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Tag Archive: cloud application management

  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. 10 ways Cisco CloudCenter simplifies AWS

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    Since CloudCenter makes it easy to add AWS to your data center-based hybrid cloud service offerings, and automate deploy and manage of applications, I thought a “Top 10” list was in order.

    Register for the Dec 15th live demo webinar that will highlight these features.

    CloudCenter is an application-centric hybrid cloud management solution. It lets you build on your Cisco infrastructure foundation, and extend application deployment and management capabilities to include public clouds like AWS.  Most enterprise IT organizations I work with already have experience with a public cloud like AWS. And, are now looking to broker multiple public cloud services to IT consumers. CloudCenter has a significant TCO advantage over hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud solutions that are environment specific or use hard-wired automation.

    CloudCenter integrates seamlessly with AWS and “Abstracts the cloud” so developers and users get the power of automated application deployment and management, without having to understand AWS API calls.

    1. Deploy a virtual machine on demand. Easily integrate with service catalogs such as ServiceNow or Cisco Prime Service Catalog, a custom IT front end, or use the out-of-the-box enterprise marketplace. Give your IT consumer self-service on demand “One click” deploy an OS image with CPU and memory to user’s choice of regions, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), and availability zone. The IT organization centrally controls who, what, where, when and for how long OS images are deployed. You can track costs and usage with roll-up or drill down reporting by application, cloud account, user group, and more.
    2. Manage images in multiple regions. Automate management of OS images across multiple AWS regions. Whether you build cloud specific images, check out and harden an Amazon provided AMI, or rent vendor updated images, a simple CloudCenter API call updates logical to physical OS image mapping to simplify maintenance, and make sure users are always consuming the latest IT approved OS images.
    3. Deploy any application stack on demand. Users can self-service deploy a fully configured infrastructure and application stack, including databases, middleware, application and web servers, and load balancers. CloudCenter automates deployment of existing enterprise applications or cloud-native micro service architectures. You get cloud-scale features with traditional applications without refactoring or changing application code. And you get full flexibility with composite topologies including a mix of OS images, application services, containers, configuration tools, and unique AWS services.
    4. Automate Continuous Deployment. Did you know you can deploy from Jenkins to any data center or cloud with one CloudCenter plugin? A code change can trigger a build which then triggers a deploy of a full stack environment including the latest build. CloudCenter makes it easy with a Jenkins plugin, and simple API call integration with other popular build automation tools. And CloudCenter abstracts the cloud so your developers don’t have to spend time learning cloud specific API calls, or writing hard-coded scripts for different AWS regions and availability zones.
    5. Auto scale across availability zones. You need to deploy applications in multiple AWS availability zones in order to get AWS 99.995% uptime guarantee. You can deploy master and slave components in different availability zones and autoscale across them both. You don’t need complex scripting in a cloud formation template. You don’t need deep knowledge about security groups or network Access Control Lists (ACL). CloudCenter makes it easy.
    6. Migrate across regions. You can use powerful migration features to move an application from one AWS region to another. Once an application is deployed, users can select an application, pick target region, and “one click” migrate the application and optionally the data if needed.
    7. Automate micro-segmentation. When a cloud agnostic Application Profile is deployed in AWS, CloudCenter automates creation of Security Groups and Access Control Lists that deliver micro-segmentation with white list communication. You can easily deploy and manage a large number of applications without using shared segmentation that opens security risk of East-West traffic.
    8. Including AWS specific services. In general, we recommend you use cloud-agnostic services to model Application Profiles to a single profile that can be deployed to data center, AWS, and other clouds. That is key to lower hybrid cloud TCO. But you also have the choice to model AWS-specific services as part of an application profile, or use call outs to call unique AWS services when needed.
    9. Benchmark price and performance. Compare price performance metrics to determine when AWS is the most cost effective choice. Or determine price differences between AWS regions. Performance across regions shouldn’t vary. But, price in different regions can. Also, use benchmarking to find out when multiple small instances are more cost effective than one large.
    10. Stay in control. CloudCenter is an enterprise-class solution that includes governance and security features that meet the needs of the most demanding and complex IT organizations. Multiple AWS accounts? Multiple groups using a single AWS account? No problem. Control usage and get complete cost and usage visibility with policy-base guardrails that give users self-service on demand deployment, with IT oversight that help users make the right choices every time.

    Register for the webinar to see CloudCenter and AWS in action!

    Read the Datasheet – CloudCenter with Amazon Web Servies

    Watch AWS re:Invent session Dev211: Automated DevOps and Continuous Delivery

  3. 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.


  4. Cloud Strategy Brief: CliQr CEO Gaurav Manglik

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    To be a strategic partner with the business, IT needs to focus their cloud strategy on the applications that deliver the business value; not the infrastructure. Easier said than done. Or is it? Lets talk to the experts and find out…

  5. Why I Joined CliQr

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    I recently joined CliQr as Vice President of Product Marketing. I will be using this blog to share my perspective on industry trends, CliQr product details, and our customer’s success.

    So why, with my experience at multiple technology vendors and time served as industry analyst, did I decide to join CliQr?

    Its all about the app (more…)

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