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How Agile is your Cloud? (Part 2 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Is your organization moving to a cloud model through a well thought out RFP with at least 40 requirements?  May I suggest that you rethink this model.   The RFP approach with a committee generated wish list may work in some situations, or even be required, but in general the IT shops that really differentiate themselves go Agile for the cloud.  What does that mean?

In our business unit we have turned the development of our Cloud Automation platform:  Intelligent Automation for Cloud to an Agile development methodology and process.   This means when I ask if we will have a certain feature in our 3.1 version, I get an unexpected answer:  we won’t know until close to the ship date.  Going agile means we work off a backlog of user stories versus a hard and fast set of features that MUST be in the release.  We can ship at anytime with the right methodologies in place.

This approach also works for our customers in building their clouds with our software stack.  Agile cloud builders have a set of cloud user stories that they are implementing and may release the updated version of the cloud functionality every quarter, or even every 2-3 weeks.   When relaying this approach that one of our customers is taking to another customer considering our solution, I could see a twinkle in his eye as he said:  I bet that could really help differentiate the value the IT organization provides.  He got that right.

We sell to customers who have RFPs and those who look for capabilities, roadmaps, and more importantly an alignment of vision and approach to cloud automation.   Many cloud builders look for vendors who will grow with their agile cloud and one that has an open and extensible model to build new use cases with.   Why is that of paramount importance?  If you think you know what your cloud needs six months from now, good luck.  If you bet on the fact that your business and technology requirements will change before you get to your next release of your cloud you will need an agile cloud builder methodology.

Back to responding to, SIGH, another RFP.

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Unleash your Automation for Cloud (Easier than you Think)

In about 2 weeks there will be a great webinar panel discussion on the business and technology architecture concerns in automating your cloud and how to measure the value.   Unleashing automation solutions to do what they do best may make or break a company’s IT strategy over the next few quarters as those cloud journeys begin.

The webinar, IT Automation Unplugged, a panel discussion moderated by Glenn O’Donnell of Forrester will indeed be a cool event to listen in to.  Not only has Glenn followed this space for many years but he also has some really insightful perspectives on the Journey to Cloud.  This webinar has the potential to highlight some really pointed dialog between myself and Brad Adams of rPath, Nand Mulchandani of ScaleXtreme, and Luke Kanies of Puppetlabs.  I bet the sparks might fly as we trade our perspectives on the huge demand for private and public clouds and need for enterprises to show value quickly.

This brings me to a great phrase I heard this week from one of our customers.  It was used in the context of their employees using their company’s private cloud.   It was “High Governance”.  It was seriously lacking in their current solution which highly leveraged their virtualization vendor’s software.  I probed them on what they meant by “High Governance”.  It was mostly around ensuring that individuals that provision services would get  access to only the services, cloud data center locations, and specific providers that they are entitled to.   While this is not a new concept, the element that grabbed my attention was that IT shops have a strong need for different sourcing strategies based upon end user role, organization,  location, and any number of policy settings in their Active Directory or LDAP.

“High Governance” means ensuring that your cloud users get ONLY what they are entitled to in your IT policy.   No more generic UIs for generic users or uber UIs for unknown hypothetical users.  The cloud is now a strongly governed personal experience, what a novel concept.

I wonder what the panel will think about this.  Please attend if you get a chance.

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In Between the Numbers: Renting Prosperity – A New Value Proposition

June 25, 2012 at 8:37 am PST

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. 

Read More »

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SAP and Cisco Intelligent Automation (CHECK); Manual Processes (ZERO)

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
  • advanced reporting
  • 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.

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Cisco Live Update on Intelligent Automation for Cloud – The Journey and How Cisco Partners Help IT Shops Get to Cloud

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.

We are now in the thick of that Journey.

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