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Unlock the Promise of Cloud: A Strategic Perspective White Paper

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Introduction: Keeping Pace in a Changing World

In today’s fast-moving business environment, change is the only constant. To stay ahead of your competition, you’re under more pressure than ever to innovate and adapt to new challenges and market conditions. As in most businesses, you need to accommodate new technologies (for example, cloud, mobile, social media, and big data). Your employees are becoming more technically savvy and are bringing their “personal clouds” to the workplace. Also, the Internet of Everything (IoE) - bringing together people, processes, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before - is accelerating the pace of these changes. Your business will require computing models that are able to cope with enormous data growth.

These challenges are having a dramatic impact on the role of your IT group. Not long ago, IT focused on managing technology and keeping business operations running smoothly. Today, your IT department is being asked to expand its scope beyond just running the overall IT environment. IT is expected to support more strategic initiatives such as growing the business, promoting innovation, and improving customer experiences. To add value, IT leaders must adapt, especially in areas of collaboration, innovation, and value creation.[1]

This dynamic environment also changes the way IT works with your line-of-business (LoB) departments. More than ever, LoB leaders are leading new technology requirements. They have more direct access to technology, and they aren’t afraid to launch new initiatives on their own.

How can IT remain relevant and keep control in this new environment? To be successful, your technology group must redefine itself as an agent of change and become a strategic business partner by:

Delivering and providing business value faster.

Remaining flexible to align business and IT objectives.

Making the most of budgets and technology investments through automation.

Actively transforming your business with new models, processes, and opportunities.

Assuming the role of broker of IT services when appropriate - the reality is that it is often beneficial to adopt best-in-class capabilities to remain competitive even if this requires outsourcing select portions of the IT value chain.

To achieve these goals, IT groups and business leaders are rapidly embracing the cloud. And it is not a “one size fits all” approach. We live in a World of Many Clouds™. Migration to the cloud is transforming network and data center environments across companies of every size and type. And it is creating new business models that are changing the way that organizations think about technology, procure it, and deploy it. With the right strategy, you can tap the potential of cloud technology and unleash an abundance of value for your organization.

Making IT a Strategic Enabler

Imagine the possibilities of an IT group with the agility, flexibility, and reach to help your organization seize new opportunities. With cloud technology, you can build a more relevant IT department that has the power and control to become a more strategic, transformative partner for your business.

Cloud empowers IT to act as a broker of IT services. According to a Cisco®study in partnership with Intel, 76 percent of respondents believe that IT will act as a broker, or intermediary, of cloud services, orchestrating the planning and procurement process for LoBs across internal and external clouds.[2]

Cloud helps your organization become more proactive and nimbler. Instead of working in a technology vacuum or owning the entire IT value chain, IT can present build-or-buy decisions in the context of IT services sourcing recommendations. This will enable you to aggregate, integrate, and customize the delivery of cloud services to meet your specific business needs through the World of Many Clouds.

The World of Many Clouds can be viewed as the evolution of the intersection between traditional customer IT environments and public cloud provider services (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Cisco's Point of View (PoV)

As the line separating these two environments continues to fade, it becomes clearer that hybrid cloud and more broadly hybrid IT (inclusive of traditional on-premises IT applications) is the new normal. Additionally, the ability to move cloud workloads across heterogeneous environments with consistent network and security policies is becoming a key requirement. And with the brokerage of IT services driving cloud services toward the concept of cloud federation, cloud providers will be able to build a global marketplace through aggregation of services from multiple peer providers. Just as the Internet grew out of the connection of multiple isolated networks, the Intercloud represents the next stage of cloud evolution: an interconnected cloud of clouds (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The Intercloud

The opportunities ahead do not end here. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is projected to create US$14.4 trillion in value at stake: the combination of increased revenue and lower costs that is created or will migrate among companies and industries from 2013 to 2022[3]. The IoE will bring together people, processes, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before. It will turn information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and outstanding economic opportunities for businesses, individuals, and countries.

Imagine if your IT department were able to:

Boost agility and efficiency: Rapidly align business and IT needs to deliver a superior user experience through an IT delivery model that is service oriented and value based.

Automate for savings: Automate critical processes to make the most of limited budgets, rebalance your priorities, and redirect investment where it most matters.

Get more from your investment: Make the best of traditional IT environments combined with private and public cloud deployments - all at the same time and dynamically, through open, secure hybrid cloud environments.

