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My First Cloud: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Starter Edition

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.

Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud -- Starter Edition. Or as I like to call it, My First Cloud.

I’ve written in the past of cloud being journey to a new operational model and thus makes demand on the technology, process and organizational model.  It changes the relationship between the provider and the consumer of a service.

This operational model is one with resource pools available on demand, metered, pay as you use.  The reality for many enterprises is this is aspirational and not a realistic first step.

Today, he resource pools are funded by department, there’s no automation or self-service to meet the on-demand self-service aspect of cloud.

And there’s lots of fears beyond security; like the fear of rampant waste and capacity outages.

There’s also the issue of complexity and where will the skills to do service design and automation will come from? Global 2000 companies can easily afford big ticket consulting engagements, but smaller ones can’t.

The channel is key to serve the rest of the market but where are the channel partners for cloud?

So complexity and lack of expertise, in our view, were seriously hindering the adoption of cloud operations.

Our response is the first in a series of products to bring cloud operations capabilities to different market segments.  For example, the needs of a mid-size organization are very different than the needs of global enterprise and different again from a service provider.

Even in service provider, there are huge differences in operations and scale between traditional managed hosting provider, an outsourcer, a webscale company and a national telco or network provider.

So the way to simplify delivery for midsize business,  enterprise departments or smaller managed hosting provider is to embed an operational model, pre-packaged automation and a set of competent channel partners that can quickly and inexpensively turn on your first cloud at a reasonable price.

This is what Intelligent Automation Starter Edition represents: a simple, inexpensive way to get to a customer’s first cloud.

Customer’s can use it to learn how to operate the first basic offering; also, it’s upgradeable to Cisco’s Intelligent Automation -- Standard Edition when the customer  needs additional, more sophisticated service offering

I recommend start with a video demo.  Information page is here.

Jason wrote about it, so head there as well

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Cloud Owner Manifesto: 12 Habits of Successful Cloud Builders

People of IT:

A powerful global change has begun. Through cloud services and automation, people are discovering and inventing new ways to deliver IT services with blinding speed. As a direct result, IT Operations are changing — and those that adopt a pragmatic cloud are creating competitive differentiation for their business faster than most companies.

But there are many stones on the road to Damascus on which to stub you toes.

Some IT shops moving to a cloud are not yet ready to take ownership of that Private or Hybrid Cloud deployment or to change their operations. These shops will not be successful.

Some expect their vendor to build it and own it.  Other shops are relying on third parties. This will work at first but it will quickly get too expensive.

Finally, some of the visionaries want to own it themselves but don’t know where to start.  These organizations need to build a maturity roadmap that gets them started quickly and easily so they can learn what works and what needs improvement.

We have worked with a large number of organizations. This has given us perspective on the 12 habits of successful cloud implementations.  Here they are.

12 Habits of Successful Cloud Builders:

1.    They invest in training from their cloud automation software provider so that they can take ownership of and drive the technical work.
2.    Cloud builders are indeed that, their goal is to build:  over time they rely less on vendors and third party services to build their cloud; they have a plan for that transition.
3.    Moving to cloud requires new roles.  Builders define new roles in their organizations to take into account the new skills and competencies needed.  They think through career implications and pathways.
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API Compatibility: From cruising at self-service speed to “we gotta have a meeting”

Today’s announcement that Citrix is dropping support for OpenStack has reverberated through the clouderati sphere like a new Justin Bieber song through my niece’s third grade class. Super important but will not matter much when the next idol arrives.

In any case, a lot of smart people have written about it. I’ll leave them to explain the whole thing.

Cloud Avenue has a good in-depth coverage post. And so does James Staten of Forrester. Randy Bias also weighs in as well.  I’m sure I’m missing other worthy commentators.

But the post that most caught my attention came from Thorsten at Rightscale‘s.  We both share something in common: we both build products that connect to cloud API’s. Including vendor who have API’s that claim to be compatible EC2. This experience, I think provides a useful point of view when thinking about API compatibility. Not to mention it creates a jaundiced view of the human soul.

