Cloud providers justifiably tout the ease and speed in which services can be implemented, but behind the curtain a dark reality lurks. “Easy on” is a key selling feature of cloud services and for good reason. I well remember leading enterprise application implementation projects in the pre-cloud era. The initial thrill of taking on a major new initiative that could transform the business was quickly overcome by the stark reality of years of highly complex work before going live, only to find out that you were several releases out of date and needed a multi-million dollar upgrade!
In my first major cloud project (to deploy a cloud service management application to 16,000 service engineers) we had users up and running in a couple of months. The business began seeing results quickly and as the software was upgraded we gained advantage of new features immediately. Soon after implementation, we began experiencing problems. It turned out all of the support and operational complexity had been masked from us. Behind the simple outward appearance lay dozens of different software, hardware, data centers and networks. The cloud service provider took first support calls, but getting issues resolved took a long time – and worse, we never were quite sure who was currently working the issue or the status.
Recent studies have identified service and support as the number one decision criteria for customers purchasing new cloud services. In fact, one recent study of the SMB market for cloud services found that the TOP THREE concerns were service related:
Provide an SLA to ensure application is accessible at all times (53%)
Provide 24x7 customer support (47%)
Provide better notification of upgrades, changes and downtime (45%)
Much as cloud providers would like to address these concerns, it’s very difficult operationally to do so because of the multiple back end providers. Cloud customers, in turn, typically use phone, web or email interface with cloud providers to raise and get status on service incidents, so they have no real-time or proactive visibility into issues or outages. As companies put more mission critical applications into the cloud, this dysfunctional support model is causing growing concern and slowing the adoption of cloud services.
Cisco believes the answer is simple. No matter how many different providers might have to get involved to solve a problem, to the original customer it should look like one organization. All information, data and workflows would be shared in an automated way, eliminating manual practices and bottlenecks. Cisco ServiceGrid enables such integration with a “connect once, connect all” approach, integrating all participants in the support process to the cloud platform only once, instead of integrating everyone one at a time. In speaking with customers who have moved to such a model, they report 40% or more reduction in case resolution times and lower support costs. More importantly, the end user sees what’s happening on the case while it is happening – no finding out hours or days later – resulting in real time SLA’s.
The promise of cloud is incredible, however, cloud customers and cloud service providers need to recognize and address the growing concern about how it will all be supported. Together we can remove a powerful obstacle to cloud adoption, by adding an “easy button” for multi-party support.
Reduction in the complexity of deploying and managing services, accelerating new service introduction, and reducing capital/operational expenditure overhead are key priorities for network operators today. These priorities are in part driven by the need to generate more revenue per user. But competitive pressures and increasing demand from consumers are also pushing them to experiment with new and innovative services. These services may require unique capabilities that are specific to a given network operator and in addition may require the ability to tailor service characteristics on a per-consumer basis. This evolved service delivery paradigm mandates that the network operator have the ability to integrate policy enforcement alongside the deployment of services, applications, and content, while maintaining optimal use of available network capacity and resources. Read More »
Contributed by David Flesh, Sr Manager, Product Marketing, Cisco Network Management Technology Group
Many service providers today are implementing or investigating cloud computing to take advantage of its inherent operational advantages and as a platform from which to offer differentiated cloud-based services. By abstracting IT resources and services from the underlying infrastructure, service providers are achieving highly elastic, multitenant environments and savings. For example, cloud-based environments facilitate provisioning in minutes; time-to-market reductions of more than 50 percent; high server and storage utilization; 50 percent reductions in capital costs; and 25 to 30 percent reductions in operational costs.1
At the same time, cloud-based services are highly attractive to providers’ enterprise customers. Service provider-based cloud services offer greater scalability and performance without requiring premises-based infrastructure and management. Self-service, scale-on-demand, and pay-per-use features increase user convenience and IT flexibility, while automated recovery and cloud-based backup significantly enhance risk management.
The good news is that service providers today are uniquely positioned to take advantage of cloud computing. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) -- a cloud utility architecture -- provides an easy entry point for many service providers who are already expert at provisioning, managing, and scaling infrastructure-based services for multiple customers. IaaS helps enable service providers to increase return on investment through existing infrastructure and to deliver high-margin multitenancy services and support new competitive offerings. According to the Cisco Internet Business Systems Group, a 2009 study has forecast IaaS service revenues to be approximately $15.6 billion by 2013.
