Study: IT, business alignment tightens, but gaps remain

Cisco's annual IT global study finds that IT and corporate goals are becoming more aligned, but that some IT execs still feel disconnected.

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Cisco's annual Global IT Impact Survey has some good news and bad news for IT execs.

The good news? Most IT executives say they believe their departments' goals and objectives are closely aligned with corporate goals.

The bad? A sizeable percentage still say they are being cut out of the decision-making process, invited to participate only when a mandated project is already underway.

That dichotomy is just part of Cisco's 2013 survey of IT executives, released this week in conjunction with Interop. The study tabulated responses from more than 1,300 IT managers from 13 countries around the world.

Alignment getting better

In a nutshell, the Cisco survey showed that IT-business alignment is improving but that IT execs aren't always involved when key decisions are made; 38% of respondents said their input sometimes not requested until the planning and deployment process has already begun.

IT is also paying close attention to the evolving software-defined networking (SDN) space. Some 34% said they've seen an SDN deployment in action, although the survey didn't specify whether these designs were inside or outside their own companies. Awareness notwithstanding, 71% of respondents intend some sort of SDN rollout in the next 12 months, with cost savings cited as a key motivator.

The Internet of Things, the concept that describes a Web-enabled world encompassing millions of devices, from automobiles to medical devices, was familiar to only 42% of respondents.

That should send a strong signal to vendors and organizations backing IPv6 that much more work needs to be done to educate IT execs of the impact a copiously enabled world will have on today's infrastructure. Addressing these devices isn't the only issue; managing and securing the new streams of data flowing across the network will create new operational challenges for administrators worldwide.

Cloud deployments still challenging

Finally, BYOD and cloud management appear to be two other puzzles IT execs have yet to solve. Some 41% claimed their networks weren't ready to support BYOD policies; 38% said they weren't ready to support cloud deployments. Not surprisingly, moving apps to the cloud was also ranked as the most difficult initiative IT execs face in the upcoming year.

Among other findings:

  • Applications and user expectations are more complex: More than 70% of respondents said their departments are deploying more apps than one year ago.
  • IT is recognized as a business enabler: Some 78% said their networks are more critical for delivering applications than they were in spring 2012.
  • Applications are being deployed without IT's knowledge: More than 75% said business apps were being rolled out without IT's direct participation, with business leaders and non-IT teams as the typical culprits behind the introduction of new software.
  • Asking for network infrastructure upgrades is still a tricky business: The study said that 18% of respondents would rather "break out of prison or train for a triathlon" than file a request for additional money.

Rob Soderbery, Cisco's senior vice president and general manager, enterprise networking group, will shed more light about the survey and what it means during a May 8 keynote presentation at Interop in Las Vegas.

This was first published in May 2013

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