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Cisco Intersight: AI-Driven User Experience


October 2, 2018 - 2 Comments

Intersight’s open AI Ops framework provides the potential for a wide range of enhanced user experiences using Alexa and other natural language processing technologies.

Guest Blogger: David Soper, Technical Marketing Engineer

Benefits of AI Ops

Cisco established our cloud-based operations management platform, Cisco Intersight, with the goal of increasing the customer benefits we can deliver through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Industry analysts refer to this field of AI and ML as AI Ops. In the first blog in this series we defined four categories of benefits delivered by the AI Ops functionality of Intersight:

  1. Simplified user experience
  2. Proactive support and maintenance
  3. Predictive operational analytics
  4. Self-optimization of resources

Leading Open AI Ops

Our leadership in AI Ops was recently recognized by analyst firm EMA. In the EMA report titled “EMA Top 3 Enterprise Decision Guide for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)“, Cisco Intersight is considered one of the Top 3 AI for IT Operations platforms. The products in this category had to provide “…operational analytics based on comprehensive, granular, and relational cross-silo data that includes logs, metrics, events, and alerts for all layers…”.  Intersight features an open framework that includes an open API and southbound connectors. EMA stated:

Intersight’s open API architecture designates the platform as the future universal data and management hub across any data center infrastructure.

I described Intersight’s southbound connectors in a prior blog on this topic. They allow Intersight to support third party systems, as well as Cisco UCS servers and HyperFlex hyerconverged infrastructure. This Cisco blog describes how the southbound connectors work with third party systems, such as Pure Storage.

Beyond the GUI

The graphical user interface (GUI) is currently the primary means of interacting with management tools. The Intersight portal includes a GUI for users to interact with Intersight and the connected devices. The Intersight OpenAPI and Python SDK  allow Intersight to interact with other AI platforms and tools. You can extend the platform to other AI platforms to enhance the user experience. One example is the integration of Intersight with Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-activated natural language processing (NLP) system.

Intersight, Your AI Ops Assistant

When you combine Intersight’s monitoring and automation functionality with NLP, you get a simplified user experience.  Intersight becomes an AI Ops assistant.

  • You can query the Intersight platform and get the status of the connected devices using voice commands.
  • The Intersight automation functionality will implement your instructions, such as provisioning of servers and HyperFlex clusters.

We wanted to demonstrate this capability and the type of simplified user experience Intersight can deliver, so I developed a short demo video. In this video I show how Alexa can work with Intersight to recognize the status of devices and automatically deploy hyperconverged infrastructure using simple voice commands.

Behind the Scenes

This is pretty cool, but it’s not magic. In the same video I explain how we created this demo. I go behind the scenes and explain how we used the Alexa Skills function, so Alexa could understand how to work with Intersight by creating intent commands.

The Intersight Skills have specific intents that are associated with a verbal phrase, such as, “How is my data center?” The actions map to endpoints, and the endpoint is a lambda function that executes code. The AWS lambda functions then call out to Python code that interacts with the Intersight API.

Try It Yourself

We wanted to help you to leverage this simplified AI Ops user experience with Intersight, so we have made the Alexa Skills code available on Github. We have also provided a step-by-step walk through on Cisco DevNet along with additional information. Our users can experience firsthand the power of an open AI Ops platform. Who knows what they will create to enhance the benefits?

There are many benefits you can deliver when you have a cloud-based platform and tie it into other AI, NLP and ML systems. Cisco is executing on the Intersight roadmap to consistently enhance the customer benefits we deliver through the AI Ops platform. We will provide more details regarding our strategy in this blog series.

To learn more:

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2 Comments

  1. Cisco Intersight is a systems management platform that currently supports Cisco UCS and HyperFlex. It is enhanced by AI and machine learning. The Intersight API and SDK extend the platform. OnePK is a cross platform API and SDK that enables the user to develop applications that interact directly with Cisco networking devices. Cisco has other initiatives to develop conversational interfaces, such as the Spark Assistant. The Alexa Skills code we have made available on DevNet is to allow customers and partners to enhance the Intersight user experience through the Intersight API. This code is not a Cisco supported "feature".

  2. Ken, Thank you for the blog, this sounds really intriguing. We have been working with Cisco since 2006 on different AI related projects www.nohold.com. How does this differ/relate to other Cisco initiatives like OnePK, Customer Support API, BUFF and the Collab Controller? Thank you D.