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Want to hear Cisco’s POV on the top 5 questions about the Future of Cloud?

Gee Rittenhouse answers the top 5 questions about #CloudAccording to GigaOM, the use of cloud-based resources will be what’s “next” for IT in preparation for an in-depth look at the infrastructure that will drive the next decade of application development.

At the recent Structure event, GigaOM tapped into the minds of cloud-technology industry leaders, seeking insight into the “Top 5 Questions for the Titans of Cloud.”

In this post, Gee Rittenhouse, Vice President/General Manager, Cloud and Virtualization Group at Cisco, provides answers and insight on cloud infrastructure, exchange, data security and more.

 

Top Cloud Question #1: “When will all the major clouds support the same set of APIs?”

 

Today, there is a three-horse race between two proprietary APIs (Amazon Web Services and VMware’s vCloud API) and one open API (OpenStack). For now, the two proprietary APIs will continue to be the dominant players, leveraging their large public cloud (in the case of AWS) and private cloud (in the case of VMware) deployments.

But, as an increasing number of service providers and enterprises adopt and deploy OpenStack cloud solutions across both public and private models, the balance will shift, more than likely over the next two to four years.

Cisco’s approach is different from other, more infrastructure-centric public cloud offers. We believe that the open API model OpenStack will eventually be the dominant cloud API model and will ultimately become the de-facto standard.

Looking to the future beyond just a hybrid cloud conversation toward the Intercloud, an interconnected global cloud of clouds, built with a commitment to open standards and based on OpenStack, will feature APIs to connect any cloud or hypervisor to any other cloud or hypervisor.

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Acxiom uses ACI to transform their private cloud

Acxiom is a well-known Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company providing data analytics and data processing solutions to Fortune 100 companies for running and analyzing their marketing campaigns.  Recently Cisco spoke to Acxiom’s senior managers Kamal Kharrat, and Chuck Crane, about Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) strategy and how it helps them address their Data Center challenges. In this blog, I will present a brief summary of our discussions. Acxiom is experiencing exponential growth in its customer base, running millions of transactions every week in their hybrid-cloud based data centers.  But this growth has brought in its wake several challenges. Acxiom stores confidential, compliance driven data in their private data center infrastructure, and is currently facing elastic scalability problems. Second, they want to transition from a high CAPEX, fixed infrastructure utilization model towards a dynamic model, in which workloads can be seamlessly moved across the private and public infrastructures. Besides, Axciom has a heteregenous mix of L4-L7 vendor devices, multi-hypervisor and security systems and has a pressing need for an open, policy based extensible foundation for their AOS SAAS to bring these services together.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Acxiom is excited to consider Cisco ACI as the best solution to address these problems and are looking to automate their compute, storage and security infrastructure provisioning and achieve the elasticity requirements in their private cloud similar to what they are achieving in the public cloud.  Also, Acxiom plans to move the workloads in and out of compute and storage platforms while changing the security zones on-demand increasing the resource utilization to upwards of 80%.  Mr. Chuck Crane is quick to point out that Acxiom makes more than 20,000 network and security configuration changes every year and feels the only way to keep up with the growing customer base is to eliminate the labor intensive man-hours and costs that go with them, and hopes to achieve significant reduction in these inefficient processes via automation. He says ACI is the key to arm the network operations to automate the operations and ultimately attain the competitive advantage of agile IT resulting in faster time to market and capitalizing new revenue opportunities.

Today, depending on the solution, it takes about 7 days to 3 weeks for a full provisioning of the resources and the goal is to bring the provisioning time down to hours. With ACI, they say, Acxiom aims to achieve 24-hour turnaround in end-end infrastructure  provisioning for application deployments Acxiom will realize a significant reduction in OPEX with this automation.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Last, let us look at how ACI’s Openness helps Acxiom’s data center operations. When looking at repatriating an application (Figure 2) into a private data center, one of the critical challenges is the ability to port the same tools and automation from the public to the private cloud and the network infrastructure is a critical layer in realizing this goal. The open standards based ACI helps Acxiom to use their existing tools and expertise in working across public and private clouds in building infrastructure quickly and achieving the business goals of faster time to market resulting in increased revenue potential.

