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Shadow IT: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See

Shadow IT is nothing new as employees and lines of business bypass IT departments to get the cloud services they need to complete their jobs.   Rogue IT has resulted in a conversation around the unintended and potentially dangerous consequences of increased security risks, compliance concerns and hidden costs.

We all know that private and public clouds are here to stay, but in a recent study it was proven that the average enterprise organization is unaware of just how much shadow IT exists.

shadow-it-100467238-primary.idgeCisco recently completed a study with large enterprise customers across the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia.   This study was conducted from January 2014 through July of this year.  Actual usage data was collected from customer’s networks representing millions of users.

Ask your CIO today and they will probably respond that on average their organization is utilizing 51 cloud services.   Cisco’s survey indicates that in reality, over 730 cloud services are being used.

That is 15 times what was believed and the survey statistics provide a trend that by the end of the year that will increase to 20 times more than was authorized.   That’s more than 1,000 external cloud services per company.

To learn more about this study, read this thought leadership piece on

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Must-Knows About DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible

You may wonder what the terms “DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible” have to do with each other. If you plan to visit AnsibleFest 2015 in San Francisco, stop by the Cisco table to learn more.


The DevOps approach has been embraced and pioneered by Web 2.0 customers for some time, and now we’re seeing the trickle of that coming to an Enterprise customer near you. The simple reason is the ability to bring operations and development closer together, enabling faster deployments of applications without breaking the infrastructure. Cisco colleague Luca Relandini expands on DevOps here.

The Cisco Open NX-OS is designed to support the DevOps approach. Shane Corban shares Six Key Points What OPEN means for NX-OS. The concept behind Open NX-OS is to enable operators to make changes in a more programmatic way that drives automation and efficiency in the infrastructure without compromise on security. Visit the developer community to learn and find more scripts using the capabilities of Open NX-OS.

OpenNXOS Nov2015

As part of the NX-OS openness, agentless tools like Ansible leverage NX-API to gather real-time state data and to make configuration changes on Cisco Nexus switches. To stay up to date on Ansible solutions, visit the Cisco marketplace.

In this Oct 9th SDxCentral DemoFriday webinar, we showed how Day 0, 1, 2 operations can be accelerated with Ansible. And to stay up to date on the latest Cisco NX-OS Ansible Module Docs, visit the GitHub repository.



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Composable Infrastructure Part 4: Infrastructure as Code

How do you treat hardware like software? That question sounds like a contradiction, but we’ve been helping customers answer this question for the past six years with Cisco UCS. When you abstract all configuration and identity of hardware and transform it into software defined infrastructure (SDI), or better yet, policy driven infrastructure, you’re moving down the path of managing the “infrastructure as code.”

An essential aspect of this automated management is encapsulating the best practices of your server, storage and network experts as policies and templates. Cisco describes these as Service Profiles. The Service Profiles combined with the open Application Program Interface (API) in UCS provide a common “language’ for provisioning and configuring the infrastructure across the different types of devices. As we examined in a previous blog in this series, the combination of true SDI plus best practices defined in Service Profiles makes sure routine tasks are implemented consistently and correctly to reduce risk. Our customers are receiving tremendous benefits using Service-Profiles today with their existing UCS blade and rack systems, and we have extended this same management framework to our composable infrastructure.

Here’s where it gets fun:  DevOps and Infrastructure as Code

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IT Innovation Transforms Education at Qatar University

Last week while trapped in the confines of seat 22A, I re-read “Digital Vortex: How Digital Disruption Is Redefining Industries”.  This paper is full of interesting insights on how digital technology is changing the competitive landscape for every industry.  If you haven’t read it – grab a copy and keep it handy for for your next commute.


The paper reminded me that any industry can quickly shift in or out of the “digital center” of the vortex – a place where digital change can rapidly disrupt, or cause disruption for a company or an entire industry.  It offers a key insight on digital transformation:  To disrupt oneself in an industry, “organizations must change themselves – including operations, culture, revenue model, and more – in fundamental ways, and perpetually.”  Many IT leaders feel the impact of this reality every day.

Trevor Moore, the CIO of Qatar University, is using IT as a platform to transform higher education as part of a country-wide initiative to transform Qatar into a knowledge-based economy.  In a recent interview with Trevor, he explained, “Providing services to students and researchers anytime and anywhere is a key component of our ongoing growth.”   Trevor’s story is a powerful reminder of how IT organizations around the globe are using technology to drive digital transformation.  Organizations like Qatar University are not just seeing the impact of digital transformation in education… they are causing transformation, for their industry, and for their country.  They’ve moved themselves to the center of the vortex.

Far beyond delivering “courseware” through a web browser, Qatar University must deliver application suites that give faculty and students the tools they need to learn, invent, and discover.  Of course, Qatar also wants to deliver a customized and personal experience to every student.  To deliver on this vision, students must be able to access material when and where it is most convenient for them.

Digital learning is a key part of the country’s vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy – and as Moore points out, IT is at the heart of it all.  Qatar University chose Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure as the foundation for their new data center and digital strategy.  Working closely with Cisco and F5 Networks, Qatar was able to build an automated data center that greatly simplified their operations and delivered on their vision of automatically and securely provisioning applications to students, faculty, and research staff.

Choosing a new or different way to deliver IT isn’t always the easy or popular choice – but when done right, the results deliver exceptional efficiencies.  As early adopters of Cisco ACI, Moore and his IT team are leading the way, and reaping the benefits of an open, automated, application-centric approach to the data center.  If you’d like to know more about how Qatar University used Cisco ACI and the ACI ecosystem to solve its challenges, the Qatar ACI case study will tell you more.

You can download a copy of the PDF case study here

Private Cloud Increases Business Velocity

The world is experiencing a digital transformation as everything – customers and technology alike – are becoming connected; which has made technology pervasive in all of our lives.   The tools we use have been on a fast innovative pace which has made us all tech-savvy individuals.  If you doubt this, just watch a 6 year-old with an iPad.

We have all become accustomed to a user experience that empowers us to receive information, products or services immediately.   The problem is, once we enter the business world, the user experience changes dramatically.

Does business need to transform?   Yes!  It needs to change the pace at which it delivers services both within and externally as well as address customer expectations for a self-service order experience.   From what I am hearing during customer conversations, the good news is that businesses are acknowledging that changes are required.

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