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So many workloads and so many clouds ….

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a discussion regarding the #FutureOfCloud in the #InnovateThink  Tweet Chat. One of the questions that came up revolved around the process typically used to associate a workload with a specific cloud deployment model. That is an important question and top of mind whenever we speak with customers.

One of the most appealing qualities of the cloud is the variety of ways in which it can be delivered and consumed. A successful cloud strategy will let you take advantage of a full range of consumption models for cloud services to meet your specific business needs. In reality, when we think about it, the process is very similar to what any company in virtually any industry goes through when shaping its business strategy. For each area of the business, inevitably the question arises: Build, Buy or Partner?

Build versus Buy

When formulating their sourcing strategies, IT organizations repeatedly face very similar service-by-service, “build-versus-buy” decisions. The predisposition of IT organizations is to create and build IT services on their own. That is what many IT professionals want to do … create new services, invent ‘new things’. And that may very well be the best option. However, many customers also realize that it is often beneficial to adopt best-in-class capabilities to remain competitive even if this requires outsourcing select portions of the IT value chain. Hence the emerging role of IT as a broker of IT services that we discussed in the past (for more information please visit our web site.) And this requires a paradigm shift for many IT organizations.

Solving the ‘Equation’

To solve the “build versus buy” equation when sourcing their IT services, IT needs to evaluate cost, risk, and agility requirements to determine the best strategy for their business. IT needs a plan and a set of governance principles to evaluate each service based on its strategic profile. A collaborative approach between business and IT is also required. For example: Is the service core to the business? What is the business value associated with it (e.g., strategic importance, sustainable differentiation it can provide, time to market requirements etc..)? What are the cost implications (CapEx vs OpEx), risk profile, security, SLAs, data privacy and regulatory compliance requirements?  And … do you have the expertise to plan, build and manage the new IT service while meeting the expectations of your business counterparts?

Hybrid Cloud Rapidly Emerging as the New ‘Normal’

Not surprisingly, my experience when talking to customers that operate in regulated industries or that are concerned about security -- and the privacy of their data more specifically – is that they tend to favor private cloud deployments. For example, I was talking to a compliance manager part of a global financial institution and as soon as I uttered ‘public cloud’ his reaction was quite predictable …. He shook his head, got serious and quipped “Public cloud … I do not think so …” Real or perceived, security concerns remain top of mind and a major barrier to cloud adoption, and this is validated by market research data.

Hybrid Cloud

The predictability of the application with respect to resource consumption is also a factor. Applications that have high elasticity requirements are well positioned to benefit from the economics, agility and scale that public clouds can offer. Infrastructure capacity planning and optimization is a big task for most IT organizations. Having the ability to burst into the public cloud represents an appealing option. This is also why ultimately hybrid cloud is becoming the new normal, and results of the 2014 North Bridge Future of Cloud Computing Survey supports that view.

2014 Future of Cloud Annual Survey Results - Source Gigaom

2014 Future of Cloud Computing - Annual Survey Results

The Power of Choice

Arguably the most important thing your IT organization can do is to diversify its choice of cloud providers ….. Simply because without choice you really do not have a strategy …. And no contingency plans to go along with it ….

What do you think?

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3 Reasons To Pay Attention To Intercloud

Back in March, together with our partners, we announced plans to build the world’s largest global Intercloud. We consider this global network of clouds to be the next phase of cloud computing and a key part of the Internet of Everything.

Open and Secure Hybrid Clouds

This energy continues. In the following video, our partners share how they’re integrating our ACI and Intercloud strategies to meet the needs and demands of their customers.  I find the diversity of comments and approaches our partners share in the video enlightening.  Their projects represent a broad spectrum of technologies, highlighting the breadth of impact that the Intercloud will have on us all.  I can see why they are all so excited and why ‘Intercloud’ is fast becoming an industry term.

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Want to hear Cisco’s POV on the top 5 questions about the Future of Cloud?

Gee Rittenhouse answers the top 5 questions about #CloudAccording to GigaOM, the use of cloud-based resources will be what’s “next” for IT in preparation for an in-depth look at the infrastructure that will drive the next decade of application development.

At the recent Structure event, GigaOM tapped into the minds of cloud-technology industry leaders, seeking insight into the “Top 5 Questions for the Titans of Cloud.”

In this post, Gee Rittenhouse, Vice President/General Manager, Cloud and Virtualization Group at Cisco, provides answers and insight on cloud infrastructure, exchange, data security and more.

 

Top Cloud Question #1: “When will all the major clouds support the same set of APIs?”

 

Today, there is a three-horse race between two proprietary APIs (Amazon Web Services and VMware’s vCloud API) and one open API (OpenStack). For now, the two proprietary APIs will continue to be the dominant players, leveraging their large public cloud (in the case of AWS) and private cloud (in the case of VMware) deployments.

But, as an increasing number of service providers and enterprises adopt and deploy OpenStack cloud solutions across both public and private models, the balance will shift, more than likely over the next two to four years.

Cisco’s approach is different from other, more infrastructure-centric public cloud offers. We believe that the open API model OpenStack will eventually be the dominant cloud API model and will ultimately become the de-facto standard.

