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Don’t Fear the Cloud Workshop (Part 4 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Part 3 — Your Cloud Journey and Roadmap with Intelligent Automation for Cloud

Part 2 — How Agile is your Cloud?

Part 1 — The End of Big IT Architecture

This is a real story.  Places and names have been changed …

By now, this blog series has hopefully convinced you to throw out the old school approaches and turn the calendar to July, 2012.

I really enjoy talking to groups of people in IT about a specific problem.  There is an organizational dynamic that occurs when good collaboration is going on.  Even constructive confrontation has its place.  The best and most forward looking IT shops realize that they don’t know it all and especially for a new area that they need the benefit of a Cloud Workshop.

What is a Cloud Workshop?  It is a one day slice of time where the Intelligent Automation team at Cisco helps a customer group envision their near term and future cloud value.  It usually unlocks a stuck team.  It can raise standards.  It can clarify a path through the old school thought forest.  It can be challenging on both sides.  It is critically important to get a cross section of all major departments:  service management, the desktop team, virtualization, identity management, compute, network, storage, infrastructure engineering, and program management.  What do we do with this cross sectional group?

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Your Cloud Journey and Roadmap with Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Part 3 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Part 2 -- How Agile is your Cloud?

Part 1 -- The End of Big IT Architecture

(with contributions from my teammates Mike Eisenstein and Jim Kao)

This blog guides you through the considerations after you have taken the first step in your Journey to Cloud with the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition.

Once you have deployed the Starter Edition, you can take some time to experience the benefits and begin to start noting where you need your company’s cloud roadmap to go next.   What are the key things that you, your business, your users, and your operations need to take them to the next level?  Many of these will be in the next edition from Cisco, others will require building an integration into a system that is critical such as your ERP environment to enable chargeback.  Let’s break the discussion in some key areas:

Compute

Starter Edition works with UCS and vCenter.  While Cisco would like to see your entire datacenter filled with UCS and Nexus, we do realize that you may have other vendors on your approved buying list.  You may decide you want to leverage your Cloud Portal, Process Orchestrator, and Server Provisioner across a number of computing hardware vendors.   We have customers who provision both physical and virtual servers across Cisco and other vendors.  It is one of most common heterogeneous integrations that we do.  This allows the end user to order compute as a service with little regard to which flavor the physical server is.

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Unleash your Automation for Cloud (Easier than you Think)

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.

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Looking Back on Intelligent Automation at Cisco Live in San Diego

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:

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Cisco Live Update on Intelligent Automation for Cloud – The Journey and How Cisco Partners Help IT Shops Get to Cloud

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.

We are now in the thick of that Journey.

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