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Just before 9 a.m. on a blue-sky Louisiana morning, a giant gray B-52 bomber gradually lifts off the tarmac with some 190,000 pounds of fuel on board, a trail of dark exhaust behind it.

A few seconds later, there’s a small glitch: One of the aircraft’s landing gear legs—the rear one on the left—decides to stay down. The rest fold up, as they should. The pilots determine that the problem isn’t big enough to scrub the day’s flight, so the bomber pushes on with its training mission, two big wheels hanging down for five hours like an incomplete thought, limiting the plane’s speed and reducing its fuel efficiency. At some point, as planned, the crew refuels from behind an airborne tanker, taking on thousands of more pounds of gas.

That’s the B-52—a beefy old bomber that dates back to the post-World War II years. Though the US military has incorporated sleeker flying machines in recent decades, it’s not retiring what’s known as the “BUFF,” or Big Ugly Fat Fucker, anytime soon. The aircraft that lifted off that March morning from Barksdale Air Force Base in northwestern Louisiana was built by Boeing in Wichita, Kansas, and delivered to the Air Force in early March of 1962. The Cold War-era ship is far older than its two pilots that day: Carlos Espino (call sign “Loko”), 27, and Clint Scott (call sign “Silver”), 34.

Operating the B-52 is like “flying a museum,” Espino says from the left-hand seat in the cockpit just before the mission. “It’s a brick—I would say it’s like wrestling.” He’s a friendly, burly guy, and his squadron, the 20th, are known as the Buccaneers. The patch on his right shoulder shows a pirate throwing a bomb.

Capt. Carlos Espino (call sign “Loko”), foreground, walks towards a B-52 for a training flight out of Barksdale Air Force Base on March 10th. Rob Verger

“It has a lot of redundant systems,” Espino adds. “So if one system fails, there’s plenty of other systems to back it up.” The most challenging maneuver, he says, is precisely lining the aircraft up with a tanker in the sky to accept more fuel. “At the end of air refueling, you’re literally sweating.”

The plane may be large—its 185-foot wingspan and 159-foot length make it bigger than a 737, and smaller than a 747—but the space for the crew is cozy. Behind and below the cockpit is a small submarine-like compartment, sometimes illuminated in red, where two others sit: radar navigator Rebecca “Ripper” Ronkainen, and aircraft navigator Jacob Tejada, both 28. If anything happens that requires an airborne evacuation from the jet, Ronkainen and Tejada’s ejection seats blast downwards rather than upwards, which is only safe if the plane is more than 250 feet off the deck. Also on board that day is an instructor and weapons systems officer, call sign “Pibber.”

Right behind where Tejada and Ripper work is a urinal. Ideally, no one poops on a B-52, even if the mission drags on for hours. Imodium can help.

Officially called the Stratofortress, or less officially, the Stratosaurus, the B-52 sports a wealth of engines hanging from its big wings. While most airliners rely on two or four engines, the BUFF has eight TF-33 turbofan thrusters. The Air Force is set to replace those engines with new ones, an improvement that could boost the jet’s efficiency by at least 20 percent.

Upgrades like that should help the B-52 fit in a little better with the Air Force’s more modern lineup. Many of the bombers have also been outfitted with a new digital system, though the craft’s cockpit is still very much awash in traditional analog dials. Plus, each BUFF goes through an exhaustive maintenance process every four years that involves some 40,000 hours of labor and around 3,000 swapped parts. The Air Force says it would like to keep the BUFF flying until 2050; it’s a plane they keep investing in because they have it, and because it can do, and has done, a lot.

Rebecca “Ripper” Ronkainen tests her oxygen mask and communications equipment before the day’s flight. Rob Verger

B is for bomber

The Air Force’s fleet of bombers is an alphabet soup of “Bs” and numbers. There’s the B-1 Lancer, which now only carries conventional bombs, due to a treaty called New START. There’s the B-2 Spirit, a stealthy wing that can deliver either conventional or nuclear weapons. There’s the B-52. And finally, there’s the B-21 Raider, the Air Force’s forthcoming stealth bomber, which is still in the works.

