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Cisco IT Best Practices for Creating a Private Cloud

The Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services program, or CITEIS, is our internal implementation of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) resources in a private cloud. CITEIS is designed to provide a consumer-type IT experience to our developers while Cisco IT maintains governance and control over the infrastructure. The CITEIS program includes:

  • A catalog of standard IT infrastructure services and resources such as servers, storage, and network bandwidth
  • A self-service portal interface where users can order CITEIS resources, whether for short-term use as a development “sandbox” or for long-term use under a subscription model
  • Policy-based controls over how CITEIS services and resources are allocated by Cisco IT
  • Process orchestration to automate service ordering, provisioning, modification, and deletion, which reduces the time, effort, and cost of resource delivery and operation for both users and Cisco IT

Based on our experience in deploying two generations of CITEIS, we have identified several best practices that you may find helpful when planning your own private cloud and IaaS/PaaS offerings.

Prepare the environment. For the server environment, virtualization and a wire-once data center design eliminate the need to individually cable new servers. This preparation is part of what allows us to provision a new server resource in as little as six minutes.

Avoid software development when possible. Commercial, off-the-shelf components are available for many tools such as the service catalog. Instead of developing the tools yourself, it’s usually easier and cheaper to adapt these commercial components to your needs.

Create a service operations map. Make sure you fully understand what’s required for a service offering by creating a complete operational model and detailed process map.

Understand user expectations. What will your users really want for IaaS and PaaS? A complete service package where everything is taken care of for them? Or, a list of IT resources that IT will install, but they will manage? We found that different users want different levels of service, so we created two separate CITEIS offerings.

Start small, expand gradually. Virtualization and offering standardized IT services means changes in processes, tasks and perspectives for both IT and users. To make these changes less disruptive, start by offering services for only a limited set of resources, then add complex resources as you gain experience.

Simplify the user experience. Although a private cloud service can be very complex on the backend, make the front-end simple for users. Create short, simple online forms for users to order and provision resources.

Consider all costs in budget charges. To determine accurate costs for internal budget charges, make sure your calculations include the expense of network infrastructure, IT management and support staff, software licenses, and similar elements.

Have you discovered other best practices in your private cloud experience?

You can learn more about CITEIS in these Cisco IT case studies:

 

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