I have been a Marketing Manager in the IT & Communications industry for over 20 years. I specialize in UC and Collaboration and currently manage Cisco's Cloud Collaboration solution.
Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution
In the same year Cisco was founded, Kate Bush recorded the hypnotic Cloudbusting, one of her most iconic songs and music videos. Conceived by Terry Gilliam and featuring Donald Sutherland, there is a strikingly poignant moment in the video where Bush’s character is ‘cloudbusting’ with her father and she first realizes that adults are fallible. Cloud Myth Busting It is healthy to recognize that we are fallible, especially when we work in such a rapidly evolving industry packed with innovation. Myths and misconceptions abound. Even the well-informed need to be kept in check sometimes! At a recent industry event, I was chatting with a group of people from across the IT industry and with diverse views on cloud. We ended up discussing our thoughts on the various myths we’d heard. Eventually, we agreed on a Top 5 list of those we’d bust if we had a cloud myth busting machine of our own. Myth 1: Cloud Saves Money We all agree that many people think saving money is the biggest benefit of the cloud -- Yes, you can save money, but we all felt that you can use the cloud to help drive better overall TCO for IT. We talked more about how: Cloud can provide financial elasticity through Capex/Opex fluidity Cloud allows you to increase agility and scalability through a more flexible deployment model Cloud can help drive a business forward. Forbes Insights surveyed more than 500 executives to see what drives their use of the cloud for collaboration services. A key finding of the research: Organizations that have already embraced cloud-based collaboration technologies tend to overwhelmingly see quicker returns on their investments in the form of greater innovation and greater internal efficiencies. Myth 2: Cloud Has The Midas Touch As we saw with the word eco-, adding cloud or as-a-Service to a solution’s name sets an expectation that the technology can’t always provide. This phenomenon (call it cloudwashing) generally overestimates the benefits the technology can provide. We all agreed that moving to the cloud isn’t the end goal; the real goal is making a positive impact on the business. We all felt that it was important to pick workloads that: Suit the cloud Have an intrinsic benefit of being consumed from the cloud Offer the features and benefits of a cloud-based delivery model, such as pay-per-use, virtualized infrastructure, user self-provisioning, and others The best way to keep expectations real is to see what other organizations have done and the benefits they’ve gained. You can read about the experiences of several customers that replaced on-premises communications systems with a secure Cisco Powered cloud service based on Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). A white paper from Current Analysis describes how cloud collaboration drives business value across industries. Myth 3: There Is One Uber Cloud We keep hearing “It’s in the cloud”, as if there is one big cloud out there that holds all the services, and all the data. Clearly this is not the case, but a little like the early days of the Internet, many think that the cloud is just ‘out there’. In fact we live in a world of many clouds, an interconnection of clouds. It is complicated and contains many levels (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS), models, and providers, but it also gives us many, varied and useful applications and services. We all agree that having a ‘one cloud’ strategy doesn’t work. To maximize the benefits that the cloud offers it is best to keep your options open and look broadly at which clouds may suit your business and how to best take advantage of them. One of my previous posts describes the journey to the cloud and may help you think about how to make that journey as smooth as possible. We also all agree that a good strategy is to avoid compromise and to look at solutions that are interoperable, not standardized. Myth 4: The Cloud Is Not Secure Most security perceptions are founded on fear, rather than fact. To date, most security breaches have involved physical activity and on-premises facilities; very few have involved breaches of public cloud services. Generally, cloud services providers have a deep and broad understanding of the security resources required and have made appropriate investments in infrastructure and monitoring systems. We discussed the question of how many organizations have adequate in-house resources to manage and keep pace with the evolving security requirements. We agree that many IT departments are already stretched thin maintaining the broadening array of skills and knowledge. And it is getting harder by the day. It is good practice to identify where security responsibilities lie between your organization and providers. It’s also important to identify security hotspots, who’s responsible for which and to ensure that robust SLAs are in place. We also feel that it’s a matter of balancing risk, trust, and making sure you assess each provider and service separately. At Cisco we assess every cloud service we contract, and have gatheredinsightful advice and lessons learnt from our risk management team. Myth 5: Cloud Is Synonymous With Data Centers There is much more to the cloud than cloud computing and data centers. We all feel that the majority of industry activity has centered on the data center and virtualization infrastructure. We all feel that we’re at the beginning of a market inflection where cloud services will drive the next generation of interest and innovation. This is why Cisco’s vision and Intercloud strategy encompasses both the infrastructure and cloud services. Just as the Internet showed limited capability in its infancy, we feel that the cloud will grow up. We’ll see a greater focus and interest around cloud-enabled applications and services. For me, this is the most interesting myth we agreed on. At the end of the day, it’s about what the cloud will do for us, the users and the experiences it enables. That is much more interesting than how it is constructed. So Kate Bush was right: adults are fallible and a cloudbuster is a useful device. If you had one, what cloud myth would you like to bust?
