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A Cloud Management Solution You Can Believe In, Or Better Yet, Bank On

February 1, 2013 at 9:45 am PST

Guest Blogger: Yair Dolev (@CiscoCloudY) brings extensive experience in enterprise application development and management of advanced data center virtualization technology products to Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Technology Group. Prior to Cisco, Yair was Director of Product Management at data center automation authority Tidal Software, and managed the groundbreaking Azul Virtual Machine products at Azul Systems, which enabled data centers to run large Java workloads on highly scalable, optimized hardware. 

In my last blog entry, I told you about some of the most fundamental new concepts in Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) v3.1 and how they help address top-of-mind issues for our customers. This time I’d like to address a matter no less significant.

At the core of every cloud initiative there always lurks a concern about the sustained viability of such a comprehensive transformation – and this applies to adoption of a new cloud operating model as well as to the deployment of the new technology required. It boils down to two things: trust and cost. Can I trust that this solution will still fit me in the future, and how much will I really have to pay for this fit?

One of the things I really like about Cisco IAC is that it’s built around a core software platform that allows for an amazing level of flexibility and extensibility. Our software can be configured and adapted to closely fit what your IT organization wants to offer to meet your unique business needs. The user portal can be made to look different and behave differently for a variety of users, and it can enforce your organization’s policies and controls. The orchestration engine is adaptable to model a wide range of customer processes, and it’s extensible to communicate with other IT operations management software, OSS/BSS tools or infrastructure systems. Our solution can be extended beyond infrastructure services, to encompass a broad range of IT and business services at the platform and application layer (more on this later). The best news is: you can protect the investment you made so that the changes persist through future product updates. Let’s review some of these key capabilities:

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Why Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 Matters for Enterprise Private Clouds

November 2, 2012 at 11:28 am PST

Guest Blogger: Yair Dolev (@CiscoCloudY) brings extensive experience in enterprise application development and management of advanced data center virtualization technology products to Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Technology Group. Prior to Cisco, Yair was Director of Product Management at data center automation authority Tidal Software, and managed the groundbreaking Azul Virtual Machine products at Azul Systems, which enabled data centers to run large Java workloads on highly scalable, optimized hardware. 

What do IT managers want? Speaking with customers about their plans to adopt a private cloud, we get to glimpse into the wild world of enterprise IT transformation. Customers have been telling us about how their business environment is rapidly changing, and many share their elaborate vision for becoming a sophisticated IT as a Service organization. We, in turn, have shared with them the capabilities of our newly released Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud version 3.1 (Cisco IAC). I am delighted to see how Cisco IAC 3.1 resonates so well with IT teams. Here I mention some highlights of this newly upgraded cloud management solution.

First off, we’ve made it easy to leverage more of the infrastructure footprint for via the cloud. Customers often own different infrastructure stacks, whether by choice as a hedge, or by chance, as a result of mergers. They might have a vBlock, a FlexPod, and another asset that uses, say- HP servers. A cloud system should not require complete infrastructure homogeneity. With IAC 3.1, each infrastructure pod (regardless of the vendor) is treated as one “Compute POD” (Point of Delivery), with multiple PODs all connected to and managed by one unified resource management layer.

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Five Cool Things about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1

Some would say that cloud has passed the peak of inflated expectations.   After that stage in the development of a new technology or trend the tough work begins.  We in the Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Group have done just that in releasing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Version 3.1.  In the past four weeks I have presented this cloud self-service and orchestration platform to well over 30 existing customers and others interested in what all the noise is.  The response has made me extremely proud of our team.

One:  Our UI is so intuitive that you don’t need a manual.  The Cisco Cloud Portal delivers a uniquely intuitive experience for the roles of cloud administrator, organization technical administrator, and end user.  Private cloud can be as easy as Amazon Web Services.

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How Much is This Gonna Cost? Price Models for IT Infrastructure

October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am PST

Steve Watkins, Guest Blogger

Steve Watkins is a Consulting Systems Engineer for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.  He came to Cisco as part of the newScale acquisition in 2011.  He has been helping customers manage the migration to IT as a Service (ITaaS) since 2004.

 

Showback and Chargeback have become increasingly hot topics for IT, especially infrastructure teams.  This is fuelled at least in part by the general acceptance of cloud computing, including private clouds and SaaS applications.   Chargeback (and even Showback) are great ways of affecting behavior of the consumers of IT.   It keeps consumers from demanding an unreasonable amount of services, and encourages them to use of what has already been invested in.  There is also a growing mandate from Finance to make IT accountable for its spend, or at the very least to justify any requests for further investment. So infrastructure teams find themselves in the unexpected position of defining prices for the services traditionally offered.   Most have no idea where to start.

Several vendors have produced offerings to help manage the showback/chargeback business case.  This post will not discuss any vendor in detail.  Instead, I want to talk about philosophy.

Broadly speaking, there are two major approaches to creating a price model for IT.  There is the Utility-based model, in which pricing derived from actual consumption of CPU cycles, RAM, bandwidth, storage, etc.  In this model, if you stood up a virtual machine for one week you would only pay for the actual amount CPU cycles and storage you consumed.

Alternately, there is Service-based pricing, which advocates a fixed price based on either the service itself or some other unit of measure such as hours, etc.  In this model, if you stood up a virtual machine for one week you would pay for how many hours the VM was active, whether you used it or not.

I always council my customers to adopt service-based pricing.  I think utility-based pricing is the wrong approach for IT departments, especially infrastructure teams.  Here are my reasons:

1.INFLEXIBLE – Utility pricing is asset based, and therefore assumes that the assets will remain more-or-less the same.  The model breaks down when you introduce changes, like renting infrastructure from public providers or changing service levels.  What about if I offer VDI next year?  That may mean two different types of pricing models, which gets even more complex.  A service-based pricing scheme works with all services.

2.POOR CAPACITY MANAGEMENT – by only charging for the CPU cycles you actually consume, it encourages users to stand up systems and leave them in place.. which is exactly what we don’t want.  Think of renting a car: you rent a car for 4 days but only drive it for a total of 3 hours, you still have to pay for all for days.  If I just paid when I actually drove it, I would keep it all the time.  We want to encourage users to return unused assets. Which leads to..

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Looking back at Oracle OpenWorld: Intelligent Automation and Oracle on UCS

October 17, 2011 at 11:28 am PST

In case you missed it, the Cisco Intelligent Automation team was at Oracle OpenWorld a couple weeks ago. This fall has been packed with events for our team, ranging from major partner shows like SAP TechEd and VMworld to local Cisco Tech Days – and we’re at VMworld in Copenhagen this week.

That’s because our Intelligent Automation software solutions are relevant across the entire IT landscape. The more resources and applications that Cisco Intelligent Automation manages, the more our customers achieve efficiencies in their data center – including for Oracle applications and database management.

The Oracle event was a success for Intelligent Automation. We had three theater presentations and two demo pods about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler for Oracle enterprise applications running on Cisco UCS. We had great discussions about the heterogeneous adapter framework built into these solutions and showed our self-service provisioning and cross-application workload automation capabilities.

Here’s the presentation highlighting the Intelligent Automation solution at OracleWorld:

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