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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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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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The Story of Cisco Virtualized Managed Business Services: How Cisco Evolved its Engineering Teams To Revolutionize Service Provider Service Delivery

I’ll be boarding a flight to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress tomorrow knowing that this year’s event will be like no other for Cisco’s service provider business.

Over the past two years we’ve completely transformed our service provider engineering organization. We’ve overhauled our technology and services portfolio and, as you’ll see from a blitz of announcements we’ll make with world-leading telecommunications service providers next week, we continue to innovate, and customers really like the progress they’re seeing.

Clearly we’re building what they need, but the story of the past 24 months goes far beyond our portfolio. We’ve changed the way we operate. We have removed impediments to rapid innovation, and accelerated the creation of high-performing teams.

If those words sound familiar, then you probably know Agile software development. The principles of Agile have been applied at Cisco for a long while now.  However, what’s really changed in the past two years is summed well in something Agile pioneer Jeff Sutherland wrote in blog marking the 10th anniversary of the agile manifesto:

Individuals adapting to change is not enough. Organizations must be structured for Agile response. Failure to remove impediments that block progress destroys existing high-performing teams and prevents the formation of new high-performing teams.”

I couldn’t agree more. While Cisco was, and still is, structured well to deliver the best routing technology in the industry, we needed to improve our engineering and business structures to be able to dynamically deliver the software products and cloud services customers could use to rapidly implement new businesses models, and drive more profitable outcomes for their customers.

What we’ve done since 2012 represents a massive transformation. I give tremendous credit to Chief Development Officer Pankaj Patel and his Chief Technology Officer Dave Ward, and I’m extremely proud of the results we’re starting to achieve.

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Mobile Traffic from Wearables Explodes as the Internet of Everything Accelerates

Are you Ready?

Cisco first asked this question in a 1999 advertising campaign when the incredible potential of the Internet was just beginning to become apparent.

Our ‘Are You Ready?’ ad campaign carried a simple message to the world’s businesses, telecommunications providers, and public institutions: get your Internet infrastructure ready now or risk being left behind in a world that is rapidly moving towards online-commerce, supply chain digitization and connected workforces.

Some moved quickly, but others failed to heed the warning. 45% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1999 were no longer on the 2014 list, with dozens making way for nimbler more web-savvy competitors..

Today, as Cisco publishes its latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) study, our biannual global study of fixed and mobile data traffic, I see another ‘Are You Ready?’ moment in the making.

It is two years since Cisco quantified the astonishing $19 trillion economic potential of the Internet of Everything at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today, just twenty four months later, we’re seeing an acceleration of the impact of the Internet of Everything on global networks. Here are some of the highlights of the VNI study:

• There will be eight billion connected mobile devices by 2019
• 3.2 billion of those – 40 percent of mobile Internet – will be machine-to-machine connections, such as wearable devices
• Cisco forecasts an 18-fold growth in mobile traffic from wearable devices (most of it channeled through smartphones) from 2015 to 2019.
• Wearable device traffic growth will be fueled by a five-fold growth in the number of connected devices, reaching 578 million by 2019, up from 109 million in 2014.

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Accelerating and Innovating the Internet of Everything in Japan

After a whirlwind week in Tokyo, it’s clear that Japan – the world’s third largest economy — is embracing the potential economic value of the Internet of Everything (IoE). For Japan, we estimate an IoE opportunity of $870 million over the next decade (out of a global economic value of $19 trillion).

With its proud history of industry, technology and innovation leadership, Japan is an ideal location for Cisco’s 7th IoE Center of Innovation — a $20million investment for Cisco — which opened last Thursday with nine Japan-based ecosystem partners. The excitement is high around our open lab’s charter to bring together customers, industry partners, startups, accelerators, government agencies and research communities to collaborate on next-generation technology. Photos of the center’s opening are here.

Wim Tokyo 1

In Tokyo, we will be working with partners to develop Fog Computing solutions focused on Manufacturing, Sports and Entertainment and Public Sector. These Fog solutions extend cloud storage, computing and services to the edge of the network, a critical element of realizing value from IoE.

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