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Check out the latest Customer Connection briefing from 9/11/14 on this topic I speak with many business leaders about “the cloud” and how best to use it to improve collaboration. Quite often, discussions end up getting into specific services and technologies but I always try to ensure that some basic considerations are a primary focus – namely People, Processes and Culture. This video is a great overview and insight into how important it is to get the foundations right, and what questions you should ask before you start looking for a specific solution or ‘technology’. The Three Considerations People People are your company’s greatest asset and you need to enable them fully and effectively. Increasingly, they “vote with their feet.” They use their own solutions or those provided directly by their departments instead of official IT options ( shadow IT ). For many reasons public cloud services are a big hit, but you can’t afford for the virtualized environment you have painstakingly created to be used only for functional or legacy workloads. Nobody can afford a discrete, separate underutilized platform -- unappreciated and with hidden value. Processes Everyone is working smarter, faster, and across an increasing array of applications. We all have preferred “tools of the trade” and it is important that we have access to them, wherever we are. That said, for an organization to run effectively and efficiently there needs to be a level of standardization – both inside the organization and in collaboration with customers and partners. Standardization ensures performance, availability, security, and management control. Any solution must balance user needs with alignment to business processes and applications. Culture People often overlook a good cultural fit. Or technology becomes the big draw because of the dazzling array of features and functionality. A myopic focus on technology can have a catastrophic effect on the success of any cloud implementation and restrict how it can transform business agility and customer responsiveness. Technology must suit the organization, not the other way around. Consulting with the business is an essential step in ascertaining how IT fits, and in making sure that technology optimizes the collaboration experience. Getting the right balance is critical. Plan Your Journey Before You Start Many leaders I speak with are nervous about their journey and in particular their first steps with the cloud. As with any journey, if you look after the important things, the rest will follow. Think carefully about what your people want and need. How they work, both alone and with others. Understand how it feels to be part of or work with your organization. Whatever steps you take, they need to be on your terms and at your pace. Work out how you want to operate in this new world and the technology that will help you. You need to end up with the right technology platform to underpin your cloud, with a complementary operating and sourcing model that works for you. My advice on first steps: - Understand all your options: Get to know the providers and their solutions (infrastructure vendors and IaaS/SaaS providers). - Know your “standards” and open-source platforms: Identify which are important when creating an open and extensible environment. (OpenStack, APIs, and SDKs are the catalysts for cloud innovation.) - Think about the benefits of hybrid environments: How you will consolidate and control your services across on-premises/private clouds, public clouds and with third party applications and services. - Learn what is possible, and how you can do things: Ask lots of questions and question the answers. But don’t be scared by the prospect of a daunting journey. We can help, and so can our partners. What has worked for you? What other advice you have received and how has it helped?
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Which cloud is best for Collaboration? Simple -- the one that fits your needs. With so many cloud options out there offering a variety of different services, it’s easy to get confused. When making a decision, consider what is essential to collaboration in your business. How do users want to experience the services? What are their needs? Let’s break it down using me as a use case: Conversations & Conferencing -- I am heavily reliant on voice and video. I need it on all my devices, with no compromises on availability, security or quality. About 40% of my day is spent in web or video conferences, with one or many people (I guess this is why WebEx is the second largest business SaaS service!). For me, I must have a reliable service that performs regardless of how it is deployed. If my company has chosen the cloud for strategic or financial reasons then that is kind of irrelevant to me – I just want it to work… and work well. Email, IM and Content -- IM enables me to get information when I need it. If not, I typically get it from a document sharing space. Happily, I am spending less time in email these days. So for these types of collaboration tools I am more interested in what the cloud has to offer. Decisions made by IT have a material impact on me and my working environment. Here at Cisco I jump at the chance to be on a trial or pilot of a new technology. Not only do I get to play with all the new toys, I get ahead of the pack and get access to new productivity tools that make me more effective… they help me. Customer Services -- I like to choose how and when I interact with people. I also like to help myself first, and then call out for help as required. So I like to do business with organizations that allow me to do this. If they don’t, I generally try to avoid doing business with them. For most organizations, the prime focus is on voice and video communications. These are usually delivered through an IP-PBX -- either on premise, distributed across a private cloud, VoIP services in the cloud, or as a hosted service. When choosing a deployment for voice and video services, think about the whole collaboration experience. Ask how it is going to work for your users, partners and customers. For example; if being able to deliver market leading customer experiences is a priority or competitive differentiation in your industry, consider having an integrated Customer Services or CRM service within the solution. This will help ensure that Customer Collaboration becomes an ‘Enterprise Service’. Equally, being able to integrate IM and Presence capabilities helps to ensure a consistent user experience that will aid adoption and effective use. And this is the key -- integration and bringing services together. There are an increasing number of organizations that have made the move to a hosted cloud service. While this can be a good option to meet your organizations needs, there is an important consideration that is often overlooked. Consider how services are extended to mobile devices across multiple locations or embedded into business applications (like CRM or Sales Automation). Making your cloud services decision with this in mind will help you realize the greatest cloud benefits by ensuring that features are made available to anyone, anywhere, on any device and through any workload; at an Enterprise Grade. A Cisco Powered cloud service encompasses all these, and more. Take a look at what is on offer. Finally, you want to be confident with the quality of the service. Hear from Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s President of Development and Sales, as he describes how to identify a cloud provider that meet your expectations and unlock the value of cloud – with confidence.
