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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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Is IT Automation the Key to Operational Excellence? Industry Analysts Think So

Businesses move quickly until they have to cross rough roads paved with technical challenges. That’s because even though data centers are sophisticated, the components that support most businesses still include far too many 20th century manual processes, silo based resources and administrators pressured to keep up.

Although automation can speed up IT, and your business,  many companies are wrestling with it. Please watch this video from Cisco and Forrester to understand why organizations are struggling with automation – see if it sounds familiar (I bet it will).

After you watch it, if you want send me a brief email about your experience with these issues. Read More »

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Understand how the Intercloud elegantly meets Public Sector IT requirements

November 28, 2014 at 4:38 am PST

Public Sector IT organisations are weary of vendor lock-in. And rightfully so: it is hard to buy cloud services from any supplier you choose and then freely manage these services as if they were part of your own extended private cloud. Main reason: lack of ability to connect different clouds: private, partner, public, etc. Luckily, this barrier is vanishing…

Thirty years ago, Cisco pioneered a strategy to connect previously isolated, heterogeneous networks, which lead to the rise of the Internet as we know it. Now, Cisco is embarking on a journey just as ambitious: the connection of multiple isolated clouds, leading to the creation of the Intercloud: an interconnected cloud of clouds.

Intercloud

The Intercloud relies on a five key principles and technologies, summarised below:

Read More »

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Where Do Your Teams Work?

Lately we’re hearing a lot about the end of traditional workplace hierarchies. Organizations expect employees to do more within smaller teams, and to do it faster. People want the freedom to rapidly move between projects and to collaborate with others inside and outside their organizations with fewer restrictions or privacy concerns. And they want to work from everywhere.

According to the 2014 ZK Research Unified Communications Purchasing Survey, 48% employees now spend at least 30% of their time away from their primary workspace and 71% of organizations regularly collaborate with individuals outside their company.

Today’s collaborators – what I call “agile workers” – are transforming the enterprise.  They are creating and sharing ideas and content rapidly, and interacting with colleagues inside and outside their organization from anywhere.  They work at their own pace and they want to use the devices of their choice.  Gone are the days of being in an office on a 9 to 5 schedule.  So even while organizations invest in collaboration tools to improve how people work at work; employees bring their own devices and apps to the workplace to be more productive, individually.  What we’re missing is a way to improve productivity for both the individual and the team, using the same, simple solution.

Think about your day. Despite all the new technologies available, do you default to the familiarity of e-mail and audio conferences? Do you feel that you work better with your teams inside your company or with others outside your organization? Do you feel more productive at the coffee shop or at your office?  Read More »

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