The Agile and Flexible Cloud – It’s What the Market Values Today
Christopher May, VP APAC, VOSS Solutions
Did you read Eric Krapf’s latest blog post, If Not Cloud, Then What? on NoJitter last week?
In the article, after noting the rapid growth of cloud, Eric says "In our just-completed third-annual cloud communications survey, agility (i.e., the ability to add features, functions, and/or users quickly, to respond to business needs) was the number one advantage respondents expected from cloud communications."
Eric goes on to quote the industry's leading UC analysts observing that the number-one issue they see with the communications cloud today is that, "sophisticated enterprises, with complex, unique, almost-bespoke communications systems, cannot be supported by today’s Cloud Communications providers that are delivering a highly standardized, off-the-shelf service".
So, the market (customers and industry experts) is telling us what they expect from cloud communications - Agility and Flexibility. The market doesn't want a highly standardized, "one-size-fits-all" solution that delivers to the lowest common denominator in the market.
This blog post will resonate with every Cisco HCS end-customer, around the world, because Cisco HCS Providers are the only cloud communications providers who can actually deliver both:
- Agility – in terms of rapid and regular upgrades for the latest features and functionalities from the world’s leading UC vendor, Cisco
- Flexibility – in terms of the design for each customer being able to be “learnt and configured” through the world’s leading automation framework
All the other Cloud Communications providers offer a highly standardized service, with very little integrated automation that is specifically designed to support agility and flexibility in the design of the service offer.
To achieve a lower cost-base, other Cloud Providers work on the "Pareto principle" (also known as the 80/20 rule), which you will know states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, you only need to provide agility and flexibility for 20% of the design functionality and the other 80% can be locked-down, because no one really uses those more esoteric features and functionality.
With most non-HCS Cloud Communications providers, however, the Pareto Principle is more like 99/01; that is, they assume that customers only need 1% agility and flexibility.
Given that there are over a dozen UC applications (advanced voice, video, messaging, mobility, conferencing, web collaboration, workstream collaboration, document sharing, smart devices, fixed-mobile convergence, smart whiteboards, etc.), where each application typically has a dozen or more features (in the case of voice, that’s more like 200 features) and each feature has a dozen or more settings, we are talking about over 1,000 variables being offered by an advanced enterprise communications platform. And, these non-HCS Cloud Communications providers are only giving you flexibility and agility on 1% of them. Wrong assumption, in my opinion.
HCS Providers, on the other hand are giving you agility and flexibility to all applications, all features and more like 90% of their underlying settings.
Here's how Cisco HCS is able to not follow the Pareto Principle, and hence is able to deliver agility and flexibility to its end-customers:
1. The HCS architecture design is based on an inherent "dedicated" infrastructure, as opposed to a single, shared, switch, which is how most cloud provider architectures are designed today. This enables the HCS provider to offer each of its complex enterprise customers a unique set of services and configuration, without affecting other customers who also have their own dedicated platforms … all within a centrally automated cloud architecture that enables low-cost, service delivery in a highly automated solution.
Dedicated architecture, with integrated automation, allows for much greater flexibility around each customer's "uniqueness".
2. An "agile" cloud operational management system provides the following characteristics:
- A multi-dimensional, management capability that offers the ability to automate all infrastructure and any operational process across the full lifecycle of a customer (Day-0 design, Day-1 deploy, Day-2 operate, and Day-3 optimize and extend) and across multiple UC Vendors (both in the provider's cloud and from third party cloud players)
- The ability to change the "off-the-shelf" design to match an organization's unique configuration requirements (or a vertical industry's unique requirements), but then lock this design into a highly repeatable, management framework
- The ability to migrate new users, devices, services from legacy environments to the cloud effortlessly and with high accuracy rates
- The ability to add new features, functionality, and applications in a highly rapid process, and deliver those new capabilities within a sophisticated service management system (i.e. creating unique entitlements and service profiles)
- The ability to rapidly integrate the cloud communications management layer into each organization's IT systems
- The ability to rapidly adapt the end customer portal to allow that organization's IT staff to access the full suite of management information and control (monitoring alerts, billing report, change management and utilization reporting)
Cisco HCS' unique dedicated architecture design, coupled with the most advanced UC automation and integrated management layer (fulfilment, assurance and billing) is second to none in meeting the advanced and unique requirements of sophisticated organizations and vertical industries.
Eric Krapf's research will really change the general perception of the challenges that face cloud communications, and HCS is perfectly placed to solve these issues.
I'm presenting at the Cisco HCS Deployathon in Sydney this week, and I look forward to working with the APAC HCS providers to ensure that they are optimizing the HCS platform to deliver maximum flexibility and agility to their customers and prospects.