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Cisco Cloudverse, Hypervisors, Partners and Real Cloud Deployments

I have had many customers and partners ask me about Cisco Cloudverse in the past 2 weeks.  One of the top questions I get asked is whether we support other hypervisors besides VMware.  Lew Tucker in his interview in Information week covered it well:  http://www.informationweek.com/news/cloud-computing/infrastructure/232300123 .  Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud works well with many hypervisors and we have seen many successful clouds built on vCenter, HyperV, and Linux KVM.  We find many customers look at multiple hypervisors to prevent vendor lock-in and all the issues associated with that.  The world of many clouds is indeed a complex place as organizations building a private cloud have to decide on:

  • Hypervisor(s)
  • Server Vendor(s)
  • Network Vendor(s)
  • Storage Vendor(s)
  • Whether to use a converged infrastructure model or not
  • Cloud Automation software, (will the virtualization vendor’s software be enough for a pragmatic cloud?)
  • IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, or all of these models
  • Integrations into pre-existing IT operations management tools
  • What to expose in the Front Office (Service Catalog and Self Service Portal)
  • Details of the Back office (automation workflows, policies, models)
  • Whether to have any hybrid cloud models deployed.

I have seen Cisco Partners play a strategic role in helping their customers make sense of this complex playing field.  They key item is to first understand what type of cloud an organization wants to deploy and what the Front Office should look like.  Oftentimes I find organizations have a lot of opinions and pre-existing work on the technical provisioning, but have not thought much about what to present to end users / consumers of the cloud.  Focusing on what the Cloud Portal would present to the ultimate consumers is really where the transformation to cloud needs to start.  We tend to get wrapped around the axle with all the details of the infrastructure provisioning and leave little time to the end user experience.  That is a really a career limiting move when it comes to your organization adopting cloud.

Our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution, a key element of Cisco Unified Management, is a new paradigm for Cloud Automation and Management, derived from the leverage of newScale, Tidal, and Linesider acquisitions.  It is both a policy and orchestration centric solution than can solve pragmatic cloud deployment needs, versus simply adopting one model (such as vCloud Director).   The following figure details the considerations of policy and console based solutions versus catalog and orchestration centric solutions:

Virtually all of the customer conversations I have highlight the fact that customers want both Physical and Virtual provisioning and cloud automation.  This is where Cisco Unified Management  which includes the Cisco UCS Manager for Physical Server “virtualization” and Cisco Network Services Management for Physical and Virtual Network Services “virtualization”.  These two technologies, alongside the Cisco Cloud Portal and the Cisco Process Orchestrator are key for creating both a physical and virtual cloud.  This is what the most pragmatic of customers are looking for when transform to cloud.  It is indeed a universe of clouds and Cisco can help.

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How to Make the Business Thankful for IT. Give them Apps!

Think about it, when was the last time the business said “thank you” to IT? It’s probably been a while. Unfortunately, all too often we hear complaints that IT is too slow, or that IT is the department of “no”.

Deploying a private cloud is one way to help turn IT into the department of “yes”, with faster and more responsive IT service delivery. The customers of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud have compressed the cycle time for IT provisioning from weeks to minutes. That means that project managers and application developers no longer have to wait for IT – they can speed up their projects and get business applications up and running more quickly.

And if there’s one golden rule to remember for your private cloud solution, it’s that the business wants apps. They’ll be thankful if you can provision and manage their applications in a cloud environment with consistency, reliability and speed.

So if you’re interested in on-demand application delivery for your private cloud, check out this presentation from Cisco Intelligent Automation and our ecosystem partner rPath:

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The Value of Orchestration: What Did Captain Kirk Know That Scotty Didn’t? & The Roach Motel Infrastructure Issue

Recently, a customer asked me what was the value of using automation to operate a private cloud?  It was a good question. Working  in the middle of the reality distorition field of the cloud industry I take it for granted that everyone knows automation’s benefits.

Fundamentally, automation tools help to reduce labor costs, rationalize  consumption and increase utilization.

Costs are lower because the labor required to configure and deploy is eliminate. This automation is possible by creating standard infrastructure offerings. Standard infrastructure offering make possible a new operational model: to move from the artesanal approach of delivering infrastructure ,where every system and configuration is uniqe, to the industrialized approach, that ensures repeatability, quality and agility.  It’s the difference between custom tailoring and standardized sizes at The Gap. Both have their place, but one costs more.

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USS Cisco Captain’s Log on Networking Tech Field Day 2

Captain’s log, October 27, 2011:

The USS Cisco took off for the Gestalt IT Networking Tech Field Day 2 with Captain Omar Sultan (see picture below, courtesy of techfieldday.com), Data Center Solutions Sr. Marketing Manager, at the helm. Tech Field Day networking industry experts gathered on the bridge, cleverly disguised as the Cisco Cloud Innovation Center (CICC) Lab, for an informal, no-holds-barred conversation on recent Nexus portfolio announcements, the continued march towards automated provisioning of cloud services and ever-evolving VM networking technologies.

Captain Omar at Cisco Networking Tech Field Day 2

For those who weren’t at the event or haven’t seen the video recording yet, please excuse my unabashed geekiness, but you’ll have to watch the first minute of the video to get the above reference. As a new member of the Data Center Solutions Marketing team, this is also my first foray into the Cisco blog-o-sphere, so I hope to share some fresh viewpoints on the day’s events.

Several things were made very apparent during the Tech Field Day session:

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The New Bronze Age: SLA’s too high and they prevent innovation, too low and they prevent operation

Where I grew up, you could buy individual cigarettes. While I played ball at the park, I’d see the young men approach the paper kiosk to get a cigarette. Not a pack, just one lonely stick. The customers overpaid on per-cigarette basis but it helped them manage their budget I’d watch them and think nothing of it. It was normal.

People also could buy shampoo in ketchup-sized packages. Unilever still sells them in India. I grew up in the third world, it was the bronze age, but only only on good days.  We’re back to bronze with cloud computing, and I’m hyper ready.

For me, the biggest invention cloud computing brings about is unreliable level services. And how important it is to have low quality service levels available on a metered basis. A metered basis the customer can manage.  Hear me out.

Today, Amazon’s block storage is unpredictable for databases. The latency in the network is funky. Machines fail to start. Machines don’t fail to fail. Service levels in the cloud don’t exist.

This is not your typical datacenter. It’s a bronze age datacenter. No great expectations, but diminished expectations.  And for a young segment of the market, it’s just right and couldn’t be be better.

I sat down with a young start up and asked them why do they use cloud computing if it’s so unreliable, if it requires so much more coding.

Answer: They have more time than money. And the money they have, they have to be parsimonious, avaricious and cautious. They are ok coding more to deal with the cloud’s weirdness. But running out of cash would kil them. The bronze age suits them just fine.

So all the cool kids in Silicon Valley are super excited about writing software for “Designed-to-Fail’ infrastructure. We can’t wait for a chaos monkey to spank us. Well…  that’s a San Francisco thing.

So what’s the lesson of this meditation? It’s that service levels are important. Too high and they prevent innovation, too low and they prevent operation.

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