Cisco Intercloud Services and Why the Network Matters
I’d like to open by restating a position on Cloud: Cloud is only in its very infancy in terms of adoption. Despite all the hype in market, largely created by the marketing of the over-the-top service providers, most of global IT spending is in the non-Cloud space. (somebody will have a stat on this but I heard it is below 10%).
Companies’ expectations of IT keep increasing as the pace of business intensifies, creating greater demand for new services and faster access to resources and data. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that THE way for IT to keep pace with the speed of business is automation. But buyers beware.
IT automation solutions are difficult to create with multiple products that carry a la carte pricing models and licensing models tied to hardware. The hassles are obvious, and that model doesn’t help IT automate effectively. What is necessary is full functionality automation software that offers simplified pricing and licensing options as well as unified automation that delivers broad coverage for diverse environments. So Cisco offers exactly that. Watch this video to learn how.
In late 2014, Cisco announced the Intercloud, a construct providing ubiquitous access to applications across network and cloud services endpoints. So what’s the fuss and what’s in it for Cisco partners and customers?
If you aren’t familiar with the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog, this intro video provides a great overview:
Now we are very proud to announce that Cisco IT has won not just one more, but four new honors: the 2014 “Stevie” Awards from International Business Awards.
The Stevie Awards, which honor and generate public recognition of achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals, feature some of the most exciting work in business and information technology.
This year, the team behind the Cisco IT eStore was recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for Information Technology Team of the Year. As this internal implementation of Cisco Prime Service Catalog grows in scale, this team has been working to rapidly deploy new services (whether desktop applications or data center infrastructure) and new capabilities (e.g. a new mobile interface) to provide a single, one-stop shop for all IT services at Cisco. It’s effectively the internal “IT app store” within Cisco for all employees.
For more information on the Cisco IT eStore initiative, you can check out the case study here, my write-up on the eStore here, Adel du Toit’s blog post on the Cisco IT initiative here, and a great overview session from our recent Cisco Live conference here.
Cisco IT also took home a Silver Stevie Award for their innovative work on our internal Lightweight Application Environment (LAE) – an innovative platform-as-a-service deployment that’s also powered by Cisco Prime Service Catalog as well as other tools including Jenkins and OpenShift.
Within Cisco, we have a private cloud – dubbed the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) – that offers infrastructure-as-a-service with ready-to-go server, storage, and network resources for development teams. Together, CITEIS and the Lightweight Application Environment allow Cisco application developers to focus on application coding and testing, not on the underlying infrastructure or platform. The LAE is called “lightweight” because the ordering and provisioning processes places very light demands on developers.
For both and CITEIS and LAE, the eStore (Cisco Prime Service Catalog) gives developers an easy-to-use, self-service portal for ordering and provisioning their application environment – providing on-demand access to the infrastructure as well as the required operating system, middleware, and system functions without manual provisioning by Cisco IT. All the resources they need are delivered just a few minutes after the developer orders them. Here’s an example screenshot:
You can read more about how Cisco IT enabled this Lightweight Application Environment in this blog post here.
The final two Stevie Awards for Cisco IT this year were a Silver & Bronze medal for the Information Technology Executive of the year – awarded to our very own V C Gopalratnam (Cisco IT Vice President) and Michael Myers (Cisco’s Senior Director of Information Systems for Cloud Orchestration and Platform Service) respectively.
V C and Michael have played key roles in both the aforementioned CITEIS and LAE initiatives, enabling IaaS and PaaS via the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. We’re excited that these executives are being recognized for their leadership, and we look forward to what lies ahead for the Cisco IT and eStore team going forward.
The classic work of English historical literature “The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire” is a book written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, which traces the trajectory of Western civilization from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. I’m using this comparison to bring to light discussions that my team and I have conducted over the past few years on the topic of as- a-Service (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) in the Public and Private Clouds.
Shifting your workloads to the cloud, whether public or private, looks attractive in a number of ways. You conceptually see the gains from quick and readily available infrastructure by just clicking a button or two, your service from a new virtual machine in the cloud appears ready as you need it. The initial gains materialize as on-demand capacity, high availability, and disaster tolerance to name a few. What about the costs of building all of this and has anyone ever seen a positive gain? Has anyone really seen a gain from IaaS alone?
Public and Private cloud services models are still maturing but the overall question that we are hearing, is it worth it? We’ve come across several articles that look at the features, and functions of as-a-Service offerings (to include PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, etc) along with theoretical return on investment (ROI) of each. What we have seen is the shift in focus that sole IaaS eventually plays into higher delivery models like BPaaS (Business Process as-a-Service), or SaaS (Software as-a-Service) etc. Of course the message is different between Enterprises and Service Providers where this could help focus more reliable revenue flows for Service Provider’s and a more deliberate approach for Enterprises.
In the months spent researching this, we never found a definitive paper or published research outside of system integrators or service providers that had actual projected financials for SP or Enterprise. Also, given the financial calculations were heavily weighted on the ROI models from specific vendor equipment vs any diversity in mixed infrastructure environments. In further calculation of the costs for IaaS, requirements from Service Providers or Enterprise do not involve simple scenarios where the predictable medium based Virtual Machine would suffice as a definitive control point for those calculations. We’ve seen the requirements need to align in the form of complex workloads such as database and transaction processing that require more robust, and more expensive IaaS-class VMs within diverse infrastructure, distributed about multiple tiers. Regardless of the requirements category, multiple small scale and diverse control projects are needed to gather precise cost, performance, and availability metrics to validate the real cost and ROI IaaS models. IaaS, for the most part, has to increase it’s service offerings to go further into areas like Virtualized Desktops (VDI), offer enhanced security for data, and potentially pay-per-use capacity on demand services just to name a few. At that point, IaaS is moved from it’s rudimentary form to more of a superset like PaaS, BPaaS, SaaS, etc. One thing to keep in mind, PaaS is very closely associated to the lower end services similar to IaaS where it’s monetization and revenue generation is almost identical.
In summary, we see the Cloud is here to stay but there is a decline in the need for just a simplistic offering of services beyond what is IaaS. The enhanced subset of services must move away from IaaS to be more like BPaaS, SaaS and other models to cost effective. Businesses, whether SP or Enterprise, are going to leverage those services in their market and effect significant changes in the way they operate. The budgets that once filled groups of individual business units (speaking in the context of the Enterprise) to accommodate for their own IT presence, are now consolidated to larger capital and revenue budgets for enhanced IT subscription services that go far beyond what used to be just cloud infrastructure.