Recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at the NSW GovDC conference. The fourth industrial revolution, described by Dr Klaus Schwab in his book launched at the 2016 World Economic Forum, has not just begun; it’s in full swing. This is not simply a trend or a fad. The fourth industrial revolution is a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds, creating entirely new capabilities and dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.

Cloud computing has become the foundation and engine room for most digital initiatives in this next industrial revolution. Industry has moved beyond the initial formative and turbulent phases of cloud and is now entering the third phase – consolidation – a realistic and practical acceptance of hybrid cloud, in which some apps will run in private cloud and some in public clouds. Some may run in both. Most established organisations such as government agencies, are actively shifting focus to the business outcomes versus technology.

However, the technology has never been better positioned to enable this. Monolithic apps on bare metal compute infrastructure have been virtualized over the past decade, which has enabled greater asset efficiency. The next decade will be characterized by apps constructed as one or more microservices within containers. This will facilitate greater opportunity to focus on business outcomes, faster delivery, greater scale and more reliable services. Importantly ‘cloud native’ apps will be able to run on either or both private and public cloud – whichever is most appropriate.

This raises the question of governance and management of these apps, given that they can now run both on-premise as well as in the public cloud. How does an organisation take advantage of the benefits enabled by new app constructs and capabilities and retain control and ensure no ‘lock in’ in any one particular public cloud?

The new keyword in cloud is “policy”. In much the same way as public policy ensures that citizens or organisations operate in a certain prescribed way, app policy ensures that the app behaves in the way the organisation wants it to behave

Cisco Cloud Center (or ‘CliQr’), born out of Cisco’s recent acquisition of CliQr, provides this policy management whereby a policy can be applied to the application itself. CliQr is an application-defined cloud orchestration platform that enables customers to easily model, deploy and manage new and existing applications to any cloud and data center environment. In-turn providing superior scalability, faster deployment (from weeks to minutes) and rigorous security requirements. CliQr makes it simpler for customers to automate and manage application policies across the entire data stack. CliQr already interoperates with ServiceNow and is integrated into Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Unified Computing Systems (UCS) solutions.

Although we haven’t focused on data in this blog, in considering future trends, I’d like to add one more consideration. At Cisco, we believe that as much as forty percent of future data will never reach the data centre. That is because either the latency will be too high or there simply is no need for high backhaul bandwidth. In such situations, data can’t move to the query hosted in the data centre. Instead, the query has to be handled at the edge of the network, where the data is. We refer to this as the FOG. There are several use cases already in sectors such as resources (remote oil and gas rigs) and transport (congestion management) and we expect more to open as more sensors are deployed.

The fourth industrial revolution is here. Cloud computing and application development is evolving rapidly to enable organisations to rapidly become part of this transition and take advantage of the many opportunities it provides.

To see the full talk:


Kevin Bloch

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)