Currently, the military owns 20 B-2s, 62 B-1s (that number may decrease to 45 next year), and 76 B-52s. That makes the BUFF, with its long, swept-back wings and narrow body, the most abundant.

“The B-52 has been a workhorse of the Air Force for decades,” says Todd Harrison, who directs the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “It’s a remarkable aircraft, and I think it has really proven out the concept that your major platforms can stay relevant, long after their design life, by upgrading the components and the technologies that go on them.”

What makes the BUFF so enduring is the way it was first designed, says General Timothy Ray, the head of Air Force Global Strike Command. When they built the B-52 in the early 1960s, “you could do some precision engineering and precision manufacturing, but back then the efficiency wasn’t the driver,” he explains. “Today, you have the technical means to plan and manufacture to the finest of requirements.” In other words, they don’t build bombers like they used to.

Ray also notes that there’s more than one way to measure a plane’s age. “When you look at the life remaining in the air frame, the B-52 is the youngest,” he says.

Over the next decades, the Air Force might slim its bomber fleet down to just the futuristic B-21s and the old-school B-52s. Ray describes a fleet on the order of 75 BUFFs and 100 Raiders, or ideally even more: 220 bombers in total.

The costs involved with aircraft like these are astronomical. Giving each B-52 eight new engines and other upgrades requires a budget of about $130 million per plane, Ray says. The new B-21 Raider will be even pricier to buy, which is why the fleet of tomorrow would be a mix of vintage and new. What’s more, the B-52 is a metal bird that’s already in the hand, which is another reason to keep it running. “This is real,” Ray says, “whereas the B-21 is in parts getting put together right now.”

On a per-plane basis, the B-52 is less expensive for the Air Force to own and fly than the other bombers. The BUFF fleet costs the Air Force $1.4 billion per year, according to Harrison, which translates to around $18 million for a single aircraft annually. The B-1, meanwhile, clocks in at $23 million per plane each year, and the B-2 a whopping $43 million. Part of the reason for the difference is that because the Air Force has so many B-52s compared to the others, the operational costs per aircraft are much lower. But no matter how you slice it, bombers don’t come cheap.

A crew member enters the aircraft through the hatch in its belly. Rob Verger

Sending a message

The US has three different ways of deploying nuclear weapons: intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), nuclear missile-outfitted submarines, and those B-52 and B-2 bombers. The Air Force calls this apocalyptic arsenal the “nuclear triad.”

Meanwhile, ICBMs, Ray says, are difficult to “message” with because the missile silos themselves are static. “Bombers, though, are flexible. And you can recall a bomber,” he says. “When I launch an ICBM—that’s it. Thirty minutes later, things are going down.”

Having BUFFs and other aircraft on hand also allows the military to conduct what it calls bomber task forces. Ray notes that they’ve sent bombers into the Black Sea, “which drives the Russians crazy, and it makes our day.” The same goes for flights into the Baltic Sea.

Russia performs similar operations with their fleet. Just this month, NORAD reported that that country flew bombers within 37 miles of Alaska.

Clint “Silver” Scott in the cockpit before the day’s flight. Rob Verger

Wheels down

As useful as the BUFF has been, though, CSIS’s Harrison wonders about the aircraft’s ongoing effectiveness against any country with modern safeguards. “If we have a conventional fight against Russia or China, the B-52 is a sitting duck to air defense systems and to Chinese and Russian fighter jets,” he says. In that case, the plane would have to operate at a safe distance from those countries, where its only effective weapons would be pricey cruise missiles. In a scenario like that, a stealthy B-2 or the forthcoming B-21 bomber might be more useful.

“At some point, you have to let important aircraft go,” Harrison says. “Is it really worth it to keep these planes in the air, or for the same amount of money, could we buy something else that’s more useful to us?” On that note, Harrison brings up a Navy aircraft called the P-8 Poseidon, which is like a 737 but can carry weapons such as cruise missiles. When asked if the military was thinking about a B-52 alternative like the Poseidon, an Air Force spokesperson said by email: “The Pentagon is carefully considering options and planning experiments toward the prospect of fielding such a plane.” A related idea is something called an arsenal aircraft, which could deploy what’s known as “standoff” weapons from afar.

