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Cloud and the Dark Side of “Easy On”

Cloud providers justifiably tout the ease and speed in which services can be implemented, but behind the curtain a dark reality lurks. “Easy on” is a key selling feature of cloud services and for good reason. I well remember leading enterprise application implementation projects in the pre-cloud era. The initial thrill of taking on a major new initiative that could transform the business was quickly overcome by the stark reality of years of highly complex work before going live, only to find out that you were several releases out of date and needed a multi-million dollar upgrade!

In my first major cloud project (to deploy a cloud service management application to 16,000 service engineers) we had users up and running in a couple of months. The business began seeing results quickly and as the software was upgraded we gained advantage of new features immediately. Soon after implementation, we began experiencing problems. It turned out all of the support and operational complexity had been masked from us. Behind the simple outward appearance lay dozens of different software, hardware, data centers and networks. The cloud service provider took first support calls, but getting issues resolved took a long time – and worse, we never were quite sure who was currently working the issue or the status.

Recent studies have identified service and support as the number one decision criteria for customers purchasing new cloud services. In fact, one recent study of the SMB market for cloud services found that the TOP THREE concerns were service related:

  • Provide an SLA to ensure application is accessible at all times (53%)
  • Provide 24x7 customer support (47%)
  • Provide better notification of upgrades, changes and downtime (45%)

Much as cloud providers would like to address these concerns, it’s very difficult operationally to do so because of the multiple back end providers. Cloud customers, in turn, typically use phone, web or email interface with cloud providers to raise and get status on service incidents, so they have no real-time or proactive visibility into issues or outages. As companies put more mission critical applications into the cloud, this dysfunctional support model is causing growing concern and slowing the adoption of cloud services.

Cisco believes the answer is simple. No matter how many different providers might have to get involved to solve a problem, to the original customer it should look like one organization.  All information, data and workflows would be shared in an automated way, eliminating manual practices and bottlenecks.
Cisco ServiceGrid enables such integration with a “connect once, connect all” approach, integrating all participants in the support process to the cloud platform only once, instead of integrating everyone one at a time. In speaking with customers who have moved to such a model, they report 40% or more reduction in case resolution times and lower support costs. More importantly, the end user sees what’s happening on the case while it is happening – no finding out hours or days later – resulting in real time SLA’s.

The promise of cloud is incredible, however, cloud customers and cloud service providers need to recognize and address the growing concern about how it will all be supported. Together we can remove a powerful obstacle to cloud adoption, by adding an “easy button” for multi-party support.

source: Techaisle SMB Channel Partner Survey 2012

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Multi-Party Support -- The Emergence of a Dynamic Support Network

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IT Leaders can be Brokers of Cloud Technology

We live in a world of many clouds, clouds that are as unique as we are. Today’s IT leaders are helping organizations manage the new demands of rapidly changing business requirements and the delivery of innovative services, all due to the rise in cloud adoption.

“How the Cloud is Changing the Role of Technology Leaders” by Michael Beckley via WIRED Innovation Insights

“How the Cloud is Changing the Role of Technology Leaders” by Michael Beckley via WIRED Innovation Insights

Yet, according to a recent Wired article, the advancement of cloud computing is also redefining the roles of the CIO and the CTO. An IT leader’s job is becoming more complex as they work to navigate the influx of user-provided devices and ensure consistent performance, security and control across the infrastructure. How can IT leaders continue to offer value to their organizations through a strategic approach to cloud technologies?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to cloud deployment.  IT leaders need to become a broker of change for cloud. They must be empowered to create the right cloud strategy for business needs, support line of business requirements and meet IT demands across disparate clouds without sacrificing security or performance.

Learn more about Cisco’s multiple cloud deployment models at Cisco Cloud Perspectives. Be sure to follow @CiscoCloud on Twitter and join the conversation, #CiscoCloud.

 

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Cloud-based ITaaS: Transforming IT from Support to Service Brokerage

Cloud computing is more mainstream today than ever before, but it’s important to note that there are still significant opportunities for IT leaders to innovate and leverage cloud delivery options to capture new business opportunities and implement new IT models.

The Evolution of ITaaS: The Convergence of Two Roads

On one hand, traditional private cloud services within customer IT services are driving different degrees of completeness depending on organizational needs. Virtualization, consolidation and on-premise shared services are some of the drivers within the private cloud space.

On the other hand, public cloud services are evolving to include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Today, these two tracks are intersecting to create demand for a hybrid cloud model. While the concept of the “Hybrid” cloud has developed mostly as a consequence of the availability of different cloud services, this same availability is also driving the evolution of IT as a Service.

What does this mean for business? It means that fundamentally, IT is adopting a supply chain management logic by deciding whether to make or buy a specific service based on a variety of organizational goals, market pressures, and available options.

The Ongoing IT Sourcing Strategy: Make vs. Buy 

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Is Your Data Center Ready for ACI Transformation?

Disruptive technologies have become more frequent than ever before, making business agility and the ability to adapt key competitive differentiators.  Every day I speak with IT executives who are asking how Cisco can help them respond to new requirements across their physical, virtual, and cloud-based environments.  They feel compelled to accelerate the delivery of applications, better align IT with business activity, and reduce time to revenue.   They want to know if their initiatives will have the impact and outcomes they require.  Can they capture the full value of their technology investments?   How can they up their game when it comes to delivering IT services that their businesses need to succeed?

Today Cisco introduced its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) offerings to manage the health and performance of the applications that you rely upon to run your business.  A simplified, flexible, and agile framework, ACI aligns the needs of the entire application lifecycle, overcoming functional silos, and bringing together your infrastructure, security, application, and cloud teams through a holistic architecture and policy-driven framework.

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BYOD Spells Opportunity for Service Providers

There’s no doubt that BYOD—“bring your own device”—is a huge and growing phenomenon throughout the world. Recent research by the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) looked at BYOD and its economic impact in six countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, India, and Brazil. In these countries alone, the number of BYOD devices is expected to more than double by 2016, to 405 million.

Clearly, introducing all those personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops into the workplace is causing complexity and uncertainty for many businesses. There is a strong appetite for BYOD, but our research shows that implementation has been largely reactive, resulting in a patchwork of ad-hoc capabilities and policies. Without a comprehensive approach, most companies are not realizing the potential value of BYOD—especially small or midsize businesses that do not have the IT resources or sophistication to manage all that complexity.

Enter the service provider (SP). BYOD opens the door to a number of SP opportunities: Read More »

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