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So you want a real private cloud?

I had a customer ask me last week what differentiated our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution.  He had reviewed many of the vendors in the space of private cloud software stacks including some of the virtualization vendors and was somewhat impressed to see that overall the industry was making progress in building out these solutions.  He did have a nagging thought in the back of his head that going with many vendors meant he was getting a “prefabricated” cloud experience much in the way prefab homes are offered.

His management wanted a private cloud, wanted it fast, but was not sure exact what a private cloud would look like or how it would operate.  His enterprise had specific needs, whether they be naming conventions for VMs or physical servers, or any number of integration points into 3rd partner products.  What his company really wanted was a home built to their specific needs for their private cloud.  This did not mean a fully custom house, but something that could use standard components  (think of all the standard construction components we use now a days) to build a designed to spec home.

This did not mean they needed high end digs right away but the ability to start in a pragmatic way and to enhance, extend, and build upon that first home.  This requires an underlying framework that can be used to build a company’s first pragmatic cloud and to grow up, much like my 63 year old house in its fourth remodel over the years.  The basic platform is present, we are just making much needed changes to support the needs of 2012.

After we got on the same page about clouds and why he would want to build his companies 5-10 year strategy of cloud on an extensible framework, we moved on to the composition of the solution:  product license, Cisco TAC support, and Cisco Advanced Services.  Given a clear business driver for the private cloud (such as in-sourcing of rogue VMs in the cloud, or driving infrastructure support of elastic business needs, or leverage Cisco network functionality for multi-tenancy) the financial conversation resulted in a positive outcome for both sides.  Of note was that building this individual’s Enterprise Private Cloud means that he was going to consume a good amount of Cisco Advanced Services.  To him this was a good thing as he was leveraging the knowledge and experience of the Cisco team to build and configure his cloud to start out and to scale out.  Just like when I am building a new great room in my house, I want the best people figuring out structural loads, making construction recommendations for extensions and to build out those special design features.

That is the thing about REAL private clouds, they need effort to configure it the way your company wants to operate it.

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The Enterprise’s Inclination to Private Cloud

By Uwe Lambrette, Director of Service Provider Solutions, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)

Cisco IBSG’s recent interviews with about 45 enterprise CIOs and architects clearly revealed that enterprises have a preference for private cloud. They want to maintain control over their IT, especially where the architecture is new and skills need to be built. In addition, they are not comfortable with accepting externally provided cloud solutions (although there are certainly exceptions).

At the same time, the survey indicated that once enterprises have gained private-cloud experience, they are more willing to allocate this architecture to an external provider.

This is reminiscent of the classic outsourcing
 cycle, where corporate functions are moved externally once they have become a commodity.

This trend has Read More »

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A Cloudy Day in Hollywood

I was recently vising a few customers south of our corporate offices in the Los Angeles area and I was jolted into realizing that I need to add one more significant benefit of deploying our Intelligent Automation for Cloud software.

When I talk about benefits of Private (and Public ) Cloud I usually focus on these four business drivers:

  • Drive towards shorter provisioning times (for both Physical and Virtual Infrastructure) and self service
  • Desire to reduce infrastructure costs by moving from a provision for peak loads on each application to one of pooling of resources and “averaging” out the workload peaks and to enable the pay for usage
  • Users (and management) was a predictable SLA for provisioning achieved through orchestration and automation
  • Need to reduce VM sprawl and increase governance and compliance over the provisioning process.

Read More »

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Superheroes of the Cloud Part One: Differentiate Your Company through a Proactive Philosophy

In my journeys of talking to IT organizations I come across individuals who really stand out in their drive and passion to transform their organization and achieve a pragmatic cloud for their stakeholders.  This is first in a series of Blogs on the Superheroes of the Cloud.  What makes these individuals and their organizations special is that they distinguish their organizations by having a unique angle to their Journey to the Cloud.   I won’t spell out the exact formula but I will offer some tidbits on why I am impressed by these superheroes.

Traditional IT organizations have silos.  I know we are tired about hearing about these silos and the problems it creates, but human nature is one that abhors that change.   This superhero has a philosophy based upon the value of converged infrastructure, namely VCE, Inc. vBlock.  The transformation from legacy infrastructure to vBlocks causes the IT organization to get over the “this is not the way we do it in the network team” philosophy.   Moving to converged infrastructure because of the organizational and human factors issues is quite a statement.   It is a difficult uphill task, but the spoils are indeed great.

Read More »

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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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