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The Evolution of IT Process Automation: A Move Toward Service-Oriented Orchestration

Let’s talk about Cisco Process Orchestrator. We recently released version 3.0 — and there are a lot of exciting features that have been introduced with this new release of our IT Process Automation (ITPA) / Run Book Automation (RBA) software.

Cisco Process Orchestrator is the foundational engine on which Cisco has built a number of data center-, application-, and network-focused automation solutions. These include our cloud management solution (Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud), which embeds this orchestration engine for cloud service automation and helps organizations deploy private, public, or hybrid clouds; an SAP-focused solution resold by SAP (SAP IT Process Automation by Cisco), which lowers TCO of your SAP applications and databases by integrating events and alert management data with incident response information; and a network troubleshooting and triage solution, which helps customers manage repetitive tasks and aids remediation of common issues with network operations.

In this post, I’m going to feature a few of the major highlights of the new version 3.0 release:

  • A new service-oriented methodology for service encapsulation: design workflows that match to the service ordered by the business units
  • Flexible automation packs and solution accelerators: build, version, re-purpose content to drive solutions
  • Service automation integrated with Cisco Prime Service Catalog: optimizing the end-to-end service delivery process

Service-Oriented Orchestration

Building ITPA and RBA workflows has never been easier. With Cisco Process Orchestrator‘s service-oriented orchestration you can move away from traditional static, script-based run-book automation and IT process-level automation. We have built a modeling platform where automation aligns with the highest-level services and allows you to model IT service the way that a high-level service is delivered.

CPO SOO1A shift from static workflow design to dynamic, service-oriented design

In this “top down” approach, designing the services and their desired state is the initial step in automation design. The next step is defining the process actions for these services and then implementing the specific process workflows that traverse traditional IT boundaries to act on and automate the necessary elements to deliver the service.

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Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 4.0

I’m at our annual Cisco Live Europe conference in Milan this week – it’s a great event and a great opportunity to introduce new innovations to customers.  In fact, today we announced the latest release of our cloud management software solution: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) version 4.0.

I recently wrote about the new Forrester Private Cloud Wave, and how Cisco was ranked in the top three overall and #1 in strategy.  Our high marks in strategy in that report were based in large part on the roadmap and strategic vision that is being delivered through this new cloud management release – together with the latest release of Cisco UCS Director for infrastructure management.

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a cloud management platform designed for enterprise and public sector IT organizations building private and hybrid clouds, as well as service providers deploying public or virtual private cloud services.  This is the fourth major release for Cisco IAC – and it’s a big one.

With the new 4.0 release, Cisco is breaking ground by providing both the out-of-the-box functionality that our customers are asking for and the flexibility that we know they need as they extend their cloud deployments beyond basic IaaS.

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New Independent Analyst Research on Private Cloud Software Solutions

In previous blog posts, my colleagues have written about Cisco’s leadership in cloud infrastructure (#1) and cloud professional services (#1). And as I’ve blogged about in the past, we have a growing portfolio of cloud and infrastructure management software solutions. Now Cisco is getting recognition as a strong performer in cloud software innovation and strategy.

Cisco was among the select companies that Forrester invited to participate in its new Forrester Wave report, The Forrester Wave: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013. The report focuses on commercial software offerings for enterprise private cloud deployments, ranking the 10 most significant vendors (from an initial field of 27) based on 61 different criteria – with more than 100 customer interviews. You can download the full report here.

In this evaluation, Cisco received the highest score in strategy and is in the top three overall for our current offering.   Read More »

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Learn about Cisco’s Data Center and Cloud Management Software at #VMworld

vmw

This has been an exciting year for the Cisco Data Center and Cloud Management team – and we’ll be featuring several recent data center software innovations at VMworld this week. You won’t want to miss our new demos of Cisco UCS Director (formerly Cloupia), Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC), and Cisco Prime Network Services Controller (formerly Virtual Network Management Center) in the Cisco booth!

You can also stop by the VCE booth to learn about unified infrastructure and cloud management for Vblock, with UCS Director and Cisco IAC – we’ll have presentations in both the Cisco and VCE theaters. And in either the Cisco booth or the NetApp booth, you can learn about UCS Director for managing your FlexPod.

As you’ll see below, Cisco Prime Network Services Controller is a key component in several demos in the Cisco booth, including the new Nexus 1000V InterCloud and Dynamic Fabric Automation. You can read more about Prime Network Services Controller at VMworld in this blog post.

Schedule 1:1 meetings with Cisco executives or ping @CiscoUM (Cisco Unified Management) on twitter for an informal meet up. We’d be happy to connect you with one of our management software experts.

