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Tag Archive: Data Center

  1. Managing Applications Across Hybrid Clouds

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    Brad-Casemore

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Guest Author: Brad Casemore

    IDC Research Director, Datacenter Networks

    Whether resident in traditional datacenters or – increasingly – in the cloud, applications remain the means by which digital transformation is brought to fruition and business value is realized. Accordingly, management and orchestration of applications – and not just management of infrastructure resources – are critical to successful digital transformation initiatives.

    IDC research finds that enterprises will continue to run applications in a variety of environments, including traditional datacenters, private clouds, and public clouds. That said, cloud adoption is an expanding element of enterprise IT strategies.

    Watch Video and Read IDC Paper related to this blog!

    In 2016, enterprise adoption of cloud moved into the mainstream, with about 68% of respondents to IDC’s annual CloudView survey indicating they were currently using public or private cloud for more than one or two small applications, a 61% increase over the prior year’s survey.

    Within this context, enterprises want cloud-management solutions that allow them to get full value from their existing IT capabilities as well as from their ongoing and planned cloud initiatives. At the same time, enterprises don’t want to be locked in to a particular platform or cloud. They want the freedom to deploy and manage applications in both their datacenter and in cloud environments, and they want to be able to do so efficiently, securely, and with full control. Ideally, they want the application environment to be dictated exclusively by business requirements and technical applicability rather than by external constraints. This is why enterprises are increasingly wary of tools optimized for a single application environment, and why they are equally skeptical of automation that is hardwired to a specific cloud.

    To be sure, the greatest benefit of having an optimized cloud-application management system is strategic flexibility. In implementing a hybrid IT strategy with consistent multi-cloud application management, enterprise IT can deliver on the full promise of cloud while reducing the complexity, cost, security, governance, and lock-in risks associated with delivering services across mixed environments. As such, there’s no need to worry about cloud-specific APIs or about the threat of cloud lock-in. Instead, enterprises can focus on a service delivery strategy tailored to the needs of the organization, allowing applications to be deployed in the best possible environments.

    An additional benefit is represented by speed and agility. In this respect, enterprises can align operations with agile development, helping accelerate the application development lifecycle. For example, enterprises can boost productivity and decrease time to market by providing developers with self-service portals to provision fully configured application stacks in any environment. Developers can remain focused on customer needs, and not on infrastructure or downstream deployment services.

    To learn more about the challenges and benefits of managing applications across hybrid clouds, and to read about how Cisco CloudCenter responds to those challenges, I invite you to listen read an IDC Technology Spotlight titled, “Avoiding Cloud Lock-In: Managing Applications Across Hybrid Clouds.”

    Watch Video and Read IDC Paper.

    This blog originally appeared on Cisco Blogs

  2. Cloud Agnosticism: Does the Survival of Current Cloud Providers Matter?

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    Cloud computing

    Remember that time when S3 went down? How about when SSL certificates in every Azure data centre expired at the same time, bringing every region down at once? Did you enjoy working with an independent public cloud vendor like SoftLayer, only to have them get acquired by IBM?

    Whether you’re dealing with downtime, an acquisition, or an exit from the market entirely, how much does the survival of your cloud provider matter? A lot, actually. And that’s why a cloud agnostic approach to your data and applications is best.

    Settling of the public cloud market

    In recent years, there has been a settling in the public cloud market. Azure and AWS are the big two in that space with Google and IBM close behind, but sometimes organisations explore other options.

    Regional service providers have grown adept at hosting VMware-based clouds, and their intimate knowledge of their customer base enables them to customise the experience in a way that the big guys can’t scale down to quite as well.

    >See also: Want to understand agile working methods? Look at start ups

    Similarly, Digital Ocean continues to be successful across multiple geographic regions by catering to the developer market.

    In fairness to the big guys mentioned above, AWS and Azure have done an excellent job at combatting high availability issues that caused them to suffer highly publicised downtime.

    The truth of the matter is, they possess resources and expertise on a scale that is difficult to match elsewhere, and they now provide great guidance on how to best use their platforms to ensure your own data protection and security.

    But, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s not unprecedented for an entire public cloud infrastructure across multiple locations to go down.

    You’ll need to find a way to operate if it happens again or if some unforeseen acquisition misaligns with your enterprise agreements.

    The services trade-off

    One aspect of examining a cloud agnostic approach is the appeal of the extended services that the larger public cloud providers offer, such as managed databases, load balancers, queues, and notification services.

