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Walkthrough Wednesdays

Anticipate Business Risk When Considering Technology Investments


We could debate whether certain technologies are or are not a commodity, but the fact of the matter is when many enterprises evaluate their technology spend they consider two points: function and cost.  This viewpoint yields initial cost savings when technology investements are awarded solely based on price.  Unfortunately, a major consideration has been left out when evaluating enterprise technology investments mainly on price.  The business risk and increased operating costs associated with multivendor environments, which in the long run may mitigate any initial cost savings.

This message is not new, but what is new is a research paper from Deloitte that details the value of a single-vendor architecture in mitigating business risk and those investing in technology need to consider these risks at the time of evaluation.  This paper is a great lead in for the business architecture discussion that will translate to the technical architecture.  This paper does two things:

  • It supports the single-vendor message from an independent, credible, 3rd party.  The results are objective and speak for themselves.
  • It highlights the significance of helping IT identify business risk and the impact to their business-level stakeholders. 

With a comprehensive collaboration portfolio that addresses the needs of voice, video, desktop applications and customer care.  Cisco has the breadth of coverage to deliver the single-vendor solution for collaboration.  While this paper is focused on the network, I'm excited how the message can be expanded to cover more then the network.  I can sum it up in a single word "convergence".  Networks continue to converge and while defining and architecting a converged network takes upfront effort the benefits to the business in the long run are greater.  Let's look at a few examples:

  • Data Center- always close to the network, which has been predominately a data network.  However, cloud and virtualized desktops have added new requirements that cannot be addressed by mere speeds and feeds.  As servers move across the globe in a distributed fashion, architecting the network to deliver the same quality of experience to the user regardless of location and device is critical.  Extending the single-vendor solution with SAN, application networking services and VXI are key examples of delivering greater value through architecture to additional stakeholders.
  • Voice- this convergence is accepted and continues to happen across enterprises.  It's not a question of "if" an enterprise will move to VoIP, but rather "when".  Bringing voice onto the network requires many considerations, not only around supporting voice and QoS, but architecting to support the full unified communications (UC) offering.  Key to this is understanding the processes and requirements of key business stakeholders and implementing an architecture that enables business applications to become communication enabled.
  • Video- this convergence is happening today with voice/video call control as part of Cisco Unified Communications ManagerCisco TelePresence has expanded from immersive in-room systems to stand-alone models (EX Series) to desktop with Cisco TelePresence PercisionHD cameras.  Video delivers an experience, but that experience is best when properly architected from the network platform to the video end points, which will be hardware and software based.
  • Application- in the business environment of today more and more applications are collaboration-enabled.  The consumerization of IT and the BYOD phenomena demonstrate the need to support a variety of platforms based on user choice and need.  Supporting and adopting open standards and the ability to gateway between different protocols and formats is key to enabling current and future applications to seamlessly fit into an existing architecture.  Standardizing applications further reduces the business risk and costs associated with multiple integrations, training and support.  Cisco Jabber is a great example of delivering unified communication capabilities to a variety of end-points, across platforms and operating systems. 

Many may think of the network as a bunch of boxes that work together to deliver packets and for some network providers that may be the case.  For Cisco, the network is a platform- a system that enables convergence of technologies and capabilities across multiple layers of the stack.  This system has a set of interconnected architectures that deliver genuine business value in terms of scalability and growth, experience, flexibility, and lowered operational costs.  Cisco will continue to emphasize the system and the architecture in delivering greater business value through a single-vendor technology investment.

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