As cloud technology and organizations mature, customers are shifting their focus from the provisioning of individual servers to richer cloud-based application platform stacks. Why? Servers usually do not exist as standalone entities but are designed to run something tangible for the business. For example, multi-tier application platform stacks have in their design multi-server elements such as database, application and web servers.
In this era of the cloud, creating golden templates for each of the elements required to configure these multi-tier stacks and the servers they reside on, is not only unwieldy for IT to maintain and manage but they are monolithic. This means if one single element changes, the whole golden image needs to be revised. Golden images are not configurable and frequently require additional manual configuration to complete installation.
What’s the solution? It begins with the concept of DevOps.
DevOps is a software development method that permits better collaboration between software development and IT operations in a way that these multi-tier application servers can be consumed in the cloud without human intervention. There are a number of disciplines included under the DevOps category, but this blog will be focusing on configuration management.
Puppet and Chef are two of the leading configuration management vendors in the DevOps segment delivering the following benefits:
• Elastic and continuous configurations
• Increased productivity to handle hundreds to thousands of nodes
• Improve IT responsiveness by reducing time to deploy changes
• Eliminate configuration drift and reduce outages
There is a lot of buzz about this capability. How much buzz? Watch this video from CiscoLive Orlando.
Within the next month, Cisco will be releasing a cloud accelerator that delivers configuration management of multi-tier application stacks. Based on the TOSCA-modeled graphical user interface, customers utilize a canvas that simplifies the design of these stacks into templates. Each element: server, network device and storage; is represented on the canvas with a graphical icon. Behind each icon are configuration details for each component. For example, network device configuration may include firewall rules and load balancing algorithms. For servers, Cisco is leveraging Puppet and Chef or home-grown scripts. The result is a blueprint that allows for consumption of the complete application stack by end users, on demand, delivered by the cloud.
So now we have blueprints. Where’s the real advantage?
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) is the golden key that gives you the advantage because it unlocks this new approach to cloud efficiency. Providing blueprints for multi-tier application stacks on their own do nothing if they cannot be ordered by customers from a standardized menu of services and acted upon by an orchestrator to automatically deploy the entire configuration. Extending functionality for DevOps is just another example of Cisco IAC’s ability to go beyond IaaS without requiring a solution rip and replace or major push-ups by customers.
Why just provision servers and continue to increase IT costs with manual “last mile” provisioning?
Cisco IAC and the configuration management accelerator simplify the delivery of multi-tier application stacks through self-service ordering and repeatable delivery. Cloud accelerators are designed to follow the vision and strategy of Cisco IAC eliminating code islands that become problematic when you upgrade to the next generation Cisco IAC edition.
To browse through the current cloud accelerators, go here. First time visitors will need to sign the register.
If you would like to learn more or comment, tweet us at: http://twitter.com/ciscoum
Virtualizing Oracle Databases – The Time Has Come!
Overall, virtualization of IT applications and databases is quite pervasive. Estimates from industry analysts show that some applications and databases have virtualization penetration rates of 80 to 90%. Overall the estimates for datacenter virtualization range from 60 to 70%. One curious exception is the rate of virtualization for Oracle Databases. Some estimates put the Oracle Database virtualization rate below 20%. The big question is why so low for Oracle Database?
While I have never seen any formal research documenting the reasons, ad-hoc discussions with many DBAs and Architects and other Oracle users indicates that some of the major reasons for their reluctance to virtualize include:
Fear of performance degradation
Concern over availability and stability
And an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” view
And for mission critical Oracle Databases those are valid concerns. Any outage or performance degradation is costly. Status quo is the safest approach. But what I am hearing from customers and the Oracle community at large is that the time has come for virtualization. The improvements in configuration flexibility, reduced deployment times, dramatically improved disaster recovery and cost savings are great motivators for virtualization by themselves. One of the early adopters for virtualizing and Oracle infrastructure was EMC. lets hear what EMC’s Chief Database Architect, Darryl Smith, has to say about the benefits of EMC’s virtualization efforts with EMC’s Oracle Infrastructure.
So EMC found great performance, improved availability and a reduction in database licenses all because of their move to virtualize their Oracle infrastructure. Here is more of Darryl talking about Oracle virtualization and the cloud.
EMC took the next logical step from initial virtualization and moved their Oracle infrastructure to a full cloud implementation with even more benefits thanks to the improved Oracle workload mobility.
EMC is a great example of why there appears to be a growing tide of Oracle users who are ready to ride the wave of virtaulization. To learn more about EMC’s virtualization efforts and results, these two whitepapers on Cisco.com will provide a more complete overview of their journey:
This blog post promises to avoid telling you about all the fantabulous (I know that’s not a word) growth expected in the number of hosted virtual desktops to be deployed by 2016. What I do want to share, is how Cisco is ramping up our investments in accelerating your path to virtual desktop success, and how we’re tapping into the fundamentals of our Unified Computing System (UCS) to deliver new VDI efficiencies; the same efficiencies that have made Cisco the 2nd most preferred x86 blade server vendor* worldwide, in just 4 years! So why are so many organizations moving away from their legacy compute solution, and choosing UCS for VDI workloads and more?
