Oh Crystal Ball …

As an IT department, you are asked to be ready to enable future business directions and related changing end user requirements, enabling productivity increases and efficiency improvements.  But what are those upcoming requirements? What do you need to prepare your IT infrastructure for? When asking the question to your business departments, it might appear that they also have difficulties answering this.

Still, there are already some tendencies appearing that will underpin these business direction changes and, in one way or another, will fundamentally change the IT infrastructure you need to provide. These tendencies all have a direct impact on either or both Cost Reduction/Productivity Improvement or driving Innovation/increasing Differentiation, fundamental forces that will always keep on driving change in companies.

Mobility for sure is one of them. Your company’s workforce is only sitting a low amount of their time behind a fixed desk. They spend more time in meeting rooms, in a virtual desk environment, in flexible workspaces within changing project teams, on the road or even increasingly from their home office. Your companies’ workforce might even go beyond the corporate borders due to increased collaboration with external teams and partners. So, you will need to be able to provide an IT experience wherever the end user would like to connect. The border of location, previously tied to the fixed desk, has disappeared and you will need to provide the end user with a Borderless experience.

Cloud computing is entering the IT landscape. Companies are still figuring out up to what level they need to integrate and take advantage of cloud based applications and business models. Whatever the outcome, IT departments will need to enable high quality and secure access to both applications in the datacenter and applications out in the cloud. So, the location border, both of the end user AND of the application that he wants to access, has gone. IT departments even need to check whether they are still in the path between the end user and the application, especially since the IT department will still be requested to guarantee security and data integrity.

More and more devices of different types will connect onto the network: The Internet of things. Where once an IT department needed to foresee a standard corporate desktop PC and a mobile telephone, it is now faced with an increasing amount of diverse devices connected to the network. Sometimes, these devices are controlled by IT; sometimes they are brought in by the end user and are less IT controlled. The Blackberry was one of the first devices requested directly by end users, imposing IT to support it on their network. This user-driven evolution only increased with the rising popularity of the iPhone, Blackberry devices, Symbian devices, Android devices, the iPad, the Cisco CIUS, … Cisco’s IT, for example, acknowledged that a standard desktop and mobile was not maintainable anymore, and moved to the support of a full catalogue of devices, allowing people to use devices that optimally support their personal business requirements. Beyond that, new non-user based devices are becoming IP based: access control devices, physical security camera’s, building management sensors. In short, the device border is disappearing. IT needs to adapt to these increasing demands in supported devices and non-user devices on the network, while of course maintaining a coherent and uniform network access control policy.

Finally, after decades of productivity improvement through process optimization, companies are now seeking the next wave of productivity improvement through increased collaboration. Being able to flexibly bring the right people and specialists together to solve problems or accelerate innovative ideas, being able to take advantage of the knowledge in a globalised world, drive richer interaction with customers to increase their customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty will all be important drivers behind collaboration. So, IT departments need to be ready to support the next wave of collaboration tools. Where today this translates into the movement from telephony to IP telephony to Unified Collaboration, this will increasingly mean the usage of rich video to increase the impact. Get the expert – from wherever in the world – in front of your customer in a High Definition real live experience, bring teams dispersed worldwide together in a seemingly same meeting room, drive video rich messages to your customers, … The result : a much higher level of impact and interaction. Based upon my own experience with several collaboration tools, I can only confirm that the level of attention and efficiency of a video based Telepresence meeting approaches the one of a live meeting, and is way above the impact of a voice-based conference call. The IT impact: an important increase in bandwidth requirements (video is already more than 50% of the bandwidth on Cisco’s network), and a network that needs to be aware and be able to cope with rich media and video.

Can we see into a Crystal Ball … not really. However, you will have recognized several of the above mentioned changes starting to play into your IT environment. We can help you to move forward in this challenging journey through our Borderless Networks architecture. This architectural approach goes beyond switch ports, access points, speeds and feeds; but will combine these network infrastructure building blocks to interoperate together to drive infrastructure functionality that addresses above mentioned IT challenges :

– Mobility: Cisco Motion & CleanAir, Cisco AnyConnect and Cisco TrustSec

– Cloud: Cisco AnyConnect and Cisco Application Velocity

– Internet of Things: Cisco TrustSec and Cisco EnergyWise

– Unfied Collaboration and Video: Cisco Medianet

For more details on each of these functionalities, please visit: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/ns1015/solutions.html

Let’s confidently start the journey …

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