I have had many customers and partners ask me about Cisco Cloudverse in the past 2 weeks. One of the top questions I get asked is whether we support other hypervisors besides VMware. Lew Tucker in his interview in Information week covered it well: http://www.informationweek.com/news/cloud-computing/infrastructure/232300123 . Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud works well with many hypervisors and we have seen many successful clouds built on vCenter, HyperV, and Linux KVM. We find many customers look at multiple hypervisors to prevent vendor lock-in and all the issues associated with that. The world of many clouds is indeed a complex place as organizations building a private cloud have to decide on:
- Server Vendor(s)
- Network Vendor(s)
- Storage Vendor(s)
- Whether to use a converged infrastructure model or not
- Cloud Automation software, (will the virtualization vendor’s software be enough for a pragmatic cloud?)
- IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, or all of these models
- Integrations into pre-existing IT operations management tools
- What to expose in the Front Office (Service Catalog and Self Service Portal)
- Details of the Back office (automation workflows, policies, models)
- Whether to have any hybrid cloud models deployed.
I have seen Cisco Partners play a strategic role in helping their customers make sense of this complex playing field. They key item is to first understand what type of cloud an organization wants to deploy and what the Front Office should look like. Oftentimes I find organizations have a lot of opinions and pre-existing work on the technical provisioning, but have not thought much about what to present to end users / consumers of the cloud. Focusing on what the Cloud Portal would present to the ultimate consumers is really where the transformation to cloud needs to start. We tend to get wrapped around the axle with all the details of the infrastructure provisioning and leave little time to the end user experience. That is a really a career limiting move when it comes to your organization adopting cloud.
Our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution, a key element of Cisco Unified Management, is a new paradigm for Cloud Automation and Management, derived from the leverage of newScale, Tidal, and Linesider acquisitions. It is both a policy and orchestration centric solution than can solve pragmatic cloud deployment needs, versus simply adopting one model (such as vCloud Director). The following figure details the considerations of policy and console based solutions versus catalog and orchestration centric solutions:
Virtually all of the customer conversations I have highlight the fact that customers want both Physical and Virtual provisioning and cloud automation. This is where Cisco Unified Management which includes the Cisco UCS Manager for Physical Server “virtualization” and Cisco Network Services Management for Physical and Virtual Network Services “virtualization”. These two technologies, alongside the Cisco Cloud Portal and the Cisco Process Orchestrator are key for creating both a physical and virtual cloud. This is what the most pragmatic of customers are looking for when transform to cloud. It is indeed a universe of clouds and Cisco can help.
Tags: Cisco CloudVerse, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, Cisco Network Services Manager, Cisco UCSM, hypervisor, orchestration, private cloud, Public Cloud, VMware
By now you have may have seen the Cisco announcement of the Unified Data Center and Unified Management http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=578106. This exciting story around Unified Management began in the late summer of 2010 when the engineering team in Cisco’s Tidal Software acquisition began the integration of the Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator and the UCS Manager. We realized that we could take our experience with hundreds of customers in application automation and apply that toward infrastructure automation, specifically around provisioning, virtualization and cloud. Our future was cloudy and that was indeed a good thing.
Five months later after intensive technical and business innovation, in the third week of January in 2011, the Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit introduced our cloud automation suite which brought the ease of Amazon EC2 to the private cloud for both physical and virtual clouds. The solution consisted of newScale’s self service and service catalog technology, integrated to the Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator for automation of infrastructure provisioning and IT operations management tool integrations. I had been a customer of both of these companies at a previous job and had experienced the benefits of automating both the end user and back end systems with these two companies. With the new use cases of data center and cloud automation I was convinced that these technologies could be the basis of something transformational for our customers.
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Tags: Cloud Management, intelligent automation, Network Services Manager, orchestration, private cloud, Public Cloud, UCS
Earlier in my career, I ran a corporate IT and managed services tooling team. I wish it was garage type tools, but it was IT operational management tools. My team was responsible for developing and integration a set of ~20 applications that was the “IT for the IT guys”. It was a great training ground for 120 of us; we worked on the bleeding edge and we were loving it. We did everything from product management, development, test, quality engineering deployment, production and operational support. It was indeed an example of eating your own cooking. Applications where king in our group. We had .NET, J2EE, JAVA, C, C+, C++ and other languages. We have custom build and COTS (commercial off the shelf) software applications.
