Project Starship – Starting The Journey
Starship is an innovative, cloud-based management platform for Cisco UCS and HyperFlex systems. We introduced a Tech Preview of Starship a few weeks ago, so users could begin to try it out for themselves. Here’s an update.
Guest Blogger: Jeff Foster, Product Manager, UCS Product Management
Take a Test Drive
Technology is shifting the world around us. It is enabling increases in productivity, more immersive experiences, and eliminating mundane or repetitive tasks. I regularly shop online for gadgets and durable goods, but a recent e-mail for an online grocery service caught my eye with a free trial of the service. The combination of intrigue along with the idea of saving time made me give it a try. After all with the ‘trial’ offer, what did I have to lose?
Free trials or ‘product test drives’ are a great way for companies to showcase their product, platform or service. It lets you kick the tires while offering you a no-risk or low-risk opportunity to try something new.
I’m part of the product management team that is introducing a new technology from Cisco. We’ve been hard at work developing a solution called Project Starship – a cloud-based systems management platform. Many people describe it as “Meraki for servers”, but we have some bigger plans for it.
As we described in an earlier blog, Starship was designed with the goal of pervasive simplicity. We wanted to make it easy to get started, easy to use, easy to update, etc. In fact, we decided we would ask our customers to help us keep making Starship easier and more effective, so we are using a Tech Preview to introduce Starship. The Tech Preview goes beyond a restricted beta program. It provides early access to Starship, so our customers can test the functionality and provide feedback during the development process.
Starship – Beam Me Up
We want to show that it is really easy to begin using Starship, so we developed a getting started video, instead of a user manual. The video is about 7 and a half minutes long, and it provides enough information to help you create a Starship account and begin registering (we call it claiming) devices. It also provides an overview of the dashboard, online helps, admin tasks and other basic functions.
Just click here to watch the video.
Starship works with Cisco UCS B-Series servers, C-Series servers, and HyperFlex, Cisco’s hyperconverged product line. The latest versions of the management software includes support for Starship. (Click here for a blog with more details).
The management software includes a very lightweight and autonomous piece of software called a Device Connector that is bundled with the firmware. The Device Connector enables:
- Secure communication with the Starship portal, wherever the portal is.
- The capability of inserting tasks / calls against the infrastructure (UCS Manager, Cisco IMC Software, and HyperFlex) via the pluggable / extensible framework.
Like Cisco Smart Call Home feature, communications are initiated from the device. There are extra security checks to make sure the data is transmitted and stored securely. (We’ll expand on this topic of security in a future blog.)
Moving at the Speed of SaaS
One of the great things about Software as-a-Service (SaaS) is that you can implement enhancements and changes more rapidly without creating more hassles for your customers. Traditional, on-premise tools require systems administrators to manage the ‘care and feeding’ of these systems which usually takes a considerable amount of time and effort. With Starship we can introduce upgrades, patches and fixes automatically. This capability not only makes it easier for users to manage – it ensures greater security and consistency.
We’ve also restructured the Starship development process from a waterfall type of release process to a more agile, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) model. This will allow us to continue to enhance the Starship platform rapidly and adjust to customer requirements more efficiently.
The Starship journey is just getting started. It will introduce a new era of computing. Like any great new technology, it will transform the way people do things. I’m excited to be part of the crew that is making this mission possible. I hope you will join us and begin by taking Starship for a test drive.
You can begin by just watching the Starship video.
Stay tuned for the next episode…