Today more than ever, CIOs are tasked with creating technology strategies that fuel the business and help their organizations achieve positive business outcomes. At the same time, they must be mindful that the new technologies or services they use to achieve those outcomes minimize security risks and maximize choice and control. This careful due diligence can create an inaccurate impression that IT is slow to respond, often says “no,” or is out of touch with the fast pace of business. To avoid the strict regulations imposed by IT, many line-of-business leaders use cheap IT and cloud services available on public clouds without the CIO’s knowledge thus creating a situation known as ‘shadow cloud.’ The quick and easy use of public cloud services hosted on cheap infrastructure is an attractive and inexpensive option at first. However, the workloads put on public cloud services are not always secure or encrypted. Also, as that cloud usage increases exponentially over time, so does the cost which can easily drive up a company’s operating expenses.
The inexpensive, commodity infrastructure services driven by the public cloud players is the first wave of cloud innovation, and this is a very popular option for many companies today. However, the proprietary cloud model of larger public vendors like Amazon and Google operates on the belief that companies will only need one vendor for their cloud services.
We believe the next wave of cloud innovation will come in the form of open, secure connectivity that drives a globally connected network of clouds—a model which we call the Intercloud. The Intercloud is a hybrid cloud model based on a mix of private, public and partner clouds that offers flexibility, security and policy management to CIOs. Our definition of hybrid cloud doesn’t just mean connecting public clouds to private clouds. It also includes connecting to partner clouds as well. Since this model is open it also allows CIOs to move workloads between all these different clouds, versus locking them into using one single cloud environment as many public cloud companies do. With hybrid cloud models such as Cisco’s Intercloud, organizations can enjoy both the level of control offered by on-premise private cloud solutions and the freedom to choose public clouds for other workloads.
As CIOs begin to assess their own hybrid cloud strategy, they should factor in two key attributes: securing control, and maintaining flexibility and choice.
Because a hybrid cloud requires integration across private and public domains, control becomes a critical issue. Consider how to control customers’ personal information and infrastructure to minimize security risks, as well as how to manage operational processes to optimize the use of in-house resources and customers’ experiences.
When evaluating hybrid cloud solutions, here are a few questions to consider:
- Will I be able to manage security of my workloads and secure business critical data in my hybrid cloud’s public domains?
- Do I have the right resources in-house to operationally manage the implementation across my hybrid cloud?
- Can I keep the same policy control over my workloads no matter where they are running?
Answering these questions can help ensure you are controlling your hybrid cloud and not the other way around.
Maintaining Flexibility and Choice
When crafting a hybrid-cloud strategy, it’s also important to allow for plenty of flexibility in your plan. That way if you need to change vendors or solutions down the line, it will be less painful. Here are some other things to consider when evaluating vendors to build your hybrid cloud environment:
- Am I choosing the cloud (or cloud provider) that best suits a particular workload and my business requirements?
- What if my needs change?
- Do I have a contingency plan?
- Am I choosing the best public cloud provider for the right type of cloud (i.e. SLAs) for my hybrid cloud strategy?
- If it isn’t right, then what are my options?Can my private cloud interact with multiple public cloud services?
As CIOs consider the answers to these questions, they have the opportunity to maximize their choices when it comes to their hybrid clouds. Then they can be true brokers of IT expertise and services, making the right decisions at the right time for their business. On the one hand, they’ll need to ensure they have the same constructs, policy management and networking hierarchy capabilities on all the clouds in use. This is a key feature of Cisco’s Intercloud model. They also will need to ensure they can put workloads on a public cloud, and bring them back when needed. Having the ability to move workloads, with the least amount of impact to their applications, is critical. Choosing a hybrid model that lets your public and private resources interact seamlessly could be the single factor between failure and success. Again, this is another key criterion for our Intercloud model.
By evaluating and implementing hybrid cloud solutions, CIOs can take control of the decision-making process and introduce a new level of agility and flexibility to their business IT operations. No longer will IT be considered slow or seen as in opposition to change, but rather the team that becomes a genuine partner for corporate innovation and enabling digital disruption. Only a few IT players will be capable of driving this next wave of cloud innovation in hybrid cloud for CIOs. We’re betting that our Intercloud model with its open, secure connectivity and ability to drive a globally connected network of cloud will be one of the few to succeed.
For information about the next milestone in our Intercloud journey, visit:
- News release on March 11 – Cisco and Microsoft Extend Partnership with New Cloud Platform
- SP360 Blog Cisco and Microsoft—Simplifying Scale-Up Cloud for Service Providers
- Partner Blog Cloud Innovation: An Ecosystem Makes it Possible
- Solution site Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform