Feature Story

Ruba Borno - Who Gives a Cloud? Optimizing the Multicloud Reality

by Ruba Borno

Ruba Borno explains how a multicloud strategy can help companies realize their full digital transformation potential

Ruba Borno explains how a multicloud strategy can help companies realize their full digital potential. There are 6 imperatives for business digitization.

There are six imperatives every organization should be thinking about when approaching business digitization. This is the Hierarchy for Digital Business I introduced in my first blog this year.  It's a playbook for any organization to reach its full potential – it starts with security as the foundation. Then network automation to manage the increasing number of people and things coming online. The third imperative discussed here focuses on the multicloud world.

The "cloud" is not a place. I hear some customers say "I'm moving to the cloud," but the reality is there is no one cloud, in fact, a single cloud environment is the exception.  On average, an enterprise has five cloud providers in their IT environment.  

There was once a perception that "moving to the cloud" would provide simplicity, speed, and scale.  But that massively distributed environment also had a negative byproduct – a lack of visibility, increased fragmentation, and more instead of less complexity.  At Cisco, our focus has been to help our customers work in the cloud in the way that it actually exists, and that is to help them manage and optimize their multicloud reality.

It's a multicloud world after all.

We know organizations have a lot of options when it comes to the cloud. Organizations expect to be able to choose between multiple cloud providers based on features, functionality, locations, policies, and governance principles. So, it makes sense that an overwhelming majority of them are running hybrid cloud environments with both private and public clouds, as well as on-premises resources.

According to IDC, cloud is the most important investment area in our customers' digital transformation plans: 85% are evaluating or using public cloud and 94% of cloud users will use multiple clouds. And, it makes sense. Organizations that have optimized their cloud strategy are experiencing 11% improved revenue growth, 77% IT cost reduction, and 87% reduced time to provision IT servies. They're also experiencing more strategic allocation of IT budget.

Despite the benefits, the challenge for organizations is now navigating and leveraging the many clouds and many vendors that make up that multicloud environment, while optimizing the application performance and ensuring an effective security posture.

A multicloud world must be manageable.

There are many benefits to cloud adoption, including taking advantage of the broad and rapid innovation it enables. But it has left IT departments with a feeling of loss of data control, inconsistent policy deployment, and a fragmented security posture.

Many organizations started with on-premises data centers and private clouds running enterprise applications. As they have expanded their IT environments to the public cloud, they have had to manage multiple public clouds to get the additional capabilities they need – bursts of capacity and the ability to test quickly to accelerate innovation. Add to that, they have different departments or functions across their organization benefiting from Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for function specific needs that each have different optimization requirements of compute and storage resources.

In today's world, IT has to support a heterogeneous environment across on-premise data centers, private clouds, and multiple cloud providers. And, it's complicated… without the right technology in place.

Get control back: simplify how you manage your multicloud reality.

Organizations can regain control of their enterprise with the right support to help navigate, simplify, secure and automate their multicloud environment. Cisco technology and partnerships are enabling organizations to work seamlessly across their private clouds, SaaS applications, and the public cloud. We know there is no one company who can do this alone, which is why we are working with public clouds, such as Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Amazon Web Services to provide customers more effective hybrid cloud experiences.

How we are helping customers regain control of their multicloud landscape:

We are bringing the very best of the public cloud experience on prem.

Earlier this year, we announced our partnerships with Docker and Microsoft Azure Stack on UCS, where we enabled container as a service in our customers environments and offered developers the same Azure developer environment on premise.

We have amped that up with our industry changing announcement with Google Cloud to integrate our network, security, and multicloud capabilities with their open Kubernetes architectures. Our vision is to jointly enable developers to create new applications in the cloud or on-premises, consistently using the same tools, runtime, and production environment. This is taking Google's cloud technology and bringing it on premise with Cisco HyperFlex and on bare metal so developers have a modern development environment everywhere. The focus is on optimizing the service or application, no matter where the code and data resides. Kip Compton, VP, Cloud Platform and Solutions Group, Cisco, sums it up nicely in his blog.

Our deep technology partnership with Google Cloud demonstrates a commitment from both Cisco and Google to enable a true hybrid experience for enterprises with a fully supported, open solution for developing and managing applications on-premises and the Google Cloud Platform.

Nothing really matters unless it is secure.

Security is the number one IT topic in the board room and is becoming even more important at the regulatory level with the emergence of General Data Protection Regulation. At Cisco, we're focused on helping our customers secure their cloud applications, data, users, and endpoints with the most effective security architecture in the world. Cisco CloudLock secures organizations' data to and from the public cloud. And, Tetration Cloud gives organizations the ability to automatically map their multicloud application landscape and test and apply policies consistently.

It's all about the application.

We are giving organizations an easy way to manage their multicloud environment. Cisco CloudCenter provides organizations the ability to orchestrate workloads between all their clouds (private and public) to enable the burst capacity needs and the use of the right cloud for the right workload at the right time. Add to that the benefits of AppDynamics which enables customers to monitor the business impact of their applications' performance wherever it is accessed, down to the micro services level, and speed up troubleshooting of performance degradation while increasing the pace of innovation. Ultimately, we are helping our customers pivoting from a focus on managing a very complex and distributed environment, to managing to application performance regardless of where it resides in the multicloud world.

Thriving in a multicloud environment is a complex journey. 

To give our customers the edge they need to navigate their multicloud journeys, we have invested in expanding capabilities in Cisco Services and our 65,000 global partners helping organizations from plan to execution or any touch point along the way. That includes identifying an organizations' business requirements and performing application dependency mapping to model the preferred deployment options against those requirements. Our goal is to de-risk our customers' multicloud adoption, decrease their time to deployment, and maximize their return on investment.

The well-lit path on the multicloud journey.

The Cisco Multicloud Portfolio builds on our rich cloud product set and delivers a simple offer structure that tightly aligns to our customers' needs. As they move to the multicloud world, they need to connect, protect and consume cloud services in a consistent way, no matter where the cloud services reside.

Cisco has embraced cloud, and our strategy is to enable the multicloud world. Our goal is to help organizations address the complexity they are facing in their multicloud environment so they take advantage of the innovation coming out of the public cloud, maximize return on their investments, and achieve their business objectives. At the end of the day, they don't really care about which cloud is doing their work, they just need an intelligent engine to automatically and securely provision the resources to do the work in the best way possible.