Cisco Intercloud: Potential game changer in cloud computing

Cisco's Intercloud finally allows CIOs to focus more on management and less on technology.
Written by Andy Mulholland, Contributor

I think I have just seen the next generation of cloud technology that brings CIOs and their enterprises closer to their real requirement for not just everything as a service, but as a recognizable business service rather than as technology service.

But as with all innovation or radical moves, it does mean taking a moment to consciously open your mind to the new and not to start by trying to fit what you hear to what you know. I suspect Cisco knows it has a challenge in this, but sheer necessity is likely to be on their side. You can get the News release facts from Cisco news but let me tell you why I think this is worth some careful reading.

Compute power management, or application policy management?

The challenge in describing Cisco Intercloud is to actually move past the name with its connotations as yet another announcement in the crowded public, private hybrid space and to grasp what it actually does as a sophisticated policy management tool running over the top of compute oriented cloud services.

What does an enterprise really value in technology?

So let's start with a clean sheet of paper about why an organization has technology, or more correctly wants to use technology: It's for the business outcomes, right? The problem for the CIO is that giving this to the business involves investment, technology, risk, and half a dozen other less than desirable factors. All of this is before we get to the big challenge of increasing complexity of compliance, made much more difficult by constant change. Oh, and don’t forget, all of this is against a background of a shift in what, who and how the enterprise works in adopting an online digital business model.

Cloud computing has been the starting point to unload some of this, particularly the expensive investment in the data center, but it's also introduced the means by which users can bypass the CIO if they don't like their very real raising of concerns about the need for security, compliance and other enterprise policy issues.

Cisco may have introduced the next stage of developing true business capabilities together with true service charging from cloud technology.

Right now the technology, and its capability, have been focused almost solely around computational supply with the merits, or problems, revolving around how to use private, public or hybrid clouds. So it sounds like more of the same when Cisco introduces its 'Intercloud' approach; and perhaps if you fail to take time to delve into it properly, you can let it go as more of the same. In my opinion, that would be a big mistake — as Cisco may have introduced the next stage of developing true business capabilities together with true service charging from cloud technology.

Cisco Intercloud recognizes the inevitability that enterprises are already running their operations knowingly, and often unknowingly, across a wide range of clouds in order to support their internal and external operations as well as local country issues. However, instead of placing the burden on the CIO to try to sort this out, Cisco Intercloud adds a layer above this to manage the connectivity between users, applications, and resources, and this is the big breakthrough, according to the enterprises policies.

Why Cisco and not another cloud player?

Frankly, it looks as though Cisco is the only player who can do this as it relies on ubiquitous connectivity through a sophisticated networking fabric and a lot of powerful partners who together provide a large number of data centers all round the world. The announcement features 30 well known cloud players offering 250+ data centers in 50 countries. That’s more of an industry play than a product play!

The proposition

Forget managing cloud technology elements, and instead define the policies that your enterprise wants to implement in its business based on its people, apps, and applications. That way the enterprise will directly function around what matters, and creates real business values, with the minimum level of technology distraction. An enterprise gets this by paying a service charge for exactly what your business function wants, defined by the manner it wants to use it, from your chosen business service provider.

Cisco Intercloud isn’t a lock-in for the enterprise, as any of the existing and increasing range of Cisco Intercloud partners bid, sell and contract direct wining on the  basis of their own ability to add additional value in the eyes of a customer. Cisco gets paid as a slice of the partners' revenues.

It's cloud computing in the manner of the picture of the swan on the lake — placid, effortless and beautiful to see, but propelled by the frantic paddling of its feet out of sight under the water! With Cisco Intercloud, the CIO offers the beauty and serenity to the enterprise and its users, using Cisco Intercloud to delight the business view, and to hide the technology aspect -- paddling frantically underneath!

Cisco Intercloud brings a lot to the cloud computing environment, so there is a lot to take in and understand, as well as the mind shift to grasp the innovation that Cisco InterCloud brings. Cisco has a full strategy reagrding how Cisco Intercloud as "Next stage of the Internet will evolve." Or, if you prefer, see it by video.

Its worth taking some time over this because it is a widely backed industry play that has some real answers to a number of all too real challenges that CIOs and their business colleagues are facing.

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