There’s absolutely no doubt IT operations and infrastructure teams are dealing with a more complex operating environment than ever before.
With the explosion in the use of SaaS-based apps and public cloud services, together with existing on-premises systems and a geographically distributed user base, IT is being asked to support more complex application portfolios and system setups.
To date, teams have absorbed the extra workload out of sheer necessity, helping to keep the business operating with resilient and secure internal and remote access to corporate systems.
In the mid to longer term, however, this extra workload is unsustainable.
The question is: how can IT simplify this hybrid environment and ‘new normal’? As developers, how do we think about building simplicity into these environments; and as IT, how do we connect, secure and run all these components, platforms and assets, presenting them seamlessly to the people that need access to them, all while improving operational resilience and efficiency?
The first thing to know is that as IT professionals and business leaders, we’re already on the right track. In acknowledging these challenges exist, we’re now able to start to address them.
IT is no longer just protecting corporate HQ and branch offices. It is now also protecting hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of home users that - combined - have shifted the workforce and therefore the network boundary out to the edge.
I believe this situation will remain with us for a while yet. A Gartner survey this year found 47 percent of companies will allow employees to work remotely all the time, and 82 percent will allow people to split time between the office and home.
We need to rethink how to make this work. One of the challenges from an IT perspective is to provide a seamless experience for the office and the home-based user.
Organisations will need to architect their networks differently, and bring together internal teams that look after infrastructure and applications in order to create that seamless experience. They also need the support of management and intelligence tools.
At Cisco, we’ve created a platform that helps IT to connect, secure and run these restructured environments. We’re helping customers operate, manage and control their hybrid infrastructures a lot more efficiently than they are able to today.
From a network perspective, our aim is to provide consistent ‘translation’ between all the different cloud and on-prem components in an environment, such that differences in terminology, constructs and architectures no longer matter. That is, the network creates a simplified, connected experience for all end users and abstracts away any residual complexity.
Broadly, our platform comprises several components.
The first of these is Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO). This helps break down operation silos and gives teams the visibility, insight, and actions they need to improve business outcomes. With IWO, IT can gain visibility into the health, usage, and performance of the instrastructure stack; get insight into infrastructure bottlenecks and factors that increase cost; and determine actions that continuously optimise infrastructure to deliver application performance.
IWO’s power increases when combined with Cisco AppDynamics to provide complete visibility and insight into application and infrastructure interdependencies, and to optimise both aspects of end-to-end experience delivery.
On the core (internal) network side, Cisco ACI coupled with our Nexus Insights dashboard helps manage and maintain networks by providing a deep understanding of a network’s constituents and properties, what it’s doing, how it is being used, how it is responding to the demands on it, and, most importantly, how it will respond to new loads arising due to new business processes or application pressures. As and when changes occur, Nexus Insights detects and predicts anomalies in as close to real time as possible, helping to minimise downtime.
How the application is accessed is also becoming critical either via VPN or, as in the case of cloud services, over the public internet. Several tools may assist. ThousandEyes, for example, offers visibility of the network between the corporate environment and the home. It means as IT, we can get a fairly comprehensive look at how applications are performing, the end user’s perspective, and what remediations need to be carried out. Another set of tools called SASE - secure access service edge - brings together the best of cloud-managed SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security in one solution, helping distributed workforces stay connected and secure.
There is a lot to unpack here - and we’d like to help you on your journey. To learn how Cisco Intersight can help bring order to your hybrid IT world, view our free webinar.
Also view our webinar about Cisco Nexus Dashboard, which provides a unified operations view across all your sites and services.