Cisco Systems - IT Team of the Year

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Company: Cisco Systems, Inc, San Jose, CA, USA
Company Description: Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT, helping companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. At Cisco, an integral part of our DNA is creating long-lasting partnerships with customers, employees, investors and ecosystem partners, helping them succeed in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: IT Team of the Year

Nomination Title: Cisco Tetration Analytics Streamlines LAE Platform Migration to ACI

Tell the story about what this nominated team has achieved since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

It’s no surprise Cisco IT infrastructure evolves FAST. It has to adapt extremely quickly to meet the skyrocketing reliance on new apps for every flavor of business outcome, the need for 24x7 99.999999+ availability, and the screaming focus on speed-speed-speed of business in all things.

Cisco IT infrastructure is also enormously complex. With the demand for cloud-based everything, intelligent automation of developer tools and simplified user applications, and a mixture of crucial legacy and cutting-edge equipment and software, complexity is exploding in a way that makes the all-important speed of delivery a growing concern. But, it’s also a fun and exciting opportunity to develop and demonstrate clever new technology.

Consider the problem: Lightweight Application Environment (LAE) is one of Cisco IT’s foundational components. It enables our Global Cloud strategy and is capable of running containerized, micro-services, and cloud-native applications. LAE hosts 78 of Cisco’s IT primary services, spanning Order Management, Finance, Supply Chain, Customer Care,, and Marketing. LAE is running on 2000+ Linux hosts, 20000+ containers and 50 million+ hits per day.

While all this is pretty amazing, even platforms like LAE, a Cisco jewel just a couple years ago, can’t always stretch to fit the newest of our new ideas and needs. So imagine migrating every last element of LAE to a brand new infrastructure.

Let’s complicate it further by understanding that many apps just aren’t easily transplantable. Many have tentacles of dependency not just on each other, but on internal and external data, direct and indirect links to a web of infrastructure functions, some of which are so idiosyncratic as to be genius—until you want to uproot them to a new space.

Enter the Cisco Tetration Analytics™ tool. Our latest weapon in the war on complexity vs. speed gathers telemetry data from hardware and software sensors, then analyzes the information using advanced machine learning techniques, all with the aim of providing the deep understanding of application dependencies necessary to simplify application migration.

Our LAE team leveraged the Cisco Tetration Analytics solution in moving the LAE platform to a Cisco’s next jewel, our Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI™).

The Tetration tool was instrumental in helping us understand the myriad dependencies among applications in order to simplify and accelerate the ACI migration effort and enable adoption of the ACI whitelist security model.

The LAE team has achieved amazing business outcomes with this migration strategy. For instance:

Cisco ACI is a comprehensive SDN architecture, enabling us to use a common operating model across physical and virtual data center environments that is both application-aware and policy-based. With Cisco ACI we can specify core infrastructure services once for the entire fabric, then let applications consume those services directly.

Defining and creating security policies for whitelist security model: With Tetration, Cisco's IT staff must spend far less time defining, creating, and validating packet flows before applying security policy. As a result, Cisco expects to save 2,600 hours of staff time per 100 applications (81% less staff time).

Application grouping: Tetration automatically groups similar servers, which Cisco expects to result in 150 hours of staff time savings per 100 applications (75% less staff time) in determining dependencies.

Device configuration with orchestration: ACI implements whitelist security models without needing change requests and approvals to be generated, which Cisco anticipates will avoid 900 hours of staff time per 100 applications (75% less staff time).

In total, these efficiencies with Tetration and ACI enabled LAE to save 3,650 hours of staff time per 100 applications as it maps their dependencies to support migration to its SDN environment and then implements a whitelist security model. On average a $100 per hour fully loaded cost of IT staff time, this would represent a saving of $365,000 per 100 applications that Cisco LAE migrates to ACI and applies whitelist security models.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated team since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-Dependency mapping dynamically discovered applications’ host groupings, providing greater visibility understanding of flows to and from applications.
-Whitelist security policy recommendations based on application flows increased application security.
-Additional security changes harden applications through network security and enhanced detection of threats and malicious behavior.
-Application performance improvements based on better information about network and application latency.
-Captured real-time traffic data between application components and behavioral analysis to find application groups, communication patterns, and service dependencies.
-Reduced time needed to carry out a traffic analysis by 69% compared with using manual processes. This means that Cisco's IT team will need to expend only 1,250 staff hours per 100 using tetration versus 4,000 hours per 100 applications using manual processes.
-Early results indicate Cisco IT is seeing 75% staff time efficiency in terms of implementing whitelist security models, decreasing the time to 300 hours per 100 applications.