, @ValaAfshar if you have additional...

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How to Transform from a Digital Laggard to a Digital Leader

(2) Comments | Posted October 12, 2014 | 12:36 PM

These days it is clear to see that the value of data is priceless. The explosion of mobile, social, cloud computing, apps and data has led to unprecedented levels of business process complexity, requiring digital savvy leaders to be informed and adaptable to a new set of consumer research and...

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6 Customer Experience Lessons From a Digital Business Pioneer

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2014 | 12:40 PM

The New England Patriots may be known for their history of winning, but they also have a long history of technology innovation, which started in 1995 when they became the first sports team in the world to have a website. Functioning as the Publisher and Vice President of...

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100 Inspirational Business and Leadership Quotes

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 8:55 AM

Some of the very best business executives, startup founders, venture capitalists, management thought leaders, and bestselling authors regularly share words of wisdom on Twitter. Here are a 100 inspirational business leadership quotes for you to enjoy and share on Twitter:

  1. Having a great idea is important. But having...
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Building the University of the Future

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 12:32 PM

"Higher education is now ground zero for disruption," said Todd Hixon in a Forbes column, questioning the value, cost, and the antiquated business model of higher education. That said, there are a number of brilliant CIOs in higher education who are actively leading digital business transformation projects, aimed...

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Social Media Is A Game Changer For CIOs

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 1:50 PM

Within the past few weeks the ALS Association, a national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's disease, has successfully raised $115 million with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an unprecedented social media phenomena. There is still no end in sight as the total increases daily. Naysayers wonder...

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A Solution To The Massively Disengaged Workforce [Slide Deck]

(1) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 12:46 PM

Several disturbing statistics are plaguing the work force. Worldwide, 200 million people are unemployed; the unemployment rate in the US alone is 6.1%, yet 4.7 million unfilled job openings seek qualified candidates. Even worse, Gallup Worldwide finds that only 13% of those employed are actively engaged at work. Now, help may be on the way - according to an Extreme Networks survey, the rapidly-growing concept of digital badges can addressing some of these challenges.

The use of badges for certification, reward, and motivation is not new, but digital technology is taking badges to a new level, and causing some disruption along the way. Thanks to funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure is providing a technological core for badges, the key ingredient for market disruption as described in Clayton Christensen's "Innovator's Dilemma". As digital badges become established, they will start to displace traditional college transcripts and diplomas, and may enable the long-term restructuring of education.

What exactly is a digital badge?

According to the MacArthur Foundation, badges are "validated indicators of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest." Employers can click through badges to view detailed levels of evidence and explanation, including documents, assessment results, hyperlinks, and video. The Chronicle of Higher Education believes that badges can "act as a transcript, CV, and work portfolio all rolled together into a cool digital package. Even beyond that, badges can structure the process of education itself. Compared with the new open badge systems, the standard college transcript looks like a sad and archaic thing."

Figure 1: Example of a digital badge for MOOC course on wireless technology.

To understand more about the adoption of digital badges both in academia and industry, Extreme Networks conducted a worldwide survey and received over 1900 responses. According to the survey:

  • Digital badges offer two primary benefits: motivation (45%) and recognition of knowledge/skills (43%)
  • While only 38% of those surveyed currently use or plan to use badges, 81% of those who are using badges plan to maintain or increase their badge usage.
  • Of those with no current plans to use badges, the issue is either a lack of resources (44%) or lack of understanding of badges (34%).
  • Most of the respondents (59%) believe badges would have a positive impact on their organization, if they had the ability implement them.
  • Among all respondents, 65% believe the popularity and usage of badges will grow in the future.
  • 61% of those surveyed believe that digital badges will someday replace, or be combined with, college diplomas.
Digital badges are poised to play an important role in an emerging trend in higher education, known as unbundling. Today, universities bundle an extremely diverse array of services into their product. As Michael Staton describes in The Degree Is Doomed, the bundled university product includes courses, academic research, credentials, housing, food, athletic programs, job placement, extracurricular, the arts, study abroad, social life, even rock-climbing walls and European-style bistros. As unbundling occurs, the traditional credentials, including transcripts and degrees, will start to lose relevance. Digital badges give employers easy access to specific and current information pertaining to a candidate's experience and potential. For now, the most popular use of digital badges is to recognize professional development and internal training (70%).

