I never thought of paint as being an important part of the engine of commerce.
That is, until I met Ueli Frei, who heads FUNDES International, an NGO that fosters economic growth among micro-businesses in Latin America. His team helped a group of independent “mom and pop” drug stores band together and operate, in many ways, as a single retailer.
What are the factors motivating businesses to rise up to the cloud opportunity? One key advantage is business agility: Cloud offers the ability to address unpredictable application events weighing on a company’s data center, meeting the challenge from sharp, sudden usage spikes. At the same time, cloud promises more efficient ways to address new products, customers, and selling situations.
In other words, cloud drives top-line growth and improves the bottom line.
For the last decade, IT organizations have faced the challenge of managing budgets that are 70-80% channeled towards maintenance costs while business demands are growing faster than ever. The result is that many requests for new projects have to be turned down and more and more business opportunities are missed.
If we look within the data center, the majority of the costs is associated with people and software, but the the root cause of those costs is legacy infrastructure that is very complex and expensive to manage. The flaws of this legacy infrastructure are often masked by layers of complex management software, which have developed to stitch together systems that were not designed to be integrated.
Legacy infrastructure prevents business agility and financial efficiency because it was not designed for environments like Cloud that require fast deployment, automated provisioning of resources, open-API’s, and “self-service” consumption models by business users. Nor was it designed for environments where physical and virtual resources have to co-exist. Finally, it assumed operational models that can’t meet the Performance, High Availability and Security requirements in the context of workload mobility and deep integration between compute, network and storage environments.
As a result of all this, Data Centers have evolved towards an accidental architecture that still contains too many silos of applications that are difficult to maintain and manage.
For these reasons, Cisco has created the Unified Data Center platform, which provides a new approach to design the data center infrastructure and prepares our customers for the opportunities that Cloud will bring along in the future.
Cisco has a long history of anticipating the convergence of technologies in an effort to reduce costs, streamline operations, or unlock new ways for the business to leverage technology. Cisco has a deep understanding of these transitions, having helped reshape the industry numerous times in the past, most notably with the convergence of voice and data. We are now doing the same by bringing together Compute, Network, Storage and Management within and across Data Centers.
Successful transitions involve new ways of not only thinking about the business challenges, but also about designing the underlying technologies to be agile, efficient, and simplified. Bolting together existing technologies doesn’t deliver the desired result.
A Unified approach is needed to unlock this new business potential.
William Ford Gibson, an author of science fiction who coined the term “cyberspace,” once said: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” In other words, the future is happening, it’s just faster in some places and slower in others.
Gibson very well might have been talking about our electric grid, which is at varying stages of modernization throughout the world. While we anticipate that $4 trillion dollars will be invested in global smart grid transformation projects over the next twenty years, how do we ensure scalability, reliability and security across the board? How do we make sure that the electric grid for the 21st century is the platform for sustainability and innovation that many of us hope it can be?
At Cisco, our goal is to help utility customers see into the future and help them succeed in making smart grid a reality. To do so, we believe three areas need to be addressed: policy, technology and economics. For example, we need policies in place that promote investment in smart grid as well as energy independence and infrastructure security and reliability. The integration of information technology (IT) with energy technology (ET) will create new business models and greater opportunity for energy management, reducing our environmental impact. And economics will also be a critical factor in making the right policy and technology choices, as well as articulating the broader societal value of a smart grid.
Two reports issued by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in the past few months reveal that concerted efforts of both governments and service providers are combining to make broadband more accessible and affordable, at least for developing countries.
Let’s look at the most recent report first.
According to the 2010 ICT Price Basket report, broadband costs around the world have dropped approximately 52 percent between 2008 and 2010 — compared to a 22 percent drop in prices for mobile cellular services.