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Cisco It Architecture

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Q1: The IT architecture in CISCO was transformed over several phases. Identify at least three phases of changes in CISCO’s IT arrangement as described in the case.

1990- 1997 - End to End networks and IP based networks

Founded by two Stanford computer scientists in 1984 and brought public in 1990, Cisco Systems, Inc., proceeded to dominate the exploding “Internetworking” market.

1997- 2000 - All in one (voice/video)

Cisco’s core technology began with routers. Routers were what made the Internet work.

Cisco was at the forefront of challenging a world of three independent proprietary networks: the phone networks for voice, the local-area and wide-area networks for data, and the broadcast networks for video. Digitization enabled the convergence of the three networks; the Internet, as a global network of networks

2000 -2006 - Networks of networks

As phone companies shifted their traffic from overstretched networks—which were designed to carry voice versus the zeros and ones of computers—Lucent was remaking itself to transition with its customers.

Planning: IT structure


Internet: IP based

Q2: Discuss the state of IT arrangement in CISCO when Peter Solvik joined CISCO and describe the impact of changes he introduced.

There are 2 IT arrangement. First, Cisco’s Information Technology (IT) department was too traditional in being viewed as a cost centre reporting through the finance department. In addition, it was too internally oriented. As a result, the potential contribution of IT to the business was much smaller than it could be, and Solvik believed this had to change. Second, current systems could not scale to support Cisco’s growth, nor were they flexible nor robust enough to meet management requirements.

There are 3 changes were made: First, the IT-reporting relationship was changed from accounting to the Senior Vice President of Customer Advocacy. (See Exhibit 3 for a Cisco organization chart.) Second, the IT budget pertaining to the functions were returned to the functions, leaving just a small portion in the G&A (General and Administrative) account. This created a structure in which all IT application projects were client-funded (users). Third, the central IT steering committee was disbanded and replaced with a structure whereby IT investment decisions on application projects were pushed out to the line organization but still executed by central IT.

Q3: Discuss CISCO’s strategy in implementing the system. In your answer, identify at least three characteristics of its approach.

  1. Decide on ERP: pick a team, selection ERP
  2. Get approval on board

CISCO had used both acquisition strategy and corporate strategy. Approximately two-thirds of Cisco technology was from internally developed efforts, and one-third was from partnerships/acquisitions. In addition, because of Cisco’s IP- and standards-based IT architecture, the company could quickly and efficiently add the capacity needed to handle the administrative processes of acquired businesses. Most acquisitions could be fully integrated within 60 to 100 days. Once, Cisco’s management team realized that implementing to meet business needs would require heavy involvement from the business community. It was critically important to get the very best people they could find. Consistent with the need for a strong Cisco team, the company would also need strong partners (KPMG). The team’s strategy was to build as much knowledge as possible by leveraging the experiences of others.



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