What's holding badges back?

According to the survey, the biggest drawback to digital badges is the lack of wide-spread awareness. Badges are only beginning to get beyond their association with games and marketing. 46% of respondents believe that digital badges are not yet widely recognized and 38% say badges are not yet taken seriously. A sizable portion of badge users (43%) have invested their own resources to implement their badge programs, rather than use a commercially available platform. The top three ways that the concept of digital badges can be improved are: better industry and market recognition and acceptance of specific badges (67%), standardized requirements of criteria for similar achievements (55%), and lower cost systems to implement badges (37%).

One way to position badges away from games and marketing is to give the concept a different name. At UC Davis, for example, the achievements are called "skill qualifications" (SQs) to give them more career relevance and to set them apart from game-oriented achievements.

Today, over 14,000 independent organizations are issuing badges and, based on our survey, this will continue to grow rapidly. The MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the Badge Alliance, have announced the Commitment to Action, a program to use open badges to improve the futures of 10 million students and workers. Here are many of the examples we found of digital badges being used today both in education and across industries. Schools like Carnegie Mellon, MITx and edX, Kahn Academy, Purdue University, Seton Hall, and Yale are all pioneering the use of badges in higher education.

Figure 2: Example of how Extreme Networks uses Chatter to recognize badge awards to employees.

Extreme Networks is a strong believer in the benefits of digital badges. We use the badging system,, to recognize and reward sales development activity. Andrew Bolton, who manages the sales development team, says, "In addition to motivation, badging has helped create and promote a virtual team atmosphere, as everyone on the team tends to comment on or like the badge awards in Salesforce Chatter for our entire sales organization to see."

How to get started with digital badges

If you would like to see how digital badges can help engage employees, recognize professional development or reward achievement here are some steps to follow. First make sure your IT infrastructure is rock solid. To award, view, and share badges, the network and servers in your IT resources must be responsive and always available. There is nothing worse than receiving a badge, but not being able to access or share it.

Appoint a badge leader who will set the types of badges and requirements, the badge infrastructure, and the plan for publicizing each badge achievement. Here are examples of badge platforms: Mozilla OpenBadges, Basno,, Credly, Pearson Acclaim, Achievery, and For All Badges.

Try it out with a small pilot to get the bugs out. Let everyone know what badges they are eligible for and roll out the program. Be sure to give wide visibility to each badge achievement and encourage sharing through social media. Remember that building a culture of collaboration and continual learning is most important. Digital badges can help reinforce a strong culture, but by themselves cannot create it.

This post was co-authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme...

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Reinvent Your Business Model or Die

(2) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 10:03 AM

'Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.' - Seth Godin

One of the key components of transformation and innovation is the business model, and since the ability of companies to transform and reinvent themselves is crucial to their lifeline, I...

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Why Can't Business Applications be as Beautiful as Consumer Software?

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 10:55 AM

Historically, consumer software and enterprise software was a classic case of beauty and the beast, that is until Infor, one of the largest software companies, came along with the mission to differentiate itself in the marketplace by creating business software that is, dare they say, beautiful.


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5 Must-Have IT Skills For The Future of Work

(1) Comments | Posted September 14, 2014 | 10:43 AM

The fact that data has the power to change our business and personal lives has put data science and analytics at the center of how marketing is done. Every digital click, swipe, "like", buy, comment and search produces a unique virtual identity - something that Malcom Frank, EVP...

