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The Secret is Now Out: You Can Simplify Cloud Deployments with Cisco Unified Management

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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Reflections on the Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley and How Do I Know My Apps are Working in the Cloud?

Cloud Expo was indeed a very interesting juxtaposition of people espousing the value of cloud and how their stuff is really cloudy.  You have a group of presenters and expo floor booths talking about their open API and how that is the future of cloud.  Then you have the other camp that tells us how their special mix of functions is so much better than that.   All of this is a very interesting dialog.  APIs are indeed very important.  If your technology is indeed a cloud operating model then you must have an API.   Solutions like Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud rely on those APIs to orchestrate cloud services.   But APIs are not the end all.   The reality is that while the cloud discussions tend to center on the API and the model behind that API, the real change enabling the move towards cloud is the operating model of the users who are leveraging the cloud for a completely fresh game plan for their businesses.

James Urquhart’s recent blog:   http://gigaom.com/cloud/what-cloud-boils-down-to-for-the-enterprise-2/ highlights that the real change for users of the cloud is modifying how they do development, test, capacity management, production operations and disaster recovery.  My last blog talked about the world before cloud management and automation and the move from the old world model to the new models of dev/test or dev/ops that force the application architects, developers, and QA folks to radically alter  their model.   Those that adopt the cloud without changing their “software factory” model from one that Henry Ford would recognize to the new models may not get the value they are looking for out of the cloud.

At Cloud Expo I saw a lot of very interesting software packages.   Some of them went really deep into a specific use case area, while others accomplished a lot of functional use cases that were only about a inch deep.   As product teams build out software packages for commercial use, they have a very interesting and critical decision point that will drive the value proposition of the software product.  It seems to me that within 2 years, just about all entrants in the cloud management and automation marathon will begin to converge on a simple focused yet broad set of use cases.   Each competitor will be either directly driving their product to that point, or they will be forced to that spot by the practical aspects of customers voting with the wallets.  Interestingly enough, this whole process it drives competition and will yield great value for the VP of Operations and VP of Applications of companies moving their applications to the cloud.

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Journey to the Cloud: From Vision to Reality

Organizations planning a move to the cloud should consider which cloud model is right for their business and objectives. This consideration extends beyond just public and private cloud models. The journey to cloud is focused on building or evolving the network platform to enable automation and unleash IT. Regardless of cloud approach or business goals—cost reduction, growth, agility—it’s the first and most important step.

At Cisco we’ve learned from our own cloud journey. We learned that the network is the lynchpin and enabler of adaptable IT service delivery. This guiding principle has enabled us to provide dynamic and reliable products and solutions to help our customers seize innovation, accelerate business and drive outcomes; all through the cloud.

Download Unleashing IT a comprehensive look at cloud from vision to reality. Access real world examples of cloud best practices from the public and private sector and get key perspectives on cloud implementation success. Click here to learn more about Cisco’s cloud strategy.

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Cloud Architecture Considerations and The Open Group

Last week I presented and participated at the The Open Group Forum in Austin, TX. It was a great event, with insights into Enterprise Architecture, Business Architecture and Emerging Architectures. There were several breakout tracks in the Forum, including, the most popular -- Cloud Architectures Track. The sessions ranged from connecting architecture frameworks (TOGAF) to Cloud Architectures, to Cloud Architectures development. My session was on “Architecture & Considerations for IaaS Clouds”.  This session was more focused on technology aspects of the Cloud Architecture. Also, it could be applied to either an enterprise private cloud or a service provider cloud settings. Just to level set everyone in the audience, I started out with a taxonomy and reference architecture (RA) review. I utilized both NIST’s published and a simplified version of Cisco Cloud RA. The Cisco RA review was the case in point for this session, where Infrastructure, Service orchestration, Delivery/Management and consumer layers were discussed.

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Building “Business Ready” Cloud Computing Networks

Over the last few months, the big trend in Cloud Computing has been a dramatic shift from “talking” to “building”. Companies in every industry are taking the next steps to deploy their strategies to deliver more efficient IT services for their business, with the goal of delivering the services in the best possible manner regardless of the source (Private Cloud, Public Cloud service, Hybrid capabilities).

But companies looking to deploy Cloud Computing or expand their existing footprint face several challenges:

  • How to deal with on-going support for legacy applications (such as this or this) while beginning to deploy new virtualized or cloud-based applications?
  • How to ensure consistent levels of Security, Auditing, Compliance, and Quality of Service across the range of applications (old and new)?
  • How to build out Cloud Computing infrastructure in a way that is consistent and able to easily grow as demand grows?
  • How to deal with potential migration from one source of services (internal or external) to another without having to completely re-architecture the underlying infrastructure?
  • How to deal with concerns about stability of external Cloud Computing services that are outside of their control?

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