User Stories

Why Cisco embraces Elastic for IT infrastructure transparency

This post is a recap of a presentation given at ElasticON 2020. Interested in seeing more talks like this? Check out the conference archive.

Network infrastructure is the engine that drives a company’s business. As companies scale, assets that compose this infrastructure become more complex to manage. That means there’s more hardware, more software, and more subscriptions and services that require tracking.

It’s critical that IT managers and network administrators have complete accounting of these assets. For Siva Pattabiraman, Technical Lead Engineer at Cisco, these assets represent the backbone that keeps the organization running without interruption.

Introducing My Cisco Entitlements (MCE)

According to Pattabiraman, companies must be able to understand whether assets are being properly optimized, whether there are too few or too many licenses and subscriptions, and whether assets are nearing expiration or approaching end of life. 

Having that understanding helps cut down on wasteful spending, provides Cisco with an understanding of whether they are complying with license agreements, and gives them leverage at the negotiating table when it comes time to renew or acquire more assets.

“To put it simply, we didn’t have a single tool or platform to manage customers’ assets and their entitlements,” Pattabiraman says. “Without full visibility into what the customer owns and what they are using, organizations could face significant legal, financial, and operational issues.”

In response to this challenge, Cisco harnessed Elasticsearch to build a platform they call My Cisco Entitlements (MCE). It’s a fairly new, secure, user-friendly solution that provides a “holistic view” to manage about 1.5 million service contracts and 2 billion assets companywide.

“In summary, it provides end-to-end IT infrastructure transparency,” Pattabiraman says.

Why entrust My Cisco Entitlements to Elastic?

Cisco was already using Elasticsearch for other projects, including search on Cisco.com. So Pattabiraman knew it would work well for the MCE project. In addition, Elastic Support would be there to assist during the development phases, if needed.

To build the MCE tool, Cisco had to ingest asset and entitlement data into what he described as a “high-performance search index.” This includes data from contracts, devices, licenses, warranties, customers, resellers, distributors, and more.

Pattabiraman was confident in Elasticsearch’s ability to index and search quickly through these and other sources and render sub-second responses. “To achieve such a high performance index or a search engine, our primary component of technology stack had to be Elasticsearch,” he says.

Minimizing risk 

Cisco uses Logstash, a component of the Elastic Stack, to ingest the data into MCE. Ingest rates can reach as high as 10,000 documents per second with 20-40 million change events per day. 

“Moving to Logstash was a game changer for us because it helps you thread data between multiple sources very easily,” Pattabiraman says.

Now, as many as 15,000 partners, internal customers, and Cisco as a whole are embracing MCE to simplify access and management of assets.

“What did we really give back to business as a business value?” asks Pattabiraman. “My Cisco Entitlements, MCE, became the secure, one-stop platform where customers can gain insight into their business. They're able to better manage their products and services, and they are able to minimize their risk.”

Watch the video to learn more about why Cisco embraced Elasticsearch to build a platform to manage 1.5 million service contracts and 2 billion IT assets.

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