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8 Entrepreneurship Lessons From a Venture Capitalist

(5) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 12:15 PM

As a venture capitalist with DFJ, lecturer at Stanford and self-proclaimed long time recovering entrepreneur, Heidi Roizen, who was born and raised in Silicon Valley, could teach us a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. She hit the...

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10 Reasons To Use Open Source Software Defined Networking [Slideshare]

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 12:49 PM

Open source software (OSS) now has a permanent role in the enterprise IT world. Gartner forecasts that open-source technology will be included in 85% of all commercial software packages by 2015 and 95% of mainstream IT organizations will leverage some element of OSS. One of the fastest growing segments within open software is Software Defined Networking (SDN), which simplifies IT network configuration and management by decoupling control from the physical network infrastructure. The SDN market is projected to surge from $360M to $3.52B in 2018.

To understand more about open source SDN and why it is growing so quickly, I spoke with Neela Jacques, executive director of OpenDaylight. Neela works closely with the developer and user communities to advance SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). The range of software companies participating in OpenDaylight account for 95% of the entire SDN market. Neela and I took a look at the data on OSS and consolidated all the reasons that people use open source software for SDN into a top ten list.

Neela Jacques (Twitter: @NeelaJacques), executive director, OpenDaylight

An important source of data on OSS usage is the Future of Open Source survey by Michael J. Skok, partner at North Bridge Venture Partners. Michael is a strong proponent of OSS and shared his views on the CXOtalk panel at CIO Magazine's CIO Perspectives event in Boston. His annual survey provides a view into the current state of the open source industry and an analysis of future trends. This year, 1240 people representing vendors and users from a cross-section of industries completed the survey.

According to the survey, the number one reason companies choose open source software is quality. In fact, eight out of ten users of OSS made their decision based on quality. The more eyes on the source, the higher the quality, and today over 10 million people are contributing to OSS. This also has an impact on security; users now view open software as more secure than proprietary software.

Here are the top 10 reasons to use open source SDN.

1. Better Quality Code. 80% of open software users chose to do so based on quality. Removing company boundaries and allowing any developer to participate, debate, compromise and inspire each other is why code written in open source communities is of higher quality and doesn't degrade in quality over time. (Note: Debate and challenges are overcome by using code. Leave badges at the door.) Linux is now the benchmark for code quality; open source software quality outpaced proprietary code for the first time in 2013 - Coverity Report 2013

2. Rapid Innovation. Imagine being able to roll out services and products without worrying about the network. Having more control of your network via open SDN means you can innovate independently of hardware and software. Your ability to build new products or services increases dramatically to focus on what matters most. Companies get involved in collaborative software development to advance business objectives and to benefit from industry innovation. 91% of business managers and executives surveyed ruled collaborative software development from somewhat to very important to their business. Nearly 50% of business managers said they got involved in collaborative development because it allows them to innovate or help transform their industry - Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report 2014

3. Security. Although security may have once been viewed as a weakness for open software, it certainly is not today. In the 2014 Future of Open Source - 8th Annual Survey, 72% said they specifically chose open source because of security. This has to do with the transparency of open source as well as the scrutiny it receives from all its users.

4. Community. Open source has the power to build communities of people who believe in the technologies and are passionate about seeing them come to light. The many are smarter than the few--anyone can participate regardless of affiliation, adding to the collective brain trust to overcome an industry's toughest challenges together. It not only makes individuals smarter, but also companies who benefit from a much larger R&D effort. 50% of corporations contribute to open source, and 56% say that they will increase their contributions this year. Individual developers and businesses both benefit from the trend toward collaboration. 83% of software developers said they benefitted personally from collaborative development through exposure to new tools and development practices. More than 77% of business managers said collaborative development practices have benefited their organizations through a shorter product development cycle/faster time to market. - Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report 2014

5. Freedom. You are not beholden to any one vendor's roadmap, vision or timeline. If you need to change a feature, migrate or roll out new services, you can do that by participating in the open source community and being part of the change. The ability to access source code, add features, and fix code yourself is the number four reason users choose to use open software. 95% want open source in their SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solutions. It represents to them greater choice, more functionality and interoperability, and lower costs. - OpenDaylight Survey 2014

6. Adaptability. While 63% of technology startups fail within 4 years, open source is not tied to any one individual vendor. Over 1,000 companies have contributed to Linux. The open source development model allows software to adapt quickly to changing times. Legacy and emerging protocols can be implemented if so desired. Open source SDN can evolve as the industry does.

