If you are reading this blog hoping to get a universal recipe for your cloud strategy, I believe you will be disappointed. But then, you already know…. there are no ‘universal’ cloud strategies. You have to formulate a cloud strategy that best fits your business objectives and IT priorities (among a number of other factors.) Our Cisco services team for Cloud Strategy, Management and Operations has various tools including our Cisco DomainTen™ framework that will help you formulate the right cloud strategy for your organization. Parag’s blog is a great source of information in this regard.
This blog series instead will offer a set of perspectives on how I view the evolution of the World of Many Clouds ™ and what steps we are taking to align our cloud strategy to capitalize on it. This first blog will put our strategy in ‘context’ outlining our point of view in light of some important market dynamics.
The primary market research study that we conducted in collaboration with INTEL, along with additional secondary market research studies, clearly indicate that Line of Business (LoB) leaders have been playing a more important role in driving requirements for IT solutions and services. The reasons behind this trend are many, including and not limited to increasing market and competitive pressures, an uncertain business climate, variability of macroeconomic factors and a relentless need to innovate at a faster pace to stay ahead of the competition. What’s more, LOBs now have greater ability to access IT solutions – such as Software as a Service -- outside the traditional enterprise IT value chain, creating “shadow IT” initiatives. In response, IT organizations are looking for new ways to retain their leadership, control, and at times, even relevancy. Furthermore, IT organizations are now expected to support strategic business objectives and enable business growth while also harnessing new technology trends, leading to innovation and new customer experiences. To remain relevant to the business, IT must become a “change agent” and be perceived as a true strategic enabler. The question is how?
We envision IT organizations transitioning to new roles as trusted ‘brokers of IT services’. This model enables IT to add value to one or more public or private cloud services on behalf of its users. IT does this by dynamically bringing together, integrating, and tailoring the delivery of cloud services to best meet the needs of the business.
In a wide-ranging study, Cisco, in partnership with Intel®, sought to pinpoint just how these powerful trends are impacting IT. The “Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models” study surveyed 4,226 IT leaders in 18 industries across nine key economies, developed as well as emerging: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States. The study supports our point of view. Up to 76% of the survey respondents signaled that IT will act as a “broker” of cloud services across internal and external clouds for LoBs.
In other words, when formulating their sourcing strategies, IT organizations repeatedly face service-by-service, “build-versus-buy” decisions. Therefore, IT needs a plan and a set of governance criteria that support the consistent evaluation of their IT services sourcing options (e.g., time to market, value, sustainable differentiation that the service can provide, SLAs, cost, risk profile and the experience the IT department intrinsically has with that particular service etc..)
This “IT services sourcing flexibility” enables greater levels of business agility, transparency, and speed of deployment to help LoB leaders unlock innovation and achieve core business objectives.
However, let’s step back and see how this is all fitting together. If we rewind, we introduced the concept of the World of Many Clouds ™ a couple of years ago. You can view the evolution of this world as the outcome of the intersection and progressive integration between traditional IT environments and IT services offered by public cloud providers. The roads (in our metaphor) are converging. Lines are blurring. In theory, nothing is preventing a company that consumes IT services from becoming a cloud provider itself (public or private.)
I also believe that the debate regarding private versus public cloud is over. It is about having both at the same time. And to be able to bridge and take advantage of both; hybrid cloud is the new ‘normal.’
In turn, the ability to combine and dynamically aggregate cloud services from private and public clouds can truly occur if IT organizations can rely on an open and secure hybrid cloud environment. And for that to take place you should have the ability to move your cloud workloads (and more broadly your IT services) around. Both data and applications.
You can easily envision a scenario in which a workload -- based on a set of specifications -- ‘automatically discovers’ the best infrastructure to run on. An exchange could facilitate the allocation process. An XML based standard could emerge along with a set of processes used by exchanges to match demand and supply of IT services based on SLAs, costs, data locality requirements etc… On the supply side you can also envision a scenario in which federation or capacity aggregation among suppliers of cloud services would enable increased economies of scale, consistency and a broader set of choices.
Ok … coming back to earth … our Cloud strategy intends to capitalize on some of these market dynamics and enable IT to retain control, relevance and increase its strategic profile by leveraging the evolution of the World of Many Clouds. In my next blog I will provide an overview of the actual strategy and begin focusing on it in more detail. But first I wanted to share the context.
Business leaders today are heavily growth-oriented and are looking at new ways of deploying applications to obtain greater agility. That is where we see hybrid cloud becoming mainstream as it frees businesses to run applications on-demand and where it’s most cost-effective. Cisco InterCloud was announced to address this opportunity and facilitate optimal hybrid cloud deployments.
Cisco InterCloud comes with unique capabilities that enable enterprises to connect their private cloud to heterogeneous public clouds. It creates the notion of a single scalable hybrid cloud for all physical, virtual and cloud workloads -- an infinite datacenter where the public cloud is treated as a virtual extension of the data center. Cisco InterCloud is designed with these tenets:
Open: Customers are excited about Cisco InterCloud, as it is an open solution that gives customers the freedom to choose hypervisor on private cloud and select their public cloud from a rich ecosystem of cloud providers. Service providers like InterCloud as it is open API based, integrates with multiple cloud platforms, e.g., CloudStack, vCloud, and OpenStack and enables them to rapidly offer a hybrid cloud solution. It reduces the effort to onboard enterprise customers. Cisco InterCloud thus provides a multi-cloud, multi-hypervisor cloud experience.
