CiscoLive 2013 concluded last week in Orlando. Some of the sessions are available for viewing at www.ciscolive365.com. One of the keynote addresses featured an AVA 500 robot from irobot (Registration required - Hour and 48 mins into the video). The robot brought a flood of memories from my days as a grad student. I was a student participant in a consortium of companies striving for manufacturing excellence. There was a major push in the 90’s to improve US Manufacturing and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was instituted to spur progress. It is now awarded to companies for performance excellence and the 2010 the winner was the parent company of two Texas restaurant chains – Rudys and Mighty fine burgers.
So what has this got to do with Cisco UCS you ask? Large scale data centers are ushering in the industrialization of IT services with standardization and stringent service level agreements. Cisco UCS is the infrastructure platform for delivery of IT Services and has the main ingredients to power service excellence.
Service excellence come about with reduction in variation in the process. Good service principles and practices bring about consistency, reliability and predictability. The slide deck which was a result of work with Forrestor analyst Glenn O’donnell a couple of years ago, gives more details on service orchestration, and the business case to invest in it.
The presentation addresses how orchestration goes beyond automation. The two key points were:
- Automation is restricted to a single domain or systems whereas Orchestration encompasses multiple domains.
- Orchestration takes into account real time feedback of the system where as automation does not do so.
To give a more concrete example, provisioning of a Cisco UCS server for a service with a script or software program, would be automation. Adding server capacity for the service when 90% of compute capacity is in use, would be orchestration.
Automation of tasks is however the foundation for service orchestration and Cisco UCS excels at it. The Cisco UCS XML API enables automation regardless of user preferences. Since I will be attending Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, TX next week, I expect to meet many Microsoft Powershell users who can now exploit Cisco UCS C-Series PowerTool to manage standalone UCS (needs CIMC v1.5) rack servers. With Cisco UCS PowerTool, users can enjoy the benefits of automation and hence service orchestration in their data centers. If you are attending the conference come by and check out all the Cisco solutions including the Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS PowerTool.