Mobility has revolutionized the way people work. it’s no longer a matter of “welcome to the company, here’s your laptop.” On the contrary: it’s a matter of “welcome to the company – bring your own device and tell us how you work, where you work, what content and applications you need, and what you work on.”
Attracting and retaining top talent hinges on creating an environment where people can work wherever and whenever they wish on their preferred devices, resulting in improved business outcomes. At work, home, or on the go, they connect, collaborate, and stay productive using applications and content on their preferred devices.
The nature of information has changed as well. Users are no longer satisfied with text; instead, they expect to collaborate using rich media, and they want Wi-Fi, voice-over-IP calls, and access to enterprise data on personal wireless devices.
And a recent Cisco survey on the Future of Work, backs that up. The findings show that the majority of today’s professionals would relinquish their television before they let you take away their smartphone.
“People cannot stay productive without continuous connectivity and access to a vast array of information and rich-media applications. We all work online now, rather than downloading files and working offline, and almost everything in the workplace is accomplished on wireless,” says Craig Mathias, principal of Farpoint Group. “We live today in a world of ‘Infocentricity,’ where information and applications are available anywhere, anytime.”
Reliability is key: CIOs are responsible for provisioning network resources as invisibly and reliably as a power, gas, or water utility. —And demand is growing logarithmically, with hundreds or even thousands of users on myriad devices competing for network resources from many settings: home, across corporate campuses, airports, hotels or while grabbing a cup of coffee between meetings.
This new reality challenges CIOs to provision and manage networks optimally in the era of mobility. The good news: CIOs are seizing exciting opportunities to make their organizations more productive and agile through technology, including automated orchestration, policy application, and software defined networking (SDN)—a collective of capabilities sometimes referred to as Fast IT.
Not just a marketing concept, Fast IT is a new approach to IT based on:
- Holistic security.
It is a customizable blueprint that empowers technology leaders to meet and exceed the needs of the business.
With Fast IT, technologists can auto-provision users to keep mission-critical applications up and running and available to them on virtually any device. SDN and other technologies gauge application performance to improve productivity, security, and collaboration and unify wireless networks so they can be managed centrally and efficiently.
Fast IT also helps address the number one concern for CIOs in the mobile world: security. Seemingly every week, a new security breach is revealed, prompting an urgent need for new strategies and tools.
“The future of IT is literally being called into question if fundamental security issues aren’t resolved,” says Mathias. “We cannot use networks and be productive, collaborative, and successful if those networks are not secure and if policies that prevent users from making mistakes that can compromise intellectual property are not enforced.”
Mathias notes that to move forward with security lies in wielding network analytics to obtain end-to-end network visibility, even across carrier networks and video surveillance systems. The insights from analytics can then be coupled with Fast IT models to deliver contextual security based on a user’s role, location, even the security of the connection they are using.
Instead of having network managers manually provision access and individually configure security policies—a slow, rigid, and labor-intensive process—rules and policies can be enforced dynamically and automatically end-to-end. An employee, for example, could view confidential documents in the office, but be prevented from doing so via public Wi-Fi. Or, the network could intelligently take a preventative approach and deny access to a user if the network identifies any suspicious activities. And different types of users (guests, consultants, employees etc.) and work applications vs. personal applications can be automatically recognized and connected to completely isolated network segments, regardless of where they are connecting.
Taking advantage of these new technology models, CIOs can significantly improve business outcomes. The benefits here are numerous – IT spends less time on manual tasks, freeing staff time and budget to be invested toward strategic goals that move the business forward. IT teams become more than a cost center--they become an invaluable hub of technology and innovation that propels the organization into the future, offering meaningful competitive advantage.
Expenses come down due to reduced operational complexity, streamlined user provisioning and network support, and automated policy and rules orchestration. And with holistic security across the entire attack continuum, CIOs reduce risk for the entire company.
There is also an opportunity for CIOs to transform IT to quickly roll out services and to “right source” IT solutions to specific audiences. The salesforce, for example, need fast access to customer information on tablets and smartphones, while other areas of the business may not. CIOs can provision these types of new services faster than ever before—in days versus months.
With a Fast IT approach to mobility, forward thinking CIOs are helping people connect in ways never before possible. They are central to powering organizational and operational advances. Mathias enthuses that there has never been a more exciting time to be part of networking and IT, especially with standards communities and networking vendors promoting and actively working on exciting and innovative new products, services, and strategies.
“The more we communicate as a planet, the better off we will be,” says Mathias. “That’s really the business we’re in. As technology leaders, we keep people, and the planet, talking and productive anytime, anywhere, on any device and with any application. Communication is essential to the future of everything.”