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Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Version 3.1

November 1, 2012
at 5:48 am PST

Just the other morning, my 3.5 year old daughter said “Daddy, can you make me a waffle?” And like any self-respecting parent, I of course responded with “Poof. You’re a waffle.”

It reminded me of something we frequently hear from customers: they effectively ask us to “make my data center a cloud.”  Now we could wave our arms and say “Poof. It’s a cloud.” But it’s not that easy.  Despite what some cloudwashers may say, virtualizing your data center does not mean you have a cloud – and self-service provisioning of VMs is not cloud computingReal clouds require much more.

Fortunately, we have solutions to help our customers deploy real clouds – with market-leading compute, network, and management products in our Unified Data Center portfolio as well as our cloud enablement services.  In fact, today we introduced yet another innovation in our Unified Computing System (UCS) portfolio with Cisco UCS Central.

I’m pleased to also announce the latest release of our cloud management software solution today: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud version 3.1.  This release introduces several exciting new features, and I’ve highlighted a few of these new product capabilities below.

Virtual Data Centers – In simple infrastructure-as-a-service use cases, virtual machines and other resources may be provisioned from a shared pool of resources on-demand.  In more advanced infrastructure-as-a-service use cases, virtual data centers (VDCs) can be established to provide project teams or departments with a dedicated resource pool of compute, storage, and network capacity for their own organization. I’ve written in the past about this concept of a virtual data center and this is what Cisco IT deployed for our own internal private cloud.

Now, with version 3.1, you can take advantage of these best practices in your own deployment. When a business unit, department, or project team needs infrastructure resources, they can order their own VDC from a menu of options (with pre-set capacity allocations – e.g. small, medium, large – to enforce consumption limits) in the self-service portal.  And on an ongoing basis, they can manage their own dedicated pool of physical blades, virtual machines, virtual CPU, memory, and storage – by increasing the capacity, adding a physical blade with Cisco UCS Manager, adding a network, etc.  This is differentiated capability that goes far beyond self-service VM provisioning, and it provides our customers with greater agility and flexibility for real world, large-scale cloud deployments.

CloudSync – With version 3.1, we’ve also introduced new infrastructure discovery and resource tracking: a feature we call CloudSync.  With CloudSync, you can automatically discover, track, and manage all of the infrastructure elements within your cloud environment and the systems connected to them.  You can run discovery of the infrastructure inventory on-demand or on a scheduled basis.  Your cloud administrators can keep track of infrastructure resources, assess capacity, and prevent sprawl; they also have the visibility and control they need to ensure security and policy compliance.  See below for an example screenshot.

Network Services Manager – The network is the long pole in the infrastructure-as-a-service tent, but many organizations neglect to take this into account when building their cloud. With version 3.1, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud now includes Cisco Network Services Manager.  By bundling Cisco Network Services Manager in our cloud management solution, we’re providing a foundation for network-as-a-service. It may start with basic scenarios such as ordering network resources (e.g. a VLAN) from the self-service portal; over time, it can be extended to advanced network automation and provisioning.

In addition to these new features in the 3.1 release, we’re continuing to develop product extensions that are designed to ensure that Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud can meet our customers’ unique needs.  With these product extensions, you can configure the workflows for your specific environment and preserve the ability to upgrade from the next software release without losing these changes.

Extensibility – We now offer more than 200 extension points for the software, ranging from integrations with your service desk system to open and close tickets, to providing showback or chargeback support, to integrating with third-party monitoring and service assurance tools. This extensibility allows our customers to deploy their cloud within the reality of their own existing IT practices, business policies, and infrastructure systems.

We also recently introduced a new Multi-Cloud Acceleration Kit that extends Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud software to manage multiple cloud environments such as OpenStack, Amazon EC2, and VMware vCloud Director.  Now you can create virtual data centers, on-board tenants, and provision cloud services from within our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution – whether your cloud is running on VMware or OpenStack, or if you’re using the Amazon Web Services public cloud. We featured this at the recent OpenStack summit in San Diego and you can read more about it here.

Cisco is delivering the capabilities that our customers need to build real private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid clouds.  We recognize that it’s not as easy as “Poof, you’ve got a cloud”.  We offer the software, infrastructure, partners, and services to help you get started -- with a pragmatic roadmap for your cloud journey.  This past spring, we introduced the ‘starter edition’ of Intelligent Automation for Cloud:

Now, with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud version 3.1, we’re providing the tools to help you in the next phase of your journey to cloud computing – for large-scale cloud deployments. Our customers can start with simple infrastructure-as-a-service use cases, and then upgrade and extend their deployment to include support for virtual data centers and more advanced use cases in a multi-cloud, heterogeneous environment.

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