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Why Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 Matters for Enterprise Private Clouds

Guest Blogger: Yair Dolev (@CiscoCloudY) brings extensive experience in enterprise application development and management of advanced data center virtualization technology products to Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Technology Group. Prior to Cisco, Yair was Director of Product Management at data center automation authority Tidal Software, and managed the groundbreaking Azul Virtual Machine products at Azul Systems, which enabled data centers to run large Java workloads on highly scalable, optimized hardware. 

What do IT managers want? Speaking with customers about their plans to adopt a private cloud, we get to glimpse into the wild world of enterprise IT transformation. Customers have been telling us about how their business environment is rapidly changing, and many share their elaborate vision for becoming a sophisticated IT as a Service organization. We, in turn, have shared with them the capabilities of our newly released Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud version 3.1 (Cisco IAC). I am delighted to see how Cisco IAC 3.1 resonates so well with IT teams. Here I mention some highlights of this newly upgraded cloud management solution.

First off, we’ve made it easy to leverage more of the infrastructure footprint for via the cloud. Customers often own different infrastructure stacks, whether by choice as a hedge, or by chance, as a result of mergers. They might have a vBlock, a FlexPod, and another asset that uses, say- HP servers. A cloud system should not require complete infrastructure homogeneity. With IAC 3.1, each infrastructure pod (regardless of the vendor) is treated as one “Compute POD” (Point of Delivery), with multiple PODs all connected to and managed by one unified resource management layer.

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Five Cool Things about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1

Some would say that cloud has passed the peak of inflated expectations.   After that stage in the development of a new technology or trend the tough work begins.  We in the Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Group have done just that in releasing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Version 3.1.  In the past four weeks I have presented this cloud self-service and orchestration platform to well over 30 existing customers and others interested in what all the noise is.  The response has made me extremely proud of our team.

One:  Our UI is so intuitive that you don’t need a manual.  The Cisco Cloud Portal delivers a uniquely intuitive experience for the roles of cloud administrator, organization technical administrator, and end user.  Private cloud can be as easy as Amazon Web Services.

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Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Version 3.1

Just the other morning, my 3.5 year old daughter said “Daddy, can you make me a waffle?” And like any self-respecting parent, I of course responded with “Poof. You’re a waffle.”

It reminded me of something we frequently hear from customers: they effectively ask us to “make my data center a cloud.”  Now we could wave our arms and say “Poof. It’s a cloud.” But it’s not that easy.  Despite what some cloudwashers may say, virtualizing your data center does not mean you have a cloud – and self-service provisioning of VMs is not cloud computing.  Real clouds require much more.

Fortunately, we have solutions to help our customers deploy real clouds – with market-leading compute, network, and management products in our Unified Data Center portfolio as well as our cloud enablement services.  In fact, today we introduced yet another innovation in our Unified Computing System (UCS) portfolio with Cisco UCS Central.

I’m pleased to also announce the latest release of our cloud management software solution today: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud version 3.1.  This release introduces several exciting new features, and I’ve highlighted a few of these new product capabilities below.

Virtual Data Centers – In simple infrastructure-as-a-service use cases, virtual machines and other resources may be provisioned from a shared pool of resources on-demand.  In more advanced infrastructure-as-a-service use cases, virtual data centers (VDCs) can be established to provide project teams or departments with a dedicated resource pool of compute, storage, and network capacity for their own organization. I’ve written in the past about this concept of a virtual data center and this is what Cisco IT deployed for our own internal private cloud.

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Who’s the Boss? Your Data Center or You?

Whether it’s ordering a last-minute Halloween costume from the comfort of your couch or being able to IM with colleagues on your flight to see family and friends this holiday season, we can all admit that “on-demand” access is an every day necessity.  In much the same way, today’s business users expect on-demand access to IT resources.  And as those customer demands increase, more pressure is placed on IT infrastructure.

Everyone – from consumers to business users, from IT departments in large enterprises to service providers – are grappling with both the opportunity and challenge of managing the evolution of IT.  It’s hard to let go of the past and the old ways of managing our data – whether that’s putting aside the family scrapbook for a digital library or adopting new management solutions to replace legacy systems in your data center. So, what’s the trick? Find a solution that allows you to easily and seamlessly transition to this new operating model.  Almost sounds too good to be true – but it’s real.

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How Much is This Gonna Cost? Price Models for IT Infrastructure

Steve Watkins, Guest Blogger

Steve Watkins is a Consulting Systems Engineer for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.  He came to Cisco as part of the newScale acquisition in 2011.  He has been helping customers manage the migration to IT as a Service (ITaaS) since 2004.

 

Showback and Chargeback have become increasingly hot topics for IT, especially infrastructure teams.  This is fuelled at least in part by the general acceptance of cloud computing, including private clouds and SaaS applications.   Chargeback (and even Showback) are great ways of affecting behavior of the consumers of IT.   It keeps consumers from demanding an unreasonable amount of services, and encourages them to use of what has already been invested in.  There is also a growing mandate from Finance to make IT accountable for its spend, or at the very least to justify any requests for further investment. So infrastructure teams find themselves in the unexpected position of defining prices for the services traditionally offered.   Most have no idea where to start.

Several vendors have produced offerings to help manage the showback/chargeback business case.  This post will not discuss any vendor in detail.  Instead, I want to talk about philosophy.

Broadly speaking, there are two major approaches to creating a price model for IT.  There is the Utility-based model, in which pricing derived from actual consumption of CPU cycles, RAM, bandwidth, storage, etc.  In this model, if you stood up a virtual machine for one week you would only pay for the actual amount CPU cycles and storage you consumed.

Alternately, there is Service-based pricing, which advocates a fixed price based on either the service itself or some other unit of measure such as hours, etc.  In this model, if you stood up a virtual machine for one week you would pay for how many hours the VM was active, whether you used it or not.

I always council my customers to adopt service-based pricing.  I think utility-based pricing is the wrong approach for IT departments, especially infrastructure teams.  Here are my reasons:

1.INFLEXIBLE – Utility pricing is asset based, and therefore assumes that the assets will remain more-or-less the same.  The model breaks down when you introduce changes, like renting infrastructure from public providers or changing service levels.  What about if I offer VDI next year?  That may mean two different types of pricing models, which gets even more complex.  A service-based pricing scheme works with all services.

2.POOR CAPACITY MANAGEMENT – by only charging for the CPU cycles you actually consume, it encourages users to stand up systems and leave them in place.. which is exactly what we don’t want.  Think of renting a car: you rent a car for 4 days but only drive it for a total of 3 hours, you still have to pay for all for days.  If I just paid when I actually drove it, I would keep it all the time.  We want to encourage users to return unused assets. Which leads to..

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