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How a Customer Crisis Ten Years Ago Helped Me Understand the Challenges of Cloud Service Creation Today (Part 1)

If you are already offering cloud services from your data center, or are starting your planning to do so, there are some key initial questions I’d advise you consider.  And they’re not about the technical aspects of data center architecture!  You find yourself asking “what cloud services should we offer?” and “How do we evolve what we offer today”.  You may, post launch, also find yourself asking “Why is the take up to our cloud services not as big as we initially forecast?”.  Before you say “aha –  these are questions for service providers offering cloud services” .. I would argue that these questions are fundamental to enterprise and public sector organizations too – assuming that you intend to provide cloud services to your user community that help them do their jobs.  Following one of my colleagues who blogged earlier that, with cloud services, “you need to think like a product manager”, I will assert here that there are some key lessons from product management that can help you in creating cloud services that are actually useful to your customer and/or your internal clients and stakeholders.

As you may have noticed from my previous blogs, I’ve worked in product management of both products and services for a while (since 1997 in fact, when I moved from software engineering into the “dark side” :-) ) …. so what lessons have I learned that may help you address the challenges of creating and defining new cloud services?

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The Winchester House, Architectural-Led IT Strategy and Your Challenges – What You Told Us

The Winchester House

The Winchester House

A few months ago, after a my previous blogs discussing cloud computing adoption, I changed subject and authored a short series of articles around the challenges of adopting an architectural-led approach to your IT strategy in general, and data center design in particular.  (If you missed them, you can read them here: part 1,  part 2, and part 3).  The theme of these articles centered on the Winchester House in San Jose, California.

This house was extended by builder after builder, without any architectural blueprint.  Consequently, this house had many doors opening into blank walls, abandoned staircases, and other “features” — and it was in construction for year after year, with point additions compounding the problems. I then asserted that this analogy can apply to how IT architectures sometimes evolve – bit by bit, without a formal blueprint or “grand master” plan, if you will.

Architecture-Led Facebook Poll Results 31 Jan 2012

Architecture-Led Facebook Poll Results 31 Jan 2012

I finished the series with a poll on our Cisco Data Center Facebook page – thanks to all of you who spotted the poll and took the time to respond.  The results were indeed interesting, so I thought I’d share back the results with you and discuss the implications.  As the diagram shows, you certainly told us loud and clear what your biggest issue was when it came to adopting an architectural-led approach to your IT strategy and data center design: “We don’t have clear enough business goals for IT” scooped 65% of your votes, way ahead of all other options (!!) – so let’s discuss now in some more detail.

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Engaging A Partner-Centric Approach with Cisco Services

Making Cisco easier to do business with. That is one of the committments the company outlined this year as part of its refinements and evolution.  The results in doing so continues, we hope you see it and feel it. That promise shows up in many places across the company including our Services business.   Services  is one area of any business that is multifaceted, no doubt.  At Cisco it’s a  differentiated strategy that we bring to the market because of our  partner-centric approach. Services provides a huge opporutnity for our partners,we recognize that and it  now represents 40-50% of Cisco channel partners business, up from 20 percent just  five years ago.  

 Partners participate in the Services opportunity at every level, from the largest global customers to the local small business. Our partners are the extension our Services arm. And that’s not just “lip Service” –to back it up Cisco is taking the next step forward to further clarify our sales engagement model and drive consistency in the field to continue  momentum with absolute clarity.  We just published our Services Rules of Engagement to provide our partners with a definitive road map for how to engage with Cisco Services and maximize their Cisco Services investment. Specifically the document does the following:

Defines the partners role in the selling and delivery of Cisco services
Helps partners build a collaborative and predictable field sales and delivery model
Gives partners easy steps to driving accelerated customer adoption of smart services capabilities
Delivers a clear field escalation process should a mishap occur
Describe the sales compensation neutrality strategy

You be the judge as to how this really works, your outside voice and views are a great reality test. Let us know what you hear and how we are doing, we think we are off to a solid start, so let’s engage.

 To learn more, click here and check out a blog by Raja Sundaran VP WW Services Partner Organization on the Rules of Engagement that talks more about Cisco’s approach and “tasty” opportunity for our partners.

Hit the video below  from Keith Goodwin, SVP WW Partner Organization, and Bob Singleton, SVP WW Services Partner Organization on our  Services Go-to-Market model and ways partners will benefit.  

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Part 4 – Finally – @ Garter Data Center Conference, London

Time to close on this topic for me with a brief update from one of Cisco’s strategic partners, VMware, and one of our European customers, Colt.  You can find parts 1, 2 and 3 of my conference update in my previous blogs.

Colt are a European service provider, one of the growing number adopting Cisco Unified Computing (see Cisco UCS gaining serious steam).  A few of my colleagues in Cisco Data Center Services recently helped one of the Colt teams adopt the Cisco Unified Computing System for their cloud roll-out.  The Colt Data Center Services team were at the conference last week – this part of Colt offer wholesale data center space and I talked to them about their Modular Data Center offering.

With VMware – who need no introduction – I asked what was top of mind for them.

You can see and hear from both companies in this short video.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1zJdGPSV7c

Oh – and finally, for a laugh – being one of two Scots in the Cisco Data Center Services team, I really should point you to the latest VoD on why you should Choose the Right Network:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHLiiwdbKwM

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Part 3 – Cisco IT on Cisco Intelligent Automation – @ Gartner Data Center Conference, London

London's Big Ben at Night

Following on from my introductions to what is happening at this data center conference see part 1 and part 2), in this article I’ll talk more about something I’ve not really blogged about in my previous blogs (which is surprising given my NMS background) – data center management and Cisco Intelligent Automation.   I managed to catch up with a senior manager in the Cisco IT team, Rich Gore, who game me some terrific insight into their deployment of Cisco Intelligent automation.   And I’ll also relate some experience of my own on why, when it comes to the products you produce, you should always (as the US folks tend to say) “eat your own dog food”!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIXgiSs6kLM

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