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Cloud Management Confusion? Not Here…

Just the other day, one of our competitors crowed that Cisco customers must be confused about how to manage Cisco equipment when attempting to build a Cloud Computing environment. From their perspective, customers should embrace the mainframe days when a single company delivered all the hardware and software, along with an army of ever-present consultant to make it all work. Don’t worry about complexity Mr.Customer, there isn’t any because you don’t ever see it. And don’t worry about the $bill$ either, because the contract will rollover from one IT administration to the next IT administration.

Based on Cisco’s presence at EMC World last week, I can understand why they would be confused. Not only did live, managed Cisco and VCE Vblock equipment show up in several keynotes (Pat Gelsinger, Paul Maritz, Sanjay Mirchandani), it was also discussed in packed breakout sessions, and in the booths of Cisco, EMC, EMC IT, VCE, newScale, BMC, CA and VMware.

Within the Cisco booth, we highlighted just one of our Cloud Management solutions, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, in the context of our broader “Cisco Cloud Solutions” strategy.

Having just completed our acquisition of newScale, we wanted to highlight this award-winning technology within our primary showcase area. Could we have shown other solutions that integrate with Cisco UCS or VCE Vblock, such as VMware vCloud Director (vCD), VMware vCenter Orchestrator (vCO), BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager, CA Technologies or many others? Of course we could have. But they were already present in other booths around the show, so we avoided duplication. We also needed space to highlight Private Cloud, Unified Fabric, Application Mobility, Cisco UCS, Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) and VDI/VXI. If you want to see them all in one place, stay tuned for the huge showcase at Cisco Live 2011 in July.

Many customers visiting the booth asked if Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud would be the primary go-to-market offering for Cisco in the future. It’s a fair question. The answer is no. We are still deeply committed to an open-ecosystem approach to Data Center and Cloud management. That hasn’t changed.

  • Will there be customers that ask Cisco to deliver a complete solution? Yes, and for some of those customers the Cisco IA for Cloud solution will be the right one for them. But these will still involve open-ecosystem partners for Hypervisor and Storage, hence the reason we continue to deeply invest in our Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program.
  • Will Cisco continue to support customer choice of Cloud Management systems? Absolutely! Just like our CVD program, we are actively working with our partners to not only validate interoperability, but we have dedicated cross-company teams in the labs creating Design and Implementation Guides.

In talking to customers, the most common theme that I heard when discussing Cloud Management was a demand that the systems stay open and be integrated via APIs. Just as the web has emerged over the last 5-7 years (Web 2.0) by interconnecting systems, Cloud management is emerging in a similar manner. Systems must be able to support Public and Private Cloud. They must integrate with legacy systems and be flexible enough to adapt to new greenfield opportunities. They will be a combination of homegrown code, open-source and commercial products, brought together by open-APIs, to meet complex business requirements. And the products that live underneath these systems (Infrastructure -- Compute, Network, Storage) must be supported by these open management frameworks. We’ve talked about this many times in the past (here, here, here, and here). Almost all the customers I spoke with, both Enterprise and Service Providers, agreed that there isn’t a silver bullet that solves all their needs, hence they were looking for flexibility in their Cloud Management platforms.

But more than anything else I saw at EMC World, I continued to be amazed at the work a small team at EMC did to run their live vLabs. It’s interesting enough that they were run out of their Cloud Data Center in Durham, NC (not on-site in Las Vegas), but what makes them incredible is that the automation system for the labs was pulled together by a distributed team using APIs from many different systems. They used vCenter, vCloud Director, Cisco UCSM, VCE UIM, EMC Storage APIs on the VNX and a slew of open APIs and software to pull the entire system together. The story of this accomplishment is chronicled here. Given the use-cases, diversity of equipment used and the timeframes needed, I can guarantee that it couldn’t have been accomplished with a silver-bullet piece of software.

That’s the power of open Cloud Management and why Cisco is deeply committed to being the premier Cloud infrastructure for whatever Cloud Management solutions our customers wish to deploy.

To learn more about Cisco’s Cloud Solutions, please visit the Cloud homepage.

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