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R&D Cloud solutions within the Corporate Environment

With “clouds” being the hot new term in IT, many high level executives are looking for ways to incorporate clouds into their enterprise environment. Sometimes, these decisions are rushed, and poorly designed solutions are thrown into place. These solutions almost always fail to gain traction within the corporation due to lackluster features, or they are just plain too hard to use. Cloud solutions in the corporate environment can be a very powerful tool that can extend to all parts of the company.  It just needs the proper design and implementation to be successful. Remember, just how every corporation is different, so needs to be the cloud solution.

There are many different use-cases for clouds within the Corporate environment.  From having production cloud environments for spinning up additional servers within the data-center when the load is getting to high on key websites, to having the ability to move Virtual machines globally based on disaster recovery.  With that said, I will talk about one solution that I believe is typically a very high “bang for your buck”, and one that can be provisioned and utilized quicker than most solutions mentioned.  This solution is having a private internal cloud within the Corporate environment for research and development.

Having a private R&D/Testing cloud is definitely a win-win solution for all.  Everyone I have ever talked to across multiple companies always complains that their lab is inadequate.  This goes from DevOPS to Network OPS. In order for them to procure a test machine, or resources in general, they must jump through tons of hoops, and hope in the end that its successful.  But think about it, what’s one of the most important processes within a Corporation?  Testing and R&D of course. You don’t want to roll out that new code fresh from the developers laptop onto the production application servers.  You also don’t want to test that new firewall model live in production.  Most Corporations provide services to users, as that is how they make money and become successful. With the most successful companies having a large web presence for their services, if they are unavailable, some users move on, especially with Gen X/Y customers.  This only increases the need for a great R&D lab. Think about it.  Joe in Development needs to test some new code changes. With an online portal, he has his virtual machine available to him to test within minutes versus days or weeks in the past.  Jane on the Network Team wants to test out some router changes, so she gets a virtual environment built where she can spin-up virtual routers and switches to test prior to production roll-out.  This is a perfect use case for products like GNS3 and Cisco’s upcoming CML ( Cisco Modeling Lab ).  Also something to note, is that a lot of vendors offer virtualized appliances that can be spun-up and tested in these types of environment very quickly.  How great would it be to be able to test a vendors product within your virtualized lab.  The examples are endless, and all of them add a very important value-add to any Corporation.

This type of solution is currently deployed within many Corporations worldwide, and notably within Cisco itself.  From what I hear professionally and from my own experiences, this solution itself has made the testing/RD process much more agile and powerful.  And from what I have read, has been a great success at Cisco.  So next time you think about cloud environments for your corporation, ask yourself or other employees if the R&D lab is successful.  This may end up being a great value-add on some low hanging fruit that could really help your company in the long run.

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