What does Cisco ONE bring to the party ?
Despite the fact that lots of information is already readily available, I often receive requests to help to clarify what Cisco ONE is and how it fits within the wider context.
Here’s how I explain it, in simple terms, usually over a cup of tea:
“Business as usual” is no longer a viable strategy
Almost every company in every market is wrestling with the challenges of digital business transformation. It’s all about keeping ahead of the competition. Re-engineering business processes and adopting new business models – finding opportunities to generate more value for customers or deliver similar products or services at a lower cost. Some companies see this digital disruption as a threat, for others it’s an opportunity, but all are coming to realise that business as usual is not a viable option. Numerous articles(1) are available on digital disruption, and, in line with these our own contribution (Digital Vortex) anticipates that 4 out of 10 market leaders will be disrupted within the next three years.
The (IT) network is the delivery mechanism
As companies transform their business operations to ‘be digital’, the critical nature of the network starts to become increasingly clear. The introduction of a new digital process typically starts with a proof of concept, which is subsequently rolled out across the company. In parallel the original manual processes are gradually phased out. Often these legacy processes are kept viable for some time as a fall-back, before finally being retired. The company’s operations are now fully dependent on the new digital processes and the network has become the de-facto delivery mechanism for the business’ (digital) products & services. Any issue with the network now has a very direct and immediate impact on the core business, (and manual work-around is no longer available).
The business needs the network to be more than just a delivery mechanism.
Ultimately the IT network needs to be more than just a delivery mechanism, it needs to become a source of advantage for the business. Today’s best in class networks – those that are ready to help the business to respond to competitive threats and opportunities – need to be simple, intelligent, automated, and secure. And, the pressure is growing. Not only is the rate of change accelerating, the business now has a legitimate option to engage shadow IT (Cloud, SaaS etc), and to simply bypass the internal IT team.
It’s all driven by software
So, how does the IT team stay ahead? That’s a big question and clearly there’s no short answer; however there can be no doubt that software is the key enabler. Over the years much of the basic networking functionality has migrated from hardware to software, and the majority of today’s innovations are now rooted in the software. Indeed, the industry has embraced this reality through the adoption of architectures such as SDN (Software Defined Network), which abstract the control plane and enable the network fabric (devices) to be centrally managed (and so much more) via software. The potential benefits are compelling; for example it’s “infinitely” easier to upgrade a large pool of geographically dispersed devices via software than hardware. Indeed, customers deploying DNA – Cisco’s incarnation of SDN – have seen remarkable improvements, often reducing the time for network upgrades from months to minutes. These upgrades might well be minor patches bringing incremental improvements to the network. But, equally these could just as easily be enabling major and fundamental changes to the business’ operations; by safely connecting millions of IoT devices, or enabling edge computing, or integrating big data, or mobilising a quad-generation workforce, or quickly adding a remote office, or expanding capacity by migrating key applications to the cloud . . .
So, what does Cisco ONE software bring to the party?
Hopefully, in light of the above commentary, the fit and the rational for Cisco ONE software becomes more apparent:
1. Invariably it’s also more cost effective to buy these bundles than to buy all (or many) of the individual components separately(3). Note the fact that the Cisco ONE software can be also be ported (freely) from one hardware platform to another (eg to next generation hardware) can also result in significant savings.
2. By focusing on the software, we are now in a much stronger position to give our customers access to ongoing innovation – our roadmap of future enhancements. And, furthermore we will proactively invest to help our customers adopt this new functionality, (ultimately this is a win-win).
3. Firstly, we have taken our core network devices – our routers, switches, etc(2) – and have separated the software from the hardware.
4. Cisco ONE comprises software suites. These dramatically simplify the overall software lifecycle compared to buying and managing the software one feature at a time (a-la-carte).
5. And finally, but arguably most importantly, each of the Cisco ONE suites has been created with the sole intent of delivering value to the business, by specifically addressing key user needs and business scenarios
Although it may be tempting I am not going to dive into the technicalities of each Cisco ONE bundle, (perhaps in a future blog), suffice to say there is plenty more information here.
In a nutshell . . .
Businesses have no option but to respond to Digital Disruption. As operations become digital, the IT network becomes the core delivery mechanism. Ultimately this needs to deliver a competitive advantage. Inevitably this will be driven by software (and SDN). By focusing specifically on our core infrastructure software Cisco ONE enables us to maximise the innovation and the value that can deliver to our customers. Bundling this software also makes it simple to consume and more cost effective. But ultimately, we have created Cisco ONE to help enable our customers to proactively respond to Digital Disruption.
(2) Note, some elements of software are also deployed on Cloud and SaaS
(3) Common-sense dictates that this many not be the case if only the one (or very few) feature are needed from the complete bundle