The requirement for Edge Computing is increasing as enterprises transition to cloud-native applications and implement IoT initiatives. Cisco Intersight is an excellent platform for addressing the management requirements of core data center infrastructure as well as Edge Computing environments.

Driven by Customer Requirements

Cisco started development of Cisco Intersight more than 18 months ago. This strategic initiative, internally referred to as Project Starship, was driven by customer requirements that emerged from our market research, customer surveys, and Customer Advisory Boards (CABs). Based on this input we realized that customers required a greater level of “pervasive simplicity”, as Gautham Ravi, director of UCS product management, described in a previous blog in this series.

Spanning the Worlds of IT and OT

Based on our research, we also realized that enterprises are pursuing a tiered application strategy with an increasing dependence on cloud-native applications. According to a recent Cap Gemini survey, 15% of new enterprise applications are currently cloud native with the adoption more than doubling to 32% by 2020. One of the market forces driving the development of cloud-native applications is the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

IoT solutions link operational technologies (OT) with information technologies (IT). OT consists of sensors, systems and software technologies that detect and/or create change by the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes, and events. IT includes communications technologies, software, hardware, and related services to provide business services. IT applications mostly operate out of a centralized datacenter and branch offices for information aggregation, processing, and dissemination. Historically OT and IT have been different environments.

Edge and Fog Computing

Edge computing is a bit different than Fog Computing. Fog refers to the network connections between edge devices and the cloud. Edge refers more specifically to the computational processes being done close to the edge devices. Edge Computing is an important means of bridging the worlds of IT and OT. It allows data produced by OT sensors and devices to be processed closer to where it is created, instead of sending it across long routes to data centers or clouds. Doing the computing closer to the edge of the network also lets organizations analyze data in near real-time.

Distributed applications run in the cloud, the data center and at the Edge. Edge Computing can include remote and branch locations. It also goes beyond these environments to factory floors, ships at sea, and other locations where OT is deployed. IT organizations need a consistent and simplified way of managing Edge Computing systems. They want to bring the Edge under corporate-wide processes, policies, procedures, and service levels.

Transforming Beyond the Data Center

As Cisco evaluated the product strategy for our UCS and HyperFlex management portfolio, we realized the existing on premise architecture designed primarily for the data center was not going to adequately address the requirements of distributed applications to support systems in the data center as well at the Edge. A cloud-based systems management platform was necessary. By offering a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, we could provide unified management that would scale seamlessly and was easy to continuously update and maintain. It also provides a means of delivering enhanced operational analytics, machine learning, improved support and other advantages.

According to a recent IDC report,

Enterprise customers are becoming more and more comfortable with SaaS-delivered cloud management solutions and are seeking management platforms that support unified, API-based integrations across monitoring, analytics, governance, reporting, and automation. (“Worldwide Cloud Systems Management Software Market Shares, 2016: Year of Monitoring and Analytics Growth”, July 2017, IDC #US41375617e)

The UCS management architects realized this new SaaS approach would be transformational for the management of core data center systems as well Edge computing environments. They needed to preserve the policy-driven element management of our existing tools, while allowing for the advantages offered by Cisco Intersight. They understood this change must be implemented in an evolutionary manner, as I explained in a previous blog post.

IDC analyst, Ashish Nadkarni, has provided significant thought leadership in the areas of cloud-based systems management and Edge Computing. In a recent report entitled, “Software-Defined OT: Deploying Converged IT/OT Edge Systems Accelerates IoT Readiness”, Jun 2017, Doc #US42811517, Ashish explains,

Moving OT functions onto a converged tier requires making much of it software defined. Software defined OT (SD-OT) moves OT functions into software running on industry-standard hardware, which can access or even host OT control systems. Alternatively, OT-related control and data acquisition functions are network-based and can be performed from the Core or anywhere in the Edge. With SDOT, the OT software, like IT software, can run on bare-metal on virtual machines and increasingly inside application containers.

Our customers enjoy the ease of management we offer with HyperFlex, our portfolio of hyperconverged systems. They indicated they wanted to use HyperFlex as their converged tier for running OT and IT applications outside of the data center. Based on these requirements, we introduced the HyperFlex Edge line of products earlier this year to address the unique requirements of Edge Computing. We made it easy to deploy HyperFlex Clusters by including the HyperFlex Installer in all Editions of Cisco Intersight.

Customers also want to run their cloud-native applications using containers on bare metal, so they are using our Cisco UCS C-Series servers. They like the flexibility and ease of rapidly and consistently deploying infrastructure resources using only one management platform. Customers want to treat these Edge computing systems as if they were located in a remote “datacenter” governed by the same set of policies, processes and governance mechanisms.

Cisco Intersight provides policy-based configuration with Service Profiles to UCS C-Series rack servers. This allows IT organizations to extend their Data Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) policies to the Edge environments as well as simplifying their systems management. These are just some of the benefits of cloud-based systems management.

Ashish Nadkarni of IDC spoke with Todd Brannon, director of UCS product marketing, at Cisco Live regarding the some of the important issues customers should consider when evaluating cloud-based systems management.

You can also read a recent IDC report Ashish wrote entitled, “Considerations for Adoption of AI-Driven, Cloud-Based Systems Management Platforms“.

Cisco Intersight is designed for pervasive simplicity. It is a cloud-based platform that delivers a wide range of customer benefits for managing systems in Edge environments as well as the datacenter.

Learn more at www.cisco.com/go/intersight


Ken Spear

Sr. Marketing Manager, Automation

UCS Solution Marketing