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What makes Cisco’s Intelligent Automation so Intelligent?

This is a must read for those who want to deeply understand the philosophy behind Cisco’s automation product portfolio

It should not be news to you that Cisco has invested in software products to drive the management and automation of clouds, datacenters, and applications.  Intelligent Automation is the name that we have for the management and orchestration solutions in the Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit in Cisco’s Cloud and Systems Management Technology Group.

What is so intelligent about Cisco’s automation products?  Besides the official marketing and product management answers, I polled our Business Unit and Advanced Services teams and got the following responses (which I distilled a bit).  Oh and by the way, one constraint was that we cannot use Intelligent in the definition of Intelligent Automation (harder than you might think).

The top winners for the best contributions are:  Oleg Danilov (Solution Architect), Mynul Hoda (Technical Leader), Peter Charpentier (Solution Architect), Frank Contrepois (Network Consulting Engineer) and Devendran Rethinavelu (QA Engineer).

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Begin your Journey to the Cloud with Cisco’s Cloud Starter Edition

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.

As Jason Schroedl  announced, http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/announcing-the-new-cisco-intelligent-automation-for-cloud-starter-edition Cisco’s Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit, in conjunction with the Unified Computing System has just announced a solution for customers of UCS and vCenter that want a Cloud Automation system that can perform both Physical and Virtual server provisioning.  It is called the starter edition for a reason.  We find that many customers are not sure what they want from their cloud and are looking for a great place to start.   This is not what I call the “starship enterprise” of clouds.  It is the first step that a company will take on their cloud journey.

See my previous blog for some key concepts of success cloud deployments:  http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/five-things-that-successful-cloud-deployments-have-in-common/ and on my cloud owner manifesto for successful cloud builders: http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/cloud-owner-manifesto-12-habits-of-successful-cloud-builders/ .

Let’s look at typical cloud deployments.

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My First Cloud: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Starter Edition

Please be aware that this product is no longer sold.

Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud -- Starter Edition. Or as I like to call it, My First Cloud.

I’ve written in the past of cloud being journey to a new operational model and thus makes demand on the technology, process and organizational model.  It changes the relationship between the provider and the consumer of a service.

This operational model is one with resource pools available on demand, metered, pay as you use.  The reality for many enterprises is this is aspirational and not a realistic first step.

Today, he resource pools are funded by department, there’s no automation or self-service to meet the on-demand self-service aspect of cloud.

And there’s lots of fears beyond security; like the fear of rampant waste and capacity outages.

There’s also the issue of complexity and where will the skills to do service design and automation will come from? Global 2000 companies can easily afford big ticket consulting engagements, but smaller ones can’t.

The channel is key to serve the rest of the market but where are the channel partners for cloud?

So complexity and lack of expertise, in our view, were seriously hindering the adoption of cloud operations.

Our response is the first in a series of products to bring cloud operations capabilities to different market segments.  For example, the needs of a mid-size organization are very different than the needs of global enterprise and different again from a service provider.

Even in service provider, there are huge differences in operations and scale between traditional managed hosting provider, an outsourcer, a webscale company and a national telco or network provider.

So the way to simplify delivery for midsize business,  enterprise departments or smaller managed hosting provider is to embed an operational model, pre-packaged automation and a set of competent channel partners that can quickly and inexpensively turn on your first cloud at a reasonable price.

This is what Intelligent Automation Starter Edition represents: a simple, inexpensive way to get to a customer’s first cloud.

Customer’s can use it to learn how to operate the first basic offering; also, it’s upgradeable to Cisco’s Intelligent Automation -- Standard Edition when the customer  needs additional, more sophisticated service offering

I recommend start with a video demo.  Information page is here.

Jason wrote about it, so head there as well

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Cloud Owner Manifesto: 12 Habits of Successful Cloud Builders

People of IT:

A powerful global change has begun. Through cloud services and automation, people are discovering and inventing new ways to deliver IT services with blinding speed. As a direct result, IT Operations are changing — and those that adopt a pragmatic cloud are creating competitive differentiation for their business faster than most companies.

But there are many stones on the road to Damascus on which to stub you toes.

Some IT shops moving to a cloud are not yet ready to take ownership of that Private or Hybrid Cloud deployment or to change their operations. These shops will not be successful.

Some expect their vendor to build it and own it.  Other shops are relying on third parties. This will work at first but it will quickly get too expensive.

Finally, some of the visionaries want to own it themselves but don’t know where to start.  These organizations need to build a maturity roadmap that gets them started quickly and easily so they can learn what works and what needs improvement.

We have worked with a large number of organizations. This has given us perspective on the 12 habits of successful cloud implementations.  Here they are.

12 Habits of Successful Cloud Builders:

1.    They invest in training from their cloud automation software provider so that they can take ownership of and drive the technical work.
2.    Cloud builders are indeed that, their goal is to build:  over time they rely less on vendors and third party services to build their cloud; they have a plan for that transition.
3.    Moving to cloud requires new roles.  Builders define new roles in their organizations to take into account the new skills and competencies needed.  They think through career implications and pathways.
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API Compatibility: From cruising at self-service speed to “we gotta have a meeting”

Today’s announcement that Citrix is dropping support for OpenStack has reverberated through the clouderati sphere like a new Justin Bieber song through my niece’s third grade class. Super important but will not matter much when the next idol arrives.

In any case, a lot of smart people have written about it. I’ll leave them to explain the whole thing.

Cloud Avenue has a good in-depth coverage post. And so does James Staten of Forrester. Randy Bias also weighs in as well.  I’m sure I’m missing other worthy commentators.

But the post that most caught my attention came from Thorsten at Rightscale‘s.  We both share something in common: we both build products that connect to cloud API’s. Including vendor who have API’s that claim to be compatible EC2. This experience, I think provides a useful point of view when thinking about API compatibility. Not to mention it creates a jaundiced view of the human soul.

Thorsten writes.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll repeat it again: it’s the semantics of the resources in the cloud that matter, not the syntax of the API. This means that “API compatibility” has to reach very, very deep to be meaningful. Let me give you a couple of examples around EC2.

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