Secure: Another key factor in hybrid cloud adoption is the need to address the security and compliance concerns of public cloud deployment. Cisco InterCloud provides end-to-end secure connectivity by encrypting traffic between the enterprise private cloud and the service provider cloud. It also ensures workload security by encrypting all data-in-motion within shared multi-tenant public cloud. Additionally, customers can also deploy network services such as zone based virtual firewall and edge firewall for further workload security within public cloud.
Flexible: Customers demand bi-directional workload portability across private and public clouds. With Cisco InterCloud, customers not only can provision workloads from a self-service portal, but also with a click, migrate workloads to the public cloud and back. All of this activity happens behind the scenes as InterCloud converts workloads to the right VM format, such as VMware VMDK to AWS AMI, or to CloudStack format for providers such as BT. It makes workload portability easier as applications don’t need to be re-architected as IP addresses are retained upon migration and enterprise VLANs are extended into the cloud.
I believe that lines of business and developers are leading the journey to hybrid cloud adoption. IT has realized that it needs to shift away from its role as gatekeeper to instead being a partner to Lines of Business but IT faces certain challenges in doing so. IT has to deal with the overhead of integrating with each cloud provider and find ways to do in a secure manner. Cisco InterCloud enables IT to act as a cloud broker on behalf of lines of business. Cisco InterCloud provides unified hybrid cloud management through a built-in IT Admin portal and an extensible northbound API layer. It also allows IT to enforce consistent network security, L4-7 services and workload policies throughout the hybrid cloud.
This week’s Cisco InterCloud announcement demonstrates our continued commitment to customers. We envision a future where customers have an array of cloud options and can pick the ‘best fit’ based on workload needs, performance, cost, and location requirements. We are going into beta next quarter and have announced general availability soon afterwards. As 2014 dawns, we see a shift towards mainstream hybrid cloud adoption — hybrid cloud is finally here for real.
We have a very clear strategy for cloud and I will talk more about it in future blogs; however, for the time being here’s a quick overview (Imagine a New IT Video)
Strategy per se is great … but without execution…. it is not fascinating . With our comprehensive cloud portfolio in conjunction with our partner ecosystem, you can deploy and capitalize on the World of Many Clouds™ in the way that makes the most sense for your business. And we do have a cloud portfolio to match and that we can put to work for you in context to help you achieve your goals. Here is my attempt to outline our cloud portfolio more broadly beyond the recent announcement.
Plan your Cloud
Let’s start with services .… At any stage of your cloud journey, you can consider a Cisco Domain TenSM engagement. This industry-uniqueframework, embraced by global businesses to guide their IT and data center transformation, helps you methodically plan the next stages of your organization’s journey to the cloud. Starting from your current state of readiness, you gain a holistic view of your IT environment, and then project your desired state and identify the gaps that must be filled to address infrastructure, application, security, compliance, process, and governance implications for your cloud plans. It is extremely comprehensive!
As cloud-enabled services transform IT departments everywhere, your path to success as an IT professional was made easier today with Cisco’s announcement to expand its cloud portfolio. With Cisco’s comprehensive cloud portfolio offerings, you can easily and securely combine workloads to manage cloud services across different clouds. By increasing your flexibility for strategic sourcing of cloud-enabled IT services, you can increase your influence as a trusted business partner to your stakeholders. And, as you take on these new strategic roles, Cisco and our channel partners can help you and your organization gain control of cloud services.
While defining and deploying a comprehensive cloud architecture presents tremendous opportunity for IT chiefs, this task is not without its challenges. Successful cloud implementation requires a cloud governance model fueled by strategic vision and a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of your data center and IT operations in the new application economy fueled by cloud.
Following on the heels of our launch last fall of Application Centric Infrastructure, our enhanced Cisco Services for cloud portfolio provides strategic assistance to transition to a cloud governance model within your organization based on business outcomes. With our solutions spanning the plan, build, manage, and go-to-market phases of the cloud project lifecycle, Cisco Services has been recognized as an industry leader in cloud services by both IDC and Forrester.
In my previous blog , I noted that IT is increasingly transitioning towards an IT service broker role, taking advantage of multiple sourcing options to become an intermediary of cloud services offered to the business constituents. The role of IT as a broker of cloud services enables them to add value on behalf of its users by dynamically aggregating, integrating, and customizing the delivery of multi-cloud services (whether public, private or a combination of both) to best meet the needs of the business.
It’s now time for Cisco to take the next bold step in leading the evolution of the “World of Many Clouds,” journey with our partners. Today, at Cisco Live! in Milan, we announced important news in the significant expansion of our Cloud Portfolio to enable a new Fast IT model. The new products and services in Cisco’s extended cloud portfolio include:
These solutions that we will detail in coming blogs are designed to provide major benefits for your organization as you move to the world of many clouds. They allow you to
Reduce your exposure to risk in cloud environments.
Enhance your business flexibility with a choice of consumption models in the world of many clouds.
Increase agility and reduce TCO by managing and automating your cloud environments
Our breakthrough hybrid cloud solution, Cisco InterCloud, which lowers total cost of ownership for organizations and paves the way for interoperable and highly secure public, private and hybrid clouds. The addition of InterCloud to our Cloud portfolio also broadens Cisco’s commitment to openness and shows the unique value our partner-led model.