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Fast IT: Sourcing Disruptive Innovation

Change is accelerating at a speed and scale never seen before, and disruption is constant.

The explosion of network connections among people, process, data, and things, now called the Internet of Everything (IoE), is the driver behind much of this change. It is making innovation more accessible and affordable, while presenting enormous opportunities.

At the same time, IT organizations are contending with significant challenges. Operational costs are rising as budgets fall. Pervasive mobility and an explosion in connected devices are intensifying complexity. Business users are bypassing IT to access cloud-based services while new security threats arise daily. These conditions can stand in the way of greater innovation and agility, and prevent companies from capturing the opportunities in the IoE economy.

The foundational technologies behind IoE — cloud, mobility, collaboration, and analytics — may be disruptive, but they also usher in an era of significant IT improvements. Fully leveraging these opportunities requires an entirely new IT operating model, with new outcomes. IT organizations must become the source of disruptive innovation — and at long last assume the role of transformational business partner. Cisco is calling this new model Fast IT.

Fast IT addresses the following core areas across IT:

  • Simplifying the infrastructure across silos and driving automation to reduce operational costs
  • Using strategically automated policy to build agility and intelligence to fuel growth and respond to changing conditions
  • Connecting the right people to the right information and process at the right time
  • Evolving security to defend against attacks before and while they happen, and to run analysis after they end

Essentially, Fast IT is an adaptive, policy-driven approach that accommodates today’s and tomorrow’s pace of change. A well-executed strategy will bring together the right resources — which ultimately include infrastructure, applications, data, and people —- at the right time to take advantage of the IoE economy.

One of the key areas in which to create Fast IT is the data center.

In keeping with this approach, Cisco announced today new Unified Computing System (UCS) products and capabilities. UCS is a perfect example of the kind of integrated infrastructure that is eliminating complexity and enabling agility. Its blending of network, compute, and storage provides the foundation for automation and orchestration for physical and virtual systems as one, significantly reducing the management burden on IT.

UCS offers:

  • Greater Automation: UCS Director Express for Big Data enables simplified operations and lower costs
  • More intelligence at the Edge: the UCS Mini enables computing at the edge, which is essential for leveraging Big Data and data in motion
  • Improved Agility: UCS is a foundational element of cloud via the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular server. UCS also dovetails seamlessly with Cisco solutions such as ACI and Intercloud, underpinning an overall hybrid-cloud strategy.

In Creating Fast IT, a 20-25 Percent Cost Dividend

Because the pace of change is so dynamic, it is important to examine just where IT stands today. To that end, Cisco Consulting Services (CCS) recently conducted in-depth research.

Cisco surveyed more than 1,400 senior IT leaders in Brazil, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We interviewed leading industry analysts, authors, academics, IT executives, and IT practitioners. We compared this data with conclusions from numerous customer engagements.

A key finding was that implementing the key elements of a Fast IT model could potentially result in a 20 to 25 percent reduction in costs, which can then be reinvested in new capabilities to drive innovation and business outcomes.

Fast Innovation Requires Fast IT

FastIT-RJacoby

What Our Research Found

Here are key insights from the research. In creating a Fast IT model, organizations will:

  • simplify operations at a time when complexity is mounting — and IT budgets are flat.
  • move seamlessly through a “fabric of clouds.” Workloads and infrastructure tasks shift as business (application) conditions warrant.
  • drive much faster provisioning of enterprise applications. Time to provision and scale can decrease from months to minutes.
  • build processing capabilities at the edge of the network, capturing “data in motion” for real-time decision-making and contextual insight.
  • evolve to a more platform-driven security approach in which visibility is improved across all infrastructure domains, devices, applications, and services — enabling protection before, during, and after attacks.

Full study findings can be found here.

I have no doubt that implementing the elements of a Fast IT model — including Cisco UCS — will help organizations to be more agile and innovative. By moving to a policy-based IT approach, IT can free resources and people to realize the longtime goal of becoming a true partner in driving business outcomes.

In the IoE economy, Fast IT is the way forward.

Join us in the social conversation on Twitter at #FutureOfIT.

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How to Make Money from Smart Cities

As cities around the world grow in size, we are beginning to see that strained resources, infrastructure, and services are causing natural limits to urban growth, which in turn limits the economic growth opportunity.  To combat this, cities as diverse as Barcelona, Nice, Kansas City and Songdo in South Korea, are starting to leverage advanced technologies and data analysis to create smart, connected cities.  These cities, and others around the globe, are building out new digital services such as smart lighting, traffic, waste management and data analytics to reduce costs, tap new sources of revenue, create new innovation business districts and improve the overall quality of urban life.

Not only will the creation of smart cities generate huge value for the cities and their inhabitants, but great opportunities will also exist for the vendors and partners who help to create and operate these digitally smart cities of the future.  However, the question is where and how can partners such as infrastructure providers, technology and services companies, and communication providers participate?  And, what types of revenues can they generate from helping to create smart cities?

Based on Read More »

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Student Entrepreneurs Develop Smart Device for the Visually Impaired

The city of Nancy was once the Art Nouveau capital of France. Today it is a smart city, incorporating tagging systems in its municipal infrastructure to give citizens access to data captured from traffic lights, bus systems, crosswalks, and more.

Companies are developing technologies that combine this data and location information to solve everyday inconveniences for people. A team of Cisco Networking Academy students from University of Lorraine used this connection of people, process, data, and things to improve life for visually impaired people. They created a networked walking stick that helps users move safely and independently in smart cities like Nancy.

Handisco Stick users will be able to use data from tagged locations to move independently and safely around cities

Handisco Stick users will be able to use data from tagged locations to move independently and safely around cities

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The Internet of Everything: New Job Roles, New Education Required

****This article has been updated to remove a factoid discussing IoE and manufacturing job growth.****

We have entered the world of the Internet of Everything (IoE)—a world that brings people, data, processes and things together into a vast web of connectivity. From wearable devices that monitor our vital statistics to household appliances that anticipate our needs to smart cars that detect traffic jams and automatically re-route our journeys, the IoE represents an increasingly digital and mobile world that promises to improve our lives.

Twenty-five billion devices will be connected by next year, and that number will grow to 50 billion by 2020. All of this new data that the IoE generates will change the job landscape forever.  These are exciting developments with unprecedented potential, but the rapidly expanding IoE requires specialized skill sets that don’t yet exist, resulting in a critical talent gap. Read More »

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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Brush Your Teeth, Change Your Passwords, Update Your Software

Listening to the radio on the way to work recently, I heard that hackers had stolen some 1.2 billion usernames and passwords, affecting as many as 420,000 websites. When asked what listeners could do to protect themselves, the security expert speaking recommended changing passwords.

He did not mention which ones. Indeed, the names of the compromised sites have not even been publicly named for fear of making the problem worse, so there is no way of knowing how to prioritize which passwords to change. Adding to my irritation, I had just changed several passwords in the wake of the Heartbleed/OpenSSL compromise a few months ago. Perhaps like you, I have more than 100 passwords. Changing them all is not really an option. Read More »

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