Fast IT – It started in our Data Center, and now it’s everywhere

“Fast IT” started for Cisco as “Easy IT”. It was our data center infrastructure engineers who saw that they could automate a 3-week job (building virtual server infrastructure in the data center) in under 15 minutes, and of course they jumped at the chance. They built a set of scripts to automate these processes and saved themselves a LOT of work.

Then Cisco acquired some new tools, and Cisco IT could offer Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to all our employees, with simplified catalog menus. These tools could go further. Once we built the scripts, we could offer middleware platforms to our developers, and IT services, like hardware delivery and software services,to our employees. We’re automating Platform as a Service (PaaS) for our developers, and automating the process of onboarding new employees to get them all their accounts and equipment and business applications set up in a few hours.

Our application developers then led the next wave of Fast IT, by using our PaaS catalog capability to deploy complex DevOps, or Continuous Delivery platforms, on new private cloud infrastructure in a few minutes.  Suddenly, the agile, automated testing and DevOps platform was something they could order in a catalog, and get within minutes (instead of weeks or months). Continuous Delivery is now an easy way to deliver new business capabilities inside Cisco. Continuous Delivery is not just a new software delivery model. Cisco IT is adopting it as a new infrastructure delivery model as well, and is experimenting with Continuous Delivery IT process models to meet business needs for new hardware capabilities several times faster than before.

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is a part of this model, enabling faster virtual and physical network capabilities, and application-configurable networking. Recent work with Intercloud capabilities stretch the private cloud into multiple hybrid cloud locations. There are a lot of new possibilities ahead.

Still, as an IT Infrastructure guy, I like the thought that all these new business capabilities, the whole beginning of Fast IT, started with IT Infrastructure engineers who were just trying to automate a difficult process and make things easier for themselves. That’s a great beginning to a business revolution in IT-driven speed and agility.