IWAN ImageThe advent of the many clouds has now become a reality. Enterprises of all sizes and segments are embracing cloud solutions, whether private internal cloud, Virtual Private Cloud, Public Cloud, or some Hybrid. The number of workloads as well as cloud traffic  are expected to grow exponentially in the next 5 years.

The shift to the many clouds has significant impact on the role of IT.  IT has to reinvent itself to be able to keep control as applications are increasingly moving to cloud infrastructures.

In particular, there are two very strong trends that will require IT to increasingly position itself as a Broker of Services, and evolve from a more traditional role of being an infrastructure provider.
First, line of businesses intend to address some of their IT needs directly by purchasing cloud-based IT services.

Second, the evolving Shadow IT challenges IT to deliver end-to-end and consistent experience, visibility and SLA overall. Shadow IT – or rogue cloud applications – turn up when business groups implement a public cloud that is not managed by or integrated into the company’s IT infrastructure. And although many IT teams are aware that Shadow IT is happening within their organization, they’re often unaware of how many cloud applications have even entered the enterprise.

Interestingly, in the many customer and partner interactions I have had over the past 12 months, network access to the clouds is the one of most overlooked topics. What I have seen though in just the past few months is a clear shift as customers realize that they need to seriously look at how their users (and businesses) will access the clouds in order to fully rip the benefits of their investments. Why ? Because users and businesses can now enjoy the benefits of cloud-based applications without any compromise on quality of experience  and security, just to name a few.

As a Services Broker, IT has a crucial role to play around one of the most overlooked services needed for faster adoption of clouds: accessing the clouds. And it can do so while ensuring the right quality of user experience as well as maximizing ROI with regards to the significant cloud investments.

And the good news is that Cisco strongly innovates to make that happen from an infrastructure standpoint in order for users to reliably and securely access the many clouds out there.

I would like to emphasize here three key innovations I think you should be aware of:

  1. The Cisco Intelligent Wide Area Network (IWAN) solution.

IWAN is a solution that allows customers to right-size their networks using any transport – including Internet – without compromising performance, reliability or security. It leverages low-cost, high-bandwidth Internet services to increase bandwidth capacity, and that is paramount in the context of accessing various clouds from any branch and with evolving traffic patterns. In particular,  technologies such as AVC provide the ability to make decisions (such as routing decision, security, prioritization) on an application basis.

  1. Cisco Clouds Connectors

There are still some constraints in deploying cloud-based applications across WAN connections into a branch. From the branch user perspective, he or she expects a cloud-based application to perform as if it is running locally on his or her desktop. If it’s a virtual desktop, they expect it to have lightning-fast responses, just like a real PC would have. If it’s a web-based cloud application, they expect it to have the same performance as a local application

But in the main applications were designed for local area and campus environments.

Cisco provides Cloud Connectors and a partner program that delivers an ecosystem of partners that are rapidly adding innovation and value to cloud-enabled branch office wide area networking.

  1. The Cisco/Akamai technological partnership

The integrated solution will combine the power of both Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and Akamai Unified Performance enabling the branch to offload existing network links and improve in-branch web and application experiences.

The solution will integrate sophisticated caching and optimization within the private WAN along with support for Akamai Unified Performance technology to cache, optimize, and accelerate the Internet. The solution is intended to be integrated in the industry’s leading application delivery platform the ISR-AX, and designed to automatically link to the Akamai Intelligent Platform enabling enterprises that invest in their digital web experiences, to extend those experiences to the branch office in a fast, cost-efficient manner.

And you, as IT practitioners, anything else you do to better deliver access to cloud applications across the WAN?

Has it strengthened IT’s clout with your Lines of Business as a result?


Eric Marin


Borderless Network Architecture, EMEAR