Thorsten writes.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll repeat it again: it’s the semantics of the resources in the cloud that matter, not the syntax of the API. This means that “API compatibility” has to reach very, very deep to be meaningful. Let me give you a couple of examples around EC2.

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Five Things That Successful Cloud Deployments Have in Common

Some people say that in the next few years that Infrastructure as a Service cloud deployments will be focused mostly on private clouds.  And then they say that enterprises will migrate to public clouds after they have become “experienced” in running a cloud.  About a year ago I could really see this story played out.  Now, fifteen months after we introduced Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, I have some different points of view.  I would have thought that by now that private cloud architectures would have begun to converge to a few standard patterns.  This has not happened.  The world is still diverging when it comes to both Private and Public cloud architectures.

I do see patterns arising in successful cloud deployments and here are some of the key ones:

#5:  Pragmatic Approach: IT shops that come with a long list of RFP requirements and questions take a long time to source a technology provider and to achieve production success.  Others that are pragmatic (can I say Agile in their approach) get to cloud quicker and learn from their successes and missteps alike.

#4:  They Have a Cloud Instance Roadmap: After a cloud deployment, some IT organizations think that is it, they are done, next project, my move to cloud is complete.  Hold it right there, did you know that cloud is not a single step where you through a switch, but a succession of deployments of great scope from one step to the next?  A roadmap is needed that covers:  hardware, network, storage infrastructure, virtualization technology and release version, management and orchestration software instance version and finally the services that you are offering to the end users and how the service catalog is changing over time.  Those that have a roadmap roughed out are generally more successful than those that have a big bang perspective.

#3: Appreciation for Challenge of Management of Change: Moving to cloud is a big change in an operating model; careers are created and new roles are defined.  How does an organization move to the new model with different technology, processes and people?  When a team proactively manages the change in the non-technical they ensure long term success.  It is not just about self service, cloud catalogs, orchestration, domain management and virtualization.  It is more about service designers and automation authors and changes in operational processes.

#2: Rise of the Cloud Architect: Since cloud is about a new operating model a new position and role is needed.  If you have a cloud project and do not have a cloud architect tying it all together from cost models, to hypervisors, to orchestration and orderable service definitions, you need a organization role tune up ASAP.

#1:  A Service Centric Approach: Most people get this one right away.  Service centric projects are the key focus for ITaaS.  However, I can’t tell you how many times when I am talking to an IT team, the opening bell results in a speeds and feeds conversation around provisioning that piece of infrastructure and that virtualization API.  If you ask the question about what services they want to offer their end users for self service ordering  you will get a request for more time to answer that question.  Service Centric IT shops will take the time to start first with the business requirements and the perspective from the end user point of view.  Transform your cloud project approach to a service centric agile project and you will go far.

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Automation and IT-as-a-Service at Cisco Live in Melbourne

We’re in the sporting and cultural capital of Australia this week for Cisco Live! Did you know that Melbourne is the only city in the world that has five international standard sporting facilities surrounding its central business district?

You might see a rugby match while in town, but I’d suggest you also tackle the Cisco Live World of Solutions expo.  We have an exciting demo to show you in the Cisco Data Centre booth: Intelligent Automation for Cloud, a key component of the Unified Management pillar of our Unified Data Center platform.

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a cloud management and orchestration software solution that complements Cisco UCS and Nexus to provide self-service on-demand provisioning of IT resources.  This new solution is becoming as ubiquitous as the sporting facilities in Melbourne.  Cisco partners including Alphawest / Optus, CSC, and VCE are also showcasing our Intelligent Automation for Cloud software in action at their booths.

Essentially, this solution will help you tackle the challenge of deploying infrastructure-as-a-service – and adopt an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) strategy. Here’s a short analyst video on delivering ITaaS with Cisco Intelligent Automation:

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