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Unified Network Services for Cloud Service Providers

Services from the Cloud
Services from the cloud offer cost and efficiency benefits to businesses, but until now many customers have been hesitant to buy cloud services, especially for mission-critical business applications, because of concerns about security, performance, and availability. Cloud service providers need to address these concerns by offering network services for applications hosted in the cloud. Cloud service providers can use their data center and IP NGN assets to deliver these services, however, they need a new service delivery model offering the scalability, flexibility, and multi-tenant capabilities needed for cloud service delivery. Delivering cloud services requires efficiency and agility in the data center where applications are hosted. To support on-demand delivery of cloud services, network and computing infrastructures need to be virtualization aware, especially for services that increase the availability and performance of applications.

The Cisco Solution
To meet this need Cisco is delivering virtualized versions of network services appliances as a part of our network services solution. The Cisco® Unified Network Services (UNS) solution presents a new opportunity for cloud service providers to offer security and performance services as well as reporting and monitoring for virtualized applications and other infrastructure services such as BC/DR, VDI or Hosted Communications. Cisco UNS uses a platform based on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco Nexus® 1000V Series Switch to increase the scale and flexibility of cloud-based services and to help ensure availability and workload mobility. The Cisco UNS solution lowers the cost of deployment and enables rapid provisioning by removing the need for physical versions of these products and the requirement for racking and stacking, and power and cooling.

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Is “5 years” the new decade for Data Center and Cloud?

Yesterday Google announced a change in their executive leadership. There is much speculation about why it happened, but the immediate consensus is that it was focused on driving change faster within the company. That may be right or it may be wrong. Every company goes through some executive changes over time, but the more interesting area to explore is how this fit into a broader “industry timeline” perspective.

For the first 5 years of the past decade, Google was the belle of the ball. It became a verb. It changed the way we find, use and look at information.  It didn’t invent search, but it built a better mousetrap and changed the world in amazing ways. People predicted that it would replace the Internet!! And then the “social Internet” happened and people started finding more interesting information from Facebook and Twitter instead of Search and RSS. The business of information changed, just as many other industries go through change. Nobody truly saw it coming, but the last 5 years of the decade were much different from the first 5 years. And while Google is still “it” in Internet search, they aren’t really “it” in social Internet. People can speculate all they want about if this is a strategy issue or execution issue, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that people are legitimately talking about Google as a “maybe they missed it” in this decade. And that’s an interesting discussion because of the pace at which it happened. About 5 years. [NOTE: I'm not predicting, assuming or implying anybody's demise. I'm a huge Google fanboy. It's the pace of change that's interesting to me.]

So what does all of this mean for companies that aren’t Google, or aren’t one of the core pillars of the Internet? What if you make cars, or pharmaceuticals, or widgets? Maybe you’re a brick and mortal retailer. What if your business isn’t in the hyper-competitive information business? Read More »

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Why the Network Matters for Virtualization and Cloud Computing

I’ve written before (here, here, and here) that Cloud Computing is more than some cool software running on a server. Sure, the applications are the sizzle on the steak (+ all the marketing terms -- dynamic, elastic, on-demand, etc.), but there’s a little more to it than that. A user needs to access the application, get the information quickly (or sent it information), and feel confident that the information was delivered securely. The application doesn’t always know what type of device will access it (PC, Mac, Browser, Tablet, Smartphone, etc.), so it can’t be 100% sure it’ll deliver the best user-experience.  And users will demands that applications continue to run regardless of the mobile device’s location. All those demands on applications get a lot easier, and in some cases require, an intelligent network providing the infrastructure.

But people often forget those details because they have become so accustomed to a robust network always being there. They might struggle to define the value of that network, just as Kodak did in defining “original technology” in the famous Mad Men episode (Carousel).

Don’t take my word for it, hear what Cisco Cloud CTO Lew Tucker had to say during a recent set of meetings with industry analysts -- here, here, here, here and here. Read More »

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Cloud Computing: Update ITU-T Focus Group and OMG-Hosted Telecom Cloud Conference

The first part of December has been very busy for me in terms of engagements focused on Cloud Standards specifically the ITU-T Focus Group on Cloud Computing, where I am a Vice Chair; and as a presenter at the OMG-hosted Telecom Cloud Conference representing the ITU-T.

Well let’s start with the ITU-T Focus Group Cloud Computing meeting. My colleagues and I were greeted by quite a bit of snow at the third ITU Focus Group Cloud Computing Meeting held on November 30-December 3 and hosted by France Telecom-Orange:

We received 42 contributions with focus in orchestration; cloud management; cloud security; cloud broker functionality and cloud benefits. These contributions were towards the five output documents produced in the second meeting.

  1. Introduction to the cloud ecosystem: definitions, taxonomies, use cases, high level requirements and capabilities. The scope of this deliverable is to provide an introduction to the Cloud ecosystems, focusing on integration and support of Cloud Computing model and technologies in telecommunication ecosystems. The major changes include the addition of the value proposition, requirements and capabilities clauses.
  2. Functional requirements and reference architecture. The scope of this deliverable is to define the functional requirement and reference architecture of cloud computing, which includes the functional architecture, functional entities and reference points.
  3. Overview of SDOs involved in cloud computing. The scope of this document is to provide an overview of SDOs; to map the FG cloud working group and output documents to these SDOs ; and , to be as a base to produce a gap analysis that will result in a unique areas that can be under the ITU-T purview, specifically from telecom perspective.
  4. Cloud security, threat & requirements: Security Cloud has started to be discussed from reviews of other SDOs which are related Cloud Security activities in CSA, DMTF, CloudAudit, NIST, GICTF, etc. After the observation of the existing activities, the FG Cloud tentatively identify security threats from view points of Cloud user and Cloud service provider. Considering the identified security threats, the FG Cloud also studied security requirements to be considered for Cloud Computing Technology.
  5. Infrastructure and network enabled cloud. Position existing network infrastructure capability is a unique opportunity for service providers to provide bundled offers combining Network and IT resources. In addition, service providers can leverage their network asset to address network availability and performance for secure end to end cloud services. Another opportunity for service providers is to evolve network resource allocation and control to more dynamic in order to meet the needs to provision on-demand cloud services.

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Cloud-based Telephone Services

Changing the way you do business

I have walked into a number of small businesses that have old-school phone systems.  They pick up an analog, corded phone, choose which line to use, and dial out.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of phone system, because for some it just gets the job done.  But what if something goes wrong with one of the phone lines, or a new employee comes onboard and needs a phone?  Or what if the company moves offices?  Who takes care of all these issues? Read More »

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