Take charge of sourcing: Easily accommodate new and multiple IT consumption models, while presenting build-or-buy IT services sourcing recommendations.

Let employees work their way: Let employees, contractors, and partners work whenever and however they want, without boundaries. Create with workspaces that are mobile and matched to each individual’s lifestyle, while providing enhanced management and security and retaining control over shadow IT applications.

Make more informed decisions: Gain data from a comprehensive set of sources and gain business insights for real-time, strategic decision making.

Promote change: By understanding that every company is a technology company - or can become one - you can reinvent your industry by enabling your business to become a cloud service provider itself.

Your Cloud Strategy, Our Perspective

What is needed to help IT seize these new opportunities? We are truly in a World of Many Clouds, where cloud solutions are easy to purchase from multiple vendors and service providers. But not all clouds are created equal. You need a partner that can provide the strategic flexibility you need to source your cloud services while capitalizing on your existing IT investments. This way you can make the most of what cloud can offer to meet your overall business requirements.

Our cloud strategy has always been focused on enabling cloud providers to deliver differentiated cloud services and enabling business customers to build private clouds. We also provide SaaS directly to customers in areas in which we have unique intellectual property (for example, collaboration, security, and network management). With the Internet of Everything, customers and partners are now looking for Cisco to do more, to help them simplify the creation of hybrid cloud environments and bring new cloud services to market. Therefore, we are expanding our cloud strategy.

Cisco’s cloud strategy is to build the platform for the IoE with our partner ecosystem by connecting the World of Many Clouds into the Intercloud. We do this by enabling businesses and cloud providers to build hybrid-ready private clouds, by providing public cloud services, and by enabling secure workload migration across public and private clouds through the Cisco Intercloud suite of solutions. We can make our strategy work for you and help you increase ROI, reduce TCO, lower risk, and enable business agility by building on the increased efficiency, automation and management capabilities, enhanced security, transformative potential, and innovation edge that Cisco cloud solutions, cloud consulting services, and partner ecosystem can provide.

Our strategy is focused on the areas listed in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Cisco's Cloud Strategy - Focus Areas

Choice of Consumption Models

One of the most appealing qualities of the cloud is the variety of ways that it can be delivered and consumed. A successful cloud strategy will let you take advantage of the full range of consumption models for cloud services to meet your specific business needs. The type of cloud solution best for you may depend on the applications you are using, total cost of ownership (TCO), security needs, and service-level agreement (SLA) requirements.

We understand that you need complete freedom of choice to build your own private cloud, as well as the option to purchase software or infrastructure as a service from public-cloud provider partners. You may even want to employ a mix of public and private clouds, to take advantage of a hybrid cloud environment that is tailored to your business needs.

Cisco offers a comprehensive portfolio of integrated infrastructure solutions, cloud management, and automation software to build a private cloud environment. We also provide cloud consulting services to help you plan, build, and manage your cloud environment and keep it running at its best.

To help you in your selection of public cloud services, our partners offer an extensive portfolio of Cisco Powered cloud and managed services. As the industry standard for cloud and managed services, Cisco Powered offerings deliver the enterprise-class performance, reliability, and security you need to move to the cloud with confidence. Because providers must undergo rigorous certification and a third-party audit of their solutions, every Cisco Powered cloud service has been verified to deliver superior service, security, and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You trust Cisco in your data center. You can have the same confidence in the cloud. When you choose a Cisco Powered service, you know that your applications are delivered over validated Cisco architectures. We will help you achieve faster time to value and experience assured performance that scales to meet your changing business needs. By reducing complexity during the entire technology lifecycle, Cisco Powered services can lower your operating costs and reduce risk. You’ll also stay ahead of your competition by taking advantage of industrywide innovation from Cisco’s and our partners’ extensive R&D investment and leadership in advancing open standards. Together, these capabilities free your organization to focus on its core competencies.

The Cisco Powered portfolio includes infrastructure and application services for local and global cloud services needs. A provider offering Cisco Powered services will work closely with you to understand your business and deliver cloud and managed services tailored for your needs.

You can also purchase Cisco Cloud Services and Applications directly from Cisco to support specific requirements. Cisco offers cloud solutions that build on our expertise in collaboration, security, network management, and many other areas.

