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Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Version 3.1

November 1, 2012 at 5:48 am PST

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?

October 31, 2012 at 9:26 am PST

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

October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am PST

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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Workplace Services. A Brief Personal History of the Service Catalog and Its Evolution

When Cisco acquired netwScale (my company), in addition to our cloud portal, it also brought in the Cisco Workplace Portal (formerly RequestCenter).

There was a lot of curiosity as to what Cisco would do with an ITIL style service catalog and what the future of such product would be within Cisco.   Well, it’s 18 months later and it is doing quite well, with an exciting roadmap and some new things already shipped and some in the wing.

In this post, I want to discuss what are workplace services, how they have evolved, how they are evolving and what it means to the service catalog.

Workplace services are those services that employees need in order to do their jobs. They include computers, phones, offices, new employee set up, terminations, access to applications and anything else you can imagine.  I have seen tens of thousands of service definitions both common and unusual.

Common ones are the desktop computer variety, but even these sometimes have an unusual bent. For example, banks have different workstations for tellers than admin staff.  Other have engineering workstations that are  different salespeople. Role definition becomes a pretty important aspect of a service catalog implementation.

Unusual ones were “Report chemical fire”, “Order Executive Sedan”, “Inter-factory mail”, and “File patent idea”. Patent as a service, if you will

If it was something that could be requested, it went in the catalog. Today some customers have 1,500+ service definitions in their catalogs with user bases in the 350,000 employees.

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Meet Intelligent Automation at VMworld this Week!

August 27, 2012 at 1:43 am PST

Welcome to San Francisco for one the most exciting events of the year!

Here’s a short blog post that will help you connect with the Intelligent Automation team at VMworld and learn about new solution developments and releases. In particular, you will be interested to see a brand new demo featuring Virtual Network Management Center 2.0. VNMC is a centralized device and security policy management software, which works together with Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) and the Cisco ASA 1000V firewall to manage security on Nexus 1000V virtual switch series.

Other Intelligent Automation and Unified Management demos offered in booth #1213 include:

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud
Network Services Manager

And make sure you mark your calendar to attend one of these theater presentations to learn more about what Cisco can offer your organization:
• My First Cloud Get Started with Cisco Cloud Management from Cisco Data Center
This session will discuss how Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud enables IT to move from manual to flexible automated provisioning of physical and virtual resources, while maintaining existing processes and governance, increasing IT efficiency.  Monday, August 27 10:30am Cisco booth

• Virtual Network Management Center 2.0 from Cisco Data Center
Join us to learn about Cisco’s latest VNMC release.  Tuesday, August 28 11:00am Cisco Booth #1213

• Private Cloud Case Study with Cisco Management and Orchestration from Cisco Data Center
Join this session to learn about the challenges Cisco IT has solved by implementing cloud management and orchestration technology to provide internal private cloud services. Tuesday, August 28 11:30am Cisco Booth #1213

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