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Introducing #TheGrubbCast – Taming IT Complexity with Automation & Visibility

- November 13, 2017 - 2 Comments

A technology guru explains his new podcast on industry trends in technology & infrastructure.

About Me

I’ve always loved technology and learning about how everything works.  When I’m not working you might find me learning how to fly a plane, designing a circuit board, or taking images of deep sky objects. I’m happiest when I’m either taking something apart, or putting something together. Learning, growing, keeping things interesting – that’s the role of technology in my life.

Changing Landscape of IT

That mindset is a great fit for my role as Cisco’s Chief Technology Evangelist, where my job is to talk to customers about how to bring Cisco technology to bear on their most pressing business problems. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of talking to business and IT leaders, it’s that they have challenges with the complexity of our IT operations.

Complexity in IT infrastructure and operations has exploded as we build out new Digital capabilities for our organizations . I started at Cisco when people were just getting the email – the Web was still in early days. I’ve seen the Internet landscape grow through the WorldWide Web (remember when we called it that?), through VOIP, Video and Smart Devices, and now we’re getting whole new technologies, AI, IoT, wearable computing… the possibilities seem endless. It makes our IT yet more complex, and 90% of the average IT budget currently gets spent on keeping things running that we have built out over the years.

All About the Podcast

Lately I’ve been learning a lot about new tools to operate, manage, and deploy IT services in new ways. This podcast will focus on things I’m learning about technology, and how we’re realizing savings on those operations & personnel costs. I’ll have guests who’ll add valuable perspectives to the subject at hand, and often we’ll run through a dCloud demo of the technology at the end. (If you’re not already using dCloud, check it out at And finally, I’ll highlight a use case – either a digital transformation, or how we’re turning traditional IT groups into IT-as-a-service, or how industries are getting disrupted or are disrupting themselves before someone else can get there first.

The IT Resources Conundrum

Companies are beginning to build out digital capabilities, and they need a secure platform to build upon. One thing you can’t get wrong is security! Cisco has been putting significant resources into building out security automation, and visibility capabilities into our portfolio, both in our development work and with our acquisitions. This is where we can make real inroads toward decreasing the percentage of IT budget that gets spent on maintaining existing systems. CIOs that I talk to are looking to reduce that from 90% levels to 50%, or even down to 30%. Think about the amount of innovation that could take place if you suddenly freed up 50% of your IT budget for digitization.

The Network Intuitive

The strategy we’re talking about right now, and which we’ll talk about in future episodes of the podcast, is The Network, Intuitive – powered by intent, informed by context. This is where we use products like ACI and DNA Center to automate policy, and Tetration and the new Cisco Network Data Platform, to increase visibility into our IT infrastructures, drastically reducing investigation and troubleshooting times. Automation and visibility give us the tools to deploy new services and fix problems quickly.

WAN, Access, & Wireless Networks

WAN, Access, and Wireless networks are experiencing a fundamental change. Typically built on blacklist models, where all content was trusted until it was blacklisted, automation tools have allowed us to move to a whitelist model of network design. This takes us to an entirely new level of Zero-Trust security while allowing us to eliminate human error, letting policy drive the configuration.  Cisco innovations like the APIC-EM controller along with and Our Meraki and Viptela acquisitions have enabled us to be very competitive in this space, and future episodes of the podcast will feature the people who were part of the integration of these technologies into the Cisco DNA portfolio.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is going to get its own podcast episode, or series of episodes. Sensor technology has duly obeyed Moore’s Law, becoming better, cheaper, and smaller at a rapid pace. I’ve said, and I truly believe, that eventually we’ll have sensors on everything. And this, again, increases network complexity. By 2020, we’ll be adding a million devices per hour to the Internet, and manual enrollment & configuration isn’t scalable. We’ve arranged for a guest from our IoT group to come on the podcast and talk about the Jasper acquisition and the Cisco Kinetic IoT platform. We’ll talk about security, data processing, storage Fog computing, and how we are deploying these in an IoT world, and what we’ll have to protect all of these sensors from the network side.


And, of course, Cloud. The hybrid cloud environment is with us to stay for quite some time. We’ll talk about putting the workloads in place that make the most sense, and how CloudCenter, Cisco Secure Agile Exchange, and AppDynamics are changing application deployment and visibility.

Looking To The Future

And we’ll talk about the future – combining the visibility that we have in the areas of data center, network, IoT, cloud, and wireless/WAN to give us a single pane of glass that will give us end-to-end visibility across our IT Infrastructure. This is Cisco’s self-driving car – a self-healing system that finds and fixes problems that you don’t even have to know about. This is the only way I see getting to free up that 50-70% of the IT budget for digitization & innovation.

Welcome to the ride!


References on dCloud

Links to dCloud demos and labs for some of the Cisco solutions mentioned in The GrubbCast:




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  1. Great work, Jim. Looking forward to listening to your podcasts during my commute :)

    Congratulations on the new podcast, Jim! I'm so looking forward to hearing your insights on how automation is changing the industry - especially IoT. I love the idea about the water glasses that signal the waiters!