One of the most exciting things about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) is its ability to deliver the self-service agility and flexibility that a business requires to drive its success. Capacity is instantly available when needed, enabling creative innovation to bear fruit much faster (think research institutions executing millions of computations, software engineers developing new applications, or retailers launching holiday marketing campaigns.)
The benefits of cloud computing are obvious but what about the costs? For example, how do you know which resources a particular project is tied to and whether it makes good business sense? How do you make sure your users shut down services when they’re no longer needed? And how do you implement a cost model to charge back IT costs to the proper business unit or project?
These are questions that are bubbling to the surface of many enterprise cloud discussions, which is why I’m particularly excited to announce our new partner, Cloud Cruiser. Cloud Cruiser has integrated their financial management system with Intelligent Automation for Cloud, enabling enterprises to take control of their IT spending and use the granular cost information it gathers to drive better business decisions.
By implementing a financial management solution designed for the cloud, enterprise IT becomes a partner to the lines of business, providing valuable insight into the IT costs associated with the projects and applications they deploy. Chargeback gives business units the advantage of only paying for the resources that they use, resulting in both a reduction of waste (who wants to pay for those VMs that are no longer being used?) and more educated IT spending decisions, such as whether to use internal or external IT resources for a particular project. Self-service budgets and reports make users more fiscally responsible for the resources they deploy, driving costs down and productivity up.
In short, Cloud Cruiser and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud work together to help enterprises make the most of their enterprise private cloud by delivering better service at lower cost.
To see how Cloud Cruiser for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud works, view this short video:
Read the joint solution brief and web page to learn more about Cloud Cruiser for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.
Cisco continues to roll out innovations that will enable the next generations of multi-cloud computing. I’m a product manager working on Cisco’s Cloud Management software, and we’re all about the high-level, self-service, automatic provisioning of services that the end-user cares about. The network just moves ones and zeros, and all protocols of interest (HTTP, SSH, RDP, SQL, etc.) work fine over TCP/IP. The hypervisor takes care of putting that pesky motherboard chipset and storage bus into a black box, right? The end-user doesn’t care about that stuff, or at least doesn’t want to have to care about it.
A common perspective, except among the engineers who manage the network, is that network infrastructure is a bunch of mysterious plumbing that “just works” and how it does what it does doesn’t matter. Indeed, many vendors in the “cloud” arena would like to perpetuate this perspective on the network. They would like you to believe a bunch of dumb pipes can carry traffic and that determination of the traffic (content, flow, etc.) is determined at higher levels in the stack.
In some cases, this is true, but operating this way doesn’t unlock anything new. The model they describe would be brilliant if all of your network requirements were defined in 1998. Few companies can afford to operate technology today like they did in 1998 and remain competitive.
Cisco is announcing a newNexus 1000V(N1KV), and this one changes the game.In brief, the Nexus 1000V is the foundation of the networking services that Cisco brings to virtual computing. The N1KV can be managed using the same NX-OS commands and practices used to manage the Nexus 5K and 7K switches, and extends network control down to the VM and virtual port into which a VM is “plugged in”, even across different vendors’ hypervisors.
The N1KV is also the platform for additional L2 and L3 network services such as those provided by the vASA Firewall, vNAM, and VSG. The new Nexus 1000V InterCloud extends this ability to cloud service providers, such as Amazon, but is “cross-provider” (in fact, it doesn’t even depend on the Cloud Service Provider). For me, in my role as a Cloud Product Manager, this is an important new addition to basic networking capabilities, and is exactly the kind of thing that Cisco can and should do in its role as “Networking Giant” to open up the promise of hybrid or multi-cloud.
I have a mental image of what this can do, and I tried to put this into images to the right. Animation would have been better, I just don’t have the Flash skills to put it together for a quick blog post. I envision a virtual machine as a ghostly “physical” server tower with network cables plugged into it. These network connections can come from end-users in a client-server model, or any of our web-and-mobile constructs. After all, we still are end-users connecting to machines. Of course, the “client” for a compute function could be another compute function, so there is a network cable coming from another nearby ghost server. These ghost servers can today float from blade to blade thanks to most mainstream virtual machine managers (VMM) and a virtual switch like the N1KV, and the cords stay connected throughout. With the new N1KV, that VM can float right out of that VMM and into another VMM (such as across VMware datacenters, or even from VMware to Hyper-V), or out to a public or hosted provider. The cord just magically uncoils to remain connected wherever that machine goes! I love magic.
The N1KV provides that cable that can float after its ethereal virtual machine. It also provides the platform to maintain monitoring by the vNAM, even as the machine moves. You simply can’t economically achieve this using basic dumb pipes. Add to this the new Virtual Network Management Console (VNMC) InterCloud management capabilities. In order for that cord to stay connected, there do have to be network switches or routers along the way that understand how to make that network cable follow the machine. VNMC InterCloud manages these devices, but adds another particularly important capability: actually moving the workload.
VNMC InterCloud adds the ability to discover virtual machines, and convert them to a cloud-provider’s instance format, move what could possibly be a fairly large set of files, and get that machine started back up in a far-away environment, with seamless network consistency. VNMC InterCloud is like a puff of wind that pushes the ghostly VM from my corporate VMWare-based cloud to float over to my hosted private cloud. Remember, ghosts can float through walls.
This is groundbreaking. Workload mobility is one of those hard-to-do core capabilities required for all of us to realize the promise of multi-cloud, and it requires a network that is both dynamic and very high performing. I’ve been looking forward to this from Cisco for some time now.
Cloud is a journey. This post discusses our approach to crawl, walk and run.
A cloud architecture has multiple facets and requirements, a key part of which is the need for cloud orchestration and provisioning, coupled with a self-service end user portal. Let’s call this “Cloud Automation” for now. If you are designing and/or building a cloud, then, part of your work will be to deliver a cloud automation solution to deliver on that promise. How do you plan to go about that? One approach is to define your extensive list of requirements, based upon your business needs and current capabilities, and go about building out that solution.
Another approach is what I’ll call “Crawl Walk Run”. The incremental approach.
Cloud is a change to the operational model: a change in behavior, accounting, process and people. You can’t do it overnight. Trying to deliver every service doesn’t work.
It’s very important to set a roadmap of where you want go with your cloud services so you don’t get stuck in the VM Azores — this is where all the focus is on VM provisioning and then you deploy technology that does that. And only that.
You need that roadmap of services and a technology platform that supports your vision. Even if all you first is crawl.
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.