Today Cisco Live! in North America kicks off in Las Vegas with about 14,000 attendees. This will be the first of a number of worldwide Cisco Live! events this year with others planned in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. All around the world, Cisco Live! has evolved to become an event where Cisco experts can interact with us and each other, learn technical skills, and stay up-to-date with what’s relevant in the industry. This year’s tag line, “Learn. Connect. Collaborate Together”, applies well to the Cloud market as we bring forward a smarter, stronger, and faster methodology for service delivery. Together.
If you’re going to be here in Las Vegas this week for Cisco Live!, here are some sessions I suggest you check out:
Exhibit Floor: Open all week, I hope you will swing by the World of Solutions. The World of Solutions has demonstrations from a number of innovative cloud partners. As an example, you can see our Service Provider Cloud pod with a demo showing our work with BMC on the Integrated Cloud Delivery Platform and my team will be glad to talk to you about where you stand today, opportunities for us to work together on, and answer any other questions.
Movie Theater at our Partner Pavilion: We have great videos to share with you, including a 3D movie called “Journey to the New Services Universe” and great videos from SAVVIS, NaviSite, Qwest, CSC, BT Global Services, and Terremark to name a few. While over at the theater, please check out what some of our other partners including PAETEC, SunGard, NEC, and Dimension Data are there to talk about regarding the Cloud and their specialties in improving your business.
Enabling the Service Provider Cloud Evolution (Wednesday, Noon-1:30 PM PST): A registration-required lunch event where Cisco invites you to join a distinguished panel of experts (including Jeff Spagnola, VP Sales – Cisco Cloud and Managed Services, Alex Rigaldo, Chief Operations – Orange Business Sytems Cloud Computing, Jesper Andersen, Senior VP – Cisco Network Management Technology Group, Dave Lively, Director – Cisco Systems Development for Cloud/DC, Sidney Morgan, Cisco Distinguished IT Engineer, Vikrant Karvir, VP, Cisco Global Cloud/DC Virtualization Services, and myself) to discuss the latest advances in Cisco’s Service Provider Cloud Architecture. Cisco’s approach to cloud opportunities includes helping to build out the data centers powering the cloud, as well as applying capabilities in the network to enable intelligent connectivity within and beyond the data center. Please use session identification GENSP-4743 to register for the event.
The Network’s Role in Cloud (Tuesday, 8-9:30 AM PST): A brand new session directed at the Service Provider crowd led by Pat Adamiak, Sr. Director, Cisco Service Provider Data Center/Cloud Marketing, on the pivotal role that the network plays for Service Providers in the creation and delivery of differentiated services. The session will cover innovations within the network that enable cloud services, discussing core features, instrumentation, and intelligent automation services to leverage the full capabilities of the SP network and capture the cloud opportunity. This session is listed under BRKSPG-1701 in the event agenda.
Summers tend to be a bit cool in San Francisco, but acceptance of Cisco’s Unified Service Delivery (USD) solution by Service Providers searching for the best path to cloud is heating up. We’re excited at the progress so far -- including recent records set by the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) which just placed 3rd globally in the x86 blades category in a recent IDC report. A little over two years ago people questioned Cisco’s entry into the compute segment of the data center. The large number of Cisco customers have proven that innovation that brings new levels of efficiency to the data center wins out every time. We’re proud of our customers and the services they’re bringing to market more quickly using the Cisco USD solution and its key foundation technologies like Cisco UCS.
Industry analysts are also seeing a need for an end-to-end solution like Cisco USD and noting the importance of resource optimization, management consolidation, service improvements, and cost reduction as fundamental tenets of efficient cloud service delivery.
Below is a short video commentary by IDC analyst, Courtney Munroe, VP, Worldwide Telecommunications. Courtney talks about the market challenges SPs face and how they can benefit from a transition to Cloud-delivered services. Pay special attention to the core things he believes SPs must address for Cloud: virtualized fabric for the computing platform in the data center, how the data center and the network work together and security across the entire delivery chain.
Cloud Services: Challenges and Opportunities for Service Providers