Early adopters of cloud-based service delivery were seeking additional cost savings beyond those achieved with server virtualization and abstraction. However, they quickly understood that the real value of cloud-based computing was the speed, flexibility, and agility that allow IT to rapidly align with business decisions.
Such alignment frees IT staff to focus on critical projects that deliver advanced business capabilities supporting competitive innovation. IT recognizes that to optimize cloud deployments for greater speed, flexibility, and agility, they need better cloud management solutions.
The foundational element IT now needs to put in place in order to unlock the potential for greater speed, flexibility, and agility that cloud can deliver is holistic cloud management that delivers automation and the comprehensive orchestration of services. This type of solution helps IT make the transition from virtualization and abstraction to transparent end-to-end service delivery.
Cisco® Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) is a holistic cloud management solution with broad coverage for various types of cloud deployments. This solution provides automated IT operations for cloud computing with policy-based controls to provision virtual and physical resources in private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. The solution includes a self-service portal, orchestration engine, and advanced cloud management capabilities that are fundamental to delivering the agility, flexibility, and speed desired by today's transformational data centers.
Cloud automation allows IT to align more closely than ever before with the demands of today's 24-hour-per-day business environment. As organizations continue to rapidly adopt cloud-based service delivery, automated management has become essential for IT to realize the full value, flexibility, and agility needed by today's virtual data centers.
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a cloud management software solution that delivers a critical foundation layer for deploying and managing cloud-based computing in a holistic and unified way. The solution provides essential automated management and orchestration that allows organizations to control and manage cloud-based services transparently throughout their lifecycles (Figure 1).
This solution can cover diverse cloud deployments and is a flexible solution that can scale from test and development to production workloads, from initial cloud pilots to large-scale enterprise-wide initiatives to deliver maximum value to customers.
The Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud foundational building blocks of cloud computing that help IT organizations to advance their cloud deployments to gain greater speed, flexibility and agility are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Solution
• Web-based self-service portal and service catalog
Authorizing customers to order from a standardized list of service menus and provisioning templates facilitates the wide-scale automation that significantly expedites setting up resource requests. These environments need to be set to corporate standards and governance guidelines while reducing human error. The Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud web-based self-service portal gives users the ability to browse from a catalog of predefined service options or from customized workflows defined by IT or the service provider. Once services are orders, end users can track order status, modify and manage completed orders, and view usage, consumption, and costs for all service orders.
• Service delivery automation
Automation is critical to unifying and standardizing data centers, because it simplifies operations, reduces costs, and promotes business flexibility. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud automation engine breaks end-user requests into individual components and orchestrates the order across infrastructure resources, the operating system, and applications. It also reports back to the end user on consumption through metering, chargeback, and billing systems. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud also provides updates to configuration management databases (CMDBs) as well as system management tools to help ensure that configuration-related information used by incident, change, and release management systems are up to date.
• Operational process automation
Operational process automation benefits the organization by reducing the risk and latency of managing both physical and virtual environments. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud automates IT best practices in a secure and repeatable manner through service templates for operational and support tasks, user and performance management, and reports for audit tracking and reporting. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud provides over 200 predefined best practices and workflows, as well as tools that allow IT administrators to easily construct customized workflows or processes.
• Resource management
Resource management in large-scale cloud models requires performance isolation and efficient use of the hardware infrastructure. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud uses the concept of resource pools, or logical containers, across hypervisor, compute, network, and storage infrastructures allocated to specific or multiple virtual machines to the user's specific order. Allocating resources into logical containers provides isolation from noisy neighbors as well as the ability to share resources across multiple users. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud complements the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) but other Cisco and third-party solutions can be easily integrated, including service management tools and operational processes.
• Lifecycle management
Lifecycle management of a cloud service runs from service request through decommissioning of the service and allows optimal utilization of resources, whether human, virtual, or physical. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud tools facilitate tracking of all aspects of individual services, including project and business information captured during the initial order and data about the various elements being provisioned to support the service from initiation to retirement. Decommissioning of resources reduces underutilization and potential virtual server sprawl.
Infrastructure and the foundational elements are vital to a successful cloud deployment, but cloud management provides the connections that make cloud computing effective. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud extends beyond basic cloud computing to include extensive management support and comprehensive coverage for simple or complex cloud deployments. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud delivers:
• Scalable clouds, from single virtual machines up to large-scale deployments in virtual data centers
• Management of multiple cloud environments, from industry leaders to open-source solutions
• Standardized extensions, to easily configure IT processes and workflows
The end result for Cisco customers is a cloud operating model that delivers increased speed, responsiveness, user satisfaction, and operational efficiency.
Features and Benefits
We provide several newcloud management features with the release of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1, delivering greater business value while reducing total cost of ownership for our customers. Some of these important new capabilities of version 3.1 are described below.
Virtual Data Centers
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud can manage a wide range of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) use cases, from simple ordering of virtual machines from a shared pool of resources with no approvals to more advanced virtual data centers with dedicated resource pools for project teams, departments, or entire organizations (see Figure 2). Virtual data centers are perfect for organizational units where a range of defined sizes (for example, small, medium, and large) can be requisitioned with specific configuration limits. To guard against unrestrained resource reservations, approval and oversight is completed by the organization's cloud administrator or by the service provider, through the portal. Once approved, all users in the specific organization have equal access to resources. The same requisition and approval process is used in the event an organization needs to add resources.
Figure 2. Dashboard of All Virtual Data Centers
A new and unique feature in cloud computing is CloudSync, which introduced infrastructure discovery to provide visibility to cloud infrastructure elements and the management systems connected to them (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Infrastructure Discovery Keeps Administrator in Control of the Service Catalog
Infrastructure discovery can be completed on demand or scheduled in 1- to 24-hour increments as specified by the administrator. CloudSync places the cloud administrator in control of the service catalog menus available for order by simply controlling the rank of a specific service or element. For example, if an error is detected in a service template, the administrator can change the status to maintenance, temporarily removing this service from the catalog. To permanently remove a service from the catalog, the administrator changes its status to ignore. Once errors or problems are discovered, CloudSync empowers the administrator to prevent further propagation of problems while remediation occurs.
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud provides workflow remediation capabilities that deliver industry-leading capabilities to the cloud administrator or service provider when errors occur. Using a simple dashboard, the administrator can quickly identify the services affected and select the appropriate action to continue or return to the beginning of the specific workflow.
• Cancel workflow
• Retry from point of failure
• Restart from workflow beginning
• Ignore error, continue to next step
• Roll back to previous workflow version
Clouds Your Way
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud provides over 200 extension points for the self-service portal and orchestration workflows to protect the investment in custom extensions required by today's cloud environments. These extension points promote best practices and the reuse of IT intellectual capital, allowing knowledge of domain experts to be automated into workflows and system provisioning templates across the entire organization. Additionally, these extension points reduce the complexity of integration with system management tools from different vendors. Extension point examples include: integration into IT service management system or service desk application, document asset management changes, and setup and decommissioning of monitoring or service assurance.
Solution Acceleration Extensions
Solution accelerator kits can be used to complement Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud ability to manage physical and virtual infrastructures across multicloud and multihypervisor environments. A new multicloud accelerator kit allows Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud to manage physical and virtual infrastructures across OpenStack, Amazon EC2, and VMware vCloud Director. When using the OpenStack cloud platform to develop open-source clouds, the accelerator kit extends Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud hypervisor support to include Red Hat RHEV, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V.
Hardware and software requirements for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud are listed in Table 1.
Table 1. System Requirements for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud