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Automating Configuration in a Multi-Sourced Environment

The landscape of IT has changed. The single-source provider era is quickly coming to an end as more companies embrace the world of multi-sourcing. In a 2014 report by IAOP & Information Services Group (ISG) Annual State of the Industry1, it stated that the number of enterprise IT organizations using multi-sourcing as a strategy increased by 75% in that year and predictions for 2015 shows continued growth.

Companies are moving more rapidly to a multi-sourcing strategy to achieve greater agility and improved customer satisfaction, and it’s paying off. Effective multi-sourcing companies are experiencing improved performance, reduced IT costs, acquiring best-in-class expertise while freeing up time and resources so personnel can focus on the company’s core business.

Automation Is at the Forefront of IT Change

Girl and guy in high-tech areaThe speed of change in IT is getting faster and innovation via automation is at the forefront of this change. FAST IT is helping enterprises keep up with this accelerated pace.

Fast IT simplifies operations at a time when complexity is mounting — and IT budgets are flat. By offering automated, programmable, and agile infrastructure, Fast IT frees IT organizations from manual configuration, changes, and maintenance.2

In my January blog post, Building Innovation: Achieve Fast IT with Customers, I shared with you that if companies are going to deliver new solutions at a more rapid pace, IT needs to be able to integrate and automate all support interactions that it is responsible for delivering.

There Are Challenges

Just as there are benefits with multi-sourcing, there are some challenges. Multi-sourcing creates new complexities that can stand in the way of business progress. Forward-thinking, proactive companies can address these challenges head-on by answering crucial questions such as:

  • How do we implement end-to-end delivery methods in a multi-vendor environment?
  • How do we manage the configuration of our devices when changes are being made by multiple outsource providers?
  • How do we onboard new providers with minimal effort and impact on the ecosystem?

Changes made within the ecosystem can easily disrupt and fragment service delivery causing your company and other service providers to be out of policy, SLA or regulatory compliance.

Case in Point

We recently saw a situation at a large financial institution where the customer was facing a security audit that they were most likely going to fail. They called us for help. In just two-and-a-half weeks following service activation we had updated nearly 2,000 configurations and the company passed their security audit. They were so pleased with our performance they gave us 23,000 devices to manage for policy, configuration, and change.

Two men in tech area

But, that’s not the end of the story. The bank wanted to benchmark the effectiveness of their service providers against their established service level agreements (SLAs). Immediately we knew an automated closed loop process was needed. Our Compliance Management and Configuration Service (CMCS) coupled with ServiceGrid fit the bill.

When this project goes live, ServiceGrid, a tool that gets the right data to the right place and person, will be used to connect the customer and their service providers ticketing systems to one another as well as to CMCS. In turn, CMCS will perform a baseline analysis of all connected network devices and elements and automatically stabilize and upgrade them to Corporate Standards. This improves communication among all connected parties. It also gives the bank greater transparency into their vendor management activities and provides real-time compliance monitoring.

Combining ServiceGrid and CMCS enables us to automate multi-vendor network configuration and compliance while giving the customer higher value and a better outcome than if we offered either one of the services alone. The bank’s desire to build a robust, elegant, secure, and seamless multi-party network became an opportunity to let two of our premier services shine, making the future brighter for our customer and Cisco Services.

What about you? How is your organization addressing configuration management in a multi-sourced environment?


CMCS At-A-Glance
ServiceGrid Overview Brochure
CMCS Integration with ServiceGrid (technical white paper)


  1. Annual State of the Industry Jagdish R. Dalal, IAOP
  2. Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era

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Simplified Profitability with VIP 26—Enroll Now

The latest Value Incentive Program (VIP) period recently opened and reinforces Cisco’s commitment to partner profitability. VIP 26 continues to offer monetary rewards to partners who focus on technologies as a part of their larger value-based business strategy, and that are key to Cisco architectures and emerging offerings, including: Collaboration, Data Center, Enterprise Networks, Security, Cloud Managed Services, Cloud Services Reseller and Software as a Service (SaaS). In general, the highest rebates will be on some of our newer technologies and solutions that enable you to capture the market transitions with Cisco, provide the latest in our technology innovation to your customers, and insure longer lifecycles for the offers you are providing. We encourage our partners to review the changes to VIP via the links below, and take full advantage of the benefits provided by VIP 26.

Key highlights:

  1. New transition period: All SKUs are now protected from change for the first two months of the new VIP period.
  1. CSAT continues to simplify: Customer Satisfaction remains a primary focus of Cisco and our Partners. To simplify our CSAT process, starting in VIP 26, Partners are required to provide customers’ contact information (including email addresses to which the surveys will be sent) instead of having a requirement for valid completed surveys. Partner involvement in low score follow-up is still required.
  1. Integrated Cisco ONE™ SKUs. Cisco ONE™ SKUs are now integrated into the appropriate Enterprise Networks and Data Center subtracks.
  1. Meraki U.S. pilot. The Enterprise Networks track includes a Meraki Cloud Networking subtrack pilot for the United States, providing rebates on select Cisco Meraki switches, access points, and mobile device management on Global Price List (GPL).

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The Digital Vortex: Relentless, Disruptive, Chaotic — and Empowering

I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: across industries, digital disruption is threatening to overturn incumbents and reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history. Now the good news: companies can take control of their own destiny by embracing digital transformation and the Internet of Everything (IoE).

Let’s take a closer look. By “digital disruption,” I’m referring to the effect of digital technologies and business models on a company’s current value proposition — and its resulting market position. Digital disruptors innovate rapidly, and then use their innovations as a powerful competitive advantage to gain market share and scale far faster than challengers still clinging to traditional business models that can’t keep up with the pace of change. Read More »

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Cisco Named as a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications 2015

Cisco Unified Communications Delivers a Full Experience

As I read the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications by Bern Elliot and Steve Blood, August 10, 2015, one word stood out: full.

full:  adjective – not lacking or omitting anything; complete

It’s a word that Gartner mentions when describing leaders.

“Leaders have a full UC offering and strong market presence, and demonstrate success in the field. They have a strong presence in related markets to expand their footprint in UC. These vendors and their channel partners have experience delivering UC to a broad range of enterprise types and into most geographic regions.”

We believe our position as a leader for unified communications in this year’s report reflects that fullness. This is especially evident in our position as furthest to the right for “Completeness of Vision.”

cisco UC MQ blog - thomas mccafferty 8_2015 Read More »

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – August 14, 2015


Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

I spent the early part of this week in Washington, D.C. at the 20th Annual XChange Conference. Be sure to check out my recap from the first day if you missed it on Monday.

I got to spend some time with Ken Trombetta as well, and he wrapped our coverage of the event this week by discussing the awards Cisco took home this year. As always it was great to see some colleagues from Cisco, some of our partners and a few I’ve never met at such a great event sponsored by The Channel Company.

Just leave me a comment below if you need any additional information and I’ll make sure you have what you need!

Zenoss CEO: Why Cisco UCS is Winning Against Hyper-Converged Offerings

If you didn’t see it this week, Zenoss CEO, Greg Stock wrote a really nice piece about partnering with Cisco. Be sure to check out and see just how we are winning in that space! Read More »

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