I often joke with our customers and ask, “How many of you woke up this morning saying, ‘If I could only buy software defined networking (SDN) today, then my day would be complete.’”  My point in asking this is to underscore that it’s not about the technology itself, but it’s about the benefits – or the outcomes – that this solution achieves which is what our customers want.

There’s no question that there’s a massive amount of market disruption occurring. Whether it’s economic shifts around the world, technology transitions we see with mobile, cloud, big data, analytics, security, SDN and the Internet of Everything (IoE), or the disruption of business models across every industry, our customers are facing a great deal of complexity coming at them fast – and all at the same time.

Whereas IT was once thought of as a necessary evil, customers I speak with today understand that technology will differentiate and transform their businesses amidst all of this complexity. CEOs understand that technology, at a minimum, must be a strategic enabler for their business, and ideally a strategic differentiator.  They realize if they do not stay ahead, a competitor can – and will – disrupt them.

This leads to an incredible amount of pressure on CIOs, who are being asked to make IT decisions faster than ever. More than 70 percent of IT budget is spent keeping existing systems running, with 50 percent of IT budgets spent on labor alone. So how can they create more time to be both strategic partners and simultaneously play Chief Innovation Officer for their CEO and organization?

Imagine an IT system built around open systems delivering the customer’s choice of operating model and a service-oriented delivery with speed and agility, while retaining security, compliance and scalability. This new model transforms and simplifies operations and evolves and unifies infrastructure, platforms and applications in order to capture the $19 trillion opportunity that IoE presents. This is new model is Fast IT.

Fast IT is about enabling CIOs to take advantage of the value presented by an increasingly smart, mobile and connected world. With all of our customers, we’re talking about simplified, intelligent and secure IT. Increased automation, a programmable and agile infrastructure, a cloud-based fabric of connections, analytics tools capable of addressing valuable data in motion, and security capable of addressing an ever-expanding perimeter are the key components of a Fast IT model

Cisco estimates a 20 to 25 percent improvement in IT costs as a result of Fast IT. This “IoE dividend” can be redeployed to address new business capabilities now possible as a result of the fast, automated and secure systems deployed within a business. And, while an improvement in IT costs presents value for CIOs, the Fast IT model enables businesses to take advantage of previously missed business value. For instance, taking advantage of the massive amount of data created by the 21 billion networked devices and connections anticipated by 2018 (source: Cisco VNI) in real-time utilizing analytics tools produces a very tangible outcome from the increased connections with the Internet of Things (IoT).

We are addressing our customers’ concerns around flat budgets and missed opportunities by enabling Fast IT through a series of solutions from the data center to the network edge.  “A significant portion of our operational staff time is spent provisioning and troubleshooting network end points. With ACI much of this becomes automated,” said Jaz Rahul, Network Architect, E*Trade.

The programmability offered by Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) delivers application performance and agility that goes beyond SDN.  As Eduardo Maldonado, CTO of UOL stated: “We looked at many SDN solutions and chose ACI because of simplicity, automation, cost reduction, and multi-tenancy capabilities. We needed the automation capabilities to be simple, straight-forward and robust in order to connect our customers to the cloud. The key benefit is we can now offer one single solution to automate and simplify the network not only for our cloud but for our customers’ networks. ”

IoE is pushing nearly every company, country and individual to become digital. We are working with customers to think about Fast IT as a means to take full advantage of the $19 trillion at stake. Every CIO knows Fast IT is necessary – there is simply no other way to take advantage of the positive benefits of technology transitions underway.

Our customers are already taking advantage of these benefits and together we can – and will – continue to change the IT landscape.



Chuck Robbins

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Cisco Systems, Inc.