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The Road to Hybrid Cloud: Microsoft Azure Certified with Cisco Cloud Architecture

Today marks another important milestone in our cloud journey together with Microsoft.

Back in March, Cisco and Microsoft announced a jointly engineered solution for service providers designed to dramatically improve the time to market with hybrid cloud services.  The power of the solution is the combination of Windows Azure Pack with Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure.  The result is a set of pre-packaged applications libraries that allow service providers to rapidly deploy services, reducing up-front costs and enabling faster time-to-revenue. In addition, the combined solution features automated provisioning, which enables service providers to set up a new tenant in two hours versus 12 when creating a new customer environment – a huge competitive advantage.

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Carrier-Class Cloud

When evaluating cloud services, many organizations make the mistake of focusing largely on a service’s contracted price. While this takes into account the initial outlay and operational cost of a cloud service, it fails to consider the potential losses a business can incur when a service that does not accurately meet all of its specific needs.

As Philip T. Kiser details in “Deciding Between Public Cloud and Managed Services”, you have many options when building out your cloud. These different options offer varying levels of reliability and availability. Commodity-class public cloud services, for example, offer low cost but they provide only best-effort service. If these services support a critical part of your organization, service failure can bring your business to a standstill. For some companies, downtime can be measured in millions of dollars an hour and likely many dissatisfied customers.

Managed services can come into play for applications needing minimum levels of reliability. Managed services are implemented in your data center but managed by your cloud provider. This frees you to focus on running your business rather than managing your network. Depending upon the provider, you can also get public cloud services with enterprise-class performance. For example, every cloud provider offering Cisco Powered services provides, at a minimum, enterprise-class service backed by SLAs that guarantee 99.99% to 99.999% uptime.

Some applications, however, need an even higher level of reliability and availability. For example, if the voice services for a contact center go down, this can quickly escalate into severe revenue losses for an organization. For this reason, cloud providers like TeleSpace take their Cisco Powered services to the highest levels: carrier-class availability.

TeleSpace achieves this by building redundancy throughout its network. Consider that many organizations are powered by only a single circuit. If the power goes out, these organizations are limited by the capacity of their uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Because TeleSpace is able to share its cost among its customers, it can provide the highest levels of redundancy. With their own backhaul and six carriers coming into their cloud, the odds of a TeleSpace service going down are on a level with which an on-premises data center simply can’t compete.

However, not every application needs enterprise- or carrier-class service. In these cases, commodity-class service can be cost effective. But for the mission-critical parts of your business, downtime losses mean commodity-class services actually provide you marginal service at a higher cost. By selecting a service with the right level of reliability, you can avoid downtime losses that eat away at the profitability of your business and minimize the risk of losing dissatisfied customers.

To find a provider who can offer you enterprise- or carrier-class cloud services, visit the Cisco Partner Locator.

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Dinner as a Service (DaaS) – or a just better path to the cloud?

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a cloud expert by any means: not as a private pilot or marketing professional working in high tech..

But I do know this

Cloud computing can be intimidating – just as real clouds are intimidating to any general aviation pilot looking to fly from point A to point B under visual flight rules (VFR). In aviation it’s simple: avoid them.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.01.39 PM

Atlantic Ocean out my window flying over RI – March 2015

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Verizon Enables Collaboration Around the World

The announcement that Verizon is offering global unified communication cloud service is good news for companies all over the world.

Large organizations tend to be slower to adopt new technology, and the cloud is no exception. Such wariness has its logic: with their scale, a wrong decision implemented across a large organization can be crippling.   However, too much prudence can undermine a company’s competitive position and ability to innovate, risking market share.

A strategy to mitigate this risk includes adopting cloud with a hybrid approach. This methodology enables an organization to keep its mission-critical applications on-premise in its private cloud. At the same time, it thoughtfully expands operations to the public cloud. There’s less risk but all the benefits of embracing new technology.

Multinational companies face a unique set of challenges. For these companies, moving to cloud is so much more than moving applications and data to a service provider’s data center. They need services that can span multiple data centers–preferably from the same provider. Furthermore, these services need to be consistent – and compatible – across borders.

That’s why Verizon’s UCaaS is so exciting. As Anthony Recine, chief marketing officer at Verizon Enterprise Solutions said, the aim of this new service is to provide multinationals with a “globally consistent offering for delivering UC as a service.” Verizon’s deployment of Cisco Powered cloud services enables multinational companies to move to the cloud on a global scale with confidence.

Part of the value of Verizon’s offering is its hybrid capabilities. Companies can choose the services they need at the scale they need them. To be able to achieve this took significant investment from Verizon, not just in technology, but in how the company structures delivery and pricing.

The new global UCaaS service is built on the Cisco Powered Hosted Collaboration Solution. The offering will be integrated with Cisco Collaboration Meeting Room Cloud when available in July to include voice, video and web conferencing. And, Contact Center services with mobility are expected to be added later in 2015.

For more details on Verizon’s new UCaaS offering, see the company’s official release.

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Security in the Hybrid Cloud

Security is a primary concern for many organizations making the transition to cloud.  In the blog, “Taking a Hybrid Cloud Approach to Security”, cloud provider Presidio shares how building a hybrid cloud enables you to maximize security while maximizing flexibility at the same time.

Security in this instance can be thought of in terms of risk.  For example, sensitive data and mission-critical applications need a higher level of security than a devops test environment.  The challenge for organizations is to accurately assess their risk and align their security strategy with their business objectives.  Threats can come from outside – and inside – an organization.  The best response to threats goes beyond just the technology underlying your data center and that of your cloud provider.

The truth is, your organization is unique.  This means your security strategy is going to be unique as well.  The foundation of a solid, comprehensive strategy is, of course, an enterprise-class architecture with end-to-end security.  To be complete, however, security policies must be in place which meet the specific security needs of your organization and regulations of your industry.

The architecture must also be supported by procedures that enable the members of your organization to easily comply with these security policies.  These procedures must be effective while at the same time not getting in way of the workflows or corporate culture already in place.

Developing – and successfully implementing – such a security strategy can be extremely complex.  For organizations new to cloud, especially hybrid clouds, understanding the nuances of comprehensive security may be outside their expertise.  This is why an experienced cloud provider is crucial to any secure hybrid cloud deployment.  One size does not fit all, nor are all clouds created equal.  The right cloud provider can be a powerful partner in maximizing your ability to benefit from a hybrid cloud.

How can you find the right partner?  Ask how much they can do for you.  Not just what they offer every customer.  What can they bring to the table in terms of experience with your industry?  Can they help assess your requirements and risks?  Do they offer security beyond the commodity-based cloud offerings so common in the market?

A hybrid approach to cloud has much to offer organizations of all sizes.  And when deployed with the right partners, you can have confidence in the security of your data and applications.

Learn more about how Hybrid Cloud and Cisco Powered cloud and managed services can transform your business.

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