Opportunities, Threats, and Cloud-Managed Networking

This week, ESTI Consulting Services hosted lunch and learn events to talk to our clients about technologies related to wireless networking and security.  These events were led by our Client Account Managers that work with mid-sized Saskatchewan businesses and we really wanted to feature technologies that address the challenges that we see these clients facing.

If you are managing the IT function in a mid-sized business, your IT infrastructure team is almost certainly a small group.  This fact has a couple of important implications, the first of which is that your team members simply cannot afford to be specialists.  Your team is required to deal with the same broad variety of technology issues as larger IT organizations, but without the scale which would allow staff members to dig deeply into a particular technology area.

A second outcome of the small team size is that it is just flat-out difficult to make improvements in the IT infrastructure.  When your IT team is sized just large enough to 'keep up' with the day-to-day activities required to keep the lights on, making time to design improvements and deploy new services is a serious challenge.

Despite these challenges, the IT function in mid-sized businesses is facing increased demand for IT services in a couple of important areas.  The first such need comes from inside the organization and it is the increasing need for access to the company's IT applications from varying locations, inside and outside company facilities, using different devices.  Your business's employees deal with consumerized IT every day when they listen to music, book trips, or read e-books and they are used to doing it wherever they are with the device they have in hand.  Given an opportunity, they can use that same device to connect to your company's IT assets and do something that helps the business!

The second challenge is also about employee productivity, but it is an externally generated need rather than an internal one.  Mid-sized businesses face an increasing level of security threats and, worse, these threats are different every day.  It probably feels to IT managers that your IT shop has no nope of keeping up with the escalating stream of e-horrors generated by digital bad guys.  Security problems are a threat to the very applications that are used to run the mid-sized business and, therefore, a threat to productivity.

For our lunch and learn meetings this week, ESTI has selected technologies that we feel are pertinent to your mid-sized business.  That is, the technologies can be managed effectively by your IT generalists (your Strength) who do not have any extra time (your Weakness) to mess around with unnecessary complexity.  Furthermore, these technologies will facilitate the Opportunity for you to provide ubiquitous access to your applications, and will alleviate the mounting pressure mid-sized business face from security Threats.  Based on our SWOT analysis, these technologies are aimed at allowing IT to meet the demand for extra services (in a secure fashion) while getting your team some of their day back to concentrate on making real improvements.

I think of two of the technologies featured in this week's meetings as 'Cloud-managed Networking.'  First we presented information about Cisco Umbrella, a cloud-managed security offering which is hugely advantageous to a busy mid-sized IT shop.  It can be deployed in minutes with no real impact to the existing infrastructure, has no capital cost, and makes use of a cloud-driven interface that even an IT salesman can understand (I tried it!).  Umbrella's security smarts are delivered by Cisco, meaning that your mid-sized business can leverage that organization's resources to protect your IT assets.

The second technology that we offered up over lunch is Cisco Meraki, a cloud-managed family of network devices which, again, provide important benefits to the mid-sized IT manager.  These products are cost-effective to acquire, quick to deploy, and are managed with a cloud-based interface that is designed for an IT generalist to manage.  Meraki can be used to provide your company's employees with access to business applications when and where they need it and at a level of management complexity that is comfortable for your IT team.

I will close by thanking the attendees at this week's lunch and learn sessions for spending their (precious) time with ESTI.  Also, thanks to Cisco systems for their support of this week's events.  If some of you were unable to attend, but would like more information about ESTI Consulting Services and Cisco, please contact me any time.  I would be happy to hear from you.

Simon Gadd


(306) 717 - 4524

Simon is a Partner at ESTI Consulting Services, maintains the portfolio of Vice President of Sales, and has been with the organization since 1989.