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Cloupia + Cisco Unified Management = Better Together

December 11, 2012 at 7:17 am PST

Yesterday, Cisco announced that we closed on the acquisition of Cloupia.  Cloupia is now officially part of Cisco and a very exciting new addition to our Unified Management software portfolio.

Ever since the news broke about Cisco’s intent to acquire Cloupia, I’ve been asked how this fits with our other data center and cloud management software products.  In short, Cloupia’s strength is in converged infrastructure management and it’s a powerful complement to Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Manager as well as our cloud management software.

The Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller extends the value of UCS Manager and provides deeper compute, storage, and network provisioning for converged infrastructure solutions including FlexPod, ExpressPod, Vblock, and VSPEX.  It delivers a unified control point for this infrastructure, with physical and virtual resource management that can be combined with our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution.  There are also potential synergies with other management software products in our portfolio including Cisco Network Services Manager and Cisco Virtual Network Management Center for the automation and provisioning of network resources.

Last week, I was at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas where I spoke with several analysts, customers, and partners about this new addition to our software portfolio. I’ve used the graphic below to illustrate our perspective on the management requirements for cloud computing – showing how infrastructure management provides an essential foundation for cloud management and orchestration.

One of the key take-aways from the feedback I heard at the conference was that Cisco has a highly differentiated position in the data center and cloud management market. Many of our competitors have resource management for virtual compute, but their functionality to manage physical resources is limited; few have the ability to manage storage and network infrastructure.

With Cloupia, we’ve strengthened Cisco’s ability to manage both physical and virtual resources across compute, storage, and network infrastructure.  Now IT administrators can quickly setup and configure Unified Data Center solutions built around our best-in-class Cisco UCS and Nexus products, from within a single management console – improving both IT speed and agility.

And how does this fit with Cisco’s existing cloud management products?  Like peanut butter and jelly, infrastructure management and cloud management are actually quite different. You can refer to this blog post by my colleague Wayne Greene for an overview and some key distinctions.  But, like with peanut butter and jelly, when you put the two together – it’s a great combination.  That’s the vision we have for Cloupia and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud: better together.  Spread it on some UCS, and it’s PBJ time.

As with many software acquisitions in this space, we recognize that there are some areas of similar functionality across our management products – and our product engineering teams will be addressing that in our roadmaps going forward.  Now that the acquisition has closed, our teams can focus on this collaboration and integration.  The graphic below illustrates how Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud will use Cloupia’s northbound API to consume physical and virtual resources in a Vblock, FlexPod, VSPEX, ExpressPod, or other Cisco converged infrastructure solution.

Converged infrastructure management from Cloupia is the foundation for dynamically provisioning compute, storage, and network resources.  Process orchestration is required to manage the end-to-end workflow, bringing infrastructure automation together with business policies and your existing IT operations environment. And as James Staten of Forrester pointed out in a recent blog post, it requires a portal interface and service catalog to “unify enterprise-cloud consumption” across application and infrastructure services, and across private and public clouds.

One way to look at this synergy is to think about the “supply chain” for your IT services: spanning converged infrastructure management, process orchestration, and the end-user service catalog.  At one end, you have the factory – it’s where you put together the raw materials (VMs, LUNs, blades, switches), configure the resources, and control the infrastructure. Then you have logistics for transportation and warehouse management, including third party intermediaries – that’s the process orchestration and integration with other operational systems.  And finally, every cloud needs a storefront – that’s the service catalog and self-service provisioning experience for IT consumers.

To push the analogy a bit further, let’s start with some raw ingredients. Take coffee* as an example – sounds simple and straightforward, like infrastructure.  But is it?

Starbucks claims to have 87,000 combinations on their menu. It can get pretty complicated (like a grande decaf no-whip skinny peppermint white chocolate mocha with an extra shot).

In much the same way, infrastructure-as-a-service may sound simple.  Isn’t it just a few basic ingredients with compute, storage, and network?  But think about all the variations and service options (like backup or 24x7 support) required for enterprise application hosting.  Even if you’re using the same infrastructure components, it’s much more than provisioning VMs, LUNs, and VLANs.

When you do it right, you can hide all this complexity from the end user.  The power of the apparent simplicity in the Amazon.com catalog interface, combined with their logistics and supply chain operations behind the scenes, is what fueled the company’s success in e-commerce.  And while your IT service catalog may not have the millions of SKUs that Amazon.com sells on their website (or the 87,000 options on the Starbucks menu), customer satisfaction and operational efficiency is just as important to managing your infrastructure and IT services.

That’s the value of converged infrastructure management when combined with cloud management: providing a simple and easy-to-use experience with on-demand provisioning, along with governance and process orchestration, to deliver the right services at the right time at the right cost to your IT consumers.

And that’s our vision for the addition of Cloupia to Unified Management.  Better together.  Please join me in welcoming Cloupia to the Cisco team.

*Thanks to Kevin Kelling (@BlueShiftBlog) for the analogy.

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Introducing Network Services Manager for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1

The release of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 (Cisco IAC) begins to address one of the key questions of our customers who are building public and private clouds:  How can I automate the network services configuration in my data center pod to enable policy-based network infrastructure as a service for my customers?

Some of you may be familiar with the Cisco Network Services Manager (Cisco NSM), part of the Intelligent Automation software portfolio.  With the release of Cisco IAC 3.1, Cisco NSM is now integrated with and bundled as part of Cisco IAC, laying the foundation for infrastructure as a service.

Let’s take a look at some of the features in NSM for Cisco IAC:

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Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 — for Partners and Customers

November 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm PST

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 was announced this week in a blog article by Director of Marketing Jason Schroedl.

Why are Customers and Partners excited about this new release?

The release this week of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 further demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to help its enterprise and service provider customers with innovative technology for private, public, and hybrid cloud deployments.

Today I would like to talk about the three ways an enterprise company can implement their cloud with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud:

  1. Cisco Advanced Service -- cloud enablement services
  2. Authorized Technology Provider Partner — professional services delivery engagement
  3. Customer Implementation — following upcoming customer training
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Why Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 Matters for Enterprise Private Clouds

November 2, 2012 at 11:28 am PST

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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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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