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Survey Says: Fast IT is a Game-Changer

Over the last couple of months we have talked about Fast IT and the need to think about your IT model in a new way to thrive in the Internet of Everything (IoE).

Fast IT is the new model for IT that transforms and simplifies IT operations. It evolves and unifies infrastructure, platform, and applications to reduce complexity, accelerate service deployment, and increase security. It embraces today’s major technology transitions: cloud, mobility, and security, along with data analytics, new applications, and IoT. It addresses the requirements IT has to align to today’s business changes and organizational requirements.

In the IoE era, every company, no matter how venerable its brick-and-mortar roots, must think of itself as a technology company — creating digital capabilities that transform customer experiences, foster new revenue streams, spur productivity gains, or speed execution.

We wanted to understand the extent to which IT organizations were helping bring about this transformation to Fast IT — fulfilling a strategic role of innovation enabler — and which factors, if any, were holding them back. To this end, Cisco undertook a multipronged research effort. We engaged Global Market Insite (GMI), a division of Lightspeed Research, to conduct a comprehensive global survey on the impacts of IoE on the IT function, and the extent to which Fast IT capabilities have been addressed from both a strategic and an architectural standpoint. This soon-to-be-released research, the results of a comprehensive survey of more than 1,400 senior IT decision-makers across multiple vertical industries, provides insight into how IT can more successfully prepare for – and capitalize on – the Internet of Everything (IoE).

This quantitative research was complemented by a program of in-depth interviews with IT luminaries — leading industry analysts, authors, academics, IT executives, and practitioners themselves — on how IT infrastructure, IT economics, and organizational dynamics are changing.

As we know, the Internet of Everything—the intelligent connection of people, processes, data and things—has exploded in recent months. Alongside that growth, the pace of change across business and technology is occurring faster than ever and IT must innovate at a speed and scale to match. In order to capture the $19 trillion in IoE economic value, IT requires a new model.

Simply put: IoE requires Fast IT. And, it requires it now.

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Service Providers Can Utilize Network Virtualization to Advance Human and Economic Development

With a rapidly increasing number of people, devices, machines and sensors coming online across the Internet of Everything (IoE), global service providers will require new capabilities to lead in the delivery of value-added, cloud-based services and applications. Service providers are recognizing the importance of using intelligent, virtualized networks that efficiently deliver new experiences and expand revenue opportunities. While there are many residential, business and mobile solutions that service providers can offer, network virtualization is also crucial for deployment in developing regions.

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The IoE aims to bring the world together through technology and empower those who were once isolated, by transforming the ways they communicate. Access to mobile technology varies and may not be as prevalent in developing regions of the world. However, tablets and mobile phones are beginning to transform how these developing regions obtain and relay information. In fact, mobile phone subscriptions have climbed to nearly 5 billion in the Read More »

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HAVEX Proves (Again) that the Airgap is a Myth: Time for Real Cybersecurity in ICS Environments

July 3, 2014 at 7:00 am PST

The HAVEX worm is making the rounds again. As Cisco first reported back in September 2013, HAVEX specifically targets supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), industrial control system (ICS), and other operational technology (OT) environments. In the case of HAVEX, the energy industry, and specifically power plants based in Europe, seems to be the primary target. See Cisco’s security blog post for technical details on this latest variant.

When I discuss security with those managing SCADA, ICS and other OT environments, I almost always get the feedback that cybersecurity isn’t required, because their systems are physically separated from the open Internet. This practice, referred to in ICS circles as the “airgap”, is the way ICS networks have been protected since the beginning of time; and truth be told, it’s been tremendously effective for decades. The problem is, the reality of the airgap began to disappear several years ago, and today is really just a myth.

Today, networks of all types are more connected than ever before. Gone are the days where only information technology (IT) networks are connected, completely separated from OT networks.  OT networks are no longer islands unto themselves, cut off from the outside world. Technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have changed all of that. To gain business efficiencies and streamline operations, today’s manufacturing plants, field area networks, and other OT environments are connected to the outside world via wired and wireless communications – in multiple places throughout the system! As a result, these industrial environments are every bit as open to hackers and other cyber threats as their IT counterparts. The main difference, of course, is that most organizations have relatively weak cybersecurity controls in these environments because of the continued belief that an airgap segregates them from the outside world, thereby insulating them from cyber attacks. This naivety makes OT environments an easier target.

The authors of HAVEX certainly understand that OT environments are connected, since the method of transmission is via a downloadable Trojan installed on the websites of several ICS/SCADA manufacturers. What’s considered a very old trick in the IT world is still relatively new to those in OT.

It’s absolutely essential that organizations with ICS environments fully understand and embrace the fact that IT and OT are simply different environments within a single extended network. As such, cybersecurity needs to be implemented across both to produce a comprehensive security solution for the entire extended network. The most important way to securely embrace IoT is for IT and OT to work together as a team. By each relinquishing just a bit of control, IT can retain centralized control over the extended network – but with differentiated policies that recognize the specialized needs of OT environments.

We’ll never completely bulletproof our systems, but with comprehensive security solutions applied across the extended network that provide protection before, during, and after an attack, organizations can protect themselves from most of what’s out there. A significant step in the right direction is to understand that the airgap is gone forever; it’s time to protect our OT environments every bit as much as we protect our IT environments.

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Telstra Building the Foundation for Premium Cloud Services

Internet traffic in Australia is set to grow 3-fold from 2013 to 2017 according to the latest data from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI). However, if we “look behind the curtain” there is more to this story beyond just greater bandwidth demand as both consumers and enterprises are increasingly adopting cloud-based services. This move to the cloud provides a new opportunity for traditional service providers since they can uniquely combine network infrastructure and data center capacity to deliver premium cloud services with an SLA guarantee. Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, Telstra, has established itself as a trusted provider of cloud services, such as collaboration and management applications, to customers. They’re achieving this with a new architectural approach that enables a next generation Internet experience combining networks, data centers and applications together while ensuring resiliency, low-latency performance, and programmability.

Telstra recently announced Read More »

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#ISTE2014 – Beyond Connectedness to the Internet of Everything

July 1, 2014 at 11:29 am PST

ISTE2014 logoISTE 2014 marks the launch of summertime for many educators as they come together to connect and share ideas about technology and innovation.  Unsurprisingly, the theme of “connectedness” continues with this year’s show in Atlanta.  The ability for schools to connect to the Internet and help make access to technology ubiquitous is changing learning in ways we probably never imagined: students can now take virtual field trips; they can access almost any information any time with the touch of a button, and traditional textbooks are going digital.  Rapid advances in technology are accelerating change.

In 2015, 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet.  More things are connected to the Internet than there are people in the world.   By 2020, that number will double to 50 billion devices, and each person will have an average 6.58 devices.  We know that Internet of Things (IoT) connections will grow from two billion to six billion in the next five years, producing an enormous amount of information. Read More »

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