    These services can dramatically accelerate time to market for applications and allow developers to focus on the business logic to solve the problems specific to your needs.

    >See also: Staying ahead of the digital wave

    The trade-off is that their use also tends to lock you into a particular provider, given that there is little to no commonality between such services across different providers.

    Cloud agnostic approaches

    So, how can you take a more cloud agnostic approach to protect yourself from one of these scenarios where your cloud provider goes away, goes down, or gets acquired by someone you aren’t as in sync with? Here are a few approaches to consider:

    1. Multi-cloud backups

    The simplest approach is to simply back up your data to a different provider than the one you use to collect that data in the first place. This also allows you to take advantage of that data by spinning up your applications that depend on it on the second cloud.

    In other words, treat cloud providers like you treat individual private data centres. Run production on one, but back up and have a cold standby on another.

    2. Hybrid cloud applications

    A more complicated but more robust approach is to build your applications in such a way that they have a global load balancer on top of application stacks that run on different clouds.

    Imagine one set of web and database servers running on one cloud, a second set running on another, and a global load balancer that either actively sends traffic to both stacks (in which case the trick is keeping application state synchronised between them) or sends all traffic to one stack but treats the other as a warm standby.

    This approach takes more effort, but shrinks turnaround time to get up and running on the alternate cloud.

    3. Cloud management platforms

    Instead of trying to manage all of this yourself—or to make it easier to choose which of the two approaches discussed here to use on an application-by-application basis — consider enlisting the help of a cloud management platform (CMP).

    >See also: Consolidation: a database prediction

    While still an emerging product family for which Gartner has a Market Guide but not yet a Magic Quadrant, these tools provide a single view of application deployments across different cloud providers and tend to provide an abstraction layer to make it easy to migrate an application from one vendor to another.

    Some provide governance and metering/billing tools so that system administrators can dictate who is allowed to deploy applications to which cloud and put some guide rails on spending. Benchmarking tolls within a CMP can be useful as well so that more direct price/performance comparisons can be made among different vendors.

    Next steps

    There are several ways you can proceed toward a world where you aren’t locked into one cloud vendor and subject to problems that can occur if that vendor has downtime, gets acquired, or disappears.

    Deciding between the time to market speed of utilising cloud-specific services but increasing lock-in is among the most difficult decisions to make when trying to build a cloud agnostic solution.

    That’s where CMPs can help by adding abstraction on top of multiple clouds. Regardless of your approach, giving yourself options as cloud models mature is key to being nimble enough to take advantage of future benefits as they unfold.

    This piece originally appeared on information age

  3. Time flies when you are having fun – New CloudCenter Release

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    Time flies when you’re having fun and building great products! Those who have been following CloudCenter (formerly CliQr) know that it’s been about 6 months since we were acquired by Cisco. During that time, we’ve have been extremely busy. Not only was there a lot of normal day to day activities needed to integrate into Cisco’s processes and systems, but the team was also working to crank out another great feature-filled release. I happen to be especially proud of this release since I was it’s my first release in the product manager role for CloudCenter.

    Blog image CC

    Image: CloudCenter combining both cloud and data center in one platform

    With my new role comes some great perks like getting to play with the engineering builds right when a new feature is completed. I’m proud to report that not only is CloudCenter 4.6 now generally available, but it’s a great, big, first release under the Cisco banner. This release delivers an even deeper integration with Cisco ACI, a more simplified networking model across clouds, and an easier deployment experience.

    Deeper ACI integration

    CloudCenter first introduced Cisco ACI integration about a year and a half ago—right before CiscoLive 2015 in San Diego. Naturally, after the acquisition in April, one of the first things we set out to do was to deepen that ACI integration and provide more value to our customers. The 4.6 release’s vision centered around generally increasing networking flexibility. But also giving users the option to use either existing Cisco ACI objects (endpoint groups, bridge domains, and virtual machine managers) or dynamically create new ones.

    The net/net of these new and enhanced ACI features is that CloudCenter with Cisco ACI blows away any other solution to give a seamless experience, no matter if you’re using vSphere, OpenStack, Azure Pack, or any other on-premise IaaS cloud API. Network administrators gain flexibility in configuration, automation during deployment, and control of what end users are able to do via self-service on demand offerings —all without ANY coding to the ACI API. On the flip side, end users get a more consistent and expedited deployment of their application profile from an easy to use, self-service experience.

