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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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Summary: Fast IT Workshop #3- What Fast IT Means for Service Providers

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 highlights what IT leaders can do now to adopt a roadmap to Fast IT. Today’s post will discuss how service providers specifically stand to benefit from a Fast IT strategy specific to their needs.

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Fast IT Workshop #3 – What Fast IT Means for Service Providers

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. Today’s post discusses how service providers specifically stand to benefit from a Fast IT strategy specific to their needs.

To read the first post in this series by Colin Kincaid which introduces Fast IT, a new model for IT, click here. 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 fourth and final post in this series by Jeff Reed which explores how a Fast IT model can mitigate infrastructure challenges, click here.

Over the course of this blog series, we’ve discussed how the Fast IT model can empower businesses to take advantage of new connections and prepare for the future. Along with businesses, service providers (SPs) can embrace innovation in IT models as a key driver to business agility and transformation.

To thrive in a constantly changing environment, SPs need to embrace an architecture that enables them to transform their business… essentially to bring the best of their network capabilities and blend them with those from a web company to effectively become a Fast SP.  To achieve this, architecture is built from both physical and virtual infrastructure designed to be faster and more flexible.   Ultimately, an architecture that can move quickly and respond to real-time demands will give providers the ability to acquire, analyze, and act on the influx of data and connections created by the growing Internet of Everything (IoE) – and ultimately offer improved services for their end-customers. With Cisco’s announcement earlier this year around the Evolved Services Platform, Service Providers now have advanced means to enable providers to deploy new services to businesses and consumers alike.

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Fast IT Workshop #2 – Roadmap to Fast IT

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. This post will discuss what IT leaders can do now to adopt a roadmap to Fast IT.

To read the first post in this series by Colin Kincaid which introduces Fast IT, a new model for IT, 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.

The old way of doing things won’t work anymore for us IT professionals. The “application economy” and explosion of connected devices have increased the complexity of IT to such levels that throwing bodies at the problems won’t solve them anymore. The new Fast IT model we discussed in previous blogs enables IT departments to shift focus from spending too much time keeping the lights on to capturing the value of today’s connections and preparing for the future.

Here is an example of the CapEx and OpEx savings our own Cisco IT has achieved by following a Fast IT model.

ACI Delivers Business Outcomes | CiscoLive

Like any strategic initiative, the transition to a Fast IT model requires careful planning and change management.  In particular, organizations need to develop a plan that encompasses people, organizational processes and technologies. Once this foundational plan is in place, CIOs are then ready to begin the steps of preparing their business for Fast IT and building an organization focused on service delivery.

To assist with this process, we’ve created a four-step roadmap. Here’s a closer look at each step:

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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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