7. Choice. There is no silver bullet in networking. A variety of solutions are used to solve different needs. With open SDN, users can pick what works for them versus the one-size-fits-all approach of proprietary software. Today there are over 1 million open source projects with over 100 billion lines of code with 10 million people contributing.

8. Interoperability. Most businesses use solutions from more than one vendor to fill their needs. A common, open source platform means solutions can be interoperable and you can choose the right solution versus getting locked-in to a single solution that doesn't meet all of your needs. Choose the right solution versus getting locked-in to a single solution.

9. De-Facto Standards. Open source dovetails nicely with standards efforts. By speeding software development cycles, open source solutions become de facto standards that dovetail nicely with standards efforts. Over 100 additional companies join the Linux effort each year.

10. Maximize Return on Spend. It not only costs less up front, but it's easier to scale over time versus a proprietary system that adds more cost and complexity as it grows. Avoid costly vendor lock-in. The 2014 Future of Open Source found this can be a top reason for moving to open source software. According the survey, 68% find that open source helps improve efficiency and lower costs.

My own company, Extreme Networks, firmly believes in the benefits of open source and has committed to OpenDaylight as the platform to enable and drive SDN. To further encourage innovation on the OpenDaylight SDN platform, together with US Ignite we have launched the SDN Innovation Challenge, which will award prizes for SDN applications that make a difference in the areas of education, public safety, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation, e-government, the Internet of Things, and clean energy.

For more on the topic of open source software, see my discussion with Brian Stevens: Red Hat CTO: 5 Business Benefits of Open Source Software. In this interview, Brian describes how CIOs can improve openness, collaboration and innovation with...

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5 Trends Shaping the Future of Work

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 12:20 PM

Since the dawn of business there has been a certain style of how and when work should be done. It flows from the top down: beginning with the organization, to the managers, and then employees. In this case organization refers to C-level executives and key stakeholders; those at the very...

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GE CDO: Use Data to Deliver Better Customer Outcomes

(0) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 2:21 PM

In our data-driven culture, organizations run the risk of collecting data for data's sake. Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer and GM of Commercial Software & Analytics at General Electric (GE), says companies need to go from being data obsessed to actually using data to power new solutions and...

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NFL CIO: Quarterbacking A Digital Revolution

(1) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 2:41 PM

As Senior Vice President and CIO of the most popular U.S. sports league, Michelle McKenna-Doyle is transforming the National Football League (NFL) to bring technology out of the data center and onto the field and into the locker rooms and hands of millions of fans across...

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The Internet of Things 2014 [Slideshare]

(3) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 8:21 PM

Responding to her Friday morning alarm, Stacey gets out of bed. Simultaneously, items throughout her house begin preparing for the day. Although it is cloudy outside, the interior is lighted with tones of a beautiful sunrise, per Stacey's personalized lighting scheme. The water heater makes sure the shower will be to her preference. When she enters the bathroom, her motion starts coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in the microwave.

As Stacey eats breakfast, her caloric intake is monitored. The morning headlines and stories are projected onto the wall next to the table. A green indicator says every device in the house is working perfectly, although she would have been notified before anything had come close to malfunctioning, and a repair order would have been automatically issued. The display lets her know that her trip to work today will take 37 minutes via an alternate route due to heavier than normal traffic on her usual route.

