Have been thinking about the retail implications of an early May article in the Wall Street Journal.
“Renting Prosperity” (by Daniel Gross, May 5) spoke to the growing trend of rental – and not just in the traditional housing or automotive markets. Numerous other rental business have emerged in recent years, from the Zipcar car-sharing plan to the Chegg.com college textbook service to the one million customers who have used Rent the Runway’s frock-and-accessory services.
The obvious implication for retail is all about new business models. A number of traditional brick-and-mortar players are now testing the waters. We’re aware of initiatives in which purveyors of hard goods are renting clothes washing machines by the load and high-end consumers of electronics are leasing home theatre set-ups and even iPads – along with monthly subscriptions, say, to Netflix.
But the lessons of the rental trend go deeper than simply a new business model.
Great news for SAP users! Cisco’s industry leading IT process automation software based upon the Cisco Process Orchestrator and our knowledge based automation solution will be sold by SAP.
This solution addresses market demand for IT process automation, helping IT staff standardize and unify operational processes across the enterprise to support maximum up-time and optimal resource usage. What a big deal for SAP customers who will now get the advantages of this automation to achieve their business goals. We have well over 300 out of the box automation workflows that drive operational excellence. Imagine being the person who used to do all of this manually. Sign me up for:
automated health checks
unified incident response
predefined corrective actions
the ability to create reusable workflows with your best practices through a drag and drop editor
In fact, the core software that drives this is the same software that orchestrates our Intelligent Automation for Cloud Solution. Very cool that we can solve such different problems (SAP IT Process Automation) and Cloud Orchestration (provisioning of resources for physical and virtual servers) with the same software product.
This automation product will be co-marketed and sold with SAP Landscape Visualization Management (LVM) solution as part of SAP’s virtualization and cloud solution offering.
I want to extend a shout out to Eric Robertson,
our Product Manager for our SAP solutions and stay tuned for even more exciting solutions based upon Cisco Intelligent Automation.
Being at Cisco Live was a very different experience for me this year. Previous years I spent most of my time in the Intelligent Automation booth discussing functionality in the areas of service catalogs, portals, and orchestration workflows. It was mostly a technical conversation of how to build private cloud catalogs and how to provision infrastructure. This year my Cisco Live experience started off in talking to about 80 partners at the Cisco Connected Architecture Forum Summit; a very interesting crowd. It was here that I talked about what Cisco IT and our Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit experience was in deploying private clouds for end users. I discussed Cisco’s private cloud CITEIS, and our new product release Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition. I discussed Physical and Virtual Clouds and there was much interest in the concept of a services portal and automation construct for both Physical and Virtual clouds, something that is enabled very elegantly with the UCS Manager API. Partners asked great questions: How quickly can they deploy this starter cloud? How do customers chart out their journey to the cloud? Where do they start and what do they do first? Great conversations ensued…
Service Delivery Partners are a key strategy for the deployment of Cisco Cloud software stack. Watch the following interview with Sydney Morgan of Cisco IT and Dave Kinsman from World Wide Technologies, a partner of ours in this area as we talk about the Journey to Cloud and our experiences on the deployment side.
I spent the rest of Cisco Live talking to some great IT organizations about their cloud plans and journey that they are on. Some interesting examples are:
Financial Services: This customer of ours was focused on the deployment of cloud and the changes to the organization as they were coming off of Mainframe centric workloads, deploying them to x86 architectures on UCS. How the application developers would use the newly minted cloud was top of mind.
Service Provider: Many Cloud Service Providers are right at the intersection of business and technology: what service offers can I offer out of the chute to differentiate my company? Discussions around how our IA for Cloud technology stack and pre-built services and automation can make that easier. We also discussed the need and desire to train up their staff to become service designers and workflow authors.
Manufacturer: This customer is focused on operational efficiency and how automation software can reduce the mundane and routine tasks in operations. Replication of system configuration in a standardized way allows their deep application support teams to focus on differentiating their business.
Part 5 of the series “10 Things VMware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
5. A service catalog will help VMware admins get ready for cloud computing, public or private.
When I first came up with the concept of a service catalog to drive fulfillment process back in 1999 (Yep. 10 years ago. Time flies when you are having fun.) it was obvious that internal shared services like IT needed to emulate the likes of Amazon.
Well, here we are in 2009 and the wheel of time has brought us back to the same place. Now it’s the data center that is being disrupted rather than end user services. Customers are beginning to ask: Why can’t you be more like Amazon EC2? Why can’t you provision fast, at guaranteed cost?
