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Seven Ways to Move to the Cloud

February 17, 2015 - 12 Comments

While cloud computing is based on a number of technology innovations, I’m going to write for the non-technical person who I think needs to understand this major shift.  In the end, cloud computing will affect every business, every industry.  I’ll start this blog by sharing a story.

A few years ago, I was in a meeting with six CIOs of one of the largest healthcare providers. I asked each a question as they introduced themselves: “What are you working on?”

The first CIO, Bill, replied, “I’m working on a strategy to move to cloud.”

Next, I asked Mary, “What do you do?” Mary also said she was working on a strategy to move the cloud.

We got through every one of them and every one of them had the same answer.

I asked, “So what does that mean, working on a strategy to move to the cloud?”

They collectively said, “We’re really not sure, but we’re working on it.”

I wasn’t actually there to talk to them about cloud computing, but I said, “Give me 10 to 15 minutes to help you think about what it might mean to move to the cloud.”

I’d like to share an abbreviated view of this discussion in this blog, beginning with reviewing my cloud-computing framework.


Cloud Computing Framework

Cisco in the cloud

We’re all using consumer application cloud services, such as Twitter, Facebook, and eBay.  Nobody buys or uses consumer applications in any other way. What some of you don’t know is there are now many business application cloud services, including CRM, marketing, HR, financial and supply chain applications. All these applications use the original cloud – the network cloud.  Once upon a time corporations built their own networks. Nobody does that today. Everyone buys a network cloud service from any number of vendors.

The guys from the network business realized that since they put their switches and routers in cold rooms located in buildings that weren’t on fault lines and had big guard dogs out front, why not let people add compute and storage into these data centers by offering data center cloud services?

Then, several years ago, Amazon led the industry by providing compute and storage cloud services.  While it requires technology to implement, their innovation was an entirely new business model.  Finally, if you are going to build new applications you’d be wise to consider a new generation of software development cloud services.

And in the end, whether new cloud based business applications or existing ones, you’ll want to use operations management cloud services to manage the security, availability, performance and change of the applications to reduce cost and improve reliability.


7 Ways to Move to the Cloud

move to the cloud

Given this cloud computing framework, let me now describe seven ways a company can move to the cloud.

  • Move to a new network cloud service, which has lower cost and higher bandwidth.
  • Move to a new data center cloud service and move into a room that has colder air and bigger guard dogs.
  • Move your application to a new compute and storage cloud service and let someone else manage the security, availability, and performance of the compute and storage.
  • Move to a new software development cloud service and build the application you’re thinking of moving.  This might sound unreasonable but with new tools this is more possible than ever.
  • Use a new operations management cloud service to manage the existing applications, meaning to manage the security, performance, and availability of that application.
  • Have the vendor manage the application they sold you. In other words, the ISV that first sold you its on-premises application could now deliver that application as a service delivered and managed by the ISV.
  • Finally, replace that application with a new generation of what I’ll call a ‘born in the cloud’ application cloud service.

So for my six CIOs I recommended they take their entire portfolio of applications and decide which of the seven they would implement.  Merge the answers into one plan so you can move from a strategic intent to a tactical plan.

Watch out for my next blog post on the Seven Software Business Models, coming out Monday Feb 23.


And For More Information

For more information, and many more examples of how businesses moved to the cloud, check out my book on Cloud Computing: Operation Efficiency, where Moving to the Cloud is discussed in more detail in a TED-sized chapter in this book.


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  1. Very clear explanation for main stream

  2. Tim, Great approach to planning for Cloud deployments. I shared with the team. look forward to catching up next week.

  3. I quoted this blog entry in my blog
    Thanks Timothy

  4. Vivek, in my subsequent Cisco blogs (the second blog to be published next week), I’ll explore the main drivers to the cloud. So stay tuned!

  5. No doubt Cloud is great for minimizing upfront dev costs while you realize your product market fit and managing your scale as you grow. AWS is indeed a market leader here and no one can contest that.

    However, two key factors need to be considered at some point. Firstly, you’re committing your code (and future growth) to say those AWS APIs. Will AWS be the next great vendor lock-in such as VMware? Secondly, at a certain scale though you need to reevaluate your model as the AWS $$$$ will start adding up. Compute and storage are cheap, but as you get traction in the market those I/O costs make the AWS model very questionable. TCO is a major factor here, and we are seeing a lot of Cloud Native start-ups re-consider dev and deployment model at a certain junction point.

    Based on the points above, startups in my view should highly consider OpenSource based Cloud such as OpenStack to avoid lock-in while minimizing costs over the long haul. Various platforms exist to manage OpenStack for you to minimize that complexity. Cisco recently acquired Metacloud (now Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud) that provides a robust Managed OpenStack aaS solution. It provides that true public cloud experience for users but on your premises with the TCO benefits of Private Cloud at Scale. Great case study here from TapJoy demonstrating just that:

  6. Vivek – for startups in particular, the cloud is a great springboard for your business. AWS provides compute, storage and a number of standard enterprise applications in the cloud. So, that dev, test and prod environment can be up and running quickly. However, you do need to keep an eye on costs. Cloud isn’t a panacea and in some cases, running in the cloud can be more expensive long term than having your own devices.

    Cloud can also augment your existing platform if capacity is required to quickly deliver or deal with a large data processing activity (for example). If you have a platform based on a horizontally scaling architecture then bursting into the cloud to provide performance at short notice can be great with dealing with unexpected or short term high demand.

    You also need to give consideration to the types of cloud instances you need, the sizes of those instances and determine when you need to start them up and bring them down. Enterprises money by not sizing instances correctly or not switching off instances.

    Effective capacity planning and predicting is vital to keep on top of potentially spiralling and uncontrolled costs of cloud services.

  7. Great read but I am perhaps missing the USP or rather the main driver behind moving to the cloud especially for start-ups or newcomers to the business?

    • Just like China and India never had to move to cell phones most startups are using application, operations management compute, storage, datacenter and network cloud services on day one.

  8. A good way to decide on your cloud migration strategy is to engage Cisco Services. We have services to help customers develop their cloud strategy, plan and build a cloud infrastructure and/or assess their current costs of cloud services via our amazing Cloud Consumption Assessment Service. We typically start with a Cisco Domain Ten workshop to help customers assess all areas of their data center and how their business goals could impact technical architecture directions. see for more on Cisco Domain Ten!

  9. Moving to the Cloud sounds like a large investment of time, money, and effort. What is your advice for brand new businesses?

    • Most, if not all, young companies/startups here in Silicon Valley have started out using application, software development, operations management, compute, storage, datacenter and network cloud services. Their computer room is a router. So to your question, they will never have to move to the cloud. They may move to different cloud services, or add cloud services, but they’ll never have to make the transition.