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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – February 20, 2015

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2Each 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

It was quite a busy week on the Partner Blog. Hopefully you had a chance to read Sherri Liebo’s blog on how digital marketing has transformed the traditional marketing landscape. If not, be sure to check it out and take a look back at her super heroes posts from 2014 and how those particular marketing team members can lead the way as digital marketing continues to shift how we all work.

As we are getting ever closer to this year’s Marketing Velocity event, this blog is a nice look at how all our marketing efforts tie together and what “digital” is doing to all of us.

Intelligent Cybersecurity

Raja Sundaram had some insight into cybersecurity and how it affects your customers. He looked at changing business models, dynamic threats, and complexity and fragmentation. Branching out from there he pointed out how Cisco is offering up the products you need for your customers to tackle these tough security situations. It’s a great overview on security. Read More »

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To the Cloud: Why We’ve Moved to an API-Based Architecture – Part 2: Identity as a Service

This is part 2 in a 2-part series about our API-based architecture. Part 1 explains how we provide content as a service to sellers.

Federated identity is central to cloud computing. You can’t have a useful hybrid cloud service without it.  Read More »

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To the Cloud: Why We’ve Moved to an API-Based Architecture – Part 1: Content as a Service

This is part 1 in a 2-part series about our API-based architecture. In part 2 I’ll talk about the advantages of identity as a service and data as a service.

Before the cloud, applications had a web interface that connected to a back-end database. Each application authorized its own users.

Today, that monolithic application architecture is going the way of dinosaurs. Cisco employees use more than 400 cloud services. So even after we added single sign-on for Cisco applications, users still had to separately sign on to cloud applications like Salesforce. Not a good use of time. Read More »

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The Journey to Becoming an Enterprise Cloud Service Brokerage: From Shadow IT to Hybrid IT

As enterprise cloud use extends to public, private, and hybrid clouds, CIOs and IT leaders are realizing the need to evolve their IT business model to become enterprise cloud service brokerage (CSBs).

Cisco’s Scott Clark recently discussed the value of this new business approach for IT and highlighted that by adopting this approach IT can “provide the right private, hybrid or public cloud service, at the right time, and at the right cost.”

Most organizations are lagging behind in overhaul their business model and evolve into a CSB. Ovum came out with a report citing that only 50% of organizations participating had a cloud strategy in place and “only one-third or less of respondents said they have [cloud] governance, integration, or compliance strategies.” Read More »

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Pros and Cons: Do-It-Yourself Approaches to Monitoring Shadow IT & Cloud Services

Shadow IT is estimated to be 20-40 percent beyond the traditional IT budget. The ease by which organizations can purchase apps and services from cloud service providers (CSP) contributes significantly to this spending. This is an eye-catching number worthy of investigation—not only to identify and reduce costs, but to discover business risks. So, it is no surprise that CIOs and CFOs have started projects to identify and monitor unknown CSPs.

I often get questions from customers asking if it is possible for IT to monitor cloud service usage and discover shadow IT using existing technologies, and what the pros and cons would be.

The first CSP monitoring approach I am asked about is the use of secure web gateways. A gateway captures and categorizes incoming web traffic and blocks malicious malware. The benefit of this approach is that the gateways are typically already in place. However, there are several limitations in relying exclusively on this approach. Gateways cannot differentiate between a traditional website and a CSP which might be housing business data. They also have no way of discerning whether a given CSP poses a compliance or business risk. Most importantly, to use gateways to track CSPs, IT would need to create and maintain a database of thousands of CSPs, and create a risk profile for each CSP in order to truly understand the specific service being consumed.

The second approach I get asked about is whether organizations can use NetFlow traffic to monitor CSPs. Many customers feel that they can build scripts in a short amount of time to capture usage. Simply answered, yes this can be done. But organizations would face a similar challenge as if they were using web gateways. To capture CSP traffic using NetFlow, IT would need to develop scripts to capture every CSP (numbering in the tens of thousands). Then identify how each CSP is being used, the risk profile of the CSP to an organization, and how much the CSP costs to project overall spend. This is just the beginning. An IT department would then need to build reporting capabilities to access the information as well as continually maintain the database; and apply resources to this undertaking on a monthly basis to ensure the database was current.

The good news, Cisco has done this work for our customers! We have developed Cloud Consumption Services to help organizations identify and reduce shadow IT. Using collection tools in the network, we can discover what cloud services are being used by employees across an entire organization. Cloud Consumption includes a rich database of CSPs and can help customers identify the risk profile of each CSP being accessed, and identify an organization’s overall cloud spend.

Cisco has helped many IT organizations discover their shadow IT. For example, we worked with a large public sector customer in North America who was struggling to embrace the cloud, but were concerned about business risks. Employees were pushing for cloud services to improve productivity when 90% of Internet traffic was blocked by the organization’s policy. Despite these restrictions, 220 cloud providers were being used already and less than 1% were authorized by IT. Leveraging Cloud Consumption Services, the customer was not only able to manage risk, but also authorize future cloud services based on employee needs in a controlled manner.

It is a good practice for every IT organization to understand how employees are using cloud services and monitor usage on an on-going basis. I encourage our customers to determine which approach would work best for their organization; otherwise they may face unknown business risks and costs.

To learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of shadow IT and how you manage cloud services, please register to attend an upcoming webinar on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. PT.

 

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