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Cisco has rolled out a new set of Cloud Professional Services to help businesses optimize their cloud environments, addressing the challenges and obstacles that the company covered in a new cloud report and through its Business Cloud Advisor online tool that helps customers assess their cloud readiness and associated benefits.

Channel partners employ the tool to have consultative discussions with their customers to help define their cloud strategy and deliver better business outcomes.

A new Cisco-sponsored global cloud adoption study, conducted by IDC, shows that only 3 percent of the 6,100 organizations surveyed have optimized cloud strategies, and the greater the level of cloud maturity, the better the business outcomes achieved. Companies with the most advanced cloud strategies reported, on average, $3 million in additional revenues and $1 million in cost savings.

The winners—the 3 percent—are incredibly important and are outpacing the rest of the market, said Fabio Gori, senior director, cloud solutions marketing, Cisco. They have achieved significant IT cost reductions, seen a huge increase in their ability to meet their service-level agreements and achieved 11 percent revenue growth just with the adoption of the cloud.

The report also finds that some of the biggest obstacles on the route to cloud adoption include gaps in skills and capabilities, a lack of a well-defined strategy and road map, legacy siloed organizational structures and an IT/line-of-business misalignment. These findings indicate that many businesses still need help to drive and implement their cloud initiatives, which is part of a bigger digital transformation trend.

Addressing the IT/Line-of-Business Disconnect

The lack of alignment between the line of business and IT is an obstacle to companies’ success in the cloud, said Gori. “We want to help the IT organizations and line-of-business come together.”

In addition, he said, “What’s stopping everyone else is insufficient monitoring, measurement and management tools for the hybrid cloud, and orchestration systems. They don’t know what’s going on in their networks. They don’t even know how many cloud services are actually traversing their organization.”

In general, a lack of cloud-native talent is a “massive issue” for customers, Gori said. “That is why we are making an effort on the professional services side and taking the partners along with us.”

The rollout includes three new services—multicloud management and orchestration services for Cisco Cloud Center; cloud acceleration services for both traditional private clouds and cloud-native solutions, such as OpenStack and PaaS; and IT transformation services focused on DevOps-related change management initiatives. This includes managed offerings through Cisco’s Metacloud and quick-start private cloud solution that allows a fully automated cloud pod to be deployed in the customer data center within 30 days.

The offering also includes enhanced application and cloud migration services to automate and ease the process of on-boarding and migrating applications and workloads to the cloud, thanks to several partnerships, including T-Systems and RiverMeadow Software.

The change and velocity in the cloud market through Cisco and other channels over the past three quarters is noticeable, said Richard Scannell, president and CEO at RiverMeadow Software.

“Any kind of adoption curve or lingering doubts that people had about moving to the cloud and what does cloud mean, they have finally figured out why there is a private or public cloud, and what is a hybrid cloud strategy, and how to take advantage of that. I think technologies that bridge those gaps are starting to mature and the adoption curve is now getting into full tilt,” Scannell added.

The application migration services include simplifying and automating the process of migrating the applications to that target cloud environment and assessing the applications to understand what is the most appropriate cloud platform in which they should reside to get maximum business benefits, said Paul Hamilton, director, Cisco Advanced Services.

“We’ve created a range of services intended to be the ‘easy button’ for our customers and partners to accelerate their journey to a multicloud hybrid environment,” Hamilton said. “Partners can directly consume these services to enhance their cloud offerings to the market and resell or white-label these offerings to extend their portfolio to address some of these new areas and the cloud-native areas.”

Cisco also plans to offer an integrated strategy workshop that combines the Cisco DomainTen Service with the Cisco BCA Workshop. The workshop will be integrated into the professional services portfolio in this year’s fourth quarter.

The Cisco and channel partner-delivered workshop will help organizations identify cloud adoption gaps and benchmarks, improve their multicloud environments, and drive alignment between IT and line-of-business stakeholders. It’s also designed to help organizations better measure the potential impact of cloud adoption in their IT organizations across key performance indicators.

The new services, together with the integrated workshop, give channel partners the opportunities to either resell Cisco services or combine them with their own complementary services and work with Cisco to deliver a complete solution.

Gina Roos has been covering technology and the channel for more than 25 years. A co-founder and executive editor of EPS News, she has also served as an editor for EBN, EETimes and Electronics Sourcing.