'Fast IT' a must for digitisation

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'Fast IT' will operationalise businesses in combating the challenges of the oncoming Internet of everything, said Wendy Mars, Cisco VP of enterprise business for EMEAR, at the Cisco One Africa Partner Summit in Limpopo this week.

According to Cisco, today, IT must execute a step change in operating efficiency (costs), business enablement (agility), and security. The IT organisation itself must become both a source and a facilitator of disruptive innovation - pivoting with the company as it changes business models on the fly, and responding to a dynamic world of increased complexity and new wellsprings of value.

Faced with these new demands, organisations require a new model, which Cisco dubs 'fast IT'

To deploy fast IT is to unify infrastructure to reduce network complexity and speed up service deployment, explained David Meads, Cisco Africa VP.

Fast IT has three streams, Mars elaborated: software and automation, a converged and consistent infrastructure, and a flexible consumption model which enables scaling in a modular way that allows rapid growth without compromising efficiency.

Back to basics

The key principles of fast IT are "simple, smart, and secure," Mars continued.

The "simple" component, which in essence means reducing complexity to lower costs, can be broken down into unifying and discrete domains (such as network, security and storage) to manage them as a pool of resources, enabling open and programmable infrastructure, and automating manual and labour-intensive IT tasks and workflow, Mars explained.

The "smart" element of fast IT means capitalising on intelligence for more agile operations, and involves driving centralised policy management, using infrastructure analytics to optimise operations end-to-end, and harnessing data in motion to implement fast-moving changes, said Mars.

"Secure" is a call to action to defend against attacks dynamically, which involves expanding the security perimeter across all infrastructure, improving visibility of threats through analytics, and using identity- and context-based information to respond faster to security threats, she continued.

Keeping the lights on

Currently, IT organisations spend upwards of 80% of their time and money on everyday operation or "keeping the lights on," said Mars. This is because IT infrastructure is complex, unwieldy and expensive, often as a result of being hurriedly built without much foresight, she said.

While IT infrastructure has always been complex, it is now more complex than ever before, and the operational costs of this complexity could be better used on innovation, Mars put forward.

The rapid rise of digitisation means businesses are faced with a choice to "either do nothing or try to reinvent yourself," said Meads. While reinventing and re-configuring a business is risky, it is probably riskier to fail to adapt, he concluded.

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