Every once in a while (here, here), I have the same conversation enough times with customers that I find it useful to bring it to the blog community. Last week at VMworld 2011, I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time speaking with customers and partners about Intelligent Automation and what it means for IT to deliver self-service capabilities to their customers (internal, contractors, etc.). During the conversations, a number of questions came up over and over again: Read More »
Contributed by David Flesh, Sr Manager, Product Marketing, Cisco Network Management Technology Group
Many service providers today are implementing or investigating cloud computing to take advantage of its inherent operational advantages and as a platform from which to offer differentiated cloud-based services. By abstracting IT resources and services from the underlying infrastructure, service providers are achieving highly elastic, multitenant environments and savings. For example, cloud-based environments facilitate provisioning in minutes; time-to-market reductions of more than 50 percent; high server and storage utilization; 50 percent reductions in capital costs; and 25 to 30 percent reductions in operational costs. 1
At the same time, cloud-based services are highly attractive to providers’ enterprise customers. Service provider-based cloud services offer greater scalability and performance without requiring premises-based infrastructure and management. Self-service, scale-on-demand, and pay-per-use features increase user convenience and IT flexibility, while automated recovery and cloud-based backup significantly enhance risk management.
The good news is that service providers today are uniquely positioned to take advantage of cloud computing. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) -- a cloud utility architecture -- provides an easy entry point for many service providers who are already expert at provisioning, managing, and scaling infrastructure-based services for multiple customers. IaaS helps enable service providers to increase return on investment through existing infrastructure and to deliver high-margin multitenancy services and support new competitive offerings. According to the Cisco Internet Business Systems Group, a 2009 study has forecast IaaS service revenues to be approximately $15.6 billion by 2013.
Last week I presented and participated at the The Open Group Forum in Austin, TX. It was a great event, with insights into Enterprise Architecture, Business Architecture and Emerging Architectures. There were several breakout tracks in the Forum, including, the most popular -- Cloud Architectures Track. The sessions ranged from connecting architecture frameworks (TOGAF) to Cloud Architectures, to Cloud Architectures development. My session was on “Architecture & Considerations for IaaS Clouds”. This session was more focused on technology aspects of the Cloud Architecture. Also, it could be applied to either an enterprise private cloud or a service provider cloud settings. Just to level set everyone in the audience, I started out with a taxonomy and reference architecture (RA) review. I utilized both NIST’s published and a simplified version of Cisco Cloud RA. The Cisco RA review was the case in point for this session, where Infrastructure, Service orchestration, Delivery/Management and consumer layers were discussed.
Innovation is inextricably linked with the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again!” Great entrepreneurs concur that in order to drive real innovation, corporations must cultivate originality by giving employees the freedom and resources to introduce new ideas, methods and processes.
So I began to wonder, what are some great ways that an enterprise can balance the hard costs and the opportunity costs of fostering innovation with the more practical demands of the balance sheet?
A few weeks ago, I heard James Urquhart talking to a customer about their cloud strategy and he said some things that I thought were very powerful. He was talking about the flexibility of Cisco UCS and how it allowed for inexpensive do-overs. You can buy the hardware and try something on it at small scale. If it shows promise, you can scale it up to meet the full market need. If it doesn’t work, the hardware can quickly be recaptured and repurposed for the next innovation. Repeat, redo, retry, redesign—cost effectively “try, and try again.”
As the conversation went on with the customer, we came to recognize the same benefit of a well-engineered orchestrator as the common point of interaction of all the pieces of IT.
New services in the cloud are more than just building a new VM template or vApp and then cloning it on demand. The move toward ITaaS means bringing in new purpose-built technologies (such as IT chargeback, application configuration management, network flow management, industry-specific compliance reporting, etc.), and integrating them with existing OSS/BSS products you already have (ticketing systems, network monitoring, email, etc.).
This week’s focus on Cisco’s Unified Network Services (UNS) portfolio looks at cloud orchestration and the concept of a Network Hypervisor. What is a “Network Hypervisor”?
In the same way that a traditional hypervisor can offer up a modular, replicable set of virtual server resources (including OS, CPU slice, network interfaces), a network hypervisor is a modular abstraction of reusable network services to assemble a flexible data center or cloud infrastructure. Sounds interesting so far, but what does the network hypervisor actually do?
The first function is to allow organizations to pre-define and replicate the modular network containers that abstract a rigid underlying network infrastructure from the needs of individual applications and services. An example of a network container might be defined to include individual components such as logical VM ports, load balancer and firewall. This logical network environment can be assigned and isolated to a particular tenant to provide the network services a particular application needs and where the application VMs can be placed. The figure below shows how some modular, pre-defined containers can be nested and plugged together to offer customized services for a particular tenant. A small number of defined containers can be replicated and plugged together in a large number of permutations to address a wide range of application requirements.
These flexible, pre-defined containers can be device agnostic, just like their server counterparts, and help provide security and quality of service through tenant isolation, as well as application resiliency. During the application and VM provisioning process, the defined network containers advertise their capabilities and are deployed along with the VM in the proper locations. Just like the VMs they are aligned with, the network containers are location-independent and handle all the changes required during VM-mobility, ensuring that the application has the same network services in the new location. Obviously this goes well beyond just the layer 2 and 3 networking services, through to the layer 4-7 application services like load balancing, WAN optimization, and security as mentioned earlier.