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Fast IT Workshop #4 – Innovative Infrastructure Management: Challenges and Opportunities

As business leaders navigate an increasingly complex world of connections, they need IT to provide a programmable infrastructure that can dynamically respond to their needs. This four-part blog series explores how responsive infrastructure helps IT leaders succeed. The first post in this series, by Colin Kincaid, discusses how Fast IT, a new model of IT, offers a broader focus of next-generation infrastructure. The second post in this series by Jim Grubb highlighted what IT leaders can do now to adopt a roadmap to Fast IT. The third post in this series by Doug Webster discusses how service providers specifically stand to benefit from Fast IT. Today’s post, the final in this four-part series, will explore how a Fast IT model can mitigate common infrastructure challenges. 

Many organizations realize that they need to change the way they are networking today and they are looking to SDN as the answer. However, the answer is broader than SDN.

To succeed in a new world of networking, organizations need a Fast IT model. In other words, an infrastructure that embraces technology transitions using programmability, automation, orchestration, virtualization, and security throughout.

As executives look to future-proof their business, many are facing innovation challenges in today’s infrastructure landscape. IT organizations are increasingly expected to drive revenue growth, reduce operational costs, mitigate security risk, and increase innovation – and do it all faster than ever before. Today, it is absolutely critical for IT to partner with the business and continue to be relevant to the organization’s growth.

So, what distinctive differentiation points of a next-generation infrastructure can mitigate these challenges? How can Fast IT help IT organizations deliver greater business value?

 

Challenge #1: Be More Agile

It’s becoming clear IT needs the ability to respond quickly. There is a growing proliferation of IT as a Service (ITaaS) applications that supplant traditional service models. And in today’s landscape, business agility requires application agility, so IT teams need to provision applications much faster. IT leaders are increasingly measured by their speed to deploy applications because this will determine how successful they are in new markets and new business models.

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Fast IT Workshop #1: Beyond SDN _ Expanding the Conversation

As business leaders navigate an increasingly complex world of connections, they need IT to dynamically respond to their needs. This four-part blog series explores how responsive and programmable infrastructure helps IT leaders succeed. Today’s post highlights how Fast IT, a new model of IT, encompasses a broader focus of next-generation infrastructure and how it can drive business value.

To read the second post in this series by Jim Grubb which discusses a roadmap to adopt a Fast IT model, click here. To read the third post in this series by Doug Webster which highlights how service providers specifically stand to benefit from Fast IT, click here. To read the fourth and final post in this series by Jeff Reed which explores how a Fast IT model can mitigate infrastructure challenges, click here.

Lately, there has been a lot of chatter around what software-defined networking (SDN) really is. Initially, SDN was a term used to explain the concept of splitting the forwarding plane from the control plane with the added benefit of automation and orchestration. However, recently SDN has become a “buzzword” attached to products that vendors are trying to sell as explained by Network Computing’s Tom Hollingsworth.

Critics of SDN say that it means too many things to too many different people, making what was once network architecture into a philosophy. This was affirmed by Colin Bannon, Chief Architect and CTO, British Telecom, as heard in this recording of the “Business Implications of Software-Defined Networking” panel discussion at Cisco Live Milan in January. During the panel, he suggested SDN means one of three things:

  1. Centralized control which is especially popular with data center,
  2. Centralized control but with lots of distributed intelligence, or
  3. A software programmability into existing infrastructure, meaning more of an orchestration set.

Tim Zimmerman, Research Vice President, Gartner, echoed this sentiment at this same SDN panel: “SDN tends to have a meaning for everybody. It’s not always the same meaning for each person who asks the question.” He added, “We have to worry a little about using it to mean everything. I encourage people to ask the additional questions to ensure they’re getting the right answers when we explore what SDN means to them.”

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At Cisco, we know that the old way of doing things won’t work anymore and SDN seems to solve many issues organizations face today with programmability. However, we want to expand the conversation beyond just SDN to include application-centricity, automation, virtualization, and orchestration. We’ve labeled these types of capabilities Fast IT. Fast IT is a new model for IT with a drive for less complexity, more agility, and comprehensive security. With the majority of IT budgets tied up in manual processes, IT struggles to free up resources needed to deliver innovative technology services to the business. IT must deliver value faster, and be more agile and less complex in responding to changing business needs. IT must enable the business to innovate and achieve business outcomes faster through a simple, smart and secure IT model.

So, what do IT leaders need to do?

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New Year, New Challenges, New Successes: SDN Bringing Agility, Security and TCO to Campus and Branch Networks

Before recently taking on a new role as Cisco’s vice president and general manager of Software-Defined Network (SDN) with the enterprise networking group, I served as the vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Unified Access portfolio and led the expansion of the Catalyst 2k, 3k and 4k series product line, which has seen a lot of growth and developed a strong customer base over the past couple of years. Cisco invests heavily in R&D for these products, and has introduced many innovations improving security, application visibility/control, energy savings and converged wired and wireless infrastructure over the past few years.

But as I shifted into my new role and looked back at some of the new Unified Access solutions we introduced alongside our system architecture, I saw a curious disconnect: in some cases, it was getting more difficult for our customers to quickly take advantage of our new innovations.                                                                                                         

At Cisco, we design products to make customers’ lives easier and more productive. Not to gather dust because they’re too hard to figure out!

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Cisco & Lenovo: Helping Customers Manage Energy via Smarter PCs featuring Cisco EnergyWise

During our recent conversations around the benefits of an Enterprise Next-Generation Network (ENGN), the value of innovations such as Cisco EnergyWise has come up repeatedly.

Numerous global customers have reported back to us on the value of this feature in helping them to monitor, control and report on energy usage for IP-enabled devices.  These customers include Brunel University in the UK.  Thanks to Cisco EnergyWise, Brunel was able to achieve significant cost savings -- all from a feature that is available across Cisco’s Catalyst switches and doesn’t incur any additional expense!

This week, Lenovo became the latest member of the EnergyWise ecosystem – a group of over 80 partners working together with Cisco to allow customers to really maximize the impact of EnergyWise for their organizations.

The collaboration between Cisco and Lenovo will involve EnergyWise being natively supported on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops.  ThinkPad laptops featuring EnergyWise include models of the ThinkPad Edge, L, R, T, X, W and SL Series laptops.

So, what does this actually mean for customers?

Customers with a Cisco network and Lenovo ThinkPad laptops will be able to use the management and monitoring services from Cisco EnergyWise to establish more customizable and accurate energy management policies to help save money during times of peak energy costs, as well as when PCs and other IT equipment are not in use.

According to Jeff Reed, vice president of Cisco’s Unified Access Business Unit, “Lenovo pre-integrating Cisco EnergyWise in their ThinkPad laptops enables our customers to expand the value of their Cisco network without installing any additional software.  Now our Catalyst switching customers have a highly accurate PC energy management solution that delivers impressive energy savings at no extra cost.”

For more information on Cisco EnergyWise, please click here.

For more information on this week’s announcement, please click here to see Lenovo’s official press release.

If you have any comments or queries, please do not hesitate to DM me via Twitter or email me. I look forward to hearing from you!

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