I had a customer ask me last week what differentiated our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution. He had reviewed many of the vendors in the space of private cloud software stacks including some of the virtualization vendors and was somewhat impressed to see that overall the industry was making progress in building out these solutions. He did have a nagging thought in the back of his head that going with many vendors meant he was getting a “prefabricated” cloud experience much in the way prefab homes are offered.
His management wanted a private cloud, wanted it fast, but was not sure exact what a private cloud would look like or how it would operate. His enterprise had specific needs, whether they be naming conventions for VMs or physical servers, or any number of integration points into 3rd partner products. What his company really wanted was a home built to their specific needs for their private cloud. This did not mean a fully custom house, but something that could use standard components (think of all the standard construction components we use now a days) to build a designed to spec home.
This did not mean they needed high end digs right away but the ability to start in a pragmatic way and to enhance, extend, and build upon that first home. This requires an underlying framework that can be used to build a company’s first pragmatic cloud and to grow up, much like my 63 year old house in its fourth remodel over the years. The basic platform is present, we are just making much needed changes to support the needs of 2012.
After we got on the same page about clouds and why he would want to build his companies 5-10 year strategy of cloud on an extensible framework, we moved on to the composition of the solution: product license, Cisco TAC support, and Cisco Advanced Services. Given a clear business driver for the private cloud (such as in-sourcing of rogue VMs in the cloud, or driving infrastructure support of elastic business needs, or leverage Cisco network functionality for multi-tenancy) the financial conversation resulted in a positive outcome for both sides. Of note was that building this individual’s Enterprise Private Cloud means that he was going to consume a good amount of Cisco Advanced Services. To him this was a good thing as he was leveraging the knowledge and experience of the Cisco team to build and configure his cloud to start out and to scale out. Just like when I am building a new great room in my house, I want the best people figuring out structural loads, making construction recommendations for extensions and to build out those special design features.
That is the thing about REAL private clouds, they need effort to configure it the way your company wants to operate it.