#CiscoChampion Radio is a podcast series by Cisco Champions as technologists. Today we’re talking with Cisco Distinguished Services Engineer Joe Clarke, about Cisco Prime Infrastructure. Lauren Friedman (@Lauren) moderates and Rick Vanover and Stewart Goumans are this week’s Cisco Champion guest hosts.
Highlights What is Cisco Prime?
What is Cisco Prime Infrastructure?
Why are companies using it? How mobility drives need for Cisco Prime Infrastructure
Wireless Management and Cisco Prime Infrastructure Use cases for Cisco Prime Infrastructure
Atos Societas Europaea (SE) is a global leader in IT services with 77,000 employees in 52 countries worldwide. Cisco has a strong partnership with Atos in several areas including data center, cloud, and collaboration – and they are a customer of multiple Cisco solutions.
In particular, there is a division of Atos that provides managed services for North American companies. This division of Atos offers a broad range of services for their enterprise customers including new employee onboarding, provisioning smartphones and tablets, requesting Cisco WebEx accounts, provisioning of physical servers and virtual machines for data center operations, and more.
To meet the IT service needs of their large customer base, Atos needed to speed up the service delivery process and serve more customers without adding additional IT staff. According to Atos’ manager of process automation, Kert Gilpin, “We measure success by how much we can reduce service requests by email or phone and how quickly we can fulfill requests. To continue growing, we needed to automate IT service requests. We wanted to deliver IT as a Service.”
Now, thanks to Cisco Prime Service Catalog, Atos is serving more customers, faster, with the same size IT staff. Cisco Prime Service Catalog provides the one-stop shop for Atos customers to request a broad range of IT services (with more than 1,700 service options and configurations). From 2010 through 2013, Atos used the service catalog to process more than 1.5 million IT service requests from it’s customers – including more than 250,000 approvals for more than 260,000 users.
On the front-end, employees at each customer can log into Cisco Prime Service Catalog’s web-based portal interface for self-service access to their organization’s available services. On the back-end, Cisco Prime Service Catalog is integrated with the customer’s existing systems to automate provisioning for each service request. Some of the most commonly requested services in the Atos catalog include:
Server setup or decommissioning: Cisco Prime Service Catalog can be integrated with the customers’ data center infrastructure automation tools to enable self-service provisioning. “Before, multiple people had to perform a manual task to provision a physical or virtual server,” Gilpin said. “Now we use Cisco Prime Service Catalog to automate approximately 50 tasks in the workflow, taking different actions depending on the conditions.”
Distribution of Windows software updates and patches: For this popular service, Atos integrates Cisco Prime Service Catalog with the customer’s Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) server. Employees receive an automated notification when software application upgrades are available. Then they just click to install the upgrade or patch.
Employee onboarding services: Through integration between Cisco Prime Service Catalog and their customers’ Oracle and PeopleSoft HR systems, Atos has automated new hire onboarding, transfers, terminations, leaves of absence, name changes, and changes between contractor and employee status.
This combination of self-service ordering and automation is powerful – with real and tangible benefits. “Automation means customer requests are fulfilled more quickly,” Gilpin said. “The request is generally complete in minutes, compared to days or weeks when we manually provisioned services. And our IT team now has more time for activities that provide value to our customers.”
If you recall from my earlier posts here and here, RISE is the new protocol in the Nexus 7000 and 7000 Series switch that allows integration of a remote service appliance like NAM or an application delivery controller with the same functional capability as if it was attached to the switch backplane like an embedded services blade. Devices can actually be connected over any layer 2 network, and not necessarily directly connected to the Nexus switch ports, although that is the usual configuration. RISE-enabled ports are configured on the Nexus 7000 and up to 4 dedicated ports per appliance can be configured for maximum throughput to connected devices.
It’s a great benefit for appliance vendors to not have to develop specific network-embedded modules of their products to install inside the chassis, as well as saving valuable slots while providing the same degree of traffic visibility and optimization for the appliance. In this video, I had a chance to sit down with Praveen Chandra, Director of NAM Engineering at Cisco, to talk about the first Cisco service appliance to support RISE and what it means for Prime NAM customers:
Earlier this year Cisco announced the Cisco Prime Virtual Network Analysis Module (vNAM), an integral component of the Cisco Cloud Network Services portfolio. While a virtual NAM has been available on the Nexus 1100 Cloud Services Platform (a UCS appliance for virtual services), it has not been available in a generic VM form factor, which now provides greater deployment flexibility for NAM customers, as they look to monitor application and network performance in their virtual data centers. The result is greater visibility at more points in the network.
Cisco Prime vNAM combines application-awareness with the ability to look deeper into various network overlays, such as VXLAN, LISP, and CAPWAP, to deliver rich analytics that help assure services levels, accelerate operational decisions, and increase business agility. Its versatility permits it to be used to:
Monitor workloads in multi-tenant cloud deployments
Analyze network usage by application, host or virtual machine (VM) to identify unusual traffic patterns or bottlenecks that may affect performance and availability
Troubleshoot performance problems consistently across physical and virtual environments
Take advantage of an integrated web-based interface to remotely manage a site
Validate infrastructure updates such as WAN optimization, Cisco TrustSec, and quality-of-service policy changes
Prime vNAM can be deployed in the cloud to monitor hosted workloads, at remote sites to monitor the end-user experience, or almost anywhere in the network to eliminate blind spots.
For those who are not familiar with the Cisco Prime Security Manager, it is a management application that was introduced in 2012 to manage Cisco ASA 5500-X Series Next-Generation Firewalls. It is built on Web 2.0 technologies and supports both single-device and multi-device manager form factors to help manage various features such as Application Visibility and Control (AVC), along with web security in a simple, light-weight, and scalable manner. The AVC capability helps to block around 1200+ applications and 150,000+ micro-applications, in addition to specific users, behaviors, micro-applications, and devices. The web security service also provides URL filtering and Web reputation features to proactively restrict web application usage based on reputation of the site. Through Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO), these services provide a comprehensive view of the local and global threat intelligence landscape. This is eventually translated to actionable items such as security polices and information feeds that protect your business from near real-time zero-day threats. Read More »