Q&A: Cisco's Ian Foddering

Cisco UK’s CTO and technical director Ian Foddering discusses all things cloud.

Eurocomms.com: Last week, Cisco estimated global cloud computing traffic will grow to 1.6 zettabytes annually by 2015 – a 12-fold increase. What is the single most important thing that operators must do to ensure they are ready for this?

Ian Foddering: One of the single most important things is download and upload speeds as well as latencies. These are vital measures to assess network capabilities of cloud readiness and should one of the big focuses for operators.

What is the biggest challenge that operators face in preparing their organisations for this evolution?

Business, government and consumer clouds are proliferating rapidly, and all need to connect to each other. The biggest challenge to operators preparing their organisations for this evolution is to ensure their networks are ready and can cope with the demands that this growth in traffic and complexity will bring. We have highlighted a number of barriers to entry that cloud providers need to ensure they address if cloud adoption is to be successful: security and lack of governance are key topics of discussion. The benefits, however, for organisations that embrace cloud in its many forms are huge and both security and governance can, and are, being addressed.

As you say, networks are key to the success of the cloud, but how would you assess the readiness of networks at this current time?

At the moment, I’d say it’s mixed. The US and Western Europe have the highest broadband penetration so they are pretty well prepared. The Cisco Global Cloud Index identified that all regions can support some level of cloud services today and that Central Europe is among the most cloud-ready based on network metrics.

Which cloud solution – public, private or hybrid – do you see being the biggest revenue driver for operators over the next few years and why?

It’s never been about one cloud. We live in a world of many clouds, where IT can provide services and people can collaborate. At Cisco we refer to a “world of many clouds”, that includes public clouds, hybrid clouds, and even interconnected communities of clouds serving different vertical market segments, like government or healthcare. Fulfilling the promise of the cloud relies upon the ability for these many clouds to work together. An application, network or datacentre alone will not deliver on the promise of the cloud – instead, they must all work together fully to enable the potential benefits that collectively they can deliver. So the biggest revenue driver is not one cloud, but a mix of all the different types of cloud.

What do you anticipate being the next big evolution in the cloud space?

Looking ahead to 2012, I have already started to see trailblazing companies realise the potential of cloud to revolutionise their respective industries and I believe we will see cloud go mainstream next year. This will be driven, in part, by the shift/necessity to move from capex to opex IT models.

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