Before she leaves, Stacey thinks about dinner. The display says she should have the chicken tonight or it may spoil. Her phone beeps and tells her that the grill needs a propane tank refill. She hits "auto" to arrange the soonest possible refill delivery based on when her schedule indicates she will be home and able meet the delivery.

Stacey gets in her car which has already been brought to her ideal interior temperature. The car automatically exits her driveway, at the first available gap in traffic. According to the car's display, her trip today will cost more than usual due to the congestion toll on the alternate route. She realizes she could have avoided the extra toll by leaving a little earlier.

When Stacey arrives at work, she glances at her large office display and sees that all plant processes are functioning normally. The display reminds her of the SETI project, but instead of searching for intelligent life in the universe, the programs running behind the scenes are analyzing and displaying rivers of data generated throughout the plant to discover any anomalies, unusual resource needs, overages, or special opportunities.

With the exception of the autonomous car, all the underlying capabilities described above exist today and are part of the Internet of Things. What does not yet exist, though, are the software and services to aggregate and manage the discrete capabilities to make them commercially available.

Defining the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is simply a concept wherein machines and everyday objects are connected via the Internet. Within the IoT, devices are controlled and monitored remotely and usually wirelessly. IDC predicts that the IoT will include 212 billion things globally by the end of 2020. That sounds like a big number, but for context, in 2014 there are over 10 quadrillion ants on the planet. Although ants are not yet members of the IoT, Wifi-connected bees are now in development to help with pollination. MIT is working on smart sand that will be able to move and duplicate 3D objects, and Harvard has already developed 1000-robot swarms. Throw in smart dust motes and IDC's 212 billion IoT device estimate begins to look conservative.

The Depth and Variety of Internet Things

Not long ago, devices on the Internet had to be wired to a fixed location. One of the important drivers behind the Internet of Things is how easy it has now become to wirelessly connect mobile items to the Internet via WiFi, Bluetooth, or proprietary wireless communications protocols.

Smart IoT devices include everything from structural health monitors for buildings to smart egg trays that know how many eggs you have and how old they are. Home automation devices include Google's Nest, and two competing families of home and healthcare IoT systems: ZigBee and Z-Wave. The Vessyl smart drinking cup that monitors exactly what you are drinking, the HAPIfork tracks your eating habits, and the Beam tooth brush reports on your brushing history.

Wearables range from the popular fitbit athletic tracker to smart watches, smart clothes, and biologically- embeddables including pacemakers and glucose monitors.

Although cars may not yet be autonomous, new models have many Internet-addressable capabilities including remote start, remote climate control, location tracking, as well as the currently-latent ability to track many of your driving habits. Every time you hear a warning beep, another item of data is recorded.

Almost anything can now be connected to the Internet of Things via wireless sensors, such as the Node+ series, which measure temp, color, CO2, and other metrics.

Displaying all the data and video

It is one thing for IoT devices to generate data, but another to store and display it all. Although any Internet-connected display can be used with IoT data, the smartphone may be the most common display and control device, and in many ways is driving IoT innovation. Still, the range and diversity of display devices is exploding in the same way all IoT devices are multiplying. Need a larger display? Switch to Apple TV or Google Chromecast. Need hands-free? Switch to Google Glass or your smart watch or ring. Research is underway to communicate directly to your visual cortex and auditory brain.

After her workday, Stacey gets back home and she feels like getting some exercise. A glance at her phone tells her that during the day she consumed 700 more calories than her fitbit has recorded her burning. As she gets on her treadmill, it automatically, but safely starts up her workout.

Her phone beeps to remind her that her son is swimming in the Oahu North Shore Open Water swim in 15 minutes. She really wants to watch it live, so she activates her druper app that allows her to rent almost anything, anywhere at any time. She rents and dispatches a drone with a camera from a depot in Oahu and gives it the swim course coordinates. The live image from the drone is projected on a nearby wall.

