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Conversations about Cloud – “What about my Data?”

This week I had a separate discussion with a CIO of a large manufacturing company about Cisco’s Cloud Computing strategy and how we could help them with an upcoming transition in their Data Center equipment and facilities. My their own admission, they are a fairly conservative company and asked me to avoid any hype or hyperbole in this discussion. They just wanted to talk about the current state of IT.

I started the conversation with two pictures that I often use:

I always let customers know that the reality of today is there are many legitimate ways to deliver Cloud Computing services as an IT organization. Some of them can come from your internal systems (“Private Cloud”), some will come from commodity Cloud services (“Public Cloud”), some will come via Service Providers and Hosting Providers, and others may come from the SaaS offerings that Cisco provides (eg. WebEx, ScanSafe, etc.). The key to all of this is to determine what services their users, partners and business need, and then evaluate where to best deliver the IT services from. Some choices will be driven by time-to-market, others by cost, and still others by industry or government regulations. In the long-run, we fully expect that most customers’ IT portfolio will be delivered through a mix of Private and Public services. Cisco plays a critical role in this because of our experience helping customers through IT transitions for the past 20+ years, and because of the critical role the network plays in delivering Highly Available, Secure and Mobility-Aware experiences to users on any device or in any location. Read More »

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Conversations about Cloud – “What is Cloud Computing?”

Sometimes we spend so much time involved in the inner-workings of something (“inside the sausage factory”) that it’s valuable to occasionally come up for air to get a fresh perspective on things. I had one of those moments this week during a conversation with a Sr. Engineer at one of our customers. After a long whiteboard session about networking within their Data Center, he asked me if it was useful (YES!) and then he said he wasn’t sure how that had anything to do with Cloud Computing.  The rest of the conversation went something like this:

ME: That was great because you highlights many design considerations for building massively scalable data center networks. [SCALABLE]

HIM: Glad it was helpful, but please don’t tell me this is Cloud Computing. This is just the evolution of Data Centers because now VMs and Applications can be mobile.

ME: OK, what do you think Cloud Computing is?

HIM: Cloud Computing is the stuff on the Internet, you know, like Amazon AWS or Google. All the on-demand, self-service, *aaS stuff that marketing people talk about.

ME: OK, fair enough. Does your company (Enterprise -- Financial Services) use any Cloud Computing?

HIM: Are you serious, we have rules about where our data goes, how it’s accounted for and how it’s audited. You can’t do that in Cloud Computing. (NOTE: Not completely true -- Cisco is doing some important work in that space.) Read More »

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Cisco – Focusing on the Service Providers’ Success

The Cloud market is certainly heating up.  Last Thursday’s announcement from Dell of a $1B (US) investment in 2011 to enter the Cloud hosting market had me reflecting on their new direction. Dell is beginning a two-year build-out of ten data centers around the world to serve enterprises’ public and private Cloud needs. Earlier this year in a similar move, HP announced a set of new Cloud services they are offering ranging from consultancy, Cloud services, and equipment. These options included an “Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute” which will deliver private Cloud services directly from HP’s data centers to end-customers.

There’s a striking difference between Cisco’s strategy and those of HP and Dell.  HP and Dell’s strategies will be challenging for some of their customers, especially service providers.  Cisco’s strategy is to enable our customers to provide cloud services, whether service provider, public sector, or enterprise.

On one hand, HP and Dell are providing data center packages to enable SP Cloud delivery. On the other hand, both are investing to deliver Cloud services directly to end-users and bypass the service providers. While this is likely to further stimulate Cloud competition, it is directly competitive with service providers who wish to offer their own Cloud services.

Read More »

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Clouding with Confidence – A Tale of Two IT Departments

Maybe you’ve noticed our recent ad campaign, “Cloud with Confidence“, in which we talk about the explosion of companies enabling their business via Cloud Computing activities -- Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds. One of my favorite parts of the messaging is that it doesn’t try and confine the definition of “cloud” as a single thing but instead it highlights the power of connectivity between people, information, markets and ideas. The value to businesses is the interaction and availability of all of these services to help them move from a great idea to a great implementation as quickly as possible.

But that’s just marketing, right? We live in an environment where people are skeptical of large claims and want to see results. Increasingly, they often want to see other people take the risk before them. Not only do we hear this from CIOs that are managing long-term strategies and budgets, but we also hear it from IT organizations that don’t want to do a lot of extra work if the benefits aren’t going to be there.

Fair enough.

How about a couple of REALLY BIG examples? Read More »

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Preventative Medicine or Emergency Surgery? Healthcare and the Cloud

While Cloud Computing is getting the majority of the headlines within the IT industry, it could easily be argued that no industry is going through as much change as Healthcare. Whether it’s Healthcare reform in the United States, the rollout of Telemedicine solutions (by corporations and municipalities), or online collaboration to educate and discuss outbreaks and crisis, the business of keeping people well is going through radical change. Not only are the economics of Healthcare being forced to change, but so to is the technology that allows doctors to deliver care, medical records to be stored and researchers to find the next cure.

This past week I had the opportunity to present at the NCHICA “Health Information in the Cloud” along with experts from industry, technology, law and standards-bodies. The conference focused on many aspects of Healthcare + Cloud, including HIPPA standards, Legal and Compliance considerations, Security, Deployments in Public vs. Private Clouds, offerings from Managed Service Providers and real-world case studies (presentations can be found here and here). The presentation we gave focused on the infrastructure required to build Private Cloud.

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