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Prediction for 2nd half of 2012: Infrastructure as a Service deployments expand to include IT as a Service

IT shops deploying clouds over the past year have been focused on Infrastructure as a Service ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrastructure_as_a_service#Infrastructure ) as a way to drive speed in virtual and physical server provisioning, cost savings in operations, proactive service level agreements, and increased control and governance.   In one of my blogs I introduced our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/the-secret-is-now-out-you-can-simplify-cloud-deployments-with-cisco-unified-management/ and how that addresses both private, hybrid and public clouds IaaS.   Key to this is the service catalog and self service portal.  Moving to cloud is NOT about taking hundreds of server configuration templates and moving to them immediate self service.  All you are doing in that model is automating VM sprawl.  They key is defining a limited set of services and options that your end users such as application owners and technical folks can order through a self service portal and manage their life-cycle.

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Basic Server Management and beyond

The term server management conjures up different connotations in the mind of the listener.  Depending on the type of server – software application server, virtual server or physical server, the issues they care about are different. Two tasks that instantly come to the fore are server configuration and server monitoring.

A software application server manager may visualize configuration of production middleware servers and the parameters may include database connections, memory size etc.  A manager responsible for the virtual infrastructure in a data center may picture server configuration tasks as storing and accessing virtual images, operating system types etc. for the virtual machines.  An infrastructure manager responsible for physical servers will take into consideration power, firmware and network configurations for the server.

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What does a 4 year old have in common with Cisco?

“Ow mommy, my leg huuuuuuuuuuurts,” complained my 4 year old.  After a quick examination and check-in with the doctor (read: I opened a book written by Dr. Sears and consider that a check- in with “the doctor”), I determined the problem was simply growing pains.

Growing pains don’t apply only to small children and adolescents. They apply to small companies and large enterprises alike. And like the growing pains you experienced when you were 4, 12, and 18 years old, they can cause physical (in the form of operational costs) and emotional (in the form of stress) pain for your business.

For my 4 year old the solution to growing pains is a kiss, hug, and maybe some chocolate ice cream. Most businesses (all businesses? There is always an exception) need more than a band-aid; businesses want a long-term solution to business challenges with measurable results. One of the most common “growing pains” for businesses is controlling operating expenditures.

Recent research shows that up to 75 percent of enterprise IT costs are operating expenditures (Gartner ITKMD, January 2011). Let’s explore how Cisco has significantly grown its infrastructure while reducing operating costs.

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Toyota Tsusho Deploys Cisco Virtual WAAS to Enhance Performance

vWAAS Bandwidth Reduction Chart

A key WAN optimization benefit is the mitigation on bandwidth consumption during the huge traffic burst on Mondays, when employees arrive at work and email attachments come to their mailboxes. This chart shows actual bandwidth consumption well below what applications would have required.

A few weeks back I highlighted a report from VCE about our virtual WAAS (vWAAS) WAN optimization solution running on the Vblock platform. Now comes a new case study of a vWAAS deployment at Georgetown, Kentucky-based Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. (TAI). For the Georgetown data center, TAI decided on vWAAS rather than WAAS appliances. The detailed case study is a compelling argument for virtualizing WAN optimization for improved high-availability and more streamlined operations.

“We were an early adopter of vWAAS,” says Chris Jones, TAI Manager of Infrastructure and Operations, “and we perceived value in placing WAN optimization close to the data rather than near the WAN edge. In particular, we felt we could have lower-cost high availability (HA) for WAN optimization by leveraging the Vblock HA. And we perceived operational simplicity in the event of failure, compared with replacing a physical appliance and rebuilding the cache.” Read More »

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How a Customer Crisis Ten Years Ago Helped Me Understand the Challenges of Cloud Service Creation Today (Part 1)

If you are already offering cloud services from your data center, or are starting your planning to do so, there are some key initial questions I’d advise you consider.  And they’re not about the technical aspects of data center architecture!  You find yourself asking “what cloud services should we offer?” and “How do we evolve what we offer today”.  You may, post launch, also find yourself asking “Why is the take up to our cloud services not as big as we initially forecast?”.  Before you say “aha –  these are questions for service providers offering cloud services” .. I would argue that these questions are fundamental to enterprise and public sector organizations too – assuming that you intend to provide cloud services to your user community that help them do their jobs.  Following one of my colleagues who blogged earlier that, with cloud services, “you need to think like a product manager”, I will assert here that there are some key lessons from product management that can help you in creating cloud services that are actually useful to your customer and/or your internal clients and stakeholders.

As you may have noticed from my previous blogs, I’ve worked in product management of both products and services for a while (since 1997 in fact, when I moved from software engineering into the “dark side” :-) ) …. so what lessons have I learned that may help you address the challenges of creating and defining new cloud services?

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