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Move Past Survival and Thrive

Every area of your business has a stake in the way IT delivers services. Each one needs speed, agility, efficiency, and a clear definition of its relationship with all of the other areas and the business as a whole. In order to get there and create an agile and efficient organization that flows, you need to unify IT with all areas of the business. There is no way around it.

If your company is one of the four out of ten companies moving to a private cloud by the end of 2014, then you know you need a solution that does more than dispense virtual machines in minutes. You need a solution to deliver diverse services across an entire solution stack. You need a cloud partner that can align with the demands of your business today, tomorrow, and well into the future. Always keep in mind that your cloud technology choices are major decisions with business-critical impact.

Selecting a cloud management solution is a strategic decision for your organization. In a previous blog, I wrote about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) receiving the highest score in the Forrester Private Cloud Wave Report for cloud vision and strategy. What we presented to Forrester, and even more, is now available for your organization through the latest release of Cisco IAC.

How does vision and strategy translate into IT better aligning with your business? Sit back and watch this informative, short video to find out.

Every day customers tell me what keeps them up at night is not how to reduce costs but how to survive. Just as in nature, survival for business depends on intelligence and fast and agile execution of processes. To make these capabilities part of your organization’s genetic composition, so that they are intrinsic, almost intuitive, you need a cloud management solution that sees, understands, and manages your whole environment: physical and virtual, networks, applications, and more – whatever comprises your stacks.

Plus, you need cloud efficiencies to extend beyond your data center securely and encompass business functions such as delivery of development environments within minutes, the ordering of a new laptop or virtual desktop, onboarding of a new employee, or even the ordering of office supplies. And you want to be able to do all of these things from a unified user interface.

That’s exactly what the latest release of Cisco IAC brings to the table:

• The integration of Cisco IAC and Cisco UCS Director delivers a comprehensive private cloud, which frees you to focus on creating differentiated services instead of building your cloud.
• A unified self-service portal and catalog covers your enterprise, providing a modern online shopping experience across all data center and workplace functions.
• Advanced cloud governance offers the ability to manage demand, suppliers, and service consumption tracked to specific budgetary or resource thresholds.

But wait, there’s more. There’s the network. Any NOC expert will tell you that delivering network services in the cloud is a manual, trouble-ticket-based grind. At a time when your business needs speed and agility, manual network service delivery slows down IT and your business.

Unchain your business with Cisco IAC’s out-of-box templates that automate the delivery of VPNs, firewalls, and load balancers. We’re not talking about a single configuration applied to every organization, but the ability for each tenant to define its own unique network service configuration.

Cisco understands that cloud management is more than dispensing virtual machines. The latest release of Cisco IAC allows IT to align with your business, so that you’re free to not just survive, but to thrive.

Take the next step and watch this technical video overview of Cisco IAC.

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Automated Provisioning of Application Stacks

Whether working with bare-metal servers or virtual machines; provisioning applications and infrastructure traditionally are independent tasks that are completed by different data center teams. Infrastructure is usually provisioned manually. Applications are customarily provisioned via golden templates. As customers look to move automation beyond infrastructure to include applications, the maintenance complexity and manual “last mile” configuration associated with application golden templates is no longer a sustainable solution.

The situation has made Puppet and Chef popular. Both assist with automating the infrastructure life cycle as well as rapid application deployment. But some system admins prefer to use Puppet. Some prefer Chef. Cloud admins want to use Amazon, vCloud Director or OpenStack. What to do?

Cisco lets you use either or both and makes it easier to automate application delivery thanks to the Cisco Application Stack Accelerator for Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC). With this cloud accelerator, those “last mile” deficiencies are practically eliminated.

Bringing together the knowledge of infrastructure and application specialists, this solution automates the design and configuration of application stack components. The result is an application blueprint that consistently delivers applications within minutes, across multiple cloud platforms, to the exact design and specification of the application architect.

Watch these two videos to better understand application blueprints as well as how they can be consumed by Cisco IAC.

Video #1 clarifies what an application blueprint does and how to design and configure them

Video #2 walks you through how to deliver fully configured multi-tier cloud applications with Cisco IAC

Why is this important? Customers tell us that they struggle with multiple requests for virtually the same application. One particular customer, discovered that they had 250 requests for the same application in a two month period. Each one of these requests took IT four to six weeks to deliver before the project could begin. This not only shows down IT but your business as well.

Using Cisco IAC and the Application Stack Accelerator, you can automate the design, configuration and consumption of applications via the Cisco IAC portal. The result? Customers get their application within 30-40 minutes instead of four to six weeks resulting in projects starting sooner. IT spends less time spinning up multiple versions of virtually the same application allowing them to focus on new innovative services. Bottom line: your business experiences agility, speed, and efficiency.

Industry analysts forecast that four out of every 10 companies will be utilizing a private cloud by the end of 2014. With cloud automation becoming this prevalent, you owe it to yourself to learn how Cisco IAC and the Application Stack Accelerator can speed up the design, configuration and consumption of applications within your organization.

