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A Public Manager’s Guide to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing—delivering infrastructure, services, and software on demand via the network—offers attractive advantages to the public sector. For example, it has the potential to reduce information and communications technology (ICT) costs by virtualizing capital assets like disk storage and processing cycles into a readily available, affordable operating expense.

One of the most significant cloud computing opportunities for the public sector is the ability to share ICT resources among multiple agencies. While governments have tried hard to create frameworks geared toward shared services, these have not always been successful. Cloud computing offers an easier and less burdensome route to more efficient and effective public sector information management.

Of course, cloud computing is not without its challenges:

  • A service provider residing outside of a government’s legal or territorial jurisdiction may put access or security at risk.
  • Open standards and interoperability may not be guaranteed, leading to the risk of vendor lock-in.
  • Data privacy is a concern when using public clouds. This can be addressed by the development of private clouds.
  • Business continuity will continue to be a concern. Cloud computing, however, may also mitigate this risk, as cloud vendors are likely to use more robust and better-maintained computing platforms that provide more redundancy and are less likely to fail.

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Cisco Cloudverse, Hypervisors, Partners and Real Cloud Deployments

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:

  • Hypervisor(s)
  • 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.

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I’ve looked at Clouds from both sides now

I’ve looked at Clouds from both sides now.

In the US, we’re running a 7-city tour, training Partner Sales Reps & SEs on Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud. We’ve just finished training in a fourth city, including Cisco reseller, system integration and technology Partners from the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, in London this week, leaders from the Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit are conducting sales enablement training for Partners as well as Direct Sales Reps and SEs from all over EMEA. On either side of the Pond scores of people are being brought up to speed on how to identify, qualify, and sell Cisco’s Cloud management solution.

Here in London, a handful of different languages ask the same question “How do we clearly and compellingly articulate the value of cloud computing and cloud management to our customers?”

At the same time, back in the US, Cisco’s Giuliano Di Vitantonio, Vice -President of Data Center and Switching Marketing is announcing Unified Data Center as part of the CloudVerse story. Cisco’s CTO, Padmasree Warrior talks about the CloudVerse in her post on The World of Many Clouds.

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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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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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