Intercloud Infrastructure

Your business is constantly evolving and changing, so the technology supporting your business needs to be flexible. To be built to last, cloud solutions should be based on a modular, scalable, and application-centric infrastructure. A fabric-based, common platform for physical, virtual, and cloud services, together with a common operating model, gives you a solid foundation with room to grow. Programmability enables development and operations (DevOps) processes and application agility. Our customers and cloud providers both expect an open, programmable solution to master the art of provisioning, automating, and managing their servers. This combined model facilitates automation, makes IT management easier and more efficient, and helps your organization be more productive and agile.

Our integrated infrastructure solutions bring together the industry’s most powerful data center technologies to roll out the applications you need quickly and easily. To avoid getting locked into one specific deployment model or public-cloud service provider, you also need support for open and secure migration of IT services across heterogeneous and hybrid cloud environments. This keeps you in control by enabling you to deploy your applications and data in a public cloud, and then return them to your data center secure and intact according to your policies and business needs. Open and secure Intercloud portability of workloads should be an option for you to use.

Cloud technology is constantly moving forward, guided by innovations such as software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV), and network programmability. Yet the network remains critical to the cloud. Regardless of the type of cloud, without networks, users cannot access their cloud services. Without networks, applications, data, and users cannot move between clouds. Without networks, the infrastructure components that must work together to create a cloud cannot do so. Cisco’s Cloud strategy uses the latest technology enhahcements for cloud. Our solutions use open APIs to support a common framework and a consistent programmability model across enterprises and cloud providers for hybrid cloud deployments.

Intercloud Applications

As IT infrastructure adapts to the Intercloud, so must applications. The promising potential of the cloud, together with evolving user demands, is changing the way that IT views the deployment of applications. Businesses want the capability to combine the best of on-premises solutions and the best of the cloud. Cisco’s cloud strategy lets you connect and collaborate your way - across multiple applications and platforms, using any consumption or deployment model - with confidence and without compromise. Our unique approach brings together clouds and fuses applications that are cloud based with on-premises applications. The result is a complete set of secure, manageable applications, delivered in the way that makes sense for your business. Cisco cloud solutions along with our Intercloud applications put the power of the World of Many Clouds to work for you.

Our cloud-based Cisco Web Security and network management offerings provide additional software-as-a-service (SaaS) capabilities to help you control risk and simplify network administration. And if you want to support a specific enterprise software application for example from SAP, Microsoft, or other ISVs, you can work with a number of Cisco partners who can build and deliver a tailored SaaS solution.

Interoperability and Open Standards

Your cloud environment doesn’t run in a vacuum. It needs to interact smoothly across a wide world of network components, applications, and services that make up today’s extended enterprise. There’s no reason to be locked into a particular vendor’s solution. That’s why Cisco is committed to an open, interoperable, and standards-based approach to the cloud. Our strategy is to support multiple cloud approaches, give you choice and flexibility, and meet your customers’ business needs.

OpenStack, an international open source cloud operating system developed by a community of developers and organizations, is an important part of our strategy for companies that want to purchase or deliver cloud solutions. OpenStack is designed to make it easier to provision and scale out IT resources and applications. Our open source, standards-based infrastructure is designed to work smoothly with other OpenStack development environments and investments from our partners and customers.

Also, Cisco is a member of leading industry organizations, such as the Cloud Standards Customer Council and the Cloud Security Alliance, that promote cloud standards.


In an environment of changing threats and new regulations, security, compliance, and data sovereignty laws are a key consideration for every organization, regardless of their size or industry. No matter what type of solution you are employing, you and your cloud provider share responsibility for compliance with government and industry regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements, and various other mandates.

As you move your data to the cloud, deep knowledge regarding data privacy, data sovereignty, and at times international laws is required. A broad choice of cloud providers can help you meet the levels of compliance that you are required to meet.

To safeguard your sensitive business data and protect your customers and your reputation, you need complete, end-to-end security that spans your network and your cloud services environments. In the past, traditional security solutions such as firewalls could protect your network perimeter and provide strong security. But hybrid cloud environments need protection that extends across your physical, virtual, and cloud domains. Your security policies need to be agile and consistent, too. They must adapt to constantly changing traffic patterns that derive from the cloud’s dynamic consumption models.

Platform for IoE and Partner Ecosystem

Employing a strategic approach to the cloud is crucial for a successful cloud deployment. To make your vision for cloud a reality, you need to collaborate with a company that can deliver comprehensive solutions and services in concert with expert partners who understand your industry.

