In the past, when talking with customers there would be a level of consistency between the CIO and the IT staff about priorities and needs. They needed to improve internal operations by deploying a new ERP system. They needed to improve workforce productivity by rolling out wireless access within the office and smartphones to their sales force. Business needs led to technology implementation.
But over the past year, those conversations have been changing. More and more, the CIO is looking to the IT department to drive new innovation for the business. In parallel, they realize that existing IT organizations have been built in silos to address previous business demands and this will need to change if they are expected to have cycles to drive innovation. Quite often, the CIO is asking how their company can begin to offer IT as a Service to the business, exploring the simplicity that is apparent with public or consumer Cloud Computing services.
For the IT department, they are trying to keep up with the pace of technology change in the Data Center as well as maintaining all the existing systems. Talk about Cloud Computing is usually not on their list of priorities. They are concerned about security, control of corporate data and constant availability of the systems.
This new divergence between the CIO and IT department priorities is leading many to re-examine the path forward. Maybe Cloud Computing can fix their problems? But if so, which variant of Cloud Computing is right for them?
- Public Cloud offers lower costs, but security and availability are a concern. Will they need to rewrite their applications?
- Private Cloud offers a better way to do IT, with more efficient use of resources, but it may require new cross-functional skills to be learned and they will need to improve their level of automation to reap the benefits.
- Outsourced Cloud Services (from a Service Provider) may also be an option as more and more offerings come to market from established providers.
So what's the path forward? Cisco's Data Center Business Advantage architecture allows customers to choose a path towards Cloud Computing that leverages existing IT skills, aligns with current and future business needs, and allows flexibility for future Cloud Computing services. It allows customers to choose how much IT change they are able to do themselves and how much to rely on trusted IT partners through on-site or hosted services.
For customers that want to prepare their network infrastructure for Private Cloud services, we've highlighted the value of Unified Fabric, Unified Network Services and Virtualized Multi-Tenant Data Center (IaaS) architecture.
For customers looking to create a higher performance, more flexible and efficient computing environment, Unified Computing Systems provide a foundation for Private Cloud and can easily be combined with integrated Virtualization/Compute/Network/Storage offerings such as Vblock and SMT.
Moving outside the Data Center, customers can look to Cisco's ecosystem of Service Provider partners that are delivering Cloud Computing services that are interoperable with enterprise architectures. As Cisco works with these partners, the need to allow hybrid services (internal or external to the Enterprise Data Center) is critical to the success of the entire value chain.
Ultimately, Cloud Computing is not a product but rather a set of services that deliver better IT functionality to the business. Just like Cisco's Data Center Business Advantage architecture, it puts business needs at the forefront. It creates a flexible infrastructure to deliver new applications where they are needed, and it allows the business to retain control and manage the risk of the services they deliver to business users, partners and customers.