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SUMMARY: As Cisco Intercloud Turns One, Two of its Architects Reflect On How The Strategy Was Born

“One year ago this week, Cisco announced a plan and a billion dollar investment to build the world’s largest Intercloud – a globally connected network of clouds from Cisco and our partners. As we arrive at the one-year anniversary, I took a few minutes to chat with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud SVP Nick Earle – two of the ‘architects of the Intercloud’ – about how the idea came about, and what they have learned in the year since the vision was unveiled.”

Click here to read the full post by David McCulloch
A Q&A with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud Senior Vice President Nick Earle

 

Intercloud Birthday

Happy Birthday, Intercloud!

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The Center for Digital Business Transformation: Helping Our Customers Thrive in a Digital World

Powerful technology trends including, social, mobile, cloud, and Big Data are converging, creating unprecedented “digital disruption.” We are in a unique period of time where business and technology leaders have the opportunity to create new value and win market share by leveraging the advantages of a hyper-connected world.

Agile competitors with better business models seemingly emerge overnight. Ingrained ways of thinking and working make changing to an innovative culture painfully slow. Needed talent and resources lie outside the four walls of the organization in a wider ecosystem of capabilities. And while technology challenges abound as we confront the future, people and process changes are even more vexing for most organizations.

So how do executives keep their companies from being added to the growing heap of once venerable brands that didn’t transform fast enough?

It’s not easy.

According to Gartner research, by 2020, 75 percent of companies will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one, yet only 30 percent of these efforts will be successful. The number one reason companies fail to transform is because they don’t re-imagine and reinvent the business from top to bottom before they begin.

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As Cisco Intercloud Turns One, Two of its Architects Reflect On How The Strategy Was Born

A Q&A with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud Senior Vice President Nick Earle

Rob Lloyd Nick Earle Cisco

 

 

 

 

 

One year ago this week, Cisco announced a plan and a billion dollar investment to build the world’s largest Intercloud – a globally connected network of clouds from Cisco and our partners. As we arrive at the one-year anniversary, I took a few minutes to chat with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud SVP Nick Earle – two of the ‘architects of the Intercloud’ – about how the idea came about, and what they have learned in the year since the vision was unveiled.

David McCulloch: Can you take us back to early 2014 and remind us why Cisco needed to evolve its cloud strategy?

Rob Lloyd: In late 2013, even as sales of Cisco’s SaaS and cloud enabling technologies continued to rise, we started to see demand for a new cloud model: a hybrid cloud model that took into account our customers’ current IT investments and augmented those with a choice of cloud providers, and access to local and national cloud options to more easily comply with data privacy and industry regulations. We realized that if we could deliver all of that with one holistic hybrid cloud strategy that gave customers a high degree of control over security, policy and application performance, we had a huge opportunity on our hands.

DM:  Enter Cisco Intercloud! How did the idea come about?

Rob: A few weeks before Cisco’s annual executive leadership team meeting, Nick Earle, Edzard Overbeek (head of Cisco Services), Jim Sherriff (chief of staff) and I met to brainstorm what it would take to deliver the hybrid cloud strategy our customers wanted.  We knew we had some valuable assets already: Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was capable of enabling consistent security and policy across clouds. Intercloud Fabric enabled portability of workloads between clouds. And our Integrated Architecture offers in the Data Center were already market leading.  But we realized we could go further still if we fully embraced our extensive global ecosystem of partners. If we could combine Cisco’s strengths together with those of our partners, and move quickly, we knew we could disrupt current cloud models and become the market leader in hybrid cloud solutions.

DM: Whiteboard, notebooks or napkin?

Nick Earle: White board! The four of us began drawing the current partner/technology/services ecosystem on a whiteboard in the ‘Bat Cave’, a meeting room that is full of mementos Rob has collected on his business travels. The first sketch centered on applications running in Cisco data centers with remote access provided to our partners and customers, but that posed serious scalability challenges. We realized no company – not even Cisco – could deliver the global reach and local scale our customers were asking for to meet the massive challenges and opportunities presented by the Internet of Everything.

