Flirting with Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System)

i recently got an opportunity to work for a customer’s DC consolidation requirement where we Cisco’s UCS was explored as an option.

this is a tagholder for the post 🙂 – i will post my analysis along with some numbers to present my experience with Cisco UCS soon.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)

cisco recently launched its unified computing system offering. though its still early to commet on it without looking under the hood, it has nevertheless invoked discussions and debates. in the next few months, as i understand more about ucs, i will start posting my view and thoughts on the same. 2009 appears to be interesting to say the least!!!

Discussion with Director – Infrastructure (Financial Services) – 1

the organization mentioned in this post is a leading services provider to financial institutions. the organization grew the inorganic way and over a period of years has quite a number of business units under its umbrella.

during my brief discussion with the Director – Infrastructure, i asked him what were the three biggest challenges his team was facing both on the IT front and in the field of information security?

the top three challenges that he perceived his team was facing were as follows:-

  1. controlling network access and not having a plug n play concept
  2. simplifying & streamlining the IT environment
  3. integration at infrastructure level between business units and remove the ‘fat’.

this list of challenges was not something that was news to me. in fact, whenever i have met the senior management of an enterprise which have grown the inorganic way, they have expressed their desire to be able to simplify the overall IT landscape and integrate the IT (at application and infrastructure level) along with the underlying processes across the units they have acquired.

in my observations, IT strategy is often driven from the business strategy behind the merger & acquisition.

  1. at times, the acquisitions lead to a complete integration of management, business processes and operations and hence the IT follows the same route. however, such an integration usually takes years to be realized on ground. The starting point in these acquisitions is to start with the integration at management layer, followed by integration at business processes and operations. IT usually lags in the overall integration and more often than not is the last to follow.
  2. many a times, the acquisitions lead to integration only at the management layer and the underlying business processes & operations remain isolated. in such cases, the IT also has a similar integration model. each IT division within each of the acquired business units have their own strategy that is more or less aligned to the divisions strategy, have their own standards which need not be aligned to the overall organizational standards, separate vendor ecosystem and so on.

with time, and due to increasing pressure on the bottom line, the management then starts exploring ways of cutting down on cost. one of the areas which then becomes a hot topic is IT,

the Director – Infrastructure had joined the organization recently. being an ‘outsider’ he was able to take an independent view of the way IT was working and was confident that there had to be a better way to “make things work” as he put it. there were virtual routers, virtual firewalls, virtual LAN’s to segregate users sitting right next to each other but belonging to different business units. the majority of the change requests that his team was handling was related to firewall changes and access requests across the IT infrastructure components.

we were discussing various approaches that can work to achieve his vision. in my opinion, the consolidation can either be top down approach (starting from business process optimization driving the application portfolio optimization leading to infrastructure portfolio optimization) or optimization initiatives at each strata of IT itself; in this case initiatives can be taken to consolidate and optimize the IT infrastructure layer independent of the layers on top.