In about 2 weeks there will be a great webinar panel discussion on the business and technology architecture concerns in automating your cloud and how to measure the value. Unleashing automation solutions to do what they do best may make or break a company’s IT strategy over the next few quarters as those cloud journeys begin.
The webinar,IT Automation Unplugged, a panel discussion moderated by Glenn O’Donnell of Forrester will indeed be a cool event to listen in to. Not only has Glenn followed this space for many years but he also has some really insightful perspectives on the Journey to Cloud. This webinar has the potential to highlight some really pointed dialog between myself and Brad Adams of rPath, Nand Mulchandani of ScaleXtreme, and Luke Kanies of Puppetlabs. I bet the sparks might fly as we trade our perspectives on the huge demand for private and public clouds and need for enterprises to show value quickly.
This brings me to a great phrase I heard this week from one of our customers. It was used in the context of their employees using their company’s private cloud. It was “High Governance”. It was seriously lacking in their current solution which highly leveraged their virtualization vendor’s software. I probed them on what they meant by “High Governance”. It was mostly around ensuring that individuals that provision services would get access to only the services, cloud data center locations, and specific providers that they are entitled to. While this is not a new concept, the element that grabbed my attention was that IT shops have a strong need for different sourcing strategies based upon end user role, organization, location, and any number of policy settings in their Active Directory or LDAP.
“High Governance” means ensuring that your cloud users get ONLY what they are entitled to in your IT policy. No more generic UIs for generic users or uber UIs for unknown hypothetical users. The cloud is now a strongly governed personal experience, what a novel concept.
I wonder what the panel will think about this. Please attend if you get a chance.
If you missed Cisco Live earlier this month or if you didn’t get a chance to see our Intelligent Automation demos and attend our sessions, you will want to read this blog!
It was the busiest event of the year for Cisco’s Unified Data Center and Unified Management team, with over a dozen breakout sessions and several theater presentations featuring our management software, as well as a call-out in the CTO keynote. Our experts, customers, and partners were actively talking about and demoing our software throughout Cisco Live.
One of our popular demos at the show used Hadoop and Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler to extract data from Twitter with social media activity at the event. This app runs a Hadoop MapReduce job every 5 minutes to track Cisco Live tweets, showcasing workload automation and big data. Check it out here.
The Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition was another hot demo at the event, with lots of interest from IT departments that want to get started quickly with a private cloud running on Cisco UCS. Check out the recorded demo here and the theater presentation here.
For more Cisco Live highlights, here are some videos featuring some of the Intelligent Automation team, our partners, and customers:
Being at Cisco Live was a very different experience for me this year. Previous years I spent most of my time in the Intelligent Automation booth discussing functionality in the areas of service catalogs, portals, and orchestration workflows. It was mostly a technical conversation of how to build private cloud catalogs and how to provision infrastructure. This year my Cisco Live experience started off in talking to about 80 partners at the Cisco Connected Architecture Forum Summit; a very interesting crowd. It was here that I talked about what Cisco IT and our Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit experience was in deploying private clouds for end users. I discussed Cisco’s private cloud CITEIS, and our new product release Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition. I discussed Physical and Virtual Clouds and there was much interest in the concept of a services portal and automation construct for both Physical and Virtual clouds, something that is enabled very elegantly with the UCS Manager API. Partners asked great questions: How quickly can they deploy this starter cloud? How do customers chart out their journey to the cloud? Where do they start and what do they do first? Great conversations ensued…
Service Delivery Partners are a key strategy for the deployment of Cisco Cloud software stack. Watch the following interview with Sydney Morgan of Cisco IT and Dave Kinsman from World Wide Technologies, a partner of ours in this area as we talk about the Journey to Cloud and our experiences on the deployment side.
I spent the rest of Cisco Live talking to some great IT organizations about their cloud plans and journey that they are on. Some interesting examples are:
Financial Services: This customer of ours was focused on the deployment of cloud and the changes to the organization as they were coming off of Mainframe centric workloads, deploying them to x86 architectures on UCS. How the application developers would use the newly minted cloud was top of mind.
Service Provider: Many Cloud Service Providers are right at the intersection of business and technology: what service offers can I offer out of the chute to differentiate my company? Discussions around how our IA for Cloud technology stack and pre-built services and automation can make that easier. We also discussed the need and desire to train up their staff to become service designers and workflow authors.
Manufacturer: This customer is focused on operational efficiency and how automation software can reduce the mundane and routine tasks in operations. Replication of system configuration in a standardized way allows their deep application support teams to focus on differentiating their business.
Part 5 of the series “10 Things VMware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
5. A service catalog will help VMware admins get ready for cloud computing, public or private.
When I first came up with the concept of a service catalog to drive fulfillment process back in 1999 (Yep. 10 years ago. Time flies when you are having fun.) it was obvious that internal shared services like IT needed to emulate the likes of Amazon.
