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Going Native with OpenStack Centric Applications: Overview

OpenStack ApplicationsCloud infrastructure is useless without applications running atop, providing business services and solving customer needs. So, as applications ascend to the throne as the rightful king of cloud, focus sharpens on their support within OpenStack-based Cisco Intercloud. With this focus, let’s walk through a survey of components and projects supporting applications in OpenStack, understanding what a day in the life of an application in OpenStack is like. We’ll start with an overview of the application ecosystem comprised of a number of supporting projects. In the ecosystem overview below, relevant OpenStack projects are presented in context of existing, similar technologies with which you may be familiar. These similar technologies both under and overlap functionality of the respective OpenStack project, but are shown to hasten your general understanding of which bucket these projects fall into by way of tech you may already know (so, add a pinch of salt when considering relevancy of suggested affiliated technologies). Read More »

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How Cisco uses Open Source Cloud to transform Telcos (Part 1 of 2)

Here is my first blog, which I am writing to you from Johannesburg, South Africa where I am on an assignment with a customer engagement.  Based in Dubai, I’m the part of the Cloud and IT Transformation Practice in Cisco Advanced Services, and I’d like to share some of my day-to-day consulting experience with you with respect to Telco and OpenStack.

The Customer Challenge

Telcos today are entrenched in their heterogeneous, disparate and multi-vendor operating environments. Whilst their web-scale counterparts can provision services often in minutes, a telco-grade offer sometimes takes weeks for fulfilment.

At the same time, demand is changing – present day users demand for “anywhere, any-time” data and service availability, secure, and with a satisfactory SLA. Further, they demand agile services, which provision quickly and at low cost and fully align with customer needs. For example, adding a new end point to a customer VPN should take very little provisioning time.

Not only this, but with the inception of the Internet of Everything, Telcos must invest to expand their capacity. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, the mobile data traffic alone is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61 percent (starting from 2013 all the way to 2018), reaching 15.9 exabytes per month by 2018.


Last but not least, capacity needs are dynamic – peak and non-peak usage of capacity differ by many factors, and idle capacity is a costly luxury. Neither the telco’s technical architecture nor the operating model and environment are ready today to meet the challenges of agile, high volume, fluctuating needs at an attractive cost.

New Telco Architectures

Especially when compared to hardware, software is a better environment to respond to these challenges: faster to adopt; more easily embodies new features; quickly reflects new customer configurations; scales up and down with more ease; and has little or no production cost. As a consequence, telcos try to move their environments as much to software as possible.

The next debatable item is the Software strategy: Commercial or OpenSource? Of course, Commercial Software comes with support and documentation and may be less susceptible to hackers due to its closed nature, while OpenSource offers a multitude of functions at little to no cost and is constantly updated and adapted.

To make Commercial Software more affordable for the Service Providers, vendors often suggest the “Pay As you Grow Model”.  Under this business model, vendors allow Service Providers to make relatively small initial investments in capacity and/or functionality. As the SP leverages software licensing to drive core initiatives, the investment in technology is  expanded incrementally if and when the business need arises.

This incremental model is often favored by businesses today as it insulates them against the downside of over-investing. For the vendor, this model promises both present and future revenue.

On the other hand, OpenSource comes with the source code which means Service Providers can have their own teams of developers and they can modify/update the contents as per the Business and Technical requirements.

Road to the OpenSource Cloud starts from Workload consolidation and then Infrastructure virtualization and then Operations Automation and then Cloud Computing and finally OpenSource Cloud so basically it’s a Journey not just a destination.

So what needs to be done here? It seems everyone is trying to move toward XaaS (everything “X” as a service) because this where cloud is popping up as the dominant way to provider infrastructure, applications and solutions – characterized by an off-premise, self-service, opex model of delivery.

But before a telco embarks itself on the path of transformation, it needs to identify its identity, i.e., what kind of services it is going to be offering. Some of the incumbent service providers are offering services such as Cloud Compute, Cloud Storage, Network enabled Cloud, Private Cloud, and VDI ….to name just  a few. What about your organization?

