Yesterday I introduced you to the Cisco Domain TenSM, Cisco Services’ framework for simplifying data center transformation. This model is applicable to both business (enterprise), public sector (e.g. government, federal) and service provider (incl telco) organizations.
Today I will summarize some key challenges that you should consider when planning a transition to cloud (as one example of data center transformation), for Domain #1 – Facilities and Infrastructure.
When we engage with customers to help them build their cloud foundation – facilities and infrastructure – we have a straightforward goal – plan, build and manage the facilities, network, compute and storage architecture that meets their business goals. Consider cloud: cost effectiveness, expansion capability/elasticity, scalability and performance are some of the goals for the facilities and infrastructure architecture.
With respect to data center facilities design – which in Cisco Services we perform in conjunction with our leading best-of-breed specialist partners, for example CH2M HILL – we help you ensure that your facilities can scale to accommodate your planned business goals. We help you maximize usage of precious space. We help you ensure efficient and cost effective design, minimizing energy requirements – which is very important, bearing in mind that energy costs are likely to be a major component of you data center running costs. And we can help you consolidate multiple disparate data centers to start your drive to cloud and meet your cost-reduction goals.
When it comes to the network/compute/storage design, in order to achieve the elasticity you’d expect from a cloud architecture, our goal is to design “plug and play” capacity addition – so that you can scale your cloud infrastructure as your business demands change. In order to deliver lowest cost of operation and maximize your ability to respond to the changing demands of your business (enterprise use case) or customers (service provider use case) – that is, ensure agility in your architectural design – we strive to design a standardized infrastructure building block, which in itself will enable plug and play capacity addition.
Why do we aim for this? Let me use SouthWest Airlines as an example, without doubt one of the most cost efficient airlines in the world today. They have standardized infrastructure: Boeing 737 airliners and standardized airport gate layouts. This means pilot and attendant training is standardized. That fuelling is standardized. This means they can fly any of their aircraft to any of their airports, which gives them lower cost of operation and a tremendous flexibility – for example when they need to add additional capacity for say the Super Bowl in the US, they don’t need to worry “will aircraft type X fit at airport Y using gate layout Z?” Their standardized infrastructure has delivered business agility.
And standardized network/compute/storage infrastructure is what we in Cisco Services will design for you for your cloud infrastructure. We’ve already put in place pre-designed reference architectures (for example the Cisco Virtualized Multi-tenant Data Center solution), and pre-built re-usable data center components, POD based architectures if you will – witness our Vblock (VCE) and Flexpod (with NetApp) solutions leveraging Cisco UCS and Cisco Nexus for unified fabric. Our Cisco Services teams can help design these into your cloud architecture, in rapid time, customized and integrated to your precise requirements.
What other challenges should you strive to design in to your cloud architecture? You may need load balancers designed in to ensure elastic response to end user demands. Service providers and in some cases, public sector organizations, will need to ensure that secure multi-tenancy and advanced features such as zoning and separation are designed in. High availability and disaster recovery are other strategically important aspects of your cloud architecture. What about your access network – is it a borderless network assuring your end user experience with appropriate access security, supporting the diverse range of devices (ala BYOD) that your end users are demanding? Have you coped with access challenges over the wide area network, perhaps using Cisco WAAS? As you can see, a cloud architecture typically involved many more considerations than simply service plus hypervisor, that many across the industry would have you believe is what a cloud is comprised of.
All of these challenges can be considered and solved by our Cisco Services data center and cloud experts, in order to satisfy the demands of the Facilities and Infrastructure domain within the Cisco Domain Ten framework. For more information, check out our Cisco Domain Ten e-book, follow me on Twitter (@StephenSatCisco) and look out for my continuing blog series on Cisco Domain Ten in the next day or two.
[See here for my next blog in this series]