DM: So what was plan B?

Nick: We restarted the design from scratch, this time taking ourselves temporarily out of the picture and drawing everything from the perspective of the customer. We asked: what would it take to deliver the seamless hybrid cloud experience they wanted – irrespective of vendor or cloud provider? This was the key breakthrough. We redrew the global cloud network diagram with a green dot inside each element in the ecosystem – the green dot representing a technology capability that was at once secure and open – that would enable cloud federation.  A pattern of green dots began to emerge and the lights went on – this was it! We had no name for the idea at the time so we began referring to it as the ‘Green Dot Strategy’.

The original 'Green Dot Strategy' sketch on the 'Bat Cave' whiteboard

The original ‘Green Dot Strategy’ sketch on the ‘Bat Cave’ whiteboard

DM: So how did the ‘Green Dot Strategy’ become the Cisco Intercloud strategy?

Rob: We wanted to make this strategy real for our customers as quickly as possible. So we compiled an inventory of all the capabilities we would need to pull it off: Secure hypervisor agnostic distribution of applications? Intercloud Fabric. Check! Application policy extensibility into other clouds? ACI. Check. Real time data analytics to billions of new devices and data at the edge of the network? Cisco Data Virtualization. Check!  An extensive partner ecosystem that could put data centers in every country to provide global data sovereignty and provide a huge go to market advantage? Check again. We realized we had a winning strategy on our hands and we needed to move quickly to launch the strategy – at ‘Dev Ops’ speed.

DM: And we did move quickly. Cisco unveiled its Intercloud strategy fifty-six days later at our Partner Summit in Las Vegas. But that was really just the beginning, wasn’t it?

Rob:  It all began with Telstra, our first Intercloud alliance partner, but once our ecosystem of partners had a chance to digest the concept, the feedback and uptake was off the charts! Now, one year after the unveiling, we’ve filled in a lot of the ‘green dots’ that we sketched on that whiteboard. We have amassed 60 Intercloud alliance, ecosystem and cloud provider partners with a footprint of 400 data centers across 50 countries, and the momentum continues.

Last week, I announced new Intercloud services together with DT at CeBit in Germany. This week I reviewed the revenues being generated by SunGard Availability Services that leverage their domain expertise in cloud recovery services, SAP and public cloud, and witnessed the faster time-to-market enabled by Intercloud.

When I see those advances, it’s clear to me that we have a created a big idea with the potential to truly be a game changer.  Consider this: within nine months we’ll have a service availability capability that matches what the best known player in this category has taken nine years to build.

DM: What’s next?

Nick: Ha! You ain’t seen nothing yet!  We’re really still at phase one of our strategy. In time, we’ll add hundreds of cloud service providers with thousands of services into the mix. That will arm our customers and crucially our partners with the industry’s best cloud service portfolio. The next phases are all about scaling out the availability of those services globally with alliance partners like Telstra, Deutsche Telekom, and others to be announced. Ultimately, we plan to create the world’s most compelling global cloud service exchange for business, where orchestration and management of services on Cisco and non-Cisco environments comes with world-class security, visibility, control and analytics. You can expect to hear more about that this summer!

How did your big idea come about? We’re curious to hear your innovation story! Post #innovativeideas.

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An Internet that spurs not strangles innovation

The world we live in today is one where people, process, data and – increasingly – things are connected as never before. The Internet of EveryThing (IoE), is driving the most dynamic area of innovation, creating new business models, economic, social and environmental sustainability and also has fantastic potential to improve our quality of life.

Just imagine: a blind man gaining independence because his once ordinary walking stick is able to communicate with his other senses through sensors, vibrations and GPS technology that guide him through the city maze. Imagine a connected car informed of traffic jams by analyzing traffic patterns and adjusting traffic light operations. Or think of smart manufacturing facilities that cut costs by reducing waste and energy consumption. And these are just the possibilities being realised today. Imagine what the future will look like in 5, 10 or 25 years from now.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. We don’t know what applications and services will shape the Internet’s future. To continue innovating, we need the Internet to remain open, giving the most creative among us the chance to experiment with daring new ideas.

