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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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“Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”

This past weekend, the social media channels were ablaze with discussions about the Cloud Computing events of last week. Many of the discussions centered around the idea that customers of public cloud services had over-estimated what would actually be delivered, especially in the areas of High Availability and Disaster Recovery. Some people argued that it was the providers fault, while others argued that the customers should have known better and designed their applications accordingly.

Initial deployment costs often came up during discussions, especially as it related to start-ups and growing businesses that required (or preferred) the pay-as-you-go consumption model to one that was more CapEx focused. Sometime during the discussion, I received a tweet that said “Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”.

I’m not sure if this was directed at me, Cisco or VCE. Either way, it was probably directed at the most visible integrated offering from technology companies that have chosen to supply best-of-breed infrastructure for public (and private) cloud builders, not “be the cloud” for companies.

My initial reaction was, “huh, when did the discussion move back to small companies buying their own infrastructure?”. This isn’t the late 1990s, where every start-up in Silicon Valley bought huge quantities of servers, storage and networks, which required them to raise large amounts of capital to fund the infrastructure before they could even begin growing their business. We understand that VCs give start-ups less these days because they don’t want to pay for the business risk + infrastructure assets. Too many start-ups fail or don’t have a viable business model, so move the infrastructure costs to the commodity public clouds. 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.

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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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Private Cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

[Part V of our blog series on Cisco Data Center Business Advantage. Part I, II, III, IV, VI]

In the past, when talking with customers there would be a level of consistency between the CIO and the IT staff about priorities and needs. They needed to improve internal operations by deploying a new ERP system. They needed to improve workforce productivity by rolling out wireless access within the office and smartphones to their sales force. Business needs led to technology implementation.

But over the past year, those conversations have been changing. More and more, the CIO is looking to the IT department to drive new innovation for the business. In parallel, they realize that existing IT organizations have been built in silos to address previous business demands and this will need to change if they are expected to have cycles to drive innovation. Quite often, the CIO is asking how their company can begin to offer IT as a Service to the business, exploring the simplicity that is apparent with public or consumer Cloud Computing services. Read More »

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