In today’s IT organization, the cloud permeates everything. Its ability to affect customer experiences, transform business processes and models, and support new innovations means it has become the ideal platform to power digital transformation initiatives being pursued by the business.
The ability to produce business benefits has catapulted the cloud from relative obscurity to widespread adoption over the last five years. Yet only a few businesses have advanced cloud strategies.
Increasing Cloud Complexity
Cloud services have completely changed the playing field, increasing the expectations of internal (line of business) and external customers of the IT organization. Speed and innovation are nonnegotiable in today’s business environment, and IT has continually had to work to adapt to these changes, increasing and diversifying its capabilities to meet the demands of its stakeholders.
While the cloud itself is simple compared to traditional IT solutions, its adoption is complicated by a number of factors, such as determining which cloud is best for specific applications; the need to migrate applications across on- and off-premises environments; the difficulties of securing everything; overall networking readiness in software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT) environments; insufficient monitoring, measurement, and management tools for a range of hybrid environments; and availability of internal and external talent to execute adoption.
The Widening Cloud Gap
Most IT organizations cannot concentrate their efforts exclusively on cloud applications; instead they have to find a more balanced approach and simultaneously support both traditional and cloud applications. The advent of cloud applications and the increasing expectations of users of cloud services have produced a widening gap between line-of-business cloud application requirements and what IT is actually capable of supporting today. This has produced something I call the Cloud Gap.
Having seen the diverse, interrelated, and ever-evolving nature of the issues faced by IT organizations when dealing with the cloud, it’s clear that closing this gap can’t be accomplished by tactically addressing each cloud problem one by one. It’s essential to take a complete approach to cloud, to create a cloud strategy that spans the complete IT landscape, including data center, private cloud, hosting, and colocation, public cloud, the edge, and IoT.
Closing the Cloud Gap
The Cloud Gap can be tricky, because the tendency is to try to address the factors causing the gap all at once, in broad strokes. Also, most organizations may address only the factors that they have expertise in solving. However, it’s imperative that all issues be tackled, and a set of cloud principles can help guide you in your Cloud Gap solving and prioritization process. Maybe more importantly, these principles should serve as a foundation for your overall cloud strategy.
These are some of the principles we’ve found to be universally valuable:
- Secure everything: It seems obvious, but since cloud opens up the attack surface, it’s critical that you build an integrated threat defense across the attack continuum, in the cloud, from the cloud, and across multiple clouds.
- Evolve to cloud-ready networks: With applications and data living everywhere, don’t forget the underlying network. Adapt the network to ensure a secure and optimal application experience anywhere.
- Ensure investment protection: Cloud strategies must maximize existing assets and infrastructure investments while minimizing capital expenditures.
- Virtualize the infrastructure and move to “as a service” models: Adopting cloud implies migrating away from monolithic hardware and software architectures. As most components of the infrastructure become available as a service through APIs, this approach enables new levels of speed and agility.
A successful cloud approach must include a comprehensive strategy, one that takes into account that applications and data live everywhere across the enterprise. Following the principles outlined here can help guide organizations as they create these optimized cloud strategies and help close the Cloud Gap while producing tangible business outcomes.
Fabio Gori is Senior Director of Cloud Solutions Marketing at Cisco, based in San Jose (CA). He is responsible for Cisco's cloud marketing strategy across all Cisco Business Groups.
Fabio started his career as software engineer in the air traffic control industry. He then joined Telecom Italia where he covered network and marketing positions, including Product Marketing for the Retail and Wholesale IP Solutions for business customers and the definition of peering agreements.
Fabio joined Cisco Systems in 2000 as a Consulting Engineer. At Cisco he held a number of senior positions in the central European Theatre team, including leading Sales and Business Development for Managed and Cloud Services. Before taking on his global responsibility for Cloud Marketing he was Director of Service Provider Marketing in the EMEAR Theatre where his responsibilities included building strategy and execution for Cisco co-Marketing with the largest Telco’s in Europe.