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Tag Archive: automation

  1. Why Cloud? Justification for Non-techies

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    Cloud computing is all the rage today, to the point that it feels like you can’t fill out your “buzzword bingo” card at any meeting without using the phrase. There are all kinds of technical reasons why cloud has the market momentum it does, but what if you aren’t swayed by such things? If you’ve seen technology trends come and go, you need non-technical justification for moving your business in any direction, and cloud computing is no different for you.

    So, what is the main justification for business owners to use cloud that doesn’t involve a lot of technical jargon? Let’s get to the bottom line and talk ROI and payback instead.

    Asset Procurement Financials Before Cloud

    If you go back to a simpler time, before virtualization was even a thing — let alone cloud computing — the financial justification process for IT or any other kind of capital asset was pretty much the same:

    1. Spend a lot of money up front on equipment
    2. Wait for that equipment to be installed and configured correctly
    3. Reap gains to your own business based on this new equipment for years to come.

    In this model, it is common to estimate what the expected annual gains were and to calculate a payback period. In other words, how long will it take you to recoup your investment made in Year 0 before the equipment is even installed? When weighing options against one another, those with shorter payback are more attractive than those with longer payback.

    Another way to judge different choices against one another is with an ROI calculation. Take the total anticipated returns, subtract the total investment, divide at difference by the total investment and multiply by 100.

    The difficulty with either payback or ROI approaches is that you are left to estimate the total returns. In other words, you don’t really know what benefits you’ll receive with your large, up-front purchase — you have to estimate it. And since typically this kind of analysis is made over a three-to-five-year period, it can be awhile before you figure out whether or not you’re wrong. And if you are, it can be a very expensive proposition to correct it.

    Enter Cloud: Getting More At-Bats More Quickly

    Instead of having to wait two years to figure out if your estimated returns are correct, wouldn’t it be better to find out sooner? And instead of estimating the returns in the first place, wouldn’t it be better if you could find out the actual benefits sooner? Also, I bet you’d rather pay as you go instead of investing all that money up front and hoping the return comes at all, right?

    These are the real business benefits of cloud. In baseball terminology, it’s about getting more at-bats, or put another way, more cycles with your technology investment by trying options that don’t require the long installation lead times. That allows you to quickly evaluate the benefits of the investment with a smaller up-front investment and either celebrate the genius of your choice or admit defeat and move on to an alternative.

    Think about what that means for the ROI calculation. The lone value in the denominator of that equation is the total investment. Lower that, and whatever number is in the numerator will look better.

    For the payback, this cloud model enables a business not to estimate returns based on a lot of spreadsheet mechanics that are influenced by the sales team trying to get your investment, but instead can be based on your actual use of the technology as soon as possible with an option to stop without financial penalties. That lets you gather more detailed data on your financial returns sooner.

    Cloud Is Not About Tech, It’s About Speedy Investments

    This is the real takeaway here: Speed. In the modern economy, it is more efficient to try technology investments, quickly determine if they deliver the benefits they promise, and move on than it is to go through some long sales cycle that is followed by an even longer installation process to find out whether or not the equipment you purchased was a huge waste of resources or not. It is OK to fail, just do so quickly so you can cross that wrong answer off your list and move closer to whatever the right solution is. Doing that over and over again with solutions that you pay for as you go is a far better use of your budget.

    This piece originally appeared on betanews.

  2. How to Manage a Successful Multi-cloud Strategy

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    This piece originally appeared on Sand Hill.

    Cloud computing, by its very nature, does not limit choices nearly to the same degree that previous data center revolutions have. It used to be that you had to choose between A and B; but with a multi-cloud strategy, you can have both. The trick, then, becomes how to manage multiple clouds over time. How do you decide which applications should go where and who gets access to various resources? When is it time to move off one cloud to another, and what are the odds that you’ll have the same answer for every one of your applications? Start by asking yourself these questions.

    Where are you now?

    Just about every company has some cloud deployments, whether IT knows about them or not, and the first step is to get an inventory of what is being used by whom and why. More than likely what you’ll find is that there is demand for self-service, on-demand access to application deployments and that the specific benefits of a particular cloud pale in comparison. Speed kills in today’s business environment; and for any team, especially those in the line of business, the ability to iterate stands above all else.

    What clouds do you want to consider?

    That inventory you collected will act as a guide here, as will your current data center capabilities. Public clouds are easy to try before utilizing them heavily. Private clouds are more difficult due to your being responsible for the setup yourself, unless you go with a managed option of some sort where a trusted third party comes in and maintains that layer on your behalf.

    Which applications should go where?

    With your application inventory in hand, make a rough sketch of which ones should go on your private cloud targets and which are more appropriate for public.

    Data Privacy Sensitivity chart (Cisco)

    One way to think about this is to plot the workload demand along a Y-axis with the data privacy sensitivity along the X-axis. Applications that have high data privacy sensitivity and/or constant workload demands fit best on a private cloud, where the data can be protected behind a firewall and capital-expensed in-house equipment can be highly utilized. For applications without data sensitivity issues or ones that have wide variances in demand, a public cloud target is best.

    Who gets to do what, where?

    No multi-cloud strategy is complete without considering the people who will be using it, and that means well beyond the traditional IT administrator. End users of all skill levels are desperate for self-service, on-demand resources; and if you don’t offer it as part of your multi-cloud strategy, your user community will go elsewhere. Figure out who needs to deploy what and where you want to let them do so under different circumstances.

    Putting it together with a Cloud Management Platform

    With your application inventory collected, initial deployment targets decided, and who needs to deploy what in place, it is time to put together the whole picture with a Cloud Management Platform (CMP). This emerging class of software enables an IT department to model applications in a format that reuses existing assets and is portable across different cloud targets while enabling the IT administrator to put some limitations on that with governance and metering/billing.

    Ideally, the CMP should enable you to benchmark applications on different cloud platforms so you can make informed choices on what applications should go where for those versatile enough to go in either public or private clouds. It should give you a view of your current world of Virtual Machine (VM) management to ease the transitional period in a way that lets you assign quotas of VM or dollar usage that will work for your current state of loosely deployed VMs and the future state of VMs deployed within the context of the application inventory. Your CMP ought to provide role-based access control so you can flexibly implement who is allowed to deploy what, where.

    Selling your multi-cloud strategy to your internal stakeholders

    Finally, none of the components of a multi-cloud strategy matter if others don’t buy into it. Fortunately, there is plenty here for a wide variety of roles to get excited about.

    • IT admins – Maintain control of a multi-cloud environment unobtrusively
    • LOB users – Get self-service, on-demand resources whenever they want
    • Developers – Deploy new builds as needed without a lengthy ticketing process
    • Security architects – Codify knowledge into every application deployment, automatically
    • CFOs – Highly utilize capital investment in the data center, drive better ROI calculations on the public cloud

    With the help of a CMP, any organization can implement a sound multi-cloud strategy that satisfies the needs of all these constituents, and more.

    Pete Johnson is the technical solutions architect for cloud in the global partner organization at Cisco Systems Inc. He is a 20+-year tech industry veteran and can be found on Twitter at @nerdguru.


  3. Deploying Application Tiers Across Both Data Center and Cloud

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    This blog originally appeared on Cisco Blogs.

    So you want to deploy your database tier in the data center with an ACI managed network, and app server and web tiers in the public IaaS cloud? No problem.

    As applications are getting more complex, IT is getting more savvy about where individual tiers are deployed. With Cisco CloudCenter, you can automate application deployment and control exactly where each application tier is placed.


    You probably know that with CloudCenter patented technology, users can create a cloud agnostic blueprint called the Application Profile, that describes everything needed to deploy an application. The CloudCenter orchestrator abstracts each cloud API, and deploys the application in any of 20 different data center, private and public cloud environments. When users click “Deploy” they have freedom to choose which cloud the application is deployed to.

    But you may not know that when users deploy an application, they can also choose “Hybrid” and then select the deployment environment for each application tier individually.

    Consequently, both legacy enterprise applications and cloud-native architectures can be deployed with its services, Docker containers, configuration recipes across any combination of data center and cloud.

    Stretched Application Topology

    The application profile doesn’t change. The application doesn’t have to be refactored. IT doesn’t have to version control and edit scripts or workflows that hardwire specific tiers to a single target environment. That is the simplicity and power of CloudCenter!

    For a traditional 3-tiered application like Magento that requires PCI compliance on its credit-card-holding database, the stretched topology features allow the database to be hosted within a company’s secure data center while the application and web tiers are hosted when needed on a public IaaS cloud.

    Benefits of Stretched

    There are three primary reasons that you might choose to stretch an application:

    Cost: Not everything belongs in the cloud. Deploying long running stable applications tiers in your virtualized data center can reduce your monthly cloud bill. But variable usage tiers that require more resources during periods of heavy usage can benefit from cloud pay-per-use economics.

    Security: Stretched application topologies can increase security by letting users consume Software Defined Networking (SDN) through Cisco ACI. Customer data, patient data, trade secrets may best be deployed back in your data center. Cisco ACI and CloudCenter together offer unparalleled application security via micro-segmentation, zero trust, white list communication between specific application tiers. The application profile doesn’t change with ACI. Users don’t have to know anything about networking to get the power of ACI for their deployment.

    HA/DR: An application profile can describe a high availability or disaster recovery architecture with master and slave nodes stretched across availability zones within a cloud region. This makes it easy for a developer or production engineer to deploy and test an HA/DR configuration. Then use the same version-controlled automation to deploy in production as well.

    Just three steps

    All a user has to do is deploy an application profile like they normally would, but when asked which cloud to deploy to:

    • Select Hybrid. to activate cloud fields for each tier.
    • Select the appropriate execution venue for each application tier.
    • One-click deploy. That’s it!


    CloudCenter does the rest. The user doesn’t have to know the nuances of each cloud API. Or, change any orchestration flow. Or, change any deployment script or automation artifact that is hard coded to a specific environment.

    Of course CloudCenter’s simple tag based governance applies to each tier as well, simplifying placement, deployment, and run time decisions for users.

    Being the first application deployment tool to have the ability to stretch deployments across any cloud from the same model is a giant leap forward in harnessing the power of the cloud while whittling the cost to pay for only what you need. It’s just another example of how Cisco is pushing boundaries and adding value across the hybrid IT landscape.

    Watch this on-demand webinar to see how Cisco ACI and Cisco CloudCenter support various stretch application topologies.


  4. Industry Recognition for Cisco Hybrid Cloud Solutions

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    It is nearly impossible to miss the business transformation taking place in every organization.  As consumers, our smart devices have trained us to expect delivery of information or services at near instant speed.  But when we move from our consumer to business roles, we find service delivery anything BUT instant.

    Cisco has two solutions that deliver on demand consumption of IT and business services into hybrid environments.  Both of these solutions have been noticed by customers and have become established in the marketplace.  But it is especially pleasing when recognition comes from industry peers.

    Since 1986, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has recognized software and digital content providers with CODiE awards.  The SIIA CODiE is the only peer-reviewed program that showcases technology products for business and education.  SIIA represents approximately 800 member companies worldwide that develop software and digital information content.

    Recently, SIIA announced the winners of their CODiE awards:

    Winner Best Cloud Infrastructure: Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite
    Winner Best Cloud Management Solution:  CliQr CloudCenter (now Cisco CloudCenter)

    Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite is a hybrid cloud solution that allows organizations to land and expand their cloud journey. Modular architecture enables companies’ to start with basic infrastructure automation and expands into IT and business-based service delivery.  This modular approach allows organizations to experience the benefits and ROI of self-service automation faster.

    CliQr CloudCenter (now Cisco CloudCenter) abstracts the application from infrastructure allowing the application to be deployed across multiple data center, private and public environments. Cisco CloudCenter defines and configures the infrastructure as opposed to fitting the application to a preconfigured infrastructure-centric blueprint or template.

    Cisco’s hybrid cloud duo provides any organization with a simple way to get started and grow as their expertise of cloud services evolves.  They manage heterogeneous hardware and deliver hybrid cloud capabilities that virtually eliminate cloud lock in while increasing organizational speed and flexibility.  Best of all, both solutions contain built-in guardrails that are hidden from developers or line-of-business yet silently protect business compliance and security.

    Watch these videos to learn more about Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite and Cisco CloudCenter.

    This blog originally appeared on Cisco Blogs.

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