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When Facing the Unknown, Agility is Your Superpower

Source: CIO UK
In March, as the number of coronavirus infections grew exponentially across the United States, SkyLakes Medical Center in rural Oregon prepared for an influx of patients. In 48 hours, they renovated and opened an entire floor that had not been used for patient care in years.

The city of Buffalo, New York knew its non-emergency and city services hotline was going to be more important than ever. Realizing they needed to field calls while working from home, they routed everything through the University of Buffalo’s managed call system (wow, nice teamwork).

If you are a parent, you likely remember the exact moment your child, along with millions of others, was sent home from school but still needed to go to class. I don’t have to tell you about the transformation that has happened in homes around the world.

In countless moments like these, whether they wanted to or not…technology groups suddenly took center stage. It was up to them to build a strategy to transform their infrastructure – and execute it – practically overnight. By and large, they rose to the occasion, found creative solutions, and delivered the technological agility needed to serve their users in an incredibly crucial time.  

This rapid transformation stretched IT groups to their limits. For years, organizations across verticals have built their businesses on incredibly powerful networking infrastructure, but that infrastructure hasn’t always been the most flexible or nimble. Businesses, governments, and schools might have had some of the most powerful equipment deployed in their networks, but they had apprehension about making significant changes because they were wary of a fault or outage. It was too important to mess with. Not to mention these systems were often complicated to use, manage and monitor. 

We have to put those days behind us. No more static infrastructure we’re afraid to touch (the fear of the fat finger). No more guessing what might be causing a network outage (the mean-time-to-blame issue). No more feeling locked into an approach that hasn’t aged well. Agility is the new IT superpower for technology groups; our most important measure of utility.  Not just today, but for years to come.

The truth is most groups are more flexible, more adaptive and faster than they believe themselves to be. And they find out their true abilities in moments of crisis. This is especially true of engineering teams. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard my own team proclaim how efficient and powerful the group is in “crisis mode.” When failure is not an option, they are freed to move quickly, and it unlocks their creativity. We need to take those abilities and apply them to the most important problems of our day – not just our most urgent.

To deliver this kind of agility every day, we need to know what’s really going on and drive change quickly. We must have best-in-class insights and automation. I’m not talking about pages and pages of data and analytics, but true insights — knowing what is really happening on your network when it really matters. Not just replacing CLI, but true automation – being able to transform your infrastructure with the click of a button, and your infrastructure being smart enough to provide assurance that it’s doing what you intended. The system is telling you what you need, even before you know you need it.

At Cisco, we’re driving all our management products onto a core set of agile platforms that deliver the insights and automation technology teams need. This will allow them to harness the power of Cisco’s whole portfolio – the best networking, security and collaboration tools in the industry – with a radically simpler experience. These platforms are open and extensible, allowing partners to develop incredible application experiences on top of Cisco technology. By opening these platforms, we put the power of the infrastructure and the richness of the data we generate in the hands of our development partners. Together, we can achieve what neither of us could do together.  

Having simplified platforms that can deliver true insights and automation is critical now, particularly as most organizations are accelerating their cloud transformation. At Cisco, we don’t believe you should sacrifice visibility and control for the flexibility promised by cloud solutions. Insights and automation that stretch from the application itself, across public, private or on-prem infrastructure is not just a nice-to-have, but necessary. No matter where each user is – a corporate site, hospital, school, working from home or walking down the street – they need to have the most secure, most ubiquitously connected, best possible experience connecting them to the cloud.

We’ve made strategic choices when building our solutions, recognizing that not all organizations are in the same place on their digital journey. We’ve maintained a cloud-neutral philosophy, partnering with all the major cloud providers, making it easier to embrace a cloud-first world. 

IT groups are the center of attention right now because, regardless of size, networking and collaboration technology is the most important asset to keeping our teams safe, connected and productive. Cisco can deliver the agility and power you need to keep your organization not just surviving in these times, but thriving.

Todd Nightingale is SVP, GM Enterprise Networking & Cloud at Cisco.

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