Together, this solution can help you deploy applications efficiently; reduce complexity and ensure that applications are deployed to the architect’s exact design and specification.

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Use Cloud to Execute Your Business Vision

Major change and growth is happening in the way data centers are functioning. This change is being led by cloud technology.

IT’s role is changing from an infrastructure provider to strategic business partner. The new role for IT is to align you with the services you need, when you need them, from a portfolio of internal or external services.

Once viewed as your organization’s virtual machine dispenser, cloud is quickly maturing. You have expectations beyond virtual machines. You need applications along with the underlying components that support that application. You need an automated way to manage application life cycles as well as integrate business financials.

Cisco has lived this data center evolution and has been surfing the sea of change. It has the tools for you to accelerate cloud delivery in your organization as well.

Introduced last week at CiscoLive Milan, Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) 4.0 is a game changing solution that extends cloud beyond the data center. It is a great choice if you:

• Want a single modern business portal that acts as your central order point for IT or any business service. Cisco IAC delivers. With a modern, on-line shopping experience, you can order data center services, applications, development platforms and telephony or collaboration services with a single-click order experience.

Service Portal

• Require your cloud management to be heterogeneous not homogeneous. Cisco IAC 4.0 operates in concert with UCS Director to deliver a solid multi-vendor private cloud platform that spans physical and virtual infrastructure components. With this unique combination, you can shift your focus from “how to build” to delivering differentiated services for your organization to consume.

• Understand that networking is hard and a vendor with domain dominance is essential. Network services in the cloud are difficult and as a result the network team is rarely included in the cloud conversation. Cisco IAC’s out-of-box templates for network services, such as firewalls, load balancers, and VPNs, allows your network team to once again participate in the conversation.

Network Topology

• Want cloud governance that goes beyond basic health and status. With advanced financial management across multiple tenants and platforms, you can tailor prices per tenant, or geography, or application type. When you order a service, Cisco IAC automatically delivers a price quote which becomes a threshold to which consumption, by budget or actual resource, can be tracked. When this threshold is reached, you will be notified that additional funds or resources are required or the service will be terminated.

There is a sea of change occurring in data centers today. You need a strategic partner who has the
vision to successfully navigate this change. Dive in and learn how Cisco IAC can support your business – like it supports Cisco’s data centers.

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Top Things to Know About DFA Before Cisco Live Milan

January 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm PST

Two weeks ago, I presented a webinar on Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) and went over the allocated 1 hour to cover the content.  Yesterday, as I was doing follow up with a hands-on demo, I went over time too. This illustrates how rich DFA is, and how much there is to say about it! Dynamic Fabric Automation is an environment for data center automation that is centered on the CPOM (Central Point of Management), a set of services that are provided with the new Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) release 7.0(1).

The services available on the CPOM provide the following:

  1. Power On Auto Provisioning (POAP)
  2. Inter-switch link connection verification
  3. A single console for configuration
  4. Network Auto-Config Profile provisioning
  5. Message processing for external orchestrator
  6. Automatic host provisioning
  7. Embedded management for network monitoring and data collection

All of these services are provided using standard protocols and applications. For example, the POAP service uses DHCP, TFTP and SCP/SFTP, but using a combination of templates and a very intuitive and easy-to-use GUI, DCNM provides a simplified and systematic way of bringing up your data center fabric. The inter-switch link validation or cable consistency check allows the operator to verify the fabric connections against a predefined template and prevent unexpected connections to come up.

The Jabber process provides the single console for configuration, statistics and troubleshooting. Using any XMPP client, an operator can “chat” with the fabric devices; this approach offers the possibility to organize devices in chat groups that match their role, their location or simply some administrative set. With XMPP, a single command can be sent to multiple devices in a secure way.

The most important element of the CPOM is certainly the network profile provisioning. Read More »

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Cloud-based ITaaS: Transforming IT from Support to Service Brokerage

Cloud computing is more mainstream today than ever before, but it’s important to note that there are still significant opportunities for IT leaders to innovate and leverage cloud delivery options to capture new business opportunities and implement new IT models.

The Evolution of ITaaS: The Convergence of Two Roads

On one hand, traditional private cloud services within customer IT services are driving different degrees of completeness depending on organizational needs. Virtualization, consolidation and on-premise shared services are some of the drivers within the private cloud space.

On the other hand, public cloud services are evolving to include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Today, these two tracks are intersecting to create demand for a hybrid cloud model. While the concept of the “Hybrid” cloud has developed mostly as a consequence of the availability of different cloud services, this same availability is also driving the evolution of IT as a Service.

What does this mean for business? It means that fundamentally, IT is adopting a supply chain management logic by deciding whether to make or buy a specific service based on a variety of organizational goals, market pressures, and available options.

The Ongoing IT Sourcing Strategy: Make vs. Buy 

Read More »

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