Ultimately, the BUFF has its quirks—one of which was on full display during that March training mission out of Louisiana. The issue with the stubborn stay-down wheels stemmed from a fascinating design feature on the aircraft that allows the plane to pivot its main landing gear, so that if it’s landing in a cross wind, the nose of the beast can face into the wind while its wheels line up with the runway. Those landing gear legs can’t fold up into the belly, though, unless the switches say they’re centered. And sometimes the switches that control the wheels just “get out of rig,” an Air Force spokesperson wrote via email.

In fact, after that five-hour flight, another team quickly hopped into the same B-52 and took off again with the landing gear issue still unresolved, its crew said. That’s the BUFF. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, and it gets a lot done. That should be enough to keep it cruising onward, punching through the sky for maybe the next three decades, perhaps with the occasional part out of place.

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What’s Inside Proxima Centauri B, Our Nearest Exoplanet Neighbor

On the left, what Proxima b might look like if its composition is like Mercury’s; on the right, what it might look like if it was more like Titan. Earth is provided in the middle for comparison. NASA/B. Brugger, et al.

What might the closest exoplanet to Earth look like? Anything from a cannonball-like world to an ocean-covered planet made up half of water, researchers say.

In August, astronomers revealed that the nearest star system to the sun, Alpha Centauri, possesses a world roughly 1.3 times Earth’s mass. Alpha Centauri consists of three stars — Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and a small red dwarf named Proxima Centauri — and this newfound planet appears to call Proxima Centauri home.

The exoplanet, named Proxima b, orbits Proxima Centauri at a distance one-tenth that between Mercury and the sun. However, because the red dwarf is more than 600 times dimmer than the sun, Proxima b may actually lie within its star’s habitable zone, the area around the star warm enough for the planet to possess liquid water on its surface — and thus, perhaps, life as we know it.

However, one of the many details that remains unknown about Proxima b is its diameter. This means that astronomers cannot calculate its density, which in turn makes it impossible to say for sure what the exoplanet is made of.

Still, scientists can dream. Based on Proxima b’s mass, astrophysicist Bastien Brugger at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory in France and his colleagues modeled what its size and structure might be like given a range of potential ingredients. “Even if we don’t know the planet’s radius, we can still try and get an idea of what the planet could look like,” Brugger says.

If Proxima b is a cannonball-like world like Mercury, it would be about 6 percent smaller than Earth. This dense, completely dry version of the planet would consist of a metal core making up about two-thirds of the planet’s mass sheathed by a rocky shell.

On the other hand, if Proxima b is made up half of water ice like Saturn’s largest moon Titan might be, it would be roughly 40 percent bigger than Earth. In this scenario, the planet would be covered completely in water about 120 miles deep. Under this global ocean, the pressure would be so strong that water would turn into a layer of high-pressure ice, which would sit on top of a rocky mantle and a metal core.

These findings suppose that the abundances of elements in Alpha Centauri are similar to those in the solar system, and there is no guarantee that is the case, says planetary astronomer Franck Marchis, chair of the exoplanet group at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who did not take part in this research. Brugger agrees, noting that future observations of Proxima Centauri’s elemental abundances could improve their models and help pin down which version of Proxima b is more likely.

And who knows, “with the Breakthrough Starshot project, maybe in 20 to 40 years, we’ll have pictures of Proxima b, telling us exactly what it looks like,” Brugger says.

The scientists detailed their findings Oct. 17 at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, California.

Staying Mission Focused As A Leader

School leaders can resist the urge to micromanage by focusing on the most important goal: helping students and teachers succeed.

I was restless the night before the information was released, imagining scenarios from the most glorious to the most grave.

When I arrived at my office the following day, I closed the door and dove into an hours-long data analysis session, coming up for air only intermittently.

Getting my school’s standardized test scores after my rookie year as a principal was a nerve-racking experience I won’t soon forget. While I never overemphasized test data as a metric for my own performance—or the performance of my colleagues, teachers, and students—I was well aware of the importance placed on these reports by others, including my superintendent and members of our community at large.

The results were neither dire nor amazing; in fact, they were just what I thought they would be. They were, after all, just small pieces of a bigger picture. And yet I found myself worrying about the scores for weeks on end. I wanted the data to look better. I was worried about how it would reflect on my school.

In the end, the conversations about scores came and went, but my responsibilities as a leader—to help students and teachers succeed—remained consistent. In hindsight, I realized that I should have kept this—and not the test results—at the forefront of my mind all along.

Letting Go Is Essential for Success

The need to let go of outcomes is one of the most difficult—and necessary—lessons I have learned as a leader. The act of surrendering control over both large and small aspects of my school’s work has been frightening and exhilarating. While letting go is challenging, I’ve found that it’s necessary for both professional growth and the success of the school as a whole.

School leaders must design and oversee numerous programs, committees, assessment structures, and schedules: The list of essential tasks is endless. Each professional responsibility has the potential to mire a leader in overanalysis and micromanagement. However, over-attachment to outcome, while normal, is counterproductive as it can stifle a leader’s growth and impede a school’s progress. Schools are organic environments in which a host of factors interplay with and build on one another. If a leader wishes to create a school that is harmonious, energized, and productive, they must embrace this.

The Power of Surrender

Learning to manage internal and external expectations so you can stay focused on the overall mission is key to letting go of the urge to fret and micromanage. School leaders should keep in mind that the heart of our job as educators is to help students fully realize their potential—and schools’ culture and instruction are what we use to get them there.

Some things we try will exceed expectations, while others will leave us disappointed. It is imperative that we keep the big picture in mind and adopt an attitude that supports thoughtful exploration and celebrates continuous progression rather than one preconceived outcome.

Trust is a key ingredient in this process. As a leader, you must have faith in those around you. If you trust that everyone is working hard and is invested in a shared mission, you will be much more prepared to let go.

We must always bear in mind the things we shouldn’t let go of: professional pride, collaborative engagement, and integrity. Additionally, we should never mistake letting go for apathy or carelessness, since letting go allows us to engage in critical tasks and conversations.

It is also important to note that there are innumerable areas that require a dogged relentlessness if we wish to have a great school. If, for example, students are not meeting targets for growth in language arts, it’s essential to address this through data analysis, collaboration, instructional planning, and curricular initiatives. The same can be said if technology integration is missing the mark or the school culture does not foster a love of learning.

Keep the End Goal in Mind

In the novel Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace wrote, “Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it.” I can certainly relate to this sentiment. Letting go is never easy, but trying to holding on is even more difficult—and, in the end, is impossible anyway.

The naysayers will always be there. The internal voice of self-doubt will certainly scream out for attention. Let them go too.

In the end, one true question will remain for all educators: Did you give your best effort for the students you serve? If the answer is a resounding yes, you have hit the bull’s-eye dead on. Relax and let the rest of it go.

How Can I Center Text (Horizontally And Vertically) Inside A Div Block?

We can easily center text inside a div both horizontally and vertically. Let us see them one by one.

Center Text in Div Horizontally using the text-align property

To center text in div horizontally, use the text-align property. The text-align property determines the way in which line boxes are aligned within a block-level element. Here are the possible values −

left − The left edge of each line box is aligned with the left edge of the block-level element’s content area.

right − The right edge of each line box is aligned with the right edge of the block-level element’s content area.

center − The center of each line box is aligned with the center of the block-level element’s content area.

justify − The edges of each line box should align with the edges of the block-level element’s content area.

string − The content of cells in a column will align on the given string.


Let us now center text in div horizontally using the text-align property −








width=device-width, .demo { background-color: orange; border: 3px solid yellow; text-align: center; }

Center Text in Div Horizontally using the justify-content property Example

To center text in div horizontally, use the justify-content property. Let us now see an example








width=device-width, .demo { background-color: orange; border: 3px solid yellow; display: flex; justify-content: center; }

Center Text in Div Vertically using the padding property

To center text in div vertically, use the padding property. The padding property allows you to specify how much space should appear between the content of an element and its border. The following CSS properties can be used to control lists. You can also set different values for the padding on each side of the box using the following properties −

The padding-bottom specifies the bottom padding of an element.

The padding-top specifies the top padding of an element.

The padding-left specifies the left padding of an element.

The padding-right specifies the right padding of an element.

The padding serves as shorthand for the preceding properties.


Let us now see an example to center text in div vertically using the padding property −








width=device-width, .demo { background-color: orange; border: 3px solid yellow; padding: 50px 0; }

Center Text in Div Vertically using the line-height property

To center text in div vertically, use the line-height property. The line-height property modifies the height of the inline boxes which make up a line of text.

Here are the possible values −

normal − Directs the browser to set the height of lines in the element to a “reasonable” distance.

number − The actual height of lines in the element is this value multiplied by the font-size of the element.

length − The height of lines in the element is the value given.

percentage − The height of lines in the element is calculated as a percentage of the element’s font-size.


Let us now see an example to center text in div vertically using the line-height property −








width=device-width, .demo { background-color: orange; border: 3px solid yellow; line-height: 150px; height: 200px; }

Sabrent’s Cfexpress Type B Storage Cards Combine Affordability With Value

Anyone who uses a dedicated camera body for photography or video capture is likely to be familiar with the tried-and-true SD card. This compact form of media storage comes in various capacity options at a fair price. But when using higher-end dedicated camera bodies, you may notice an entirely different memory card slot inside: CFExpress Type B.

CFExpress Type B lends a host of benefits over traditional SD cards, including faster data transfer speeds and improved heat dissipation. But not all CFExpress Type B cards are created equally. Like SD cards, CFExpress Type B cards come in different storage capacities and are offered in different speed ratings to suit your needs.

Sabrent – Affordable and capable

While I’ve been hands-on with several different CFExpress Type B cards, one brand that consistently stands out to me is Sabrent. Their CFExpress Type B card lineup offers one of the most flexible in terms of storage capacities, and at mind-blowingly low prices compared to other brands. Best of all, I haven’t noticed any reliability differences when compared the bigger brand names, making Sabrent a tempting option.

Sabrent is known for their Rocket CFX line of CFExpress Type B cards, which come in flavors of 512GB or 1TB storage capacities and provide up to 1,700/1,500 MB/s read/write speeds peak, or 1,600/400 MB/s read/write speeds sustained. When reading these stats, the sustained numbers are the ones that most users are concerned with, as these are the speeds that will be most prevalent during continued use.

In our testing, we were able to achieve 1,460/600 MB/s read/write speeds with the Rocket CFX line in a 1TB flavor:

Sabrent’s Rocket CFX line of CFExpress Type B cards is most discernible by its blacked-out color scheme and blue stripes on the sticker; but more recently, Sabrent launched a new line of CFExpress Type B cards called the Rocket CFX Pro line that are discernible by its gold-on-black color scheme.

Sabrent Rocket CFX Pro

As you might come to expect from a CFExpress Type B card that adds the “Pro” designation to its name, Sabrent’s Rocket CFX Pro CFExpress Type B cards lend serious spec boosts when compared to the non-Pro line. They come in flavors of 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage capacities and provide up to 1,800/1,700 MB/s read/write speeds peak, or 1,700/1,300 MB/s read/write speeds sustained (on 1TB and larger cards).

In our testing, we were able to achieve 1,525/1,207 MB/s read/write speeds with the Rocket CFX Pro line in a 1TB flavor… a fantastic step up from the write speeds in the ordinary Rocket CFX line:

Sabrent’s slower Rocket CFX line of CFExpress Type B cards are affordably priced $149 for 512GB and $249 for 1TB (just compare these storage capacity options to the prices offered by other brand names…), but you can expect to pay a bit more for enhanced speed capabilities. The faster Rocket CFX Pro line of CFExpress Type B cards come with price tags of $269.99 for 512GB, $449 for 1TB, and $649 for 2TB.

While it seems like a bit much in terms of cost at first glance, finding a 2TB storage option with these sustained write speeds isn’t particularly easy in today’s market, and most other brands are charging more for smaller 750GB CFExpress Type B cards with similar sustained read/write speeds. For this reason, we think that Sabrent is a reasonable way to go for anyone who desires pro-grade hardware capabilities on a budget.

CFExpress Type B – Camera storage of the future

As dedicated camera bodies become more capable in terms of photography and videography by way of higher resolution image and video capture and faster shutter speeds (especially in terms of electronic shutters), it seems clear that CFExpress Type B will eventually overtake SD cards as the default storage medium given their higher-performing specifications. While this won’t happen overnight, we can already see it happening in higher-end cameras today, like the Nikon Z9 mentioned earlier.

If you’re on the fence about CFExpress Type B because of the cost, then Sabrent is a great brand to start with. With them, you get reliable storage offered in smaller or larger capacities, in addition to the choice between slower Rocket CFX or faster Rocket CFX Pro cards. For most non-flagship dedicated camera bodies, we think that the Rocket CFX line of CFExpress Type B cards will be enough, but those using flagships that demand more out of their storage cards should really consider Sabrent’s Rocket CFX Pro line instead.

Sabrent CFExpress Type B card readers

Sabrent also has you covered in terms of file transfers. They offer both USB-C-based and Thunderbolt-based CFExpress Type B card readers that are blazingly fast when transferring files to USB-C or Thunderbolt-equipped Macs or Windows PCs.

If you do any kind of creative work, either for hobby or for professional reasons, then these readers can cut down on file transfer times by utilizing the full read speeds of your CFExpress Type B cards rather than the bottleneck speeds of your camera’s integrated USB port (if it even has one).

Where to get one

If you’re in need of CFExpress Type B storage media for your dedicated camera body, and Sabrent’s offerings look attractive to you, then you can check out the company’s cheaper Rocket CFX cards on Amazon. Prices range from $150 to $500 depending on whether you need a single 512GB card or a two 1TB card bundle. Sabrent’s slower USB-C-based CFEXpress Type B card reader is also available on Amazon for $57 and works with any brand of CFEXpress Type B card.

On the other hand, if you’re using a more demanding dedicated camera body and require faster storage media, then Sabrent’s faster and more expensive Rocket CFX Pro cards can also be had on Amazon. Prices range from $270 to $650 depending on whether you need a 512GB card, all the way up to a massive 2TB card. You can also find Sabrent’s faster Thunderbolt-based CFExpress Type B card reader on Amazon for a modest $130, which works with any brand of CFExpress Type B card and will utilize the CFExpress Type B card’s speeds to its fullest.

My thoughts on Sabrent CFExpress Type B cards

Having lots of storage is going to be important if you’re a photographer, and in many cases, you may want more than one storage card so that you can have redundant backups of your work when shooting photos or video for compensation. For this reason, affordable and reliable storage has a lot of value for amateur and professional photographers and videographers alike.

Sabrent fills an important niche in the market by providing affordably priced storage options. It seems to me that while they aren’t the fastest cards on the market, they are good enough to get the job done for most users and are offered at a fair price point compared to much of the competition, especially per gigabyte (or terabyte!). That said, you could get yourself a couple of Sabrent cards for the price of one bigger brand name card of the same storage capacity, which could be a wiser choice.

I’ve had no issues with Sabrent’s CFExpress storage cards keeping up with my camera’s shooting capabilities, nor have I had any reliability problems with the cards’ onboard data corrupting with extended use as you may have heard about other smaller-brand storage cards.

Here’s a brief rundown of pros and cons relating to the Sabrent Rocket CFX and Rocket CFX Pro cards:


Affordable storage per gigabyte compared to other CFExpress Type B cards

Cards are reliable with extended use

More appealing storage sizes up to 2TB

Available in low-cost budget options, or high-cost performance options

Will work with any CFExpress Type B-supported camera body

All-metal casing dissipates heat effectively


Not as fast as some of the more expensive performance brands

Not as affordable as SD cards


There isn’t a lot of bad that I can say about the Sabrent CFX Rocket and CFX Rocket Pro CFExpress Type B cards. For the price, you get a lot of bang for your buck – lots of storage space, and high read and write speeds to keep up with your camera body’s workflow.

Cisco On Mission To Outfit All Office Rooms With Video Conferencing Systems

Cisco unveiled Wednesday an array of video conferencing products as it seeks to provide video collaboration systems for meeting rooms of all sizes.