The phone beeps again, this time indicating a text from her sister, "I've just landed Pearl Jam tickets for tomorrow night, NYC! Meet me at my apartment ASAP." This instantly becomes her highest priority, so she does three things. She requests transportation through an Uber-like service to NYC where her sister lives. She sets everything in her home to "idle" status, and clears her calendar. The latter two operations have been preconfigured and are triggered by a single message. Before she leaves the house, she switches the display of video feed from the Hawaiian drone to her Google Glass, so she'll have an uninterrupted view of her son's race.

As her trip to NYC begins, she receives an ominous warning regarding her diabetic father's glucometer. All readings are normal, but the anti-virus monitor has detected an attack...

What are the consequences of the Internet of Things?
The benefits, based solely on products that exist today, let alone the unimagined combinations of emerging capabilities, are tremendous. More than ever the smartphone has become the remote control for life. Data is available at your fingertips on everything imaginable. But there are a number of challenges and disruptions ahead. These challenges include technical issues, business issues, requirements for new and evolving skill sets, legal and legislative difficulties, and social complexities.

Unbundling and Aggregation One of the most disruptive aspects of the IoT is that it enables near-complete unbundling and almost-arbitrary aggregation of all conceivable products and systems. The process of unbundling and aggregation is not entirely new, but the IoT takes it to a new and more accessible level.

Historical examples of unbundling include the MP3, which unbundled individual songs from complete CD albums. Blogs unbundled individual articles out of complete newspapers. Earlier on the technology timeline, IBM had sold completely bundled computing solutions that included all software and services, until DEC came along and successfully sold smaller, unbundled computers to which you could add your own software and services. AOL successfully sold an aggregated online product, until the Internet provided easy access to all the individual content.

Over the last thirty year, there has been a pattern of aggregation, followed by unbundling, followed by re-aggregation. As DEC started to aggregate their products back together, Microsoft and Intel offered a new unbundled computing approach. Apple and Google offered unbundled versions of Microsoft's aggregations. The process continued with Whatsapp, Instagram, and Twitter unbundled messaging, photo sharing, and status updates from Facebook. The ultimate unbundled product today may be Yo, described as a one-bit communication app, whose sole capability is to send the message, Yo, to predefined recipients, triggering predefined activities through aggregating apps like IFTTT.

Occulus Rift is an aggregated full-immersion virtual reality display, that creates virtual worlds that are so realistic users have been known to rip it off their head in terror. Google provides an unbundled version of these capabilities, called Google Cardboard, that you assemble yourself using your smartphone, VR apps and a Bluetooth game controller.

The ultimate unbundling, still well over the horizon, is programmable matter, in the form of buckminsterfullerene (bucky-balls) or nanotubes, which can be theoretically combined into any shape and function.

IoT Challenges and Opportunities

Just as with technology revolutions of the past, including the telegraph (1840s), railroads (1880s), and the early days of the Internet itself (1990s), the IoT creates revolutionary opportunities both for businesses and individuals. Those who understand the underlying IoT fundamentals, possess the needed skills, and can meet the technical challenges will have a major advantage.

Business Opportunities
The IoT offers several major categories of opportunities. First there are the basic components and devices that connect to the network via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The next level includes entirely new aggregated products and systems that combine these devices in new ways, like home management systems. The third level and by far the largest and fastest growing consists of all the services providing customized solutions to businesses and consumers. These include data analysis services to help make sense of the vast amount of Big Data generated by the IoT. Of the >$1 trillion IoT market predicted for 2020, 58% is made up of managed services, with the other 43% going to enablement hardware (4%) and network services (39%).

The IoT gives businesses new ways to instantly connect with customers. Just as Airbnb opened up the concept of renting homes and rooms over the Internet, all sorts of Internet devices and services can now be rented on demand, for example drones and robots. Doublerobots is already offering their robot for remote test driving via the web.

