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For your IT Wish List this Holiday Season: a Virtual Data Center

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through IT, not a creature was stirring, not even a sysadmin?

Well, not quite. To support the global operations for a Fortune 100 company, the IT staff are always stirring things up at Cisco. But they may be just a little less busy this holiday season. Why? Because Cisco IT deployed a private cloud earlier this year, with a self-service portal and automated provisioning for infrastructure-as-a-service.

This means that employees throughout Cisco can provision and manage the infrastructure resources they need on their own, anytime and anywhere – so our sysadmins can take a break this holiday season (or more likely, they can focus on other IT priorities).

You may have already heard about Cisco IT’s internal private cloud solution, called CITEIS: Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services. It’s what we call a “Cisco on Cisco” example, using Cisco’s own Unified Data Center solutions – including Unified Computing, Unified Fabric, and Unified Management with our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud software.

For a quick overview, here’s a short video about the Cisco IT private cloud:

And if you want more detail, watch this on-demand webinar here.

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CloudVerse simplifies Cloud Management in Cisco’s Unified Data Center

December 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm PST

On December 6th Cisco announced CloudVerse, an integrated set of capabilities that enables customers to deliver cloud applications and services by uniquely combining the unified data center and cloud intelligent network.  Key to this is Cisco’s Unified Data Center architecture which is comprised of three technology pillars: Unified Computing, Unified Fabric, and Unified Management.

The following provides a description of CloudVerse, focusing on new cloud management offerings and capabilities that enable customers to build and operate private, public or hybrid clouds… the world of many clouds:

  • Cisco CloudVerse uniquely combines the unified data center and cloud intelligent network as the platform to deliver cloud services.  CloudVerse brings a unique set of advantages:
    • Assured Cloud Experience by uniquely combining the unified data center and cloud intelligent network
    • Agile, Dynamic and Efficient Cloud – delivering cost savings and time to market advantages, while simplifying the management and deployment of services
    • Accelerated Deployment through pre-tested designs like VMDC, through pre-tested ecosystem integrated solutions such as Flexpod and Vblock
    • Simplified management an operation through integrated management of compute, network and storage – for both the DC and the network
    • Cisco Unified Data Center provides a complete Data Center infrastructure architecture. It combines compute, storage, network, security and management into a fabric architecture that delivers outstanding performance for physical and virtualized business applications. Created to help companies evolve to cloud computing environments, Unified Data Center embeds automation and simplified operations at the Server, Network and Cloud-Services Layers.
    • Unified Management provides automation and lifecycle management frameworks to manage and simplify the deployment and operations of Network-Layer, Compute-Layer and Application/Cloud-Services-Layer within the Data Center. This includes Cisco UCS Manager, Cisco Network Services Manager, and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, as well as the integration with Cisco’s application, virtualization and storage ecosystem partners.
      • Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud features the newScale self-service portal and service catalog, which has been re-branded as Cisco Cloud Portal, and the Tidal automation software, which has been re-branded as the Cisco Process Orchestrator. Together, we’ve combined and integrated these software products into a powerful and intelligent management solution for enabling IT-as-a-Service.
      • Cisco Network Services Manager automates and provisions network infrastructure services using powerful abstracted models and policies that define and control the characteristics and behavior of the Cloud, and how Cloud services are accessed by end-users.
      • Cisco UCS Manager Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Manager provides unified, embedded management of all software and hardware components in the Cisco UCS. It controls multiple chassis and manages resources for thousands of virtual machines.

To get more information on CloudVerse and Cisco Unified Data Center, please read the following blogs:

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The Secret is Now Out: You Can Simplify Cloud Deployments with Cisco Unified Management

By now you have may have seen the Cisco announcement of the Unified Data Center and Unified Management http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=578106.  This exciting story around Unified Management began in the late summer of 2010 when the engineering team in Cisco’s Tidal Software acquisition began the integration of the Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator and the UCS Manager.  We realized that we could take our experience with hundreds of customers in application automation and apply that toward infrastructure automation, specifically around provisioning, virtualization and cloud.  Our future was cloudy and that was indeed a good thing.

Five months later after intensive technical and business innovation, in the third week of January in 2011, the Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit introduced our cloud automation suite which brought the ease of Amazon EC2 to the private cloud for both physical and virtual clouds.  The solution consisted of newScale’s self service and service catalog technology, integrated to the Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator for  automation of infrastructure provisioning and IT operations management tool integrations.   I had been a customer of both of these companies at a previous job and had experienced the benefits of automating both the end user and back end systems with these two companies.  With the new use cases of data center and cloud automation I was convinced that these technologies could be the basis of something transformational for our customers.

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The Value of Orchestration: What Did Captain Kirk Know That Scotty Didn’t? & The Roach Motel Infrastructure Issue

Recently, a customer asked me what was the value of using automation to operate a private cloud?  It was a good question. Working  in the middle of the reality distorition field of the cloud industry I take it for granted that everyone knows automation’s benefits.

Fundamentally, automation tools help to reduce labor costs, rationalize  consumption and increase utilization.

Costs are lower because the labor required to configure and deploy is eliminate. This automation is possible by creating standard infrastructure offerings. Standard infrastructure offering make possible a new operational model: to move from the artesanal approach of delivering infrastructure ,where every system and configuration is uniqe, to the industrialized approach, that ensures repeatability, quality and agility.  It’s the difference between custom tailoring and standardized sizes at The Gap. Both have their place, but one costs more.

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Re-Thinking Pork Bellies. Why There are No Commodity Clouds, Only Commodity Thinkers.

For a while now,  I’ve been bothered with the word commodity. Like legacy, greenfield, there are value judgements implicit in the words. When we apply them to technology adoption, they serve as marketing oars to rock the new tech boat, but are not useful when you need a fish for dinner.

And this article on the NYSE community cloud is a great example of why there are no commodity clouds.

The NYSE’s community cloud platform is design to ensure that its customers are treated fairly, and it ensures them that the maximum latency that any user will experience in this data center is 70 microseconds (one millionth of a second) round-trip for any message, O’Sullivan said.

“We guarantee that nobody will have an advantage on the network,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s designed to be a level playing field for trading.

Basically, this compute service comes with a latency service level and a promise that no one gets better latency, thus ensuring a level playing field for traders.

So it’s “level-playing-field-as-a-service;” which is right and ridiculous. Right because that’s the differentiators; ridiculous that I have to pull the *aaS to describe what before I would have simply called “service.”

There was a time when coffee was called a commodity, then Howard Schultz of Starbucks came along, and Peet’s came along, and next, we are all paying $5 for coffee.

Even frozen pork bellies are not commodities anymore. You might remember this quote:

“Pork bellies! I have a hunch something exciting is going to happen”

from Trading Places with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy

But as you see from the link, even pork bellies are not commodities anymore in the trading markets.

And then again, pork bellies are not commodities according to chef Michael Mina--it’s now branded, locally-grown, organic and … sexy. Pork bellies. Sexy.

So you can see why I might think clouds are far, far from being commodities like pork bellies. Which are not commodities anymore.

As for x86 being a commodity? I don’t see Intel suffering. Don’t confuse platform with commodity.

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