“We’re not going to rest until every single room in every single business all over the world has extraordinary video conferencing and collaboration equipment. That’s our mission,” he said during a press conference.

While Trollope articulated Cisco’s goal in hyperbolic terms, it’s clear the company sees a big gap that’s waiting to be filled, and it intends to go after what it views as a grossly underserved business video conferencing market.

A big fish in an increasingly large pond

Cisco isn’t the only company focusing on this. Microsoft is also making a strong push with its Lync unified communications server, which can be deployed on customer premises and, with a subset of the functionality, accessed via the Office 365 public cloud suite. Other competing providers of UC and video conferencing systems in particular include IBM, Avaya, Siemens’ Unify, Alcatel-Lucent, Mitel and ShoreTel.

Of course, Cisco has been a big player in video conferencing for years, catering to the low-end of the market with its WebEx line of products and to the high-end with its whole-room Tandberg systems. So in a sense, Trollope is indirectly criticizing the past strategies of his own company, which he joined in November 2012 from Symantec where he was group president of the SMB and Cloud Business Unit.

Cisco has traditionally provided a “no compromise” experience via its high-end “immersive” telepresence systems, but what’s been missing is the ability to replicate that in conference and office rooms of any size, he said. His experience working in a consumer security company, he said, make him very aware of the need for products to be affordable and easy to use, and he’s pressing that vision on his Cisco team.

That way, business managers can unpack and set up the video conferencing equipment in the three or four conference rooms in their office area without need special technical help, according to Trollope. “What I’m driving for is making collaboration simple. That’s my strategy,” he said.

Most of those small to mid-size meeting and conference rooms don’t have video conferencing equipment, and Cisco is going after that opportunity with these new systems that are less expensive, more portable and easier to install than its high-end products, according to Elliot.

Removing the complexity around configuration and deployment of these systems is key, so Cisco is doing the right thing by focusing on that with these new products, said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research.

“It’s fair to say Cisco has had this vision of ubiquitous video conferencing for years but it hasnt come to fruition because its solutions were hard to use and to deploy,” he said.

Hardware for every room

For small rooms, Cisco is announcing the second-generation version of the TelePresence MX200, an integrated, floor-standing system with an HD, 42-inch display, and embedded 4-way multi-party conferencing, and the TelePresence MX700 and MX800 systems for medium-size and large rooms, which support the H.265 video coding technology for reducing bandwidth without affecting image quality. The MX200 starts at $17,900, while the other two start at $49,900.

The TelePresence SX10 Quick Set is a aimed at small and medium size businesses that have flat panel displays in meeting rooms, because its components can turn the displays into a video conferencing system in under 10 minutes, according to Cisco. It starts at $3,999.

Cisco also announced the Precision 60 camera and SpeakerTrack 60 dual-camera system, both of which work with many of the company’s video conferencing products. The Precision 60, priced at $8,900 captures video at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, adjusts to different lighting conditions and has a zoom lens. The SpeakerTrack 60, priced at $15,900, detects the active speaker in a room and zooms in on the person, as well as follow the speaker if he or she moves.

Cisco is also announcing it will integrate several of its products with its new Intelligent Proximity technology, which will let the video conferencing systems detect mobile devices in the room, like smartphones and tablets, and gives users the option of linking them up to the session. Users will then be able to use their tablets and smartphones to do things like view shared materials, save slides and review content that has already been presented.

Cisco also announced that it has upgraded its Business Edition 6000 video and collaboration bundle for mid-market companies with a new 25-user “starter” license option and a new wizard installation tool that the company says cuts down on deployment time dramatically. Some of its components are the Cisco Unified Communications Manager for IP telephony, Jabber for instant messaging and presence, Unity Connection for voicemail, Unified Attendant Console for call routing, TelePresence Conductor for video conferencing management and WebEx Meetings for cloud web conferencing. Cisco also has a similar video conferencing bundle for larger customers. Called Business Edition 7000, it’s for companies with more than 1,000 users.

The BE6000 starts at $9,900 with a basic set of collaboration applications for 25 users, while the BE7000 starts at $23,468.

This story was updated at 5:07 PM with additional analysis.

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