Differentiated capabilities that address VDI pain points: TCO and Manageability
It’s no secret to anyone that VDI is not simple to deploy. You essentially have to bring together multiple seemingly disparate solution elements (server, storage, virtualization, broker, network, security, etc.) and make them work in a cohesive manner, and then be certain that your implementation will scale from a small pilot of 50 users to hundreds, thousands, or more! Clearly with such complexity, the last thing you need is a complex compute infrastructure underneath it all. There are 3 key things at the heart of this, that speak to why UCS is better for VDI:
1.) Server-resident flash. Our “On-Board” Architecture for VDI intercepts the rapidly proliferating use of flash based storage solutions that offer expansive IOPS capacity and huge performance. UCS takes it a step further by offering an integrated solution leveraging our partner Fusion-io. We’ve additionally delivered reference architectures that extend the use cases and attractiveness of flash-based solutions with appliance approaches (that direct-connect the storage array to our fabric interconnect) as well as more traditional multi-tiered architectures. More on that in a moment…
2.) We’ve made it easier to provision and manage the hosts for your virtual desktop deployments.UCS Service Profile Templates enable rapid deployment from bare metal, creating a zero-touch, mistake-proof, stateless operations model. Now, when you add the On-Board, server-resident flash to the configuration, you extend the reach of this management model to include high-performance, economical storage, completely provisioned and managed as part of the blade configuration/profile! No SAN or associated expertise required! Perfect for floating, non-persistent desktops.
3.) Granular visibility across the virtualized infrastructure. With user desktops now running amidst other mission-critical workloads in the data center, there’s more reason than ever to ensure that you can impart QoS, security and manageability across the multitude of virtual machine traffic flows traversing the data center. Cisco Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) and Cisco Nexus 1000v provide the visibility and controls that make this possible, extending physical world policy and administration to virtual.
A long time ago, it used to be comforting, to hear the words “One Size Fits All”. As though our interests were surely represented within that catch-all, assuring us that we weren’t going to get left out in the rain. You could safely make that impulse-driven purchase, bring it home (or have it delivered), and know with certainty, that you wouldn’t be disappointed. It’s almost laughable to think that we subscribed to this way of thinking for about 50 years. But thankfully, we live, work and play in a world where it’s not about one-size-fits-all, and the only things we’ll accept as such, are wristwatches, and bicycle helmets! (unless you have a gargantuan sized cranium)
And so it is with your IT environment – “One-Size-Fits-All” feels too much like hand-cuffs (which coincidentally are also one-size-fits-all). We’ve done away with the notion that a solution that’s optimized for a Fortune 500, is going to be at all suitable for a medium-sized business with almost 1,000 employees. While both organizations might have a strategic imperative around workspace mobility, and have set out to virtualize the desktops of say, 5% of their workforce, they’ll approach this problem in two completely different ways.
One of these organizations will have an extensive , multi-tiered networking and security infrastructure, optimized for virtual machine traffic, the other may not.
One of these organizations will have a mature SAN infrastructure in place, with embedded resources and expertise, and lots of existing mission-critical data already housed there. The other may not.
One of these organizations will have a high percentage of virtualized workloads and a highly automated/orchestrated environment for rapidly spinning up new infrastructure. The other may not.
Certainly these two environments are not going to take the same solution approach to deploying virtual desktops? They will however, share many of the same key objectives/demands: future proof scalability, resiliency, streamlined provisioning and operations, consistent user experience for the 1st user as well as the 1000th. And they’ll want all of this with the lowest possible TCO.
Last month, Cisco introduced our expanded suite of solution architectures for desktop virtualization. This portfolio was struck with the objective of ensuring our customers would never have to settle for a One-Size-Fits-All approach to deploying VDI, recognizing that they’re deploying this solution from a multitude of possible starting points in their IT maturity. With four new solution architectures, each built on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), and each backed by design guides and reference configurations co-developed with industry-leading partners in storage and storage-optimization technologies, we’ve taken the risk and guesswork out of choosing the deployment methodology that’s right-sized for your organization. Check out my friend Ashok’s more detailed post on the new reference architecture portfolio.
Sure, there are many events and conferences going on this week, but stick a reminder on your calendar to watch this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged. Ed Saipetch (@edsai) of Speaking in Tech and other fames and Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) of VMware talk about the evolution of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), VDI, EUC, and the changes brought about by new devices.
Bringing the 1970s office to you, unicorn style.
Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
Practice drawing unicorns
What have been your challenges (IT or client side) as we move into the world of mobile employment and endlessly proliferating devices and apps? Post a comment here, or join the discussion on Twitter, #EngineersUnplugged.