This year’s VMworld conference at Las Vegas was a successful one for Cisco as we focused on new technologies that have enabled business processes and innovation.
Key among our showcased portfolio was Cisco CloudCenter, our multicloud management platform. Here is a transcript of theCube interview with our CloudCenter product and marketing managers Zack Kielich and Kurt Milne, as well as theCube hosts Lisa Martin and John Troyer.
The below interview transcript edited for brevity.
LM: The theme of this event and a lot of the strategic conversations are happening around multicloud. What are some of the things that you’re hearing?
KM: Cisco’s vision for multicloud really is focused on giving our customers choice.
Whether it’s a business need or a technical need, we want to let our customers deploy workloads and manage those workloads in the best fit environment. Our vision for multi cloud is to really enable that kind of mobility and freedom of choice. It’s not about lock in, it’s more about switching costs and we want to make it so our customers can make those choices without penalty if they change their mind.
JT: You built this great portfolio of multicloud management solutions. What are the high level points regarding problems are you guys solving? It’s everything from day zero to day one to day end, right?
ZK: CloudCenter at its core is a multicloud platform, management platform. Users can create a single blueprint of the application and it’s run-time instructions, and it can be deployed anywhere. We take it through the entire life cycle of deploy, optimize, and manage, making sure that everything is secured along the way and of course integrating with all of our other Cisco products like ACI and AppDynamics
JT: What are some of the infrastructure factors to consider that people maybe may not realize when they first start to look at hybrid or multi deployment models?
KM: There’s a lot to consider when you start talking about connecting to and using the cloud. We have solutions that help you connect to the cloud. At Cisco, our background is networking so that’s a major part of what we offer in a multicloud scenario. But we help you secure and protect your activities in the cloud and between the cloud and we help consume the cloud services and that’s where CloudCenter fits in. And then if you want to build a cloud as part of a hybrid cloud or multicloud scenario, Cisco has a lot of the hardware, the network, the storage compute capabilities that allow you to do that as well so it’s really a broad portfolio of solutions that Cisco offers to help with a multicloud strategy.
LM: You talked about we need to give customers choice and flexibility. Where are those conversations? Are they at the C suite level or more with the IT staff?
KM: Well at the C level, at the CIO level it goes like this, when the business comes to me and says, “We need to deploy these workloads in the cloud.” IT needs to be able to say, “Yes, we can help you do that.” And if the business comes and says, “We want to deploy these workloads on prem.” IT needs to be able to say, “Yes, we can help you do that too.” At the executive level it’s really about enabling that kind of flexibility.
Then the next layer, you’re starting talking about putting those capabilities in place. In our perspective the hybrid cloud is something you manage versus something you go build and so we get into conversations with cloud architects, here’s business need, how are we going to architect a solution to help manage this portfolio of service delivery options that are bigger and more complex than we’ve had in the past?
Because all of these different cloud vendors, they all provide different value to the business as well, right? They have different specialties and key focus areas, right? If you’re doing .net or Windows, you’re probably going to choose Azure and so on and so forth. In order to really capture all that value, you have to have the multicloud and then a way to manage it all together, right?
JT: Let’s talk about some of the workloads, whether that’s sitting on tops of Kubernetes, or maybe some of these other platforms?
ZK: CloudCenter manages over 15 clouds today. That includes AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, Alibaba Cloud. All the major platforms. By abstracting, normalizing all those APIs underneath, we’re actually able to make it so that you model the application blueprint once and deploy it anywhere. That includes the ability to deploy to Kubernetes. The way that our tool approaches that is it treats Kubernetes as a container cloud, so to speak. So that you are still able to take the constructs in CloudCenter, the same approach to modeling as you would in the VM world, apply that to containers, and then we do a whole bunch of magic in the background to make a really cool experience.
KM: One of the great things is if you’re deploying containers in Kubernetes, there’s this idea of a pod manifest file, a yaml file with deploy and run-time instructions. One of the big debates at KubeCon was nobody wants to write a yaml file. So what’s neat about CloudCenter is when you model this application in a cloud agnostic way you can click on it and deploy it to Amazon, et cetera.
If it’s a Kubernetes environment, then CloudCenter automatically generates the yaml file, specific to that deployment. If you modify the blueprint, deploy again, it will write a different yaml file. So, it really takes a lot of the burden away from developers having to learn yaml and basically code the infrastructure. And instead, lets them focus on coding their applications.
JT: It sounds like some of this is for the developer but some of this is also for IT Ops, can you talk about those two roles?
ZK: It’s two sides of the coin. Both of them are delivering value to the business, in different ways. And they’re both dependent upon each other. We sometimes talk about the infrastructure being a means to the app, without the need for an app you don’t need the other.
What we do is we deliver services and within the platform, we deliver tools to help the admins actually put in governance policy across all these different clouds. And on the other end we allow application architects, application consumers to be able to go in and use the tools to build what they need and describe what they want the outcome to be. Two sides of the same coin and all the same platform.
JT: Everyone is interested in saving money in the public cloud. As soon as people start to mature in their consumption, they start to realize that they always get the bill regardless of if they get the value out of it, right?
ZK: Cisco’s been investing heavily in this space. We made an acquisition in December called Cmpute.io which focuses on cloud cost optimization and you’ve seen that functionality actually roll into CloudCenter over the past year and stay tuned for more announcements regarding that.
LM: What are some of things that you’ve heard in the last two days from the VMware execs, from customers, that really kind of excite you guys and Cisco for your continued partnership?
KM: Well Cisco and VMware do a lot of business together so we’ve got a lot of joint customers. I’ve been going to VMworld for 10 years and I remember the first time I went to VMworld there was a lot of excitement, there was energy, there was buzz. I still feel that here about what VMware’s doing with multicloud, some of their acquisitions, some of the new products, and key Partnerships.
JT: We are talking cloud and multicloud 10 years ago. Can tell me if the customers are there now? Is the technology platform mature enough?
KM: It is. I go to these conference and go up and down the aisles, hear the elevator pitch. You can kind of sense the maturity of the industry based on the 30 second or 60 second pitch that people give you. A few years it was really, Oh, we’re doing something in a cloud. But that has shifted. Now people talk about the need for multiple clouds for business reasons, or for technical reasons.
I think we’re there, it’s not just talk. Our customers, the people that come in to VMworld, have multiple clouds that they need to manage and deal with.
For full video – search on YouTube for “The Cube 2018 VMworld CloudCenter”