My team maintains and supports Cisco IT’s internal implementation of the Cisco WebEx Social collaboration platform. Cisco employees use WebEx Social for internal collaboration and knowledge sharing in online communities, and as a central repository for documents, videos, and other information resources.

This WebEx Social implementation involves a production environment with around 200 virtual machines (VMs), as well as multiple sandbox, staging, and other development and testing environments. For many of these environments, we use the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) private cloud to access on-demand computing and storage resources.

Time and cost savings are the bottom-line benefits we have derived from the CITEIS solution. Provisioning a host in the traditional data center model required 3 to 10 weeks compared to just 10 to 15 minutes in a CITEIS virtual data center (VDC). And, in the traditional Cisco IT demand clearing process, the team’s cost for provisioning one VM (with standard specifications) was approximately US$1116 compared to $18 in CITEIS. Hosting a server and storage in the traditional way costs us about US$150,000 per quarter versus $12,500 per quarter in a CITEIS VDC.

Creating a Parallel Environment for a Software Upgrade

When a software upgrade for WebEx Social was ready to implement last year, my team used CITEIS to meet our goal of completing the upgrade within 45 days.

One critical task where CITEIS made our work easier was migrating user content and data to the new version. Because provisioning a virtual machine with CITEIS is so easy and flexible, we were able to provide a parallel, read-only environment of WebEx Social during the critical 72-hour data migration.

Working with database administrators, our team built a VM using CITEIS, which enabled us to clone the production database, take the read-only snapshot, and quickly provision the necessary data storage. For the entire downtime of the production WebEx Social platform, Cisco employees could still access all their business-critical data, which softened the impact on their work.

Using CITEIS for Ongoing Development Work

CITEIS isn’t just for special development needs like providing a parallel environment during a migration. My team also uses CITEIS for ongoing proof-of-concept work and as a hosted lab solution.

Proof of concept: Short-term development projects don’t warrant the amount of time, people, and resources required by traditional IT processes for demand clearing. For computing environments that are needed only for a few weeks or months, CITEIS offers a solution that saves time, expense, and resources for my team and for Cisco IT as a whole.

Production support tools: Traditionally, my team hosted monitoring and production support tools in a lab environment, where power and support are not guaranteed. By moving our lab testing to CITEIS, we gain consistent quality and support and we are able to control the virtual machines that host our support tools.

For ongoing work, we take advantage of CITEIS offerings to run newly developed software in a sandbox environment that gives our engineers full administrative access. This on-demand capability frees engineers to spend more time on our primary work of supporting the production and release-dedicated environments for our WebEx Social implementation.

CITEIS has become an integral part of my team’s technical strategy. Read more in this Cisco IT case study: Private Cloud Aids Software Upgrade