Building our Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) has been a journey of planning, development, and deployment. Cisco customers will find the steps we’ve taken helpful in looking at their own plans for offering IT private cloud services.

Journey to the Infrastructure Services Cloud

These steps are shown in the diagram and discussed here in the recommended sequence, although the unified infrastructure and virtualization efforts can be done in either order or in parallel. The automation and self-service efforts can also be done in parallel so that users can easily access the newly automated network services.

Steps to an Infrastructure Services Cloud

Unified Infrastructure: Begin the movement away from the legacy architecture by creating a unified infrastructure that will support multiple technologies. In particular, wiring all server racks with Ethernet cabling creates a “wire once” environment that reduces costs, time requirements, and the complexity of cabling installation and maintenance. Beyond the cabling, design your infrastructure to be flexible enough so you won’t need to re-architect the whole thing if you replace a software element, such as the virtualization platform.

Virtualization: Reduce the number of hardware servers by using virtual machines. Virtualized servers and storage systems allow developers to obtain resources as needed and help IT make more efficient use of the underlying physical equipment.

Automation: Create processes that manage tasks such as provisioning across multiple environments and using conditional logic. Automation significantly reduces the potential for error as well as the time delays of manual configuration, approval steps, and provisioning of servers, storage systems, and other elements.

Self-Service: Allow users to order and configure servers and associated IT resources themselves. By creating a self-service portal for users, you can free IT staff from the “order taker” role of the past. However, you may need to keep manual ordering processes in place for highly complex and custom requests.

Multi-Tenancy: Use the logic of the network for separating the resources assigned to different users and groups within your cloud. Rest assured, the network is now smart enough to know who can see what. Because you no longer need to build physically separate infrastructures, multi-tenancy creates the potential for a big drop in IT costs.

Elasticity: Maintain adequate capacity to fulfill orders that you can’t predict. To determine the right level of elasticity for your environment, answer these questions: How lean do we want to run? What capacity do we really need in order to meet potential contingencies? Ordering and usage trends can help you determine an acceptable margin of availability. Or, define tiers of services by level of availability and let users vote with their budget funds.

For Cisco IT, the direct cost savings we’ve gained have made these steps worthwhile so far, and we know the savings will be sustained as we continue along our own private cloud journey.

Learn more about CITEIS in these Cisco on Cisco blog posts: