The technology application logic behind “mixed office”

With the noise of the alarm clock, while getting up and taking a shower, turn on the computer to connect to the Internet; after breakfast, put on wireless headphones, log in to the Internet conference room, and start the day’s work… This may be the most recent two years for millions of office workers. Familiar working conditions.

Due to the requirement to maintain interpersonal distance due to the new crown epidemic, the office scene of office workers has changed from a centralized office in the office to a decentralized office mode at home-this makes the remote office mode only applicable to individual functional personnel (sales personnel, field service personnel, etc.) in the past. , has gradually become one of the “new normal” office models covering all functional personnel, together with centralized office, known as hybrid office.

It is not difficult to understand: the hybrid office model is not only the core of the intrinsic value of the enterprise challenging the traditional enterprise management structure, management model and enterprise operation model; more enterprise managers consider more, it is the hybrid office model to the enterprise’s IT capabilities. Challenges: Will employees working from home have the same work experience as before, with secure access to the corporate network, and access to relevant corporate operational data and necessary applications? Can collaboration technologies be used to achieve the same efficiency as a centralized office in the past to maintain business continuity and the necessary resilience to shocks?

If these IT requirements for hybrid office are divided into employees (2C) and enterprises (2B): then for employees, they need a collaboration technology that can maintain the previous work efficiency; Network and security considerations in the enterprise IT architecture occupy more weight – the requirements of the two need to be unified on the same platform, so as to reduce the long-term operation and maintenance difficulty of enterprise users.

“Cisco-defined hybrid or telecommuting models can help optimize the application experience across a variety of workplaces, ensuring that employees can work from home or anywhere with the same security and the same experience as in the office.” In mid-November 2021, Cisco announced several major innovations in its Webex ecosystem. And mentioned that in the past 12 months, Cisco has launched more than 1,000 innovative Webex functions, and this time it has launched a more comprehensive end-to-end hybrid work mode solution for enterprise users. Hou Shengli, vice president of Cisco Greater China and general manager of Cisco’s pre-sales engineer team, emphasized in an interview that, as an enterprise originating from network technology, all Cisco’s technology and product innovations for the hybrid office model are based on the network and security. As a principle, in order to meet the needs of both employees and enterprises at the same time.

The innovative Webex function launched this time allows employees to further enhance the application experience of collaboration technology in the hybrid office mode.

Immersive hybrid office
“Cisco believes that there are five essential elements that must be realized in the hybrid office.” Luo Qi, general manager of Cisco’s China Collaboration Division, said in an interview that the five basic elements include flexibility and ease of use, inclusiveness and equality, caring support, security, and easy management. Requirements, in fact, reflect the focus on collaborative technology from employees and enterprises.

Combined with the newly released Webex innovative functions, Luo Qi emphasized that the new Webex functions increase the interoperability function with some commonly used third-party video platforms/applications in the market, ensuring seamless collaboration for users on their preferred platforms and devices. “At present, for meetings on the popular third-party conference platforms, through customer-defined icons, one-click dial-up can be realized on Webex series terminals at any time to quickly join the third-party cloud conference platform; and for individual users, they also The option to place Cisco’s new conference desktop endpoints in your own home creates a collaborative workspace of your own… all while maintaining the flexibility and ease of use that Webex stands for.”

Regarding inclusiveness and equality, Luo Qi believes that Cisco emphasizes that every participant in the collaboration can be treated fairly and encourages everyone to have the opportunity to participate together. “Statistically, in a meeting, 48% of the people don’t speak. If you just pick up a voice to participate in the meeting instead of interacting, people may not be too involved in the meeting. Studies have shown that 7% of information is transmitted by text; 38% of information is transmitted by voice and intonation; the remaining 55% is transmitted by interaction, body, expression, etc.” And the basis of all this is the need for users to have a An immersive experience with “immersive” images, video and sound.

Ma Zhi, Technical Director of Cisco Greater China Collaboration Division, demonstrated the industry’s first Cisco Webex Room Panorama (translated as Panoramic Telepresence in Chinese), the industry’s first flagship product of Cisco. The conference room equipped with this system can provide employees with more immersive experience. Experience: “We can see more details of participants from different places. At the same time, this system has 4K ultra-clear resolution, showing every detail of the image files and screen displayed by users – which is very important for manufacturers such as manufacturing It is very valuable for users in industries such as industry and medical care.” Ma Zhi also showed a new portable Webex Desk Mini suitable for home office use: “You can easily take it anywhere: you can even carry it It goes to the kitchen, the living room, because it only needs one power cord, and it can solve all the meeting problems of the user at any time.”

Ma Zhi also introduced other capabilities of Webex in video image and sound processing: for example, Webex can extract the images of all participants individually and put them in a layout. “This is achieved using Cisco’s latest AI chip built into the device, which allows us to really pay attention to everyone, see everyone’s expressions, and understand their feedback during the meeting. For another example, Ma Zhi also talked about Cisco Webex’s four-level processing mechanism for sound: noise cancellation, background noise removal, optimization of the speaker’s voice, and optimization of the voice of all participants. “We often give a demo to a client: it’s my colleague in the conference room using a hair dryer to make noise all the time, but on the other end of the video conference, the participants are hardly affected by the noise, the noise is almost all All are suppressed. So, by using Webex, users can concentrate on meetings without being affected by the external environment, whether it is working from home with neighbors renovating, or in noisy public places such as cafes and airports.”

With such a combination of hardware and software collaboration systems, some “innovative” features are valuable: for example, Cisco is the first of all online conference systems to provide blurring and virtual backgrounds; The camera gives a thumbs up for two seconds, and the system can recognize it, so it will display a common thumbs-up icon on the other side’s screen… “This is an innovative approach that Cisco has done well and pioneered in the industry: In these ways, the affirmation of the participants can actually be passed on to the speakers, thereby effectively increasing the interaction rate of the participants in the meeting and encouraging the team to speak.” Luo Qi said.

In addition to this, for individual users, there are many innovative Webex features worth paying attention to. For example, Webex will focus on “eliminate burnout, motivate teams” and “relieve stress, prevent meeting fatigue” and other technical support full of humanistic care; another example, Webex improves the ability of individual users to enhance collaboration through the use of whiteboards, that is, users can use any Mobile, tablet, laptop, or any touch-enabled Webex device, create, find, edit, and share whiteboards with anyone, including outside your organization…

“Let’s think about it: How often do we have our workdays filled with meetings one after another, and we don’t have a good time to adjust ourselves, whether it’s a task or a psychological adjustment.” Luo Qi said, Cisco will Through technologies such as “team meeting insight”, it actively reminds each member and his supervisor to pay attention to the meeting schedule, and then reminds employees and supervisors that they can stagger the meeting time a little bit, and leave some time in between to adjust themselves. “So our team meeting insights emphasized caring for the physical and mental health of our employees, which is a very important part of Cisco’s hybrid work technology.”

Network Zero Trust Architecture, Secure Collaborative Environment
Related to “safety” and “ease of management” are more considerations for companies regarding hybrid offices. For these technical problems at the 2B level, Cisco starts more from the traditional superior technologies that it focuses on – network and security, which are the key words of Cisco’s solutions.

“From the perspective of the network, when the video conference resolution is higher and clearer, the requirements for the bandwidth of the network and the processing capacity of the data center will be greater; secondly, more than 80% of the Internet traffic is video traffic. This is obvious to all, such a large video traffic consumes a lot of bandwidth. Therefore, this requires two points: one is to further improve the bandwidth of the backbone network; the other is to have higher requirements for data centers and data center equipment. When talking about hybrid office, Hou Shengli emphasized that in addition to the requirements of network connectivity, more security and reliability are also the key: “Doing a good job in network management and security is the foundation for enterprise users to practice hybrid office.”

Hou Shengli talked about Cisco’s thoughts on the “future Internet”. First of all, as an infrastructure, with the emergence of a large number of services, a large amount of data and a large number of customer-defined network methods, the Internet will be decoupled in the future: “The hardware and software are decoupled, and the hardware itself will also be decoupled: More and more SPs or OTTs use their own chips and open network platforms to develop routers and switches to meet business needs. In the world, especially in the OTT industry, white-label machines or self-developed switches are used. It is increasing year by year. And this method is very likely to expand from OTT to SP, or even to some large enterprises of special nature.” Secondly, with the continuous development of optical fiber and chip technology, there are more and more customers. Through 400G, or 800G or higher bandwidth access, this will make “the topology of the entire network changes.” Third, with the development of chip technology, “it will make the optical network and the routing network merge into one and become a routed optical network, and even remove the middle boundary, merge the three into one, and become a network.”

The “Internet of the future”, supported by the full-stack security mechanism and automated operation and maintenance mechanism of opportunity insight, constitutes the “secure and agile network” defined by Cisco. “For enterprise networks, Cisco’s secure and agile network can better support the hybrid office model, or the way of collaboration.” Hou Shengli emphasized that the so-called “secure and agile network” is achieved through a unified network management platform. All connections can be managed through special security software or hardware and solutions to ensure secure connections, so as to ensure that the corresponding devices are securely connected to the private cloud or public cloud to meet business needs. “For example, the campus network, the DCN of Cisco Catelyst9K, or the network management platform based on the Meraki cloud model; there are also IoT, IOT platforms, data center platforms, or private cloud platforms, secure platforms, and various methods. … Cisco can help customers achieve end-to-end software-defined networking.”

The “secure and agile network” model is the foundation of Cisco’s implementation of security and management – including employee system office work, but not limited to this.

“Now companies have a variety of businesses running on the network, we hope to help the IT department of the company achieve visual management, in addition to alarm information, you can also see what events have occurred, what kinds of logs are generated, and what information is tracked… Based on these, graphing the analysis allows the IT department of the enterprise to know what is happening from the network layer to the application layer, and achieve ‘full-stack observability in a good visual way.” Hou Shengli emphasized , “Do business insight and analysis through special software, and make some suggestions on the problems caused and how to solve these problems. Through the management platform provided by Cisco or the customer’s own management platform, give suggestions for optimizing the network and make corresponding responses. setup. This is where the ‘secure and agile network hopes to help customers.'”

Hou Shengli emphasized that Cisco’s vision and strategy for security is to achieve end-to-end security based on a zero-trust network architecture. Zero-trust architecture, including three “Ws”, namely any employee’s device (Workforce), any workplace (Workplace) and workload (Workload), should adopt a zero-trust strategy, which requires various certifications, Encryption and other methods to ensure the security of the entire network and business operations. That is to say, on the basis of the zero trust strategy, “Let any customer (Any user) use any device (Any device) and use any tool software (Any application) to obtain the required service in any place (Anywhere). Hou Shengli said that the specific implementation method is to use the SASE application architecture to allow users to access the data center or network through VPN and SD-WAN, and use various security authentication or security authorization mechanisms. Ensure security, let all data be transmitted through encryption to ensure its security.

“The hybrid office model and the way enterprise users will use the Internet in the future are changing, and Cisco has been adapting to this change: around a secure and agile network, optimized application experience, future-oriented hybrid office models, future Internet, and end-to-end security For strategic priorities such as protection, Cisco hopes to adapt to this trend and change, and Cisco is redefining innovation and fully empowering enterprises to create a new digital business experience.” Hou Shengli said.

write at the end
Since the epidemic, various online conference systems have grown against the trend, which may be a manifestation of the hybrid office model becoming the mainstream work model. However, from the perspective of enterprise digitalization, the hybrid office model is not just as simple as a web conference. Its deeper network problems are the continuity of enterprise business processes, the secure transfer of enterprise applications and data, and the maintenance of employee experience. From this point of view, starting from the underlying architecture and building a unified architecture from the network to the data, and then from the application to the employees from the bottom up may be the most valuable mode for practicing the hybrid office model.