The Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries helped produce things faster, with machines instead of hands. We are seeing a similar—and equally impactful—shift with modern technologies.
“We are in an era of digital transformation, and just like the Industrial Revolution, it’s all about automation, scalability, and speed,” says Joann Starke, senior marketing manager for data center and cloud solutions at Cisco. “The cloud is both the enabler and the connective tissue for these changes, bringing together megatrends like social media, mobility, and big data.”
Business is moving faster than ever before, she explains, and companies in every industry must move swiftly to develop applications and maximize data in ways that create competitive differentiation. They are being forced to improve operational efficiency. And they are being compelled to establish new connections among employees, partners, and customers.
Cloud technologies are helping on all of these fronts, but in different ways for different companies.
- Market disruptors like Uber and Airbnb have built their business on the cloud.
- Continually evolving companies like Netflix have used the cloud to overhaul their delivery models.
- Countless entrenched brands have tapped the cloud to modernize—and in many cases reinvent—their operations and the ways they serve customers.
“Every industry is facing digital disruption,” says Michelle Bailey, vice president of digital infrastructure and data center initiatives at 451 Research. “Just think about online courses in higher education, real-time algorithmic trading in the financial services industry, machine-based analytics in manufacturing, and remote health consultations and care. The cloud is the underpinning for all of them.”
A phased approach
It is clear that cloud technologies are enabling and fueling widespread digital transformations. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and there is no “right way” to move forward.
- Established businesses may use the cloud to bridge the gaps between legacy systems and new, digital operations.
- Upstarts may build their business on the cloud, and then reach a point of critical mass where a purpose-built, on-premises data center is needed.
- Others may simply use the cloud to offload certain applications and reduce the time and cost of software and hardware management.
“Digital transformation is a very personal thing, and most companies will do it differently,” says Bailey. “It largely depends on the maturity of their business, their IT needs, and their experience and comfort level with the cloud.”
A hybrid approach—one that features a combination of on-premises systems and cloud-based services—is a likely endgame for many companies, she adds. But it requires a phased approach, typically starting with infrastructure virtualization, expanding with private cloud, and eventually including an integrated mix of public cloud services.
“For all the talk of hybrid cloud, most companies are still in the virtualization process,” Bailey says. “You have to walk before you can run.”
- Solutions like Cisco® ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite help companies do just that.
- A hybrid-ready private cloud, it allows organizations to adopt cloud services at their own pace.
- The solution simplifies and automates infrastructure and application deployment, allows the management of physical and virtual resources in one dashboard, and works with any cloud platform and hypervisor.
“Some private cloud solutions require upwards of 18 components to be purchased and installed, and others don’t play well with public cloud services,” says Starke. “Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite has four modular components that can be used in any combination, and it was designed and built for hybrid deployments.”
Automation, scalability, and speed—across physical and virtual environments. Welcome to the new Industrial Revolution.