In conclusion, the Acxiom executives assert that ACI allows their private datacenters to integrate best of breed technologies with their existing infrastructure and achieve full automation seamlessly using service stitching from compute through load balancing through the security platforms – all from a single point of control. This helps Acxiom to optimize costs, reduce turnaround times and at the same time work seamlessly across private and public clouds.

Related:

Acxiom Executives share customer insights on Application Centric Infrastructure (video)

The Promise of an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Includes Strong Partner Ecosystem for Security and Network Services

The Dynamic Security Model of Cisco ACI (video)

New Applications Are Knocking: Is your Data Center OPEN for Business? (video)

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI): Application Network Profiles for Security and Network Services

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Business Continuity and Workload Mobility for Private Cloud (CVD-Part2)

In my previous blog, we provided an overview of the critical use cases and innovations we included in our new Business Continuity and Workload Mobility Solution for Private Cloud.  This blog highlights the critical trends and challenges driving new multi-site Cloud designs.

Two important trends are driving CTO’s and CIO’s to deploy new multi-site Cloud solutions that provide better Business Continuity, Workload Mobility, and Disaster Recovery.

  1. More workloads are moving to the Private and Public Cloud versus the traditional data center
  2. Cloud Data Centers have a higher density of workloads per server than traditional data centers due to increased virtualization.

Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2012–2017

Blog 2 - Trends

This ever increasing volume of Cloud hosted workloads is placing serious pressure on operations teams to manage larger scale data centers, and insure that they keep these workloads up and running, avoiding costly downtime or a nightmare service outage.  Many of the CTO’s and CIO’s we’ve worked with are re-assessing their Multi-site strategy to insure they can answer some tough questions:

  • What are the common weak points of multi-site Cloud designs that could prevent us from achieving our Business Continuity goals for our critical apps?  Can we avoid them?
  • How can we provide Workload Mobility between sites to provide a more agile Cloud environment?
  • In the event of site outage, can our Private Cloud reduce the time it takes to recover critical applications to a new site?
  • How can our Private Cloud deliver these critical services (Business Continuity, Workload Mobility, and Disaster Recovery) with lower cost and complexity?

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Building a Private Cloud. Cisco and Microsoft – Optimized Infrastructure Strategies

This month the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a Boston area based analyst firm, published a white paper commissioned by Cisco and Microsoft on the topic of the private cloud. In it ESG covers the best-of-breed technologies and solutions that Cisco and Microsoft bring to market together for Windows Server 2012 R2 / Hyper-V based private cloud configurations.

Below are “The Bigger Truths”, as ESG phrased their summary of findings on the Cisco / Microsoft better together story – please feel free to take a look, it’s a good read!…  :

Accelerated time to market: Enter markets quickly with easy access across multiple consumption models driven by Cisco infrastructure and Microsoft software.

CapEx and OpEx savings: Savings on CapEx and OpEx costs can be achieved by virtualizing the server environment with no additional CapEx when moving to the cloud, minimizing implementation complexity, enabling virtual management with increased control, and gaining the ability to scale as required.

Rapid ROI: Because this environment is software-defined, and its infrastructure is efficient, it can quickly pay for itself by simplifying provisioning, efficient time to value, and operational efficiencies.

High availability: Because the Cisco Unified Data Center fabric has no single point of failure, it unifies compute, storage, networking, and management resources into a single, fabric-based platform that can increase operating efficiency and availability, simplify the data center, and provide business agility. Microsoft solutions compound this value with data protection solutions for on- and off-premises protection.

Increased IT organizational efficiencies: Due to the ease of implementation and management, IT pros can be shifted to positions where they are most productive and leverage their current Microsoft and Cisco certifications.

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R&D Cloud solutions within the Corporate Environment

With “clouds” being the hot new term in IT, many high level executives are looking for ways to incorporate clouds into their enterprise environment. Sometimes, these decisions are rushed, and poorly designed solutions are thrown into place. These solutions almost always fail to gain traction within the corporation due to lackluster features, or they are just plain too hard to use. Cloud solutions in the corporate environment can be a very powerful tool that can extend to all parts of the company.  It just needs the proper design and implementation to be successful. Remember, just how every corporation is different, so needs to be the cloud solution. Read More »

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