DEMOS:

  • Cisco UCS Director for Converged Infrastructure Management. See the latest version of the powerful Cisco UCS Director solution for managing both physical and virtual infrastructure in your FlexPod, Vblock, or VSPEX environments.  You can also see a demo of UCS Director integrated with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC).  Showcasing: UCS Director and IAC. New demo!
  • Cloud Management for Multi-Cloud and DevOps Solutions.  Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud now provides solution accelerator kits that enable you to integrate with multiple cloud environments (e.g. VMware vCloud, OpenStack, Amazon Web Services), and with Puppet and Chef for configuration management. Showcasing: Intelligent Automation for Cloud. New demo!
  • Cloud Networking Services with the Nexus 1000V. Demonstrates vPath integration with Citrix VPX and Imperva WAF, with Prime Network Services Controller. Showcasing: Nexus 1000V and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!
  • Hybrid Cloud Networking with Nexus 1000V InterCloud. See how to build a highly secure hybrid cloud environment, providing Layer 2 networking connectivity from your  enterprise data center to a public cloud environment, with Nexus 1000V InterCloud. Showcasing: Nexus 1000V InterCloud and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!
  • Simplify, Optimize and Automate with Dynamic Fabric Automation. Find out how Dynamic Fabric Automation simplifies both physical server and virtual machine deployments in your data center, with automated network provisioning. Showcasing: Prime Data Center Network Manager and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!

And make sure you join us for our theater presentations to learn from the Cisco Unified Management product experts -- every day this week at VMworld. See below for the schedule.

THEATER PRESENTATIONS:

SUNDAY

Go Beyond IaaS with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

5:00 – 5:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation: Simplified DC Network Operations

6:00 – 6:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

MONDAY

Cisco IAC Provides Cloud Management on Vblock Systems

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

Transform Cloud Automation with VCE, Cisco, and EMC

4:00 -- 4:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Unified Cloud Management

4:40 – 5:10pm, Location: VMworld Solutions Theater

Go Beyond IaaS with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

5:30 – 5:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

TUESDAY

UCS Director for Vblock Systems Management

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

FlexPod Infrastructure Management and UCS Director

3:30 – 3:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

Enabling ITaaS through Cisco Domain Ten

4:30 – 4:50pm Location: Cisco booth

Prime Network Services Controller: Deploying Cloud Network Services

5:00 – 5:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Transform Cloud Automation with VCE, Cisco and EMC

4:00 – 4:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

WEDNESDAY

Unified Infrastructure Management with Cisco UCS Director

11:30 – 11:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation: Simplified DC Network Operations

12:00 – 12:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco IAC and UCS Director Provide Unified Management for Vblock 

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

Make sure you follow us on twitter at @CiscoUM – and feel free to reach me at @Carolinamfdz if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you at the show!

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Why Cloud Financial Management is a Requirement for Cloud Computing Success

photo-David-Linthicum-cropped-481x198Guest Blog: David Linthicum, Cloud Computing Visionary, Author, Speaker

Cloud Cruiser and Cisco have partnered to provide an out-of-the-box cloud financial management system for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud. Through this partnership, Cloud Cruiser provides visibility into the costs of physical, virtualized, and cloud resources, as well as storage, network, application, and non-compute IT resources. We can track both the costs and the revenue realized from services being deployed, which enables service providers and enterprise IT departments to manage the profitability of their cloud services and align their business goals with IT spending.

I’m proud to be participating in a Webinar co-sponsored by Cloud Cruiser and Cisco, which will discuss the topic of cloud financial management.  Why?  Well, cloud financial management is one of the more important concepts in the world of cloud computing.  Yet, it’s also the most misunderstood.

While many cloud providers think of cloud financial management systems as mere billing systems, they are much more.  The core notion is to approach cloud financial management as a set of business processes and automated services that need to coexist with the existing cloud computing services.  These services leverage an on-demand, pay-as-you-go cloud model.  They offer a complete cloud financial management solution designed to lower IT costs, and profitably scale the cloud services business.

The objective of a cloud financial management system is to provide cost transparency, which will allow the service providers to see all costs.  Moreover, it will show how they map to resources consumed, as well as provide this information to the consumer of those resources.  Moreover, the concepts and technology should give the cloud provider cost accountability features, which allow charges to be assigned to the appropriate consumer of the cloud services, and in the appropriate amounts.  This includes either internal or external cloud service consumers.

The use of cloud financial management, as an approach and underlying technology, should offer the cloud provider cost empowerment, which allows the cloud financial management system to place fine-grained data in the hands of the customer (service consumer) so they can manage costs directly.  Finally, there is a need for cost management.  This will allow those charged with monitoring cost to understand the use of the resources, and make sure that costs are in line with the budgetary constraints of the service consumer.

So, just billing systems?  Hardly.  As more service providers come on-line, offering up everything from pre-built business processes that are on-demand, or centralized security and management services, to more traditional IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, the need for cloud financial management technology grows.

The use of a cloud financial management system is a requirement for cloud service providers to manage and control costs, as well as provide the proper cost and usage accounting for their customers or cloud service consumers. Cloud financial management systems, such as the Cloud Cruiser Platform, provide most of the features and functions that service providers will require, including:

•  Heterogeneous data collection

•  Data analysis and structuring

•  Data aggregation and filtering

•  Hierarchical data mapping

•  Cost and price modeling

•  Budget alert processing

As cloud providers grow in numbers, the use of these systems will no longer be something that’s desirable.  It will be an absolute necessity, given the growth of cloud computing services, and the number of consumers who leverage these services.  Costs have to be monitored, analyzed, and controlled in order for cloud computing to be a business success.

This webinar is not to be missed!

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