I get asked this question a lot. Cisco has multiple exciting Converged Infrastructure solutions with partners. There are actually two different software product “categories” covering the Infrastructure (or POD) Manager and the Cloud Management Solution. Let dig a bit deeper in what the differences are.
CSC’s portfolio of cloud solutions has quadrupled along with the global customer base. It’s unique offering, BizCloud, saves months and millions of dollars over the other “do it yourself” private clouds.
What’s the secret behind this success?
A unique cloud-business model
Take the best elements of a public cloud – scalability and convenience, combine with the security of a private cloud. Add a best-in-class infrastructure-as-a-service layer. Top it off with a menu of cloud services options. Then bill as a service from a standard rate card and include a pay-as-you-go plan.
What do you get? A unique solution that CSC calls BizCloud.
BizCloud delivers the security and exclusivity of a private cloud with elasticity and a pay-as-you-go rate structure.
Differentiation through automation
You might wonder, how did CSC circumvent the time consuming and costly business of managing a cloud environment? The answer is: better automation.
“The Cisco Intelligent Automation solution is also used by Cisco IT, and when we saw how Cisco uses its own cloud automation product, we were encouraged. It will be an essential component of our long-term reference architecture for the enterprise cloud,” says Eli Almog, CTO for Cloud, CSC
I had a customer ask me last week what differentiated our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution. He had reviewed many of the vendors in the space of private cloud software stacks including some of the virtualization vendors and was somewhat impressed to see that overall the industry was making progress in building out these solutions. He did have a nagging thought in the back of his head that going with many vendors meant he was getting a “prefabricated” cloud experience much in the way prefab homes are offered.
His management wanted a private cloud, wanted it fast, but was not sure exact what a private cloud would look like or how it would operate. His enterprise had specific needs, whether they be naming conventions for VMs or physical servers, or any number of integration points into 3rd partner products. What his company really wanted was a home built to their specific needs for their private cloud. This did not mean a fully custom house, but something that could use standard components (think of all the standard construction components we use now a days) to build a designed to spec home.
This did not mean they needed high end digs right away but the ability to start in a pragmatic way and to enhance, extend, and build upon that first home. This requires an underlying framework that can be used to build a company’s first pragmatic cloud and to grow up, much like my 63 year old house in its fourth remodel over the years. The basic platform is present, we are just making much needed changes to support the needs of 2012.
After we got on the same page about clouds and why he would want to build his companies 5-10 year strategy of cloud on an extensible framework, we moved on to the composition of the solution: product license, Cisco TAC support, and Cisco Advanced Services. Given a clear business driver for the private cloud (such as in-sourcing of rogue VMs in the cloud, or driving infrastructure support of elastic business needs, or leverage Cisco network functionality for multi-tenancy) the financial conversation resulted in a positive outcome for both sides. Of note was that building this individual’s Enterprise Private Cloud means that he was going to consume a good amount of Cisco Advanced Services. To him this was a good thing as he was leveraging the knowledge and experience of the Cisco team to build and configure his cloud to start out and to scale out. Just like when I am building a new great room in my house, I want the best people figuring out structural loads, making construction recommendations for extensions and to build out those special design features.
That is the thing about REAL private clouds, they need effort to configure it the way your company wants to operate it.
VNMC 2.0 is a template-driven policy management tool that is now bundled with Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) and Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall. This new release now has expanded capabilities to configure the security of your virtual cloud environment. Because VNMC 2.0 is such a step up from prior releases, and fewer people are familiar with its functionality, this is going to be a bit longer of a post than usual (but with lots of screen shots).
Let’s take a look at some of the key VNMC features and how it works with the two virtual firewalls:
Resource Objects for ASA 1000V
Cisco VNMC abstracts the devices it manages. As part of provisioning, devices are configured to point to Cisco VNMC for policy management. Cisco VNMC discovers all devices and lists them under the Resources pane. In addition to the ASA 1000V, the Resources pane has other resources such as Cisco VSGs, VSMs, and VMs.
Cloud is a journey. This post discusses our approach to crawl, walk and run.
A cloud architecture has multiple facets and requirements, a key part of which is the need for cloud orchestration and provisioning, coupled with a self-service end user portal. Let’s call this “Cloud Automation” for now. If you are designing and/or building a cloud, then, part of your work will be to deliver a cloud automation solution to deliver on that promise. How do you plan to go about that? One approach is to define your extensive list of requirements, based upon your business needs and current capabilities, and go about building out that solution.
Another approach is what I’ll call “Crawl Walk Run”. The incremental approach.
Cloud is a change to the operational model: a change in behavior, accounting, process and people. You can’t do it overnight. Trying to deliver every service doesn’t work.
It’s very important to set a roadmap of where you want go with your cloud services so you don’t get stuck in the VM Azores — this is where all the focus is on VM provisioning and then you deploy technology that does that. And only that.
You need that roadmap of services and a technology platform that supports your vision. Even if all you first is crawl.