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The Future of Cloud, Part 6: It Takes an Ecosystem

(This is part 6 of a 7-part series sharing insights from Cisco partners about the Future of Cloud.)

“It’s been invigorating for us to hear all of the different messages around cloud because we really think that’s where the future is.”  This is what Steve Harris, Senior Vice President, National Alliances at Peak 10 had to say to me when we took a break together at Cisco Live!

Peak 10 was founded as a commercial collocation organization focused on providing maximum uptime and reliability for its clients.  “When we went into the cloud business,” said Harris, “we wanted to make sure that we could provide the same type of service that we’ve always given our clients.  For example, our enterprise cloud is essentially public cloud.  The differentiator, though, is that it isn’t an oversubscribed cloud; it’s production-grade.  It is multi-tenant, but you’re getting dedicated resources.”

Offering enterprise-class cloud services that maximize uptime and reliability, however, is not something that a single company can offer by itself.  “Today it takes an ecosystem to deliver the business outcome that clients are looking for.  We’ve gone beyond the point where clients are just interested in the technology.  They want the technology to provide a business outcome for them.  Being able to provide that seamless solution with the Cisco ecosystem of partners is incredibly important.

“The other thing that really differentiates Peak 10, and we’ve heard a lot about hybrid cloud, is the opportunity to mix and match with that environment.  So if you have a private cloud and want to leverage applications in the public cloud, we’re absolutely able to do that.”  This follows the vision of Cisco’s Intercloud, the ability to have mobility of workloads between clouds.

“Which excites us at Peak 10 because we created that environment within our world.”

You can also learn more about how providers are addressing the need for enterprise class services in the latest edition of Unleashing IT.

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Cisco Achieves SAP HANA Certifications for Unified Computing Systems Mission-Critical Servers

Cisco Achieves SAP HANA Certifications for Unified Computing Systems Mission-Critical Servers

Cisco has received SAP HANA certification for its Unified Computing Systems (UCS) mission-critical servers with the Intel Ivy Bridge chip set.  All of these products are now listed on the Product Availability Matrix from SAP.  These servers will accommodate memory sizes from 128GB all the way to 2TB on the rack mount C460 M4.  A small 2T Scale OUT configuration can be implemented using 512G B260 servers with an external EMC VNX5400 persistant storage, and  up to 16TB can be achieved using the B460 or C460 models with EMC VNX5400 persistent storage.

C460 M4    B460M4    B260M4

C460 M4                       B460 M4                         B260 M4

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SIAM: the next ITIL?

The acronym SIAM stands for Service Integration And Management, and it is a hot topic in the world of IT Service Management…..but why? Service integration models have been around awhile, but are evolving from the challenges of managing a small number of large service partners to a model of managing a larger number of smaller partners. As the services and businesses become more critical or complex, the level of service integration becomes deeper. SIAM builds on the ITIL framework, and expands it.

What is SIAM?

  • According to Wikipedia: “Service integration and management (SIAM) is a framework for managing multiple suppliers of information technology services and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organization.”
    More…
  • The UK Government defines it as “Service integration and management lets an organization manage it’s service providers in a consistent and efficient way, making sure that performance across a portfolio of multi-sourced goods and services meets user needs.
    More…
  • Kevin Holland, ITIL expert is a bit more specific “Service Integration and Management(SIAM) is both a model and a function which provides a single point of accountability for the service management and delivery of all services provided by internal and external service providers, by taking responsibility for and assuring suppliers performance ,  coordinating delivery, integration , and interoperability across multiple providers, and providing the necessary governance on behalf of the users.”
    Details…

Essentially, it is about keeping (or recovering) control – IT organizations use more and more external support providers today, and managing these relationships is getting more complex. SIAM might be the answer to this challenge, because it is all about how IT will deliver the capability to achieve end-to-end service excellence in an increasingly complicated environment by actively managing all aspects of service performance.  Basically, it supports businesses by helping them get the most out of their outsourced and externally managed services.

Why is SIAM important now?

SIAM is in the spotlight of the key analyst groups, Forrester and Gartner.  Spending on external and internal IT services is higher than ever; However, according to Gartner’s 2014 key metrics survey, only 11% of respondents  say that they have mastered their approach to sourcing, and 89% need to improve competencies and significantly raise their maturity levels in order to manage multi-sourcing successfully. (Source)  These metrics show large future potential for SIAM.

