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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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On-Demand Private Cloud: How to Cut CapEx, Free Up Resources, and Boost Business Agility

Today, enterprises need greater business agility and faster time-to-market for applications. That’s why, in many instances, they are building their own private clouds or adopting on-demand private cloud. Companies that are most suited to building their own private clouds are those that have deep engineering and IT leadership and need strong security and governance around applications and services.

Depending on the needs of the business and core competencies, other types of companies can benefit from a managed private cloud. For these companies, it’s not core to the business to be great at infrastructure, but it is crucial to be able to focus on the services offered on top of the infrastructure. These types of organizations may not have strict regulatory or data sovereignty requirements. Typically, they gain the most advantage from using managed private clouds.

Read More »

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Cloud Success Requires Embracing Federal Compliance

It’s no secret that federal agencies are increasingly adopting or at least “dipping a toe” into the cloud computing pool. Private and public cloud environments offer agencies the opportunity to reduce costs, increase agility, and improve flexibility to meet their mission-critical objectives. However, concerns over the security and control of data are two major reasons many agencies aren’t moving to the cloud. In fact, a new Cisco-sponsored survey found that security topped federal IT leaders’ wish list when it comes to evaluating cloud service providers, with 69 percent rating it as a critical characteristic.

Cisco is a longtime leader in not only following, but embracing the government certification and accreditation processes. Common Criteria, FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) and FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) are all critical evaluation programs that facilitate the implementation of new technologies. That’s not to say government regulations aren’t complex. In fact, Cisco has a team dedicated to managing global government certifications. But without these standards in place, our continued advancement of military and civilian operations would cease to exist at the federal level. Read More »

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Cisco Cloud Security for Public and Private Cloud – A Secure, and Compliant Cloud Data Center

Recently the widespread fire of data breaches impacting privacy of millions of hapless people across the globe has become the stirring news. This spree of cyber attacks unveiling the fact that information security industry, organizations and even governments are vulnerable to today’s persistent, well-organized and sophisticated cyber threats.

There was a common theme among all the recent data breaches shown below and that is the amount of time for initial detection, which is in weeks and months.

Cisco Cloud Security

According to Verizon data breach report, 85% of cyber attacks Read More »

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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.


The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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