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Bookends That Prevent Your Cloud from Getting Away From You

Cloud platforms are an increasingly viable option for a growing set of enterprise and service provider workloads. A recent IDC report estimated that private cloud software, including hosted private cloud, represented 62% of IT spending in 2012.

Cisco is a unique cloud provider because it delivers solutions for the two critical management bookends for your journey to the cloud. The first bookend, Cisco UCS Director, automates converged and multi-vendor infrastructure, and I’ve written a lot about that. Today I’m focusing on the second bookend that completes the journey, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC).

Cisco IAC delivers all the critical elements required to deliver speed, flexibility and the competitive innovation promised by cloud-based deployments. These include:
• A self-service portal and standardized menu of services
• Service delivery automation
• Operational process automation
• Resource management automation
• Service life cycle automation

There are a lot of value statements about cloud but they all center on these basic propositions:

1) Cloud delivers simple, abstracted environments that are presented to end users for consumption on-demand. The business experiences faster and easier development and deployment of new applications or services.
2) Cloud allows organizations to focus on what makes them different and effective rather than on mundane tasks that do not add value to the business.

So, does cloud do this? Here are two customer stories that answer this question with real evidence.

ASE-IT is a service provider that was founded in 2001 and has used cloud automation to gain a competitive advantage and grow to one of the top 10 service providers in Australia.

Aurecon provides engineering, management and specialist technical services for both the private and public sector. Faced with a rapidly expanding business and a data center that had reached the end of its life, Aurecon utilized cloud automation to get closer to their stakeholders and develop new innovative services.

By deploying Cisco IAC, both companies reported the ability to:
• Accommodate rapid business growth without adding additional IT staff
• Standardize their IT environments providing the ability to grow the size, scope and
scale of services delivered to their customers
• Increase their customer base and global presence as a result of the nimbleness and agility of their IT environments
• Increase collaboration among development and IT teams resulting in new automation use cases to drive even greater innovation

In order to have visibility into your cloud and manage it properly to achieve your business goals, you need a bookend solution like Cisco IAC. Otherwise, cloud control can and will drift, and your organization will feel the impact as goals become harder to reach.

To learn more about Cisco IAC, you can watch this video or visit the Cisco IAC website.

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ACE Network: Empowering Users with Self-Service Provisioning and Support Tools

When the ACE pilot network began inside Cisco, it supported a much smaller audience.  In those days we only had around 1000 users, and for the most part these were very technically savvy people.  Mostly they were power users, who could use tools normally provided to our engineering group with ease.  As our ACE “service introduction” network has grown to support over 13,000 users, we are now reaching a much wider audience that still wants to use leading-edge, first-deployment services; yet, with production-level support and ease of use.  To keep up with the needs of our evolving user base, we needed to reduce the amount of time our team was spending on routine provisioning and support tasks – which can take up a lot of time.

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Case Study: Cisco’s Private Cloud and Lessons Learned

This is my talk I gave last week at Cloud Connect in Santa Clara. One slide that did not make the deck are the top reasons why people struggle with building private clouds

  1. Management and operations process.
  2. Culture
  3. Funding Model
  4. Service description and self-service interface

As my deck says, “I got 99 problems, but the tech ain’t one”

Building a “real” cloud involves the following success factors

  1. Well articulated corporate strategy with phases (crawl, walk, run)
  2. Engage existing automation teams for skills
  3. Well-defined, achievable service definitions that are automatable, volume
  4. Platform that does not lock into a specific hypervisor or cloud API
  5. A team that is trained (with specific roles) on the solution so that they can extend it in combination with the vendor’s services organization
  6. Get into production ASAP to drive value and organizational learning
  7. Union of OOB features and specific configurations for your environment.
  8. Articulated strategy for integrating with certain existing/deployed IT assets, and using the new “Cloud” as a way to shed IT baggage
  9. Recognition that your Cloud Management Platform is extensible to other areas in the IT strategy and that partner products may be necessary as well
  10. Have a suite / framework so you can maintain in the long term. And use external resources
  11. Need clear articulation of career paths once you start removing “button pushers.” design, operations, not implementation
  12. Focus on process outcomes, not process activities. Or end up with innefficient processes

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Self-Service Arrives to Workload Automation. Have Your Users Paint Your Fence.

Self-Service Arrives to Workload Automation. Have Your Users Paint Your Fence.

It’s close to 11 p.m. on the last day of the quarter. And I.T. gets an urgent request to post-pone a closing of the books process because there’s a large order stuck in the CRM system.  This means that it won’t hit the books and be recorded as a sale.  The customer won’t get her order, the salesperson won’t get paid and finance will show a missing number.

Making matters more complicated, there’s a large marketing workload to process sentiment analysis that kicks off after close of business.  That whole workload looks like this:
image002.png@01CDAE1C.37FBAB50

This generates an urgent call to the team that manages the workload automation platform: Hold the closing workflow!  Stop the presses! And postpone the Hadoop workflow.

The admins have to get to their console find the job and pause it.  Not a huge deal, except there are thousands of jobs to be run and hundreds of business people calling on a regular basis, at all kind of hours.

Some customers have created help desks for their workload automation teams or even off-shore to serve these kinds of requests.

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Unlock Your Converged Infrastructure’s Potential

Successful IT managers today and in the future need to quickly adapt to changing business strategies. But how does IT increase efficiency, support more applications and provide additional services with flat or decreasing IT budgets?

In my previous blog, I discussed how Cisco, EMC, NetApp, and VCE introduced converged infrastructures to increase IT efficiency and significantly reduce data center costs. I also addressed the breakdown of IT time and resources between management and maintenance (75 percent) and value-add services (25 percent). So how does IT flip that ratio and spend more time on innovation and less on routine administration?

Watch our new video to learn how Cisco Cloupia—through automated, comprehensive management of converged infrastructure solutions based on Cisco UCS and Nexus—empowers IT to better align quickly with business strategy. By doing so, the software helps drive a positive shift in that 75:25 ratio, providing infrastructure administrators with greater agility and flexibility.

There are a number of converged infrastructure management solutions, but Cisco Cloupia is unique in the industry by delivering:

•Simplicity
In less than 4 hours, you can be experiencing the benefits of automated converged infrastructure management with Cisco Cloupia. The solution installs in less than 1 hour without any service engagement. (In one of our labs at Cisco, the solution was installed in 15 minutes.) Following installation and 2-3 hours of training, conducted by our partners, you can be experiencing all the benefits of the software.

•Comprehensive Management
Cisco Cloupia is the only solution on the market today that manages the leading converged infrastructures from Cisco, EMC, NetApp, and VCE from the same management console. Today’s data centers are heterogeneous, and management tools need to accommodate multiple vendor solutions. Cisco Cloupia enables you to choose the best converged infrastructure solution to meet your business requirements.

•Single pane of glass
Using one tool that manages both physical and virtual compute, network, storage, and virtualization reduces complexity and training time for your staff, helping drive that shift in the 75:25 ratio towards innovation.

•Model-based orchestration
Cisco Cloupia’s unique model-based orchestration enables IT teams to build and execute repeatable physical and virtual infrastructure workflows without complex custom scripts and expensive system integration engagements.

•Greater IT Management and Control
Cisco Cloupia can manage multi-tenant or secure multi-tenant environments, permitting virtualized and non-virtualized workloads to securely run side-by-side while their associated resources remain independent.

As data centers seek to innovate and meet changing business requirements, they need automation and management to ensure that they experience the full potential of their converged infrastructure. These are just some of the ways that Cisco Cloupia can help. To learn more, go here.

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