London Eye
London Eye

This past week I attended the 2015 Gartner Data Center Conference in London.  This is always a great conference to learn from, although it always pays to look out for some of the hype too. There were key note presentations from the sprinter Michael Johnson and from previous UK government Vince Cable, which presented a rather concerning potential scenario of how the economies of the UK and Europe could evolve over the next few years.  The IT topics covered ranges from Bi-modal IT to DevOps to Software Asset Management (SAM) to SDN to Cloud and IT Operations Management (ITOM).  Here are some of my key learnings, in this “part 1”, comprising a few observations, and a sceptical view of some of the hype that I came across.

  • With a lot of discussion around “Bi-Modal IT”, there was of course reference to Mode 1 and “Legacy IT”. One of my favourite “sound bites” was a definition of legacy IT in one of the opening seminars – defined as “anything that works!”. Love it 🙂 !!!
  • One of the best sessions (IMHO) was around “Anti-Fragile IT”. Disturbances, randomness, volatility are essential to drive Anti-fragility. This principle is when you break things, you make them stronger, Netflix and their “chaos monkey” are one of the classic examples of this.
  • I definitely learned that there is complete mis-understanding of the reality of public cloud usage in the enterprise. A poll question in one of the sessions asked “How many different external cloud providers (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) is your enterprise using today”. 47% of respondents indicated “between 3 and 5”.  Cisco’s measurements, based upon network traffic analysis, from our Cloud Consumption Service tells us quite a different reality. As shown in the diagram below, typically we find that enterprises are actually using 15-20+ as many cloud service providers as they think they are.  If you are one of those 89% who took part in the poll that thing you are using 10 or fewer cloud providers, our data indicates that there is a high probability that you don’t have a good grasp on the extent of “shadow IT” in your organization.  Hence I’d recommend you to talk to us about the Cisco Cloud Consumption Service!


Shadow IT - Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services
Shadow IT – Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services


  • SDN was, as expected, a key topic for discussion. One presenter commented that Cisco ACI is not really a “true” SDN architecture.  While in theory this may be true, ACI set out to solve networking problems, specifically to help address the application agility issues caused by traditional networking.  IMHO one of SDN’s real problems is not how the architecture is defined, but what are the important the use cases that customer should consider and how SDN can help real world customer problems.  Cisco ACI solves real world problems and for me that’s more important that architectural “purity”.  And I guess that’s why ACI is winning multiple awards!  (e.g. here)
  • Software asset management – and the challenges of vendor audits – especially as software licensing agreements for the large enterprise software solutions that run many businesses become more and more complex – is a topic that IT organizations should be paying more attention too. There was a very good presentation on this topic at the conference, where I heard that bills from software vendor audits can run to $10M – $30M+ in large enterprises.  Isn’t it time your organization prepared to take avoidance measures?  For more insight into the kind of tools we in Cisco Services apply to help customers with these challenges, please do check out the following video.



That’s it for part 1.  Look out for my part 2 sometime in the next week. One final request: if you attended, or are attending the US “version” week commencing 7th December, what were your key takeaways?  I’d be keen to hear!


Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)