In my next blog, I’ll continue with our approach here at Cisco and how we are helping customers. In the meanwhile, please join us at OpenStack Summit in Paris:

The OpenStack Paris Summit started November 3. In addition to the general speaking sessions, booth, demos and other events captured here, Cisco’s team members are also leading and participating in several design sessions to shape the Kilo OpenStack release.

We look forward to having some great discussions at the Summit and hope to see you there as well! Please stop by Cisco (Booth C3) and our newest acquisition, Metacloud (Booth E37). Visit us at Cisco’s OpenStack webpage for more information.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Please feel free to get in touch via the comments field.


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Cisco and Red Hat – All In with OpenStack for the Enterprise

When it comes to driving innovation in next generation data center architectures, open source is clearly at the forefront. A perfect example is OpenStack, which is defining the future of cloud computing across private, public and hybrid clouds. This innovation is being driven by a strong and vibrant community that is taking place in Paris this week for the OpenStack Summit. I’m looking forwarding to reconnecting with friends in the OpenStack community and discussing the recently announced Cisco and Red Hat solution for OpenStack.

Interest in OpenStack as a cloud platform is clearly on the rise. At the recent Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) launch event in New York City, Cisco and Red Hat introduced the UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (UCSO).  The pre-integrated and validated solution is a major step forward in providing an enterprise ready private cloud solution based on OpenStack.

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The Top 5 OpenStack Adoption Challenges – View from Cisco Services’ Experts

openstackOpenStack is gaining increasing industry attention and, while it can deliver huge advantages, some may say it is “hyped”. Although OpenStack has an ever growing range of enthusiastic practitioners and advocates,  as you may be aware, OpenStack is not without its critics – including Gartner – who outline the challenges of OpenStack adoption. It’s therefore generally recommended that OpenStack adopters consider engaging professional services experts to help them avoid the pitfalls

With the November 2014 OpenStack Summit in Paris opening as I write this – you can find us at stand C3 along with our newest acquisition, Metacloud (Stand E37) if you are going – my thoughts turn to the issues and challenges facing our customers when they deploy OpenStack into production projects.  And who better to ask than our Cisco Services consultants who are delivering OpenStack adoption services (which we launched this time last year at the Summit in Hong Kong).

These consultants are at the “coal face” (as we say in my part of the world, Scotland) of OpenStack– they are the experts digging deep in the IT equivalent of the mines working with real customers going live with real-world OpenStack.    More than R&D investigations, these deployments are happening with customers who are betting their business dollars, pounds, yen and other currencies on OpenStack.  However as the video (below) shows, OpenStack has its deployment complexities.  Hence increasing numbers of our customers are engaging Cisco Services to help them on OpenStack.

To share our practical experiences with you, we sat down and came up with our “top 5” adoption challenges list which you may find useful if you are considering or embarking upon an OpenStack deployment:

  1. Cross-domain technical expertise is mandatory
  2. Going deep with Open Source
  3. “It’s just middleware”
  4. Don’t underestimate the learning curve
  5. Expect your OPEX to increase (sorry!)

Read More »

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Summary: Users to Take Center Stage at the Paris OpenStack Summit

On Monday the OpenStack® Summit kicks off in Paris, and estimates are that nearly 4000 people from around the world will be attending what I believe will be the best summit yet. It will also be my ninth summit, so to say that I’ve had an opportunity to see the project, community, and user base grow is an understatement.

My favorite activity at the summits has always been talking to people that use OpenStack to make magic happen for their companies. Not the data center teams, but the application developers, operations and devops teams, cloud architects, etc.  Every six months when the community gets together, there’s more of these end-users, and that’s a great thing. In Atlanta this past spring it was great to peek at peoples badges and see their company names. Virtually every sector of industry was represented, from the biggest banks to tiny social startups.

Read the full article: Users to take Center Stage at the Paris OpenStack Summit

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