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Cisco Systems - IT Team of the Year

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Company: Cisco Systems Inc.
Company Description: Cisco Systems, Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in San Jose, California, that designs, manufactures and sells networking equipment. Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: IT Team of the Year

Nomination Title: ACI Accelerated Migration Team

Tell the story about what this nominated team has achieved since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Organizations today are challenged to keep pace with ever changing customer demands and ever present competitive threats. To succeed, organizations need to be much more agile and focused on delivering a superior customer experience. Cisco Systems Global Infrastructure Services (GIS) is proud to nominate the ACI Accelerated Migration Team for adapting to these changes and delivering an innovative solution to accelerate ACI migrations.

Cisco IT is one of the largest enterprise customer of Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a Software-Defined Network (SDN) solution that combines physical and virtual elements with a goal of simplifying network operations and management. With network complexity simplified, applications can be rapidly deployed and easily managed through the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which provides access to and controls all fabric information.

The vision of Cisco IT is to deploy applications onto the network with scale, security, and full visibility, resulting in the reduction of IT costs. Over the last 2 years, the ACI IT Program team has taken an approach to migrate applications to ACI, life-cycle by life-cycle. This was a deliberate and well thought out strategy to ensure that processes, tools and technology work well, with minimal business disruptions. As a result, approximately 20% of the overall IT footprint in three major datacenters reside on ACI.

Moving at this pace was not enough. To remain competitive, the team needed a faster solution. With speed and customer experience in mind, the ACI IT Program team devised a solution, which increased migrations by 300%, delivered zero downtime for application owners and saved 50% of resource hours for network, compute, and storage.

The new FY18 ACI Accelerated Migration Strategy required a POD-level approach where migrations are planned by subnet versus by application lifecycle. The framework was tested via Proof of Concepts, and the key components include:

-Start with Non-Prod Applications in the first two quarters, followed by Production lifecycle in subsequent quarters
-Migrate VMs on Internal Network Only
-Migrations are planned by Subnets per POD group
-No Re-IP or Host Name changes required after migration to ACI
-Migrations are Online, with a few exceptions for specific use cases

This was primarily achieved by a combination of hardware and new technological capabilities from the following:

  • Network Layer2 Enablement
  • VMWare ESXi6
  • Automations in Network, Compute, and Storage

In the first quarter alone, the accelerated approach is already showing positive returns. Within 2 months, over 2,000 hosts migrated to ACI surpassing FY17 numbers of 3,000 hosts migrated for the entire year. Along with volume numbers, application owners are receiving a better customer experience as migrations are completely online, requiring zero downtime and minimal owner involvement. This means, business can continue as usual with no disruptions. In addition, substantial time-savings in migration efforts are realized as automation capabilities for network, compute and storage eliminate the need for additional resources.

It took a team of 5 Engineers, 2 Technical Staff, 1 Architect, and 1 Program Manager - working over a span of several months – developing, testing and refining to finalize the new strategy. The initial challenge was to work with various cross-functional teams to cement the foundational readiness, make this scalable, repeatable and putting the right workflows in place to ensure the teams can work well in an agile manner. As a result, Cisco IT is positioned for the next-generation data center – with increased speed, security and agility.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated team since the beginning of 2017 (up to 150 words).

Key Benefits:

-300% increase in migration volume when compared to FY17 numbers
-Online migrations requiring no business downtime
-Minimal involvement by Application Team – over 90% effort saved
-Migration resources and time reduced by more than 50%
-Optimization of People resources
-CAPEX reduction for Compute and Storage