All existing businesses must understand the impact of the IoT on their operations and rethink their business models. Business models are shifting from discrete product sales, to recurring revenue models. The IoT provides the opportunity, rapidly evolving into the need, to monitor and respond to customers in near realtime. Individual products no longer exist in a vacuum; interactions among devices from multiple sources and vendors must be understood and taken into account. The battle over the concept of the home command center between Nest/Google, Wink/Quirky, Homekit/Apple, Insteon, Smartthings, and Revolv is an example of companies trying to gain control over an important segment of the IoT.

Products and bundles can be remotely reconfigured and repaired quickly. Customers can be provided with tools to do their own reconfiguration. Ultimately, adaptive systems will reconfigure themselves to customer needs. Agile businesses that can customize and personalize their products to their customers' immediate needs have a strong advantage.

Insurance concerns and opportunities; example autonomous cars, but also data will make it easier to assess risks; opportunity for new pricing models: insurance premium tuning based on health and driving data

The Internet of Things is bringing changes to government. On the municipal scale, San Francisco has already implemented SFpark, which enables drivers to locate open parking spaces with a smart phone app and also pay through the app. Parking fees vary by block, time of day, and day of week. A new era of congestion pricing is being ushered in for state highways.

Technical Concerns
Participation in the IoT begins with a solid network infrastructure so that all the things, devices, phones, displays, and controllers, can easily communicate. Wi-Fi is an important means to provide wireless connectivity. Today, access is provided by 802.11n or 802.11ac standard access points. Chips are now in development for 802.11ah, a lower power standard to meet the needs of future IoT devices.

Because it is easy to bring so many devices of a wide variety into the range of a Wi-Fi network, it is extremely important for the network to handle high volume and density of the devices, and to be capable of discriminating between permitted and rogue devices. The whole concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) takes on new meaning with the enormous range of mobile and wearable IoT devices. Each device is capable of generating an enormous amount of data that must be stored, protected, and analyzed.

Gartner predicts that by 2017, users will download 268 billion apps, half of them to wearable devices. Users will be providing personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day. It is important for businesses to understand these application and data flows and be able to identify bottlenecks.

Powering the mobile sensors and controllers presents a challenge. Batteries must be kept small, but still provide a usable life between charges. Research into the concept of the ambient energy harvesting, that is, using readily-available ambient heat, light, vibrations, even jaw bone motion to power IoT devices, will have strong benefits to the IoT.

Security Concerns

The recently reported breaches are indicative of the need for overall better protection of sensitive online personal data. The IoT puts many more doors on the Internet that need to be securely locked and monitored. Early this year, Proofpoint, a security-as-a-service vendor, issued a report stating that 750,000 phishing and SPAM emails had been sent by home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions, and refrigerators.

The massive Target breach was caused by a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company. Stealing personal data and corporate data is bad enough, but the prospect of hacking into life support systems and even embedded medical devices is life-threatening.

Social and Legal Concerns

All the new streams of data becoming available on the Internet raise difficult privacy and moral issues that are only starting to be addressed. Who owns the video streaming in from Google Glass and the healthcare-related date streaming from other wearables? What happens when autonomous devices run amok?

The IoT encourages a new level of outsourcing, and with it concerns about service availability, response times, issues of scalability, price structure issues, defining project completion, and intellectual property ownership.

How Can You Prepare?

The growth of Internet of Things opens up opportunities for businesses and people with the right skills. These skills include network design, data analysis, data security, and engineering. Mckinsey projects the need for 1.5 million additional managers and analysts "with a sharp understanding of how big data can be applied" in the United States. Gartner has predicted there will be 4.4 million global big data jobs by 2015, only one-third of which will be filled.

And finally, the IoT is opening up new avenues for humor: Near Future Laboratory "offers" surplus networked pillows, weather-sensing hair extensions, and the MeWee Monitor through their TBD Catalog, which the company describes as "a printed catalog you ritually pick up every morning to browse on your mostly boring, everyday ordinary driverless commute."

This post was co-authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme...

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