Let’s look at how Amazon EC2 uses the concept of a service catalog and lifecycle management to deliver cloud computing in consumer-like experience.
There’s a lot of talk about the technical aspects of cloud computing, and little the customer side: Amazon communicates with its customers through a service catalog and lifecycle system. The brochure part of the catalog is found here. (I wrote this in more detail in my post: Amazon has written your technical services catalog).
To see the full functionality of this service catalog in action, I broke it down into Structure, Benefits, Pricing and Actionable for simplicity.
It covers what it does, what benefits (hightlights), details, major options and pricing! Then what I call the fine print (aka SLA’s).
It doesn’t skimp on benefits. In fact, benefits and outcomes are front and center. We can do the same with with our virtualization offerings.
They tout their unique differentiators are variable (elastic) cost, while re-assuring that you have complete control, flexibility and of course, it’s inexpensive. In fact, if you read that section, it draws a comparison against an internal data center! And it gets to heart of what customers don’t like about IT costs; highly fixed, over-bought, hard to plan for, etc.
It also covers the OS, database software and middleware choices. This is an example of going beyond the server.
What are your benefits? What are your unique differentiators?
Next, the catalog outlines the main packages: Standard and High CPU. Two choices, and then some three sub-choicess.
There’s a lot more description, links to explanation, FAQs, etc. It’s the way they standardize these formerly complicated configurations that is a useful take away.
Pricing follows and there three aspects to highlight. First, it’s completely and easily understandable as a unit of measure. They use per hour.
$0.10 per hour
$0.125 per hour
$0.40 per hour
$0.50 per hour
$0.80 per hour
$1.00 per hour
Think of all the complexity of running a datacenter: people, machines and facilities, etc. Amazon gets it down to controllable unit of of measure, hours. As a customer, I can choose to consume and hour or not. That’s a level of control that’s appealing to me. Is this the right unit of measure for every customer? No. It will depends on your customer and the benefit they want to buy. (More in future postings).
Second, they include all the pricing units for network, storage and servers. Your complete datacenter (almost) configuration.
Third, some charges like data transfer charges are harder to map to controllable costs, so Amazon provides a pricing calculator to help translate these costs into the potential bill. And they provide sample configurations and estimates.
Except for chargeback, which you are doing or not, every leson is directly applicable to how we present virtual environments.
How does the catalog play a role? In two ways, it establishes the standards which enable self-service and then uses those to meter and report to your account what your consumed.
Finally, this catalog is NOT STATIC. It’s completely actionable. If you have an account and log in, Amazon provides:
Self-service ordering, configuration and deployment. This request management against known, vetted standards is core to making cloud computing work. Think if Amazon had to go back and forth for weeks with a user about their configurations?
Account management functions. The customer can perform a variety of actions on their own to manage the lifecycle of virtual instance.
Consumption management and billing. The customer gets clear, hourly consumption metrics.
In other words, Amazon delivers a very complete service catalog tool set to enable cloud computing. I like that they have brought the ease of their regular catalog to a more complex environment. And ease wins.
Amazon has redefined the expectations and pricing for data center services. Make no mistake, they are your competitors. Now the challenge is to respond with your own service catalog and differentiated service definitions.
So if your plans are to provide private cloud computing to your users, or at least behave as one, you need to consider a service catalog very early on to help you establish standards, service levels, and provisioning processes.
This time, we ought to know one thing: No Catalog, No Cloud.
Part 4! of the series “10 Things Vmware Server Admins Should Know About Self-Service Catalogs and Lifecycle Management” that I’ll be publishing over the next couple of weeks.
4. There’s a lot more to setting up environments than provisioning servers, the service catalog provides access to all the other required services.
It’s great that you can quickly get a server instance going. Awesome, really. But that’s not an application hosting service. It’s important to understand the “whole product” requested. Is it a raw computing power w/ an OS? or is it an application stack? Or particular integration points, network, storage and security?
There’s a need to really think from a whole product perspective. What ancillary services need to go be coordinated to deliver an environment. Typically we’ll need to consider
Sometimes we can create complete application stacks such as: “Small Linux / JBoss / Oracle for standard development.” Other times, these items required hand-offs between teams.
In talking with VM admins, sometimes there’s a bit of the “not my problem” mentality — it’s those other jerks who are slow. But if the think about our job as delivering environments that can work in a data center or in the cloud and as we virtualized the network and storage, there’s more and more need for having a catalog of individual server request as well as complete environment
The service catalog contains all the other services that the customer needs in to deploy their application.