Home Enterprise Solutions Cisco exec's 'six imperatives' for IT

Cisco exec's 'six imperatives' for IT

Cisco executive president for worldwide sales and field operations Chris Dedicoat has told an audience of thousands that there are "six imperatives" for organisations.

• Security

The attack surface is growing, and threat actors "are very bright," he said at the Cisco Live event held in Melbourne on Thursday.

The October 2016 DDoS attacks on Dyn involved more than 100,000 devices recruited into a botnet to deliver 1.2Tbps of traffic. "We still don't know where the attack came from," Dedicoat observed.

He cited another example where a ransomware attack on a transport agency took out all of its computers, POS devices and so on for a day. The upside was that travellers didn't have to pay.

Organisations want their systems to be simpler but more secure, and also want to minimise the time to detection, said Dedicoat. (During a media briefing at the event, Cisco vice-president of security marketing Jeff Samuels said Cisco reduced its own time to detection from 14 hours in May 2016 to just over six hours by October 2016. Some studies suggest 100 days is a more typical figure.)

Cisco collects a massive amount of security-related data every day, including 100 billion DNS requests. For comparison, Google fields around 3.5 billion search requests a day.

It then uses AI and machine learning to help make sense of all this data. Its Talos threat intelligence operation employs around 250 data scientists, as well as a number of hackers – "we have to understand the mentality of the hacker," Dedicoat said.

• Network automation

"It's time to let the machines run the machines," said Dedicoat. This is the only way that infrastructure deployment and management would be able to keep up with the demands from business given the scale of today's networks.

Organisations want their networks to be simpler, yet sophisticated, Cisco APJ vice-president of architectures Dave West told a media briefing at the event, so consequently DNA (Cisco's Digital Network Architecture) is "a massive part of our customers' adoption".

• Application-centric infrastructure

Application-centric infrastructure allows IT organisations to work in parallel for faster deployments.More than 3000 customers have deployed DNA, which enables provisioning and orchestration at scale with speed. What took days now takes minutes, he said, citing IDC figures showing a 400% return on investment and a 28% productivity gain from adopting DNA.

• Cloud

Organisations typically use four or five cloud providers, Dedicoat said. Cisco wants to make it simpler to pick the right cloud for the right workflows at the right time. Recent Cisco announcements include the forthcoming availability of Azure on UCS, and validated designs for running Docker on Cisco hardware. "Our role is to provide the capability" for customers to take advantage of a multi-cloud world, said Dedicoat.

• Analytics

"The network sees everything," so the right analytics can unlock insights for the whole business, not just IT.

Cisco intends to acquire application performance monitoring and management provider AppDynamics which claims to link application performance to business outcomes.

Cisco's Tetration Analytics uses machine learning to analyse all packets flowing around a data centre. A cloud version is imminent, he said. Senior vice-president of IT infrastructure John Manville said Tetration, along with other tools, revealed that a proposed new $20 million data centre was not actually required.

• Talent

Attracting and retaining talent, and getting the best from staff is a common problem.

Cisco plans to train three million Cisco-certified professionals over the next 18 months, and to increase the range of courses, particularly in analytics and security. Dedicoat also pointed to Cisco's DevNet developer community, and the Innovation Central operations in Sydney and Perth as "a great example of how innovation is taking place."

He noted that forced mid-life career changes were a concern of governments, and called upon industry to collaborate more closely on this issue. Cisco is focusing on those who have been released from prison or have left the military.

Dedicoat used this part of the keynote to spotlight the company's Spark collaboration system, especially the Cisco Spark Board meeting room system and the close integration of Spark with iOS, which includes the ability to swipe a call from an iPhone to a Spark Board, to tell Siri to perform a Spark operation, and the inclusion of Spark sessions in the recent calls list.

"The partnership with Apple is something we're really proud of," he said.

More generally, Dedicoat predicted the next generation Internet would be on an "unimaginable" scale with 500 billion devices being connected over the next 10 years.

"We want to lead that," he said, so Cisco is spending big to develop the technology: $6 billion on R&D, including $3 billion on networking. The company's portfolio of some 20,000 patents — including those relating to segmented routing — is "truly valuable," he observed.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.