November 8, 2016 4:25 pm

A/V’s Important Role in Cybersecurity

Several months ago, I was having lunch with the CIO of a large financial firm in NYC and was reminiscing about the “old days” of when he was my customer.  In passing, I discussed the Acano acquisition by Cisco, bringing the most flexible and expandable software-based conference bridge under our roof.  Imagine my surprise when he replied that he would only be interested in new technology if it was offered as a cloud service!  Being the CIO of one of the world’s largest financial firms, I would have bet my house that security concerns would prevent him from looking toward the cloud.  Here he was as a friend, not a client, and he was insisting that even the financial sector would not be able to remain 100% on-premise for long.  What’s changed and where are we headed?

We’re living in a time when the largest growing taxi company on earth owns no cars, the largest growing retail provider owns no brick-and-mortar stores and the largest growing hotel company doesn’t even own a bed, let alone a hotel.  Everything is done and controlled in the cloud.  Fortune 500 companies have toppled and these new, nimble and flexible companies are eating their lunch.  One needs to look within and ask, “Are we Netflix or are we Blockbuster?”  We can’t simply stop on a dime; we need to evolve to where we want to be.

To that end, we look at Cisco’s Expressway offering an advanced Gateway for simple and highly secure Collaboration.  Remember in 2013, NSA agents allegedly succeeded in getting into the UN video conferencing system and cracked its coding, according to leaked secret documents.  Several agencies of the United Nations then implemented the Cisco Expressway C and E, which was the secret sauce Cisco purchased when it acquired Tandberg.  Many sectors of the US Federal Government use this solution as well.  It works with all flavors of Cisco Unified Communications Manager allowing for mobile and remote access, B2B and B2C Collaboration with interoperability and interworking between various protocols, devices and technologies.


Figure 1 illustrates a deployment with Cisco Expressway-C and Expressway-E forming a highly secure traversal link that can enable video, voice, content, instant messaging, and presence collaboration outside the firewall.  Cisco Expressway works with most firewalls and complements existing security policy, requiring only minimal firewall configuration.

Figure 1.      Cisco Expressway Series Deployment

Therefore, with the Expressway technology in place, my CIO friend can take advantage of Cisco Custom Meeting Rooms – 100% in the cloud!  It used to be that people had to really decide how they were going to meet.  Would it be a video call?  If so, what location?  How do you connect?  What if I don’t have video?  Would it be a WebEx call?  What if I can’t get to a computer?  Would it be an audio call, especially if you’re in the car or on the go?  Audio calls just don’t get the most interaction.  With Cisco’s CMR, one set of instructions would allow anyone to join from anywhere using whatever device they have!  But, I have Polycom Systems?  Come on in!  I have Microsoft Lync or Skype4Business?  Come on in!  I want to use WebEx?  Sure thing!  Hey, I have an Android, or iPad or just a cellphone … all are welcome!  One set of instructions will make having meetings easier allowing you to concentrate on the reason for the call – not wasting time trying to figure out how to dial in!

Which brings me back to why I joined the Collaboration space in the first place in 2000.  I was at a children’s hospital selling my long-distance service when a panic-stricken nurse in the vestibule was looking for an Italian-speaking translator.  Seeing the frantic back-and-forth pacing, I volunteered as Italian is my first language.  She brought me into a room where a doctor was watching a live surgery of a 12-year old boy in Italy via videoconference, where they had just removed a tumor from the child’s tongue, but they couldn’t stop the bleeding.  The doctors were at an impasse due to the language barrier – I was at the right place at the right time and helped them through it.  A week later I was invited back in where I met the boy and his parents via video.  As a father, a son and especially as a technologist the experience changed my life.  What we do does impact people’s lives on the planet – we make the world a bit smaller.  Back then, it was a difficult and expensive ISDN call.  Because of the ease of use and low cost of IP video combined with the prevalent use of consumer FaceTime, Skype, OoVoo, Google Hangouts and the like, the use of video is now pervasively used in every boardroom, every desktop and in every pocket and it has done much to shape the face of the planet.  The Millenials coming in expect to use video as a matter-of-fact, it is not just for the elite.  And Cisco, especially with our secure Expressway technology and secure call encryption, sits front-and-center as this new universe unfolds.

Instead of ‘saying hello’ – we’ll be ‘seeing hello’ safely and securely!

Gerry Genna
Collaboration Partner Business Development Manager, Cisco


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