If you decide to research SIAM further, keep in mind that SIAM is sometimes referred to as MSI (Multi-sourcing Service Integration)

Are you using or considering a SIAM framework? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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If you bundle it, they will come!

Recently I was speaking to someone (Mike from New Jersey) at Cisco Live and they were raving about their journey to the Flexpod. They were seeking the best compute, networking and storage yet didn’t want to be boggled down with details when it came to the purchasing process. Converged systems like this are relatively new, and honestly Read More »

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Steps to Overcome the Business Risks of Cloud Services

Do any web search on the inhibitors of moving to cloud and you’ll find a primary challenge rises to the top—business risk. The benefits of cloud often outweigh risks, which is why more and more business information is being shared in the cloud. In fact, 50% of Global 1,000 companies will have customer data stored in the public cloud by 2016 according to Gartner.

The rapid transition of critical data into the cloud and the use of SaaS for business processes mean that organizations need to have a solid approach to manage the business risks of cloud.  We have worked closely with customers and Cisco’s own IT department to identify some initial steps that organizations can put in place to mitigate the risks of cloud services with IT governance.

Revise how your company data classification system applies to cloud services. 

Businesses typically have already established a tiered classification system including private, confidential, public, etc. This system needs to be revised to detail what and how information should be shared in the cloud. These policies also need to take into account any regulatory or compliance requirements.

Communicate an employee policy specific to cloud service usage.        

Recently, I was speaking with a large healthcare provider about what policies they had that outlined what employees could share in the cloud. The customer’s IT group believed that a general company code of conduct safeguarded them. However, as the conversation progressed they realized that their current policies were not explicit as to how this applied to cloud.

Employee policies need to clearly outline what can and cannot be shared with approved corporate cloud vendors. For example, even though a vendor like Salesforce.com or Box.com might be approved, an organization may not want certain confidential information to be shared with an outside vendor. Additionally, these policies also need to address personal use of cloud services (file sharing services, for-free email accounts, etc.). These policies need to be periodically communicated to employees as well as how their actions might be monitored to ensure compliance.

Discover and determine the risk profile of shadow IT.

According to a recent Forrester study, 43 percent of respondents believed shadow IT practices were major threats to their respective organizations. It is critical to discover and classify the services being used that have not been approved by IT. Once identified, there are typically three approaches to handling the risks of shadow IT.

1)    Assess and onboard critical cloud applications.

2)    Block risky cloud applications with secure web gateways or data loss prevention solutions.

3)    Monitor applications and as-a-service usage with alerts for unusual activity.

Establish a data security assessment process for new cloud services.

A vital way to ensure that business data is kept safe is to have a thorough risk assessment process as cloud vendors and services are brought on-board. This process should take into account the following five elements:

  • Initiation – Establish what elements of your business a vendor will be involved in and what data will be shared with the vendor. Will they handle confidential/private information or only public data?
  • Data encryption and integration – Test the encryption of data as it passes from the organization to the vendor as well as how the data will be stored at the vendor’s data center. Understand how a vendor would integrate with your systems (creating single sign-on, pull corporate data, etc.).
  • Vendor data security policies Can the vendor uphold the policies for protecting your corporate data based on the classification system defined above, and do so the same way or better than your IT department would? Evaluate the vendor’s disaster recovery plan, compliance and regulatory processes, and identity and access controls.
  • Vendor stability and proprietary policies – According to Gartner, 1 out of 4 cloud service providers will be out of business in two years.   This is largely due to financial instability or acquisitions. Businesses need to ensure that vendors they choose to work with are financially stable. Find out how the vendor would handle your data in the event of a business closure or acquisition. Additionally, do they use a proprietary technology approach that might lock you into using them? Insist that vendors use an open source approach that would help you transition to a new vendor if an SLA was not met or if the vendor was acquired or went out of business.         
  • Ongoing vendor monitoring – Establish a process to regularly review vendors (annually for those dealing with business critical processes, less regularly for those with less impact).

These are some initial steps to managing the business risks of cloud. However, businesses that are looking to reap the benefits of cloud and avoid risk must put in place a lifecycle approach to manage cloud services.

We recently introduced Cloud Consumption Optimization, an annual subscription service that helps customers govern their cloud adoption from end-to-end and continually monitor cloud use. Learn more about how we can help you govern cloud and manage cloud risks at http://www.cisco.com/go/cloudconsumption

 

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