Well, here we are in 2009 and the wheel of time has brought us back to the same place. Now it’s the data center that is being disrupted rather than end user services. Customers are beginning to ask: Why can’t you be more like Amazon EC2? Why can’t you provision fast, at guaranteed cost?
Let’s look at how Amazon EC2 uses the concept of a service catalog and lifecycle management to deliver cloud computing in consumer-like experience.
There’s a lot of talk about the technical aspects of cloud computing, and little the customer side: Amazon communicates with its customers through a service catalog and lifecycle system. The brochure part of the catalog is found here. (I wrote this in more detail in my post: Amazon has written your technical services catalog).
To see the full functionality of this service catalog in action, I broke it down into Structure, Benefits, Pricing and Actionable for simplicity.
It covers what it does, what benefits (hightlights), details, major options and pricing! Then what I call the fine print (aka SLA’s).
It doesn’t skimp on benefits. In fact, benefits and outcomes are front and center. We can do the same with with our virtualization offerings.
They tout their unique differentiators are variable (elastic) cost, while re-assuring that you have complete control, flexibility and of course, it’s inexpensive. In fact, if you read that section, it draws a comparison against an internal data center! And it gets to heart of what customers don’t like about IT costs; highly fixed, over-bought, hard to plan for, etc.
It also covers the OS, database software and middleware choices. This is an example of going beyond the server.
What are your benefits? What are your unique differentiators?
Next, the catalog outlines the main packages: Standard and High CPU. Two choices, and then some three sub-choicess.
There’s a lot more description, links to explanation, FAQs, etc. It’s the way they standardize these formerly complicated configurations that is a useful take away.
Pricing follows and there three aspects to highlight. First, it’s completely and easily understandable as a unit of measure. They use per hour.
$0.10 per hour
$0.125 per hour
$0.40 per hour
$0.50 per hour
$0.80 per hour
$1.00 per hour
Think of all the complexity of running a datacenter: people, machines and facilities, etc. Amazon gets it down to controllable unit of of measure, hours. As a customer, I can choose to consume and hour or not. That’s a level of control that’s appealing to me. Is this the right unit of measure for every customer? No. It will depends on your customer and the benefit they want to buy. (More in future postings).
Second, they include all the pricing units for network, storage and servers. Your complete datacenter (almost) configuration.
Third, some charges like data transfer charges are harder to map to controllable costs, so Amazon provides a pricing calculator to help translate these costs into the potential bill. And they provide sample configurations and estimates.
Except for chargeback, which you are doing or not, every leson is directly applicable to how we present virtual environments.
How does the catalog play a role? In two ways, it establishes the standards which enable self-service and then uses those to meter and report to your account what your consumed.
Finally, this catalog is NOT STATIC. It’s completely actionable. If you have an account and log in, Amazon provides:
Self-service ordering, configuration and deployment. This request management against known, vetted standards is core to making cloud computing work. Think if Amazon had to go back and forth for weeks with a user about their configurations?
Account management functions. The customer can perform a variety of actions on their own to manage the lifecycle of virtual instance.
Consumption management and billing. The customer gets clear, hourly consumption metrics.
In other words, Amazon delivers a very complete service catalog tool set to enable cloud computing. I like that they have brought the ease of their regular catalog to a more complex environment. And ease wins.
Amazon has redefined the expectations and pricing for data center services. Make no mistake, they are your competitors. Now the challenge is to respond with your own service catalog and differentiated service definitions.
So if your plans are to provide private cloud computing to your users, or at least behave as one, you need to consider a service catalog very early on to help you establish standards, service levels, and provisioning processes.
This time, we ought to know one thing: No Catalog, No Cloud.
Part 4! of the series “10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
4. There’s a lot more to setting up environments than provisioning servers, the service catalog provides access to all the other required services.
It’s great that you can quickly get a server instance going. Awesome, really. But that’s not an application hosting service. It’s important to understand the “whole product” requested. Is it a raw computing power w/ an OS? or is it an application stack? Or particular integration points, network, storage and security?
There’s a need to really think from a whole product perspective. What ancillary services need to go be coordinated to deliver an environment. Typically we’ll need to consider
Sometimes we can create complete application stacks such as: “Small Linux / JBoss / Oracle for standard development.” Other times, these items required hand-offs between teams.
In talking with VM admins, sometimes there’s a bit of the “not my problem” mentality — it’s those other jerks who are slow. But if the think about our job as delivering environments that can work in a data center or in the cloud and as we virtualized the network and storage, there’s more and more need for having a catalog of individual server request as well as complete environment
The service catalog contains all the other services that the customer needs in to deploy their application.