I’m at our annual Cisco Live Europe conference in Milan this week – it’s a great event and a great opportunity to introduce new innovations to customers.  In fact, today we announced the latest release of our cloud management software solution: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) version 4.0.

I recently wrote about the new Forrester Private Cloud Wave, and how Cisco was ranked in the top three overall and #1 in strategy.  Our high marks in strategy in that report were based in large part on the roadmap and strategic vision that is being delivered through this new cloud management release – together with the latest release of Cisco UCS Director for infrastructure management.

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a cloud management platform designed for enterprise and public sector IT organizations building private and hybrid clouds, as well as service providers deploying public or virtual private cloud services.  This is the fourth major release for Cisco IAC – and it’s a big one.

With the new 4.0 release, Cisco is breaking ground by providing both the out-of-the-box functionality that our customers are asking for and the flexibility that we know they need as they extend their cloud deployments beyond basic IaaS.


Here’s some of the new out-of-the-box functionality that’s now shipping with this release:

  • Cardboard box 2Integrated Infrastructure ManagementWith version 4.0, Cisco IAC integrates with Cisco UCS Director to provide seamless management of both virtual and physical infrastructure – across compute, storage, and network resources.  By combining Cisco IAC and UCS Director, customers can achieve greater operational efficiency and automation for Cisco-based data center architectures (including UCS, Nexus, Invicta, ACI, and converged infrastructure systems such as FlexPod, Vblock, and VSPEX) as well as third-party infrastructure in their cloud deployment.
  • Integrated Network Services AutomationThrough integration with Cisco Prime Network Services Controller, Cisco IAC 4.0 provides out-of-the-box templates to automate the deployment of virtual network services (including load balancers, firewalls and VPNs) for our customers’ cloud deployments. With this release, Cisco IAC also provides network container support for Cisco’s Virtual Services Architecture (VSA) and Virtualized Multi-Service Data Center (VMDC) in a multi-tenant cloud environment.
  • Service Catalog Enhancements. Cisco IAC 4.0 embeds Cisco Prime Service Catalog for its self-service portal, service catalog, and lifecycle management functionality, and the functionality from the latest release is also included in Cisco IAC 4.0.  This includes ease-of-use enhancements for ordering and managing the lifecycle of IT services, as well as advanced functionality for managing consumption against quotas; tracking showback information with greater visibility into costs; and providing granular rate table pricing details by geography, application, tenant or organization.
  • Multi-Cloud Management. Version 4.0 also provides integration with Amazon Web Services, OpenStack, and VMware vCloud for multi-cloud management across both on-premise and off-premise cloud environments.  This is functionality that was previously available to customers as a cloud accelerator, offered as an optional extension to Cisco IAC; now with version 4.0, this multi-cloud management support is shipping as part of the core software release for our customers.

There are now hundreds of pre-built services and extension points for the service catalog – as well as several hundred orchestration processes and extension points – shipping with Cisco IAC 4.0.  This functionality makes it easier for our customers to get up and running with their cloud deployments, ensuring faster-time-to-value and lower TCO.

Here’s what one of our customers (Aurecon, a leading global engineering organization) says about Cisco’s IAC’s out-of-the-box capabilities:

“One of the things we particularly liked about Cisco IAC is that there is a lot of out-of-the-box functionality with pre-built automation packs and tools for configuring services and workflows. It was important that we grow within the capabilities of the platform, achieve some quick wins, and gain confidence as we went along.” [Read more in the case study here]


But wait … there’s more.  Cisco IAC is unique in the cloud management market in that it provides this rich, out-of-the-box functionality while at the same time preserving ultimate flexibility.

This flexibility allows our customers to configure the service catalog and orchestration engine for their specific requirements – and to meet new use cases for their cloud services.  For example, the out-of-the-box extension points that ship with Cisco IAC 4.0 can be used to configure cloud services and orchestration workflows that meet our customers’ unique needs, while preserving their ability to upgrade to the next release.

Here’s what another one of our customers (FASTWEB, a cloud service provider in Italy), says about Cisco IAC’s flexibility:

“Cisco IAC offers ready-to-use IaaS services, such as ‘provision a new virtual data center’ that can be customized to fit different business requirements. It’s also easy to create brand new services when you need them, unlike some other cloud orchestration platforms that are pretty rigid.” [FASTWEB presented their case study earlier today at Cisco Live in Milan]

With Cisco IAC, this flexibility offers capabilities for our customers to extend their cloud deployment in new areas.  That includes opportunities like hybrid cloud, where we’ll be integrating Cisco IAC with the new Cisco InterCloud solution announced today to move workloads between private and public clouds while maintaining associated security and network policies.  Here are couple more examples:

  • Application Stack Deployment. Designed to complement Cisco IAC, cloud accelerators deliver modular content that snap directly into IAC for specific use cases. The Application Stack Accelerator is one such extension to IAC, and it is designed to deliver application blueprints that increase IT efficiency through standardized application deployment.  With integration to Puppet and Chef, this solution facilitates the design of complete application stacks (including operating system, middleware, database, etc.) that can be ordered through the IAC self-service portal. This results in faster application deployments, faster project initiation, and faster time-to-market for our customers’ business initiatives.
  • Modern Service Catalog for Any IT Service. Most cloud management tools have a rudimentary service catalog designed only for ordering virtual machines and basic infrastructure.  But the built-in service catalog and role-based, self-service portal within Cisco IAC can be leveraged to enable end users to order any type of IT service – providing an intuitive online shopping experience for ordering everything from infrastructure and applications to communications and mobility services.  Cisco IT is a great example of this extensibility: they’ve expanded their service catalog deployment from the initial CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services) cloud initiative to what’s now known as our internal “eStore”, a one-stop shop for all Cisco IT services.

If you’re at Cisco Live Milan this week like me, you can learn more about the Cisco IT eStore deployment in this session.  In addition, we have several breakout sessions that provide an opportunity to drill down further into what’s new in Cisco IAC 4.0 – you can find them here. Or you can stop by the Cisco Data Center & Cloud booth in the World of Solutions expo to see a live demo of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 4.0.

If you’re not in Milan, just check out www.cisco.com/go/iacloud.  And stay tuned for more blog updates from my colleagues about Cisco IAC 4.0 – as well as our other new innovations in data center and cloud management software.