We also must be sure not to stifle the very innovation that we seek to encourage. If we do so, it could inhibit growth and new ideas alike. This is why today we should focus on putting in place the right policy principles that will further develop this new Internet of Everything.

In policy debates, net neutrality is often understood to mean that all bits should be treated equally, regardless of whether it’s a text, email, picture or video. While at first sight this may sound reasonable, the truth is that such a strict net neutrality principle would become an innovation straight-jacket. It would require us to re-design the Internet as we know it, doing away with tools that have become essential to its success.

Different Internet services have different requirements. It doesn’t really matter if an email arrives now or a second or two later. But if you’re dealing with real-time applications – such as video communication, or buying stocks or monitoring vital signs, delays can have an incredible impact on user experience and effectiveness.

So the truth is that you have to manage internet traffic to make sure that the data that has to get there immediately – does.   This short video explains what traffic management entails and why it is so important.

Reasonable traffic management is so deeply embedded in the Internet’s core structure that it could not operate smoothly without it. This is the case already with the traffic loads of today, let alone in the future. Because management and scheduling are a crucial part of the Internet, we are closely following European efforts to formulate new net neutrality legislation. Cisco believes such legislation has merit but it could also have sweeping implications for reasonable traffic management and new services that would ultimately stifle rather than encourage innovation on the Internet. These implications can and should be avoided.

Fortunately it seems there is an increasing realisation among some policy-makers that net neutrality legislation, necessary as it may be, shouldn’t eliminate reasonable traffic management altogether. That approach would undermine rather than improve the quality of users’ experience. One way to establish net neutrality rules that prevent bad behaviour while maintaining a role for traffic management is to pursue a two-thronged approach where a line is drawn between the types of bad behaviour we do not want to see in the Internet and the necessary and reasonable traffic management techniques that ensure the fast, reliable and scalable networks that we all rely on, and need as consumers.

Equally, there is an emerging consensus that we must avoid overly prescriptive attempts to cast into law lists enumerating or narrowly defining the types of services other than internet access services that we deem “deserving” of specific levels of quality. Such attempts are bound to get it wrong in many cases. Moreover, any such neutrality law would quickly be outpaced and overtaken by reality. Building a Procrustean bed for the Internet is not the way towards a more vibrant digital economy in Europe. It is not necessary to have these prescriptive definitions and conditions on innovation as long as we maintain strong and clear safeguards to ensure an open and reliable Internet.

As the debate on neutrality in Europe enters its final phase, with trialogue negotiations starting this week, we hope the European Parliament will take a fresh look at the issue and we achieve a balanced final outcome.

In essence, the legislation we need should be sturdy enough to hold things together, but flexible enough for Internet entrepreneurs to continue adding new applications and services.

Just think about what the Internet looked like 15 years ago: a handful of wires, noisy connections that would bump you off from time to time, and streaming would be as quick as a snail. We have made huge strides, and we can continue towards an Internet of Everything – a smarter, more productive and efficient way at approaching life. But to get there, striking the right balance in Europe’s regulatory framework is more crucial than ever before.

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Building a Successful Hybrid Cloud That Delivers Flexibility, Choice and Control

The debate about whether businesses need hybrid clouds is over. Technology executives see value in public clouds because they offer speed, economics, and scale that are very hard to achieve in a private cloud environment. On the other hand, private clouds offer control, data sovereignty, and security. Businesses need both, which means they need hybrid clouds. The question is; how can they successfully build them?

What makes a true hybrid cloud?

Hybrid clouds are like the Internet. When users connect a device, whether it’s a handheld or a laptop, or another machine, they don’t think twice about how these things are going to talk to each other. Similar to that, hybrid clouds are an “Intercloud” of clouds. That means that regardless of whether it’s a combination of a private cloud, a public cloud, or an extended set of clouds, the environments all work seamlessly together. They have consistent security and networking, and applications and workloads can be moved freely from cloud to cloud.
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