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How Cisco IT Solved Its Internal Cloud Dilemma

May 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm PST

Is your organization looking to build a cloud?

You’ll want to learn how Cisco’s John Manville leveraged an internal, private, infrastructure-as-a-service cloud to drive business value.

View John Manville's Cloud Insights Video Podcast

View John Manville’s Cloud Insights Video Podcast

John Manville is responsible for Cisco’s Global IT infrastructure  - which includes the data centers,  networks, platforms and more. Overall, John’s role is to implement Fast IT, which is really about being adaptable and responsive to business needs.

What technology helps drive this responsiveness and adaptability? “There are many solutions that can help, but if I had to sum it up in one word, that word is  cloud” replied John .

Cisco uses internal cloud technology for several important business imperatives. Through the cloud, we are  balancing internal IT workloads and providing our engineering team the tools needed for OS development. We are also using the internal cloud for external capabilities. For example, Cisco Smart Services uses our internal cloud to offer services to external customers.

Recently, John had the chance to participate in a new Cloud Insights Video Podcast to discuss the challenges his team faced prior to cloud implementation. Like most IT teams, they were challenged by speed of delivery of business capabilities, driving Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)  down and completing maintenance on the underlying infrastructure with minimal impact on the business users or applications they need on a daily basis.

To offset these challenges, his team  developed and deployed CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services), an internal, private, infrastructure-as-a-service cloud. CITEIS started off as a way to provision virtual machines, but the team quickly realized that it  wasn’t enough so they  added on more middleware and database capabilities . Now, it’s a rich service that John’s team  offers to their clients.

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Providing the Right Platform is Sometimes All it Takes

Change is the only constant. Except that it isn’t; constant that is. We are seeing changes to IT services, infrastructure, eco-systems, and business models, with consequent demands and expectations that we have not witnessed before. Cisco is responding to all of this with new technologies for the DevOps community, including APIs, development tools, training and more, all of which I discuss below.

The Economist likens this to the Cambrian era that saw the multiplication of life forms that populate our world today: “… this time is … different, in an important way. Today’s entrepreneurial boom is based on more solid foundations than the 1990s internet bubble, which makes it more likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

What has made this possible, which the Economist illustrates with a variety of examples, is the ubiquity of communications and open source platforms in a “cloud” environment. The Economist lists these elements:

  • …snippets of code that can be copied free from the internet, along with easy-to-learn programming frameworks (such as Ruby on Rails).
  • … services for … sharing code (GitHub) …
  • … “application programming interfaces” (APIs), digital plugs that are multiplying rapidly …
  • … “platforms”—services that can host startups’ offerings (Amazon’s cloud computing), distribute them (Apple’s App Store) and market them (Facebook, Twitter).
  • … the internet, the mother of all platforms, which is now fast, universal and wireless.

What has also changed is that the IT stack is, in effect, collapsing. The “separation of concerns”, that kept the network infrastructure distinct from the applications running over it, is being whittled away. In October 2013 we teamed up Read More »

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What’s New with onePK?

CiscoLive San Francisco is coming up so I’ve been updating my session, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK, with the latest information and some new insights.

One new thing is that Cisco onePK (One Platform Kit) is now Generally Available! Anyone can go to onepkdeveloper.com, download the SDK, and take C, Java or Python for a test drive. And I really mean anyone. You don’t even need a Babel fish. Haven’t programmed since freshman year in college? Don’t worry. If you can click on an icon in a Linux desktop and type the name of a script, then you can use onePK.

The great thing about this is that now we can all get real. As a network engineer, technologies aren’t real to me until I see them running on a network. After all, you can read about LSA types and adjacencies all day long, but until you’ve deployed OSPF, you don’t really know OSPF. The same is true for onePK. Read More »

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My Week at CiscoLive! Melbourne 2014

Wow, what an amazing week in Melbourne!! With more than 4,600 attendees in person and 36,000 session views online, Cisco Live was the largest event we’ve ever held in the Australia-New Zealand region. It was my fifth Cisco Live overall and third in Melbourne, and what amazes me every year is the sheer passion and enthusiasm of everyone present. Those attending are really there to learn and wanted to hear what we had to say. Read More »

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Domani inizia qui (Tomorrow Starts Here) – Cisco Live Milan!

I arrived in Milan for the annual Cisco Live conference for networkers and was immediately excited by the buzz the change in host city generated (from London last year) as well as opportunity that all 7,000 attendees had to learn about connecting technology architecture with business architecture to better enable their businesses. From the keynote kickoff by Rob Lloyd all the way to the customer appreciation event featuring Dire Straits, the Milano Congressi was jumping! Read More »

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