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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.”

Cisco_ FastITWorkshop_#1_ALT_5.5.14

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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How IT Leaders Can Embrace the Change that Comes with Network Programmability

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs. This blog series examines how infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage and highlights the differences between programmable infrastructure and traditional infrastructure, and what programmability means for your entire IT infrastructure.

To read the first post in this series that defines infrastructure programmability, click here.

To read the second post in this series that discusses benefits of network programmability, click here.

According to a recent Network Computing article, changes in network virtualization (overlaying virtual networks over a physical infrastructure) and network programmability (provisioning and controlling its behavior) are causing some to wonder what’s in store for the networking profession.

These changes mean that our skill sets will evolve and our jobs will get more interesting. As the need to build more agility into IT systems becomes more urgent, we are looking for ways to reduce complexity, drive simplification and reduce costs to invest in new initiatives that are critical to the business. We must free up resources so that IT can build new capabilities and provide faster time to new business competitiveness. How can we do this? A new model for IT – one that is simple, smart and secure.

 The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs.  View Executive Perspectives.

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs. View Executive Perspectives.

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Mining Copper Ore — and Digital Insights — in the Internet of Everything Economy

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a juggernaut of change, transforming organizations in profound ways. It sows disruption, and it grants enormous opportunities. But this sweeping wave of change is not reserved for what we normally think of as “technology companies.” In the IoE economy, even seemingly “analog” endeavors must be bestowed with network connectivity, no matter how venerable a company’s roots or old its traditions.

In a world where Everyone Is a Tech Company, there are some great examples of older companies that are heeding this new reality. Retail, manufacturing, transportation, and education are just a few of the places where people, process, data, and things are being connected in startling new ways. Companies that are ahead of the IoE transformation curve will ensure their competiveness in marketplaces that are ever more vulnerable to disruption.

Dundee Precious Metals provides a great example of a company that is embracing change. A far-flung global organization, the company, for example, runs Europe’s largest mine in Chelopech, Bulgaria, from which it ships gold-rich copper ore to a smelter in Namibia. Yet through IoE-related technologies, executives at the company’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada, have gained unprecedented visibility into all aspects of their operations.

The end result? A boon in safety, efficiency, and productivity.

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Why IT Leaders Stand to Benefit from the Natural Process of Network Programmability

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs.

This blog series examines how infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage and highlights the differences between programmable infrastructure and traditional infrastructure, and what programmability means for your entire IT infrastructure.

To read the first post in this series that defines infrastructure programmability, click here.  To read the third post in this series that discusses how IT leaders can embrace this change, click here.

By the end of this year, the number of mobile connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and U.S. businesses alone will spend more than $13 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services. In addition, the growing convergence of mobile, cloud and the network is demanding that organizations implement the right combination of strategies, processes, and infrastructure.

As the industry is changing faster than we can imagine, we are shaping the future with a new model for IT. Today’s infrastructure must be simple, smart, and secure.

A piecemeal approach to leveraging new technology—in the midst of a fast-paced market—could leave businesses disaggregated and left on the sidelines by faster competitors.

Unleash Fast IT, an operating model that delivers simplification and orchestration through automated, agile, and programmable infrastructures. The concept of Fast IT embodies IT being agile enough to operate at the speed of business. This means that in order for your organization to be successful in an increasingly complex world you must have an infrastructure that runs at a speed and scale never before seen.

There are three core principles for Fast IT: simplicity, intelligence and security. In some ways, this model is markedly different from the current IT model, which can be highly complex and closed.

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What is Infrastructure Programmability?

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs.

This blog series examines how infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage and highlights the differences between programmable infrastructure and traditional infrastructure, and what programmability means for your entire IT infrastructure.

To read the second post in this series that discusses benefits of network programmability, click here. To read the third post in this series that discusses how IT leaders can embrace this change, click here.

The proliferation of devices and applications has increased the complexity of traditional IT infrastructure. The complexity arises from manually managing the infrastructure box-by-box that is slow and error-prone.  The adoption of cloud computing has compounded the problem with on-premises and off-premises resources. As a result, IT leaders have to allocate critical resources to maintain and troubleshoot these systems. In a recent whitepaper, Zeus Kerravala indicated that 83% of IT budget is used to simply maintain the current operating environment. This leaves precious few resources to invest in business-enabling innovation.

At the same time, business leaders are demanding their IT infrastructure to provide them with a faster time to competitive advantage. Quick time to market is paramount in a world where a new competitive advantage might only last a few months or even weeks. And, as if these challenges are not enough, new cyber-attacks not only threaten innovation but can also threaten the organization itself.

Infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage.

Infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage.

Programmability to the rescue

Infrastructure programmability provides the ability to control and change the functions of IT infrastructure. Let’s take a closer look.

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