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Yes… according to a recent Forbes survey of business executives. We wanted to understand how the cloud was perceived in the market so we sponsored some research to be carried out by Forbes Insights. The results are published in the ‘Collaborating in the Cloud’ report on the Forbes website and Cisco has supported with a press release. We were very excited by the results because after surveying over 500 senior executives across a range of industries our eyes were opened to some new and very interesting findings. I would like to highlight what we heard specifically from the ‘leaders’* that were interviewed. The key findings provide strong evidence that the cloud presents a great opportunity to extend the advantages of collaboration technologies and that the more cloud is embraced, the more it can drive strategic business value and competitive advantage for your business. The key finding: Cloud solutions accelerate business results – 82% of ‘leaders’ said that cloud-based collaboration tools help businesses execute faster than would be possible otherwise. This can shorten time to market, quicken product upgrade cycles and lead to faster responses to competitive challenges. Cloud enhances collaboration across time zones and functional boundaries - 87% said that capabilities enabled by cloud-based solutions represent a true breakthrough in collaboration. Cloud-based collaboration tools enable a wide array of enhanced capabilities in areas such as communication, product and service delivery, information sharing, tapping knowledge resources and group problem solving. Cloud enables more-efficient business processes - 90% reported that cloud-based collaboration has the potential to improve business processes. Business processes include purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, sales and technical support. (The report details some specific examples of business transformation enabled by the cloud.) Cloud collaboration promotes innovation - 93% of leaders agree that cloud-based collaboration stimulates innovation. Indeed, enhanced innovation is an almost unavoidable consequence of providing more executives and workers with new and more effective ways of sharing information, enabling business model innovation and new service delivery options with more people both within and without their organizations. Cloud is not solely an IT discussion - 75% of those identified as "leaders" say that non-IT executives are becoming more involved in the selection, implementation, and management processes relating to cloud-based collaboration tools. In short, cloud collaboration is not an IT discussion but a broader business discussion. But don’t just take my word for it. Please read Forbes Insights’ study “Collaborating in the Cloud” and consider how cloud could be an integral part of your company’s strategy to pursue high value from your IT investments. * Leaders, as defined in the survey (14% of the sample), are executives (CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, vice presidents of IT and non-IT executives who are department heads) with significantly greater experience and familiarity with cloud-based collaboration tools and strategies than others in the survey.
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Hi Sandy, Yes you have caught the key highlights of the announcment, but there was simply too much great news to fit into one press announcment! Yes, the big news is around TPaaS and CCaaS with the introduction and expansion of TelePresence and Customer Collaboration solutions in HCS, but as you say we have further extended the UC and Mobility services. There is a link in this latest announcement to our previous (earlier in the year) announcement when we extended the latest Cisco UC capabilities, but for your convenience here it is in this post. On Mobility, we did also announce further developments that will be available in Q1CY13. These include VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution networks, or 4G) and the enablement of FMC environments; namely the enablement of key supplementary serices including ad hoc conferencing and call transfer to name just two. Basically this is a really exciting evolution of Cisco's FMC strategy by offering IMS integration into HCS with the 9.0 release. These developments further enable Cisco HCS partners to build on their own capabilities and offer even richer collaboration services to their customers. Hope this helps, Marcus.
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Hello Sandy > yes it is r9.0 and is the next stage in the evolution of Cisco HCS and Cisco delivering application breadth and platform breadth across the whole HCS solution. Please take a look at the Announcement Press Release to see what we announced and come back with any questions
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