Looking to the future beyond just a hybrid cloud conversation toward the Intercloud, an interconnected global cloud of clouds, built with a commitment to open standards and based on OpenStack, will feature APIs to connect any cloud or hypervisor to any other cloud or hypervisor.

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Finally, a hybrid cloud that makes both users and IT happy!

Two years back, I disparaged hybrid clouds in my blog: “Why Hybrid Clouds Look Like my Grandma’s Network”. Since then the pain and necessity of many clouds in business environment has become acute. I see a great similarity between Hybrid Clouds and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon that has become well-accepted in today’s organization. IT tried to resist it initially, but the consumer movement proliferated into the workplace and was hard to control. Hence IT had no choice but to follow along.

A similar movement is emerging in Cloud. After Amazon Web Services (AWS) made it simple for application developers to swipe credit cards to buy compute and get up and running in a jiffy, the addiction has been hard to stop. Enterprise stakeholders are consuming cloud infrastructure by the hour and in the process running up total costs for their organizations and leaving gaping holes in security and compliance. But this time around, IT has an opportunity to get ahead of the phenomenon.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.25.29 PM

 

Challenges with existing hybrid cloud approaches:

 Vendor lock-in: It is hard to argue against the flexibility offered by public clouds. However, few realize that the flexibility comes at the cost of vendor lock-in. Public cloud APIs are typically custom and moving the workload back is almost impossible.

Skyrocketing costs: Granted that public cloud vendors have been driving down costs. However, using public cloud for regular application deployments is like using a rental car for long-term use. If you need a car temporarily, say during a vacation, it makes sense to rent it by the day. However, when you are back at home and need a car for everyday commute, using a rental car will run up costs. This is what enterprises are running into when public cloud charges for resources and bandwidth start to add up. However, it is hard to get out once you are locked into operational practices and workload customization in your favorite cloud.

Security & Compliance holes: Security, what security? When you don’t even know what workloads are running in public clouds and you have no control over who accesses them and how, it is needless to say how big a security and compliance hole this is.

The Solution: Embrace Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC), build hybrid clouds with Intercloud Fabric

Now that we agree that there’s no way around folks bringing their own clouds, IT needs to provide choice to users while driving consistency, control and compliance for its own sake. Here’s how Intercloud Fabric make this possible:

Choice: Intercloud Fabric enables IT to support a number of clouds including giant public clouds (Amazon, Azure) or their favorite cloud provider including Cisco Powered.

Consistency: Although users get choice of clouds, IT can maintain consistency in networking, security and operations. This is made possible by seamless workload portability across clouds, say vSphere to AWS while maintaining enterprise IP addressing and security profiles.

Compliance: Since public clouds appear as an extension of enterprise data center, current compliance requirements like logging, change control, access restrictions continue to be enforced.

Control: IT controls the cloud in a good way. They don’t have to say “No” to their end users in consuming diverse clouds but can still manage them with a single console and move workloads back and forth.

Seem too good to be true?

 See how cloud providers and business customers are getting ready to do it -- replay of recent webcast Securely Moving Workloads Between Clouds with Cisco InterCloud Fabric

Also, if you are Gigaom Structure in San Francisco this week, you can see the solution in action and get further insights in our workshop on Intercloud Fabric.

 

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Fast IT Workshop #4 – Innovative Infrastructure Management: Challenges and Opportunities

As business leaders navigate an increasingly complex world of connections, they need IT to provide a programmable infrastructure that can dynamically respond to their needs. This four-part blog series explores how responsive infrastructure helps IT leaders succeed. The first post in this series, by Colin Kincaid, discusses how Fast IT, a new model of IT, offers a broader focus of next-generation infrastructure. The second post in this series by Jim Grubb highlighted what IT leaders can do now to adopt a roadmap to Fast IT. The third post in this series by Doug Webster discusses how service providers specifically stand to benefit from Fast IT. Today’s post, the final in this four-part series, will explore how a Fast IT model can mitigate common infrastructure challenges. 

Many organizations realize that they need to change the way they are networking today and they are looking to SDN as the answer. However, the answer is broader than SDN.

To succeed in a new world of networking, organizations need a Fast IT model. In other words, an infrastructure that embraces technology transitions using programmability, automation, orchestration, virtualization, and security throughout.

As executives look to future-proof their business, many are facing innovation challenges in today’s infrastructure landscape. IT organizations are increasingly expected to drive revenue growth, reduce operational costs, mitigate security risk, and increase innovation – and do it all faster than ever before. Today, it is absolutely critical for IT to partner with the business and continue to be relevant to the organization’s growth.

So, what distinctive differentiation points of a next-generation infrastructure can mitigate these challenges? How can Fast IT help IT organizations deliver greater business value?

 

Challenge #1: Be More Agile

It’s becoming clear IT needs the ability to respond quickly. There is a growing proliferation of IT as a Service (ITaaS) applications that supplant traditional service models. And in today’s landscape, business agility requires application agility, so IT teams need to provision applications much faster. IT leaders are increasingly measured by their speed to deploy applications because this will determine how successful they are in new markets and new business models.

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