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Journey to the Cloud: From Vision to Reality

Organizations planning a move to the cloud should consider which cloud model is right for their business and objectives. This consideration extends beyond just public and private cloud models. The journey to cloud is focused on building or evolving the network platform to enable automation and unleash IT. Regardless of cloud approach or business goals—cost reduction, growth, agility—it’s the first and most important step.

At Cisco we’ve learned from our own cloud journey. We learned that the network is the lynchpin and enabler of adaptable IT service delivery. This guiding principle has enabled us to provide dynamic and reliable products and solutions to help our customers seize innovation, accelerate business and drive outcomes; all through the cloud.

Download Unleashing IT a comprehensive look at cloud from vision to reality. Access real world examples of cloud best practices from the public and private sector and get key perspectives on cloud implementation success. Click here to learn more about Cisco’s cloud strategy.

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Cloud – Technology Nirvana or Buzz Word?

Cloud computing is ubiquitous – directly or indirectly, enterprise organizations, governments and consumers have been actively using or engaging with hosted application platforms for some time and will continue to do so for many years to come.  Lately we have been bombarded by cloud conversations, market analysis on whether cloud is greener, more secure, more cost effective or if it’s here to stay. The din of these conversations sometimes dulls out the reality that cloud is simply a necessary and expected evolution of the way we consume, access, and deliver information over the network. Click here to learn how some private sector organizations are already realizing the benefits of cloud.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, applications and social networks, consumers’ behaviors are changing and access to information anytime, anywhere and over any platform has become a norm. As devices become more relevant, more intelligent and more embedded into our day-to-day lives, we begin to expect that same seamless connected experience across the services we receive from our cities, governments, schools, etc.  Cloud enables these connected devices to go beyond the limitations of our 1:1 interactions and extends our access to services and information. With cloud computing, governments and industries can deploy more dynamic services to grow cities, deliver faster, more reliable services to citizens, and ensure greater access to a global market of opportunities and experiences.

Cloud is really about economies of scale.  Tangible upfront cost savings are difficult to measure, but if you look at cloud as a means to achieving organizational agility through efficient virtualization processes, then the savings are more quantifiable. Cloud computing won’t solve all our IT problems, but it gives us an opportunity to look beyond a siloed approach to IT and information sharing and experience the next generation of collaboration that is dynamic and reliable enough to evolve the way we currently deliver services and operate.

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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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“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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