One day on a fateful Friday, my teenagers happily asleep on a Friday night way past midnight (I guess that made it Saturday), I was biting my nails at 2 AM with my management and technical team on a concall wondering what went wrong. We were 5 hours into a major yearly upgrade and Murphy was my co-pilot that night. I had DBAs, architects, Tomcat experts, QA, load testing gurus, infrastructure jockeys, and everyone else on the phone. We had deployed 10 new servers that night and were simultaneously doing an upgrade to the software stack. I think we had 7 time zones covered with our concall. At least for my compatriots in France it was not too bad; they were having morning coffee in their time zone. Our composite application was taking 12 seconds to process transactions; it should have taken no more 1.5 secs. The big question: can we fix this by Sun at 10 PM when our user base in EMEA showed up for work, or do we (don’t say this to the management) roll back the systems and application…. I ran out of nails at this point…. My wife came into my dark home office and wondered what the heck was going on…..
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Tags: application, automated provisioning, cloud, devops, devtest, intelligent automation, orchestration, server provisioning
Recently, a customer asked me what was the value of using automation to operate a private cloud? It was a good question. Working in the middle of the reality distorition field of the cloud industry I take it for granted that everyone knows automation’s benefits.
Fundamentally, automation tools help to reduce labor costs, rationalize consumption and increase utilization.
Costs are lower because the labor required to configure and deploy is eliminate. This automation is possible by creating standard infrastructure offerings. Standard infrastructure offering make possible a new operational model: to move from the artesanal approach of delivering infrastructure ,where every system and configuration is uniqe, to the industrialized approach, that ensures repeatability, quality and agility. It’s the difference between custom tailoring and standardized sizes at The Gap. Both have their place, but one costs more.
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Tags: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, Cloud Management, intelligent automation, orchestration, Service Orchestration, unified management
What provisioning the Cloud infrastructure and cooking have in common…
I like to cook. Sometimes, I’ll grab whatever ingredients I have on hand, put them in a Dutch oven, throw in a few spices, and make a delicious casserole that can never be repeated. At other times, I’ll follow a recipe to the letter, measure and weigh everything that goes in, and produce a great meal that I can repeat consistently each time.
When provisioning servers and blades for a Cloud infrastructure, the same 2 choices exist: follow your instinct and build a working (but not repeatable) system, or follow a recipe that will ensure that systems are built in an exacting fashion, every time. Without a doubt, the latter method is the only way to proceed.
Enter the Cisco Tidal Server Provisioner (an OEM from www.linmin.com) , an integral component of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Compute. TSP lets you easily create “recipes” that can be easily deployed onto physical systems and virtual machines with repeatability and quality, every time. These recipes can range from simple, e.g., install a hypervisor or an operating system, to very complex: install an operating system, then install applications, run startup scripts, configure the system, access remote data, register services, etc.
Once you have a recipe (we call it a Provisioning Template), you can apply it to any number of physical systems or virtual machines without having to change the recipe. Some data centers use virtualization for sand box development and prototyping, and use physical servers and blades for production. Some data centers do the opposite: prototype on physical systems, then run the production environment in a virtualized environment. And of course, some shops are “all physical” or “all virtual”. Being able to deploy a recipe-based payload consistently on both physical and virtual systems provides the ultimate flexibility. Yes, once you’ve created a virtual machine, you’ll likely use VMware vSphere services to deploy, clone and move VMs, but as long as you’re using TSP to create that “first VM”, you have the assurance that you have a known-good, repeatable way of generating the golden image. When time comes to update the golden image, don’t touch the VM: instead, change the recipe, provision a new VM, and proceed from there.
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Tags: Cloud Computing, data center provisioning, disk imaging, intelligent automation, job scheduling, linmin, orchestration, self-service, server provisioning