Cisco uses an ecosystem approach when delivering cloud solutions. Our strategy is to provide a complete cloud solution that is tailored to your priorities such as costs, business agility, and risk mangament in collaboration with our partners, who complement as well as supplement our strengths in portfolio, global reach, development expertise, and customer relationships.

The IoE will demand exceptional scalability and capabilities from IT environments by requiring the interconnection of trillions of things, the capability to support exponential traffic growth, and the capacity to transform enormous amounts of data into information while increasing service velocity and flexibility. To facilitate the required IT transformation, Cisco has built increasing capabilities to enable Intercloud communications and is committed to taking a lead role in building a dependable platform for the IoE with our partner ecosystem by connecting the World of Many Clouds into the Intercloud. We will follow the same process and evolution that took place when we contributed to build the Internet. The Cisco cloud is being designed for the IoE, with a distributed network and security architecture well suited for high-value application workloads, real-time analytics, and outstanding scalability.

This framework supported by our portfolio offers opportunities for you to address key business metrics of value, typically based on total cost of ownership (TCO), agility, and risk metrics when deploying cloud services. Additionally, the strategy will enable IT departments to more effectively transition to a “broker of IT services” role while more effectively getting ready to capture the opportunities that IoE can provide.

Delivered and Supported by a Strong Portfolio

After you have identified your need for a cloud solution, you can put your plan into action by engaging Cisco Cloud Consulting Services. Through this comprehensive portfolio of services, Cisco and our channel partners can help you:

Develop your strategic approach for cloud.

Enhance your business flexibility with a choice of consumption models.

Reduce exposure to risk throughout the journey, with assessments of cloud use, your risk profile, and cloud spending.

Intelligently secure and automate your cloud environment.

According to an IDC survey, Cisco Services are tied for most used across all three cloud categories: cloud applications, application platforms, and infrastructure[4]. In the recent IDC MarketScape Cloud Professional Services report, Cisco was rated a “Worldwide Major Player” for cloud professional services[5]. Services engagements with Cisco and our channel partners have resulted in 15 to 20 percent faster time to revenue, 30 percent lower infrastructure costs, 50 percent faster disaster recovery, and 90 percent reduction in deployment time.

We’ve helped customers achieve these results because Cisco offers the right people, processes, and tools as a result of more than 28 years of industry experience, more than 50 million devices deployed, and more than 6 million customers encounters every year.

At the core of the ecosystem is our comprehensive set of cloud infrastructure products. Cisco is a leader in IT cloud infrastructure, with leading market share positions[6] to support either service providers building public clouds or businesses building private clouds, according to Synergy Research. Additionally, The Forrester Wave: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013 report by Forrester Research ranked Cisco in the top three for cloud management (Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud [IAC]) and self-service access (Cisco UCS® Director), and gave Cisco top marks on strategy for strategic vision and roadmap in private cloud software solutions.

Our solutions are backed and delivered through a partner-centric strategy. With Cisco Powered solutions, you have the flexibility and choice of over 400 unique cloud and managed services, delivered by 200 certified partners worldwide. Cisco Powered services include cloud offerings such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), collaboration, desktop as a service (DaaS), telepresence, and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). They also include a wide range of managed services. For a complete list of Cisco Powered cloud and managed services, or to find a certified partner, visit

The cloud is transforming today’s businesses, enabling you to become more agile, flexible, and productive while controlling costs and reducing risk. By employing a carefully planned cloud strategy, you can empower your IT department to be more proactive and help guide critical business priorities. A partnership with Cisco is an excellent way to get started moving forward to embrace today’s World of Many Clouds.

For More Information

To learn more about how Cisco solutions can help you unlock the promise of the cloud, visit

[1] Source: “Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models,” a Cisco study in partnership with Intel, August 2013
[2] Source: “Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models,” a Cisco study in partnership with Intel, August 2013

[3] Source: “Embracing the Internet of Everything to Capture Your Share of $14.4 Trillion.” Cisco white paper, 2013, at

[4] Source: 2013 IDC Services Group Survey. U.S. Professional Services Opportunities Related to Cloud Services,Doc #239862,March 2013, N = 223 for Applications, N = 173 for Application Platforms, N = 178 for Infrastructure.
[5] Source: IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Cloud Professional Services 2013 Vendor Analysis, doc #242401, August 2013.
[6] Cisco leads the market in hardware revenue, with 15 percent in Q1 through Q3 2013, according to Synergy Research Group.