In this great article on Cisco’s Private Cloud: Pain and Profit we learn some of the real life lessons of one of the most successful private cloud deployments in the industry.  The detail of how Cisco IT increased agility, lowered costs, and enhanced security with the use of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud for this deployment is located here.  I like using Cisco IT’s experience in their journey to cloud to give us insight into what a private cloud looks like 18 months after first deployment.  Morphing as planned from the first use case of Infrastructure as a Service to being an “Enterprise Store” across multiple service delivery towers is a key theme I predicted and continue to see,  across many customer deployments.  In the image below, we see a typical Service Taxonomy, where Cloud is just one of the icons in the total service catalog.

Cisco eStoreV3

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) with underlying automation is bubbling up as critical for corporate IT strategies.  As IT shops increase their level of comfort with  a service catalog, self service and orchestration for compute, virtualization, network, and storage; the attention shifts to other areas such as applications, virtual desktops, and other technology domains such as collaboration technologies.  Let’s take a detailed look at where the Cisco IT eStore and Intelligent Automation for Cloud have gone in those 18 plus months since ignition.  The home page of the eStore shows the current catalog of some key services being offered and other services being migrated over as we speak.  We immediately see Virtual Desktops, and Home & Remote Access in addition the beachhead of IT Infrastructure and Platform Services

estore home page

Th3 first cloud set of releases of IaaS and Enterprise Applications as a Service (some call this enterprise PaaS) was first composed of Express Services and Virtual Data Centers.  There are many services offered from both initial ordering and provisioning  to ongoing lifecycle management.

estore citeis

This part of the eStore has gone through about an agile iteration approximately every quarter.  Look and feel and increased functionality are key design themes here.  Additionally, since the service portal and catalog abstract (“hide”) all the infrastructure changes below, this insulates the end users from the technical changes in the infrastructure (of which there can be many).  After IaaS the deployment moved on to enterprise applications such as application messaging, application and web services, databases and administration services.

estore ent apps

Offering a set of core IT standard offers that can be provisioned quickly was absolutely critical to increased user adoption.

“We are thrilled to deliver this foundational service catalog, based on Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco Cloud Portal and Cisco Process Orchestrator).  Our plan is to migrate all IT services on to the eStore, thus retiring several disparate systems currently used to order and provision services.  This will reduce our operating cost while providing a single streamlined user experience to our workforce.” – Mary Kadomoto – Director at Cisco IT.

In speaking to Mary and the extended team, a few best practices stand out:

  1. IT teams deploying private cloud should look for an off the shelf solution that can accelerate their plans, but still provides flexibility to adapt to their environment.
  2. Leveraging content (i.e. cloud operating model) that is extensible and upgradable  is important to move quickly from one release to another.
  3. Stay away from virtualization vendor lock in when you choose a Cloud Management Platform.
  4. Private Cloud (IaaS) is part of transforming IT to a service-providing ITaaS model.   Policies and SLAs are just as important as automation and integration.
  5. Cisco’s eStore probably wouldn’t have happened this quickly on its own. It started somewhere: CITEIS original IaaS services success made it possible.
  6. It is critical to get the tribal knowledge of the subject matter experts captured and deployed as automation.

Overall, it is fascinating to see how a simple deployment of “vanilla cloud” has evolved into a one of best private cloud deployments in the industry.   Critical to success is a combination of agile methodology, getting into production ASAP, a well defined vision/roadmap, focused end user adoption thinking and a key drive towards solving business problems versus just technical provisioning.