How might we help An overwhelmed network admin gain control of their network?
Business Objective:  OpenFlow SDN is a disruptive new software / hardware platform championed by Google, Facebook and Microsoft that promises faster and cheaper new network technology that will scale with the growth of the Internet. Cisco, which owns 60% of the enterprise networking market, formed an internal startup to develop its own version of the new technology. 
My Role:  I led the effort to understand the needs of the highly trained network engineers and define the vision for new experience that would make it much faster and easier to operate sophisticated networks in critical business situations.
Results:  Helped define the vision for new technology and verify strategy for a $50B market (by 2025). Customers joined “Network of the Future” Advisory Board and signed up for Early Field Trials.
Cisco Enterprise SDN is early in the product cycle.
OpenFlow SDN (Software-Defined Networking), championed by Google, Facebook and Microsoft, threaten Cisco’s market leadership with disruptive new technology. In response to the competition, Cisco decided to create its own SDN Controller. Cisco Open SDN Controller and Cisco DNA Center would eventually become the flagships of the Enterprise Networking Group. ​​​​​​​​​​
Early stage in product cycle:  WILL OUR customerS want THIS technology?
Design thinking workshop:  We asked Cisco experts to explain the complex technical points of software defined networking in plain English. We also asked about business objectives and barriers to adoption. This made the opportunity easier to understand and evaluate. The opportunity for my team, an internal Cisco startup, was to rethink network engineering and verify the market for the SDN Controller. 
OUTCOME OF THE DESIGN THINKING WORKSHOP:  We used the Design Thinking workshop with internal stakeholders to begin to understand the target customer and their ecosystem. To overcome target customer resistance we needed to think about the future and explain it with long-term vision and relevant examples. We decided to move quickly and test our assumptions at the CiscoLive trade show. 
Network admins are struggling to keep up with the business demand and increasingly overwhelmed by their sprawling networks. 
We conducted ethnographic research to better understand the needs of Cisco customers — highly trained engineers who operate sophisticated networks in critical business situations. The participants came from diverse ecosystems with a broad range of technical challenges (e.g. a bank transaction that instantly moves millions of dollars across the world, or an electrical grid operator who monitors the state of a nuclear reactor). We learned that network engineers spent most of their time troubleshooting their networks. This is not sustainable in an environment of rapid growth and digital transformation, where business increasingly relies on the network.
Network engineers explained their pain poInts and insights.
Cisco Cyrus, a positive role model designed to overcome barriers to adoption.
Defining a target customer, in this case the network admins, and identifying what they care about allows us to narrow our broad scope and find an actionable focus. We’ve learned that network engineers are running around putting out fires. They don’t have time to manage the network as a whole, they’re facing a lot of negative attention from their bosses and users. They’re frustrated and they need help. 
Even so, asking network engineers to entrust the management of their high-stakes projects to a new and untested technology is a hard sell. We decided to use a positive role model, Cisco Cyrus, to connect with the network admins and overcome the barriers to technology adoption.
The message to network admins: You need Cisco in order to simplify your network and prepare it for future growth.

1. Construct epiphany that explains the paradigm shift that will facilitate a long-term transformation.
2. List the key messages to solve the target customer pain points.
3. Describe the prescriptive scenarios and product features to make it real.
We wanted to visualize the next paradigm by creating a story about Cisco Cyrus and the past, present and future trends of the network technology. 
Cisco wants to supply the Network Admin with automated tools and empower them to take charge of the planning and administration of their Enterprise network. Together with the Business Owner they will be able to anticipate the demand and scale the network at the speed of digital transformation.​​​​​​​
1. Your current network is hardware-­bound, and stuck in the CLI protocol.
2. Your network admins are stuck doing repetitive menial tasks all day, or trying to keep up with/recover from catastrophes.
3. Your LOB people just want the network to work, but its complex/complicated nature leaves them no insight into WHY it might not do what they want it to.
1. Cisco SDN seamlessly integrates OpenFlow into your network, giving you software control over how it grows.
2. Cisco SDN eliminates repetitive “janitor” tasks, letting your admins focus their efforts on designing a better system.
3. A simplified network gives the LOB guys a place at the table in discussions about network design.
Main Messages from Cisco:
1. No one can do this on the scale that Cisco can.
2. Cisco SDN will bring about a massive simplification of your network.
3. Cisco SDN will work with your current systems (no disruption required).
4. Cisco is serious about making this a priority.
5. Cisco will be a long-­term partner, and has a long-­term plan for making SDN succeed for
your business.

Infographic helps us to verify the direction of our start up with large corporate customers.
Why an Infographic?  We were presenting at the CiscoLive conference and we only had about an hour or so to talk to each major customer about the vision for Cisco SDN. Having an infographic helped explain the new technology in quick and simple terms
Paradigm change:  Business demand is growing, not enough network engineers to support the demand. The first panel introduced the problem network admins were increasingly facing as their responsibilities grew. It proposed Cisco SDN as a way for them to keep up with the rapidly escalating requirements.
Real World Scenarios:  Next we wanted to illustrate specific applications of Cisco SDN. Network engineers would be reassured that their primary responsibility of maintaining a fast, stable, secure network would be supported by the new technology.
We showed three examples (security, performance, and deployment) of critical network functions and explained how SDN would lead to dramatically better outcomes.

Cisco SDN: Helping network admins see the forest for the trees. To contrast the possibilities offered by Cisco SDN we showed it next to alternate future in which network admins were consumed with maintenance tasks, putting out one fire after another as the network grew less and less manageable. 
With the new SDN Dashboard network engineers would at all times have a holistic view of their network and be able to anticipate increasing demand before it became overwhelming.
CTA: Help shape the network of the future! We ended the infographic by inviting customers to help Cisco design SDN so that it would best meet their needs. This was an opportunity customers couldn't afford to miss. If they took a back seat in the development of the technology, it was possible their priorities wouldn't be met! At the same time it was a great way to get them committed to the project's success. The more they contributed and aligned their future plans with SDN, the more they were invested.
Prototypes help us to illustrate how the new Cisco SDN tools are going to work.
SDN Dashboard—Integrate the complex ecosystem into one:  Network engineers wanted to be able to step back and see the whole network: to plan new deployment, track security threats, and anticipate performance demands, all from one place. Especially important to include was in-context access to network logs. This would let the network admins verify network stability and troubleshoot if problems arose.

We recommended that the Cisco SDN developer ecosystem would integrate all of the tools they needed into a single environment. Cisco would share SDN Dashboard with its partners and third party developers.
Enterprise SDN Deployment:  Empowering users to set up their own networks. Deploying network services today is done box by box. Operational expenses are escalating with network growth. Cisco SDN enables configuration and deployment across existing and new installation. Single pane of glass enables simple operation. Minimizes operational expenses with Zero Touch Deployment.
Non-technical user:  "I am a campus maintenance manager out in the field. I was asked to connect the network devices. Step by step wizard will guide me through the installation and professionals are available if I have questions."
Network professional:  "I am a professional network engineer sitting a thousand miles away. I have remote access and I will track the deployment and help to troubleshoot as issues come up."​​​​​​​
Enterprise SDN Performance: On-demand network performance, where and when you need it.  65 percent of Enterprise IT customers don’t have the resources required to respond to growing business needs and peak demand. SDN provides a dynamic architecture that automates network orchestration. Controller makes performance improvement simpler on every level.
What we accomplished
We invited large enterprise customers to CiscoLive to preview the new technology in a whisper suite. Citicorp, FedEx, AT&T, etc. responded with enthusiasm and offered valuable feedback about the product market fit. They were persuaded to join the Customer Advisory Board which would keep Cisco connected to its customers and their needs through the Early Field Trials. They were also pre-sold on the Cisco Enterprise SDN and would be planning their business goals around what was in Cisco’s pipeline. This reduced the risk for Cisco of investing hundreds of millions of dollars into new development. 
RESULT: Our design effort helped to verify Enterprise SDN, a $50 billion market by 2025 (according to Forrester Research). 
Our internal Cisco startup proved that enterprise innovation did not have to be acquired.
Cisco SDN CASE STUDY: How to quickly verify the market for new technology
1. EVALUATE:  Talk to stakeholders and customers about their challenges, the Enterprise Network ecosystem and market opportunities
2. PLAN:  Frame the design challenge as a Minimum Viable Product with assumptions that may be tested 
3. EXECUTE:  Define the target customer, the vision that illustrates the new technology, and prototype the products to test and iterate
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