    Simplified Networking

    Since the acquisition, people keep asking us, “are you going to stay cloud-agnostic?” Fortunately, the answer is “Yes” and there is no plan of that changing.  We continue to refine the list of clouds, versions, and regions we support out of the box. And we continue to add enhancements that support a multi-cloud world. The new “Simplified Networking” configuration works by letting an administrator abstract cloud networks and assign a label based on the network’s technical features.

    As an end user, all you have to do is provide your business requirement for the application you’re deploying. CloudCenter then maps all the technical stuff behind the scenes. Need a “Secure” network in Metapod? CloudCenter will map the application in the background to “Network X”. Instead, if the application is landing on AWS, Azure, vCenter, or any of the other clouds we support, the equivalent of the “Secure” network might be “Network Y”.

    By abstracting each cloud’s networks into a business requirement defined label, it makes end users’ life SO MUCH EASIER. Gone are the days when they have to know about the underlying cloud’s network capabilities. At the same time, administrators get more control and guarantee that applications are being deployed appropriately through policy.

    Deployment Experience

    For those old school CliQr users and admins, you’ll notice some slick new user interfaces in this release. Sticking with our mantra of “make life easy for users and admins”, we added the ability for admins to pre-set and hide certain fields from users on the deployment form, let application tiers be deployed across availability zones within a cloud region, and streamlined the deployment screen flow.

    deployment_environment

    Image: New deployment environment configuration screen

    Above you can see the new deployment environment configuration screen. Note the visible and non-visible settings for each field. If I’m an admin, I love this feature because it means I can lock down and hide fields that my users don’t need to worry about. Less room for error, fewer questions from users, and more smooth sailing!

    There’s a ton more that made it into the CloudCenter 4.6 release and you can find it all in the release notes. In the next 6 months, you can be sure to expect more announcements of our progress, both in feature releases and as we make waves as a new product within Cisco!

    This blog originally appeared on Cisco Blogs.

     

  4. 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.

    stretched-feature-460x203

    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!

    stretched_steps

    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.

     

  5. How Cisco CloudCenter Stacks up

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    Screen-Shot-2016-08-24-at-10.38.14-AM

    If you are like me – all the cloud management tools sound the same. Vendors all use the same words to describe very different solutions. Hybrid. Platform. Automation. Service.

    So to help you figure out what the words mean, I’ve recorded a short webcast with product manager Zack Kielich (@zackOmatic), that shows how Cisco CloudCenter stacks up to Gartner’s Cloud Management Platform feature taxonomy.

    You can access a Gartner report that includes the feature taxonomy list, as well as 5 key questions that help you evolve your cloud strategy.  And then listen to the webcast where we go through Gartner requirements and describe how CloudCenter features deliver 14 Gartner recommended capabilities in 4 key areas.

    So why is a CMP review on the Datacenter Blog?  CloudCenter deploys and manages applications in datacenter or cloud environments.  It’s both a cloud and datacenter solution.

    Some highlights:

    Access Management

    • Multi-tenancy – CloudCenter has a service provider class multi-tenant architecture that offers great value for enterprise IT. It saves money by reducing the solution footprint for organizations with multiple business units. It supports a centralized IT service strategy with a flexible mix of sharing and isolation.  Central IT can offer standard services. Each tenant can consume those services but also add or customize their own, and even skin the UI for different user groups.
    • Governance – A tag-based governance scheme makes it easy for IT to help users make the right decisions. Compliance can be automated by using tags to enforce policies.  Users add simple tags when they deploy applications. IT can hard code tags if needed for compliance.  The tags link to policies that direct placement, deployment and run-time decisions. The tags make it easy for users to make the right choices. And they don’t have to understand the policies.

    Service Management

    • Logical service modeling – This is where CloudCenter really shines. You can model a deployable application blueprint with ease in a drag and drop interface. Each component represents a service like OS, or application or web server, database, etc. You can use out of box, or easily customize or add your own. It supports configuration management tools, PaaS and cloud services, as well as containers. Multiple IT groups can put their configuration finger print on the building blocks or fully modeled stacks before releasing for users. IT maintains control. Users don’t get stuck in the infrastructure weeds, and get an on-demand self-service experience.
    • Usage and cost control – With usage and cost plans, you get a variety of options to create boundaries for self-service on-demand deployment. You want to limit developers from a certain group to a pool of 200 VMs in a vCenter environment? No problem. You want to keep AWS costs for a BU to $2,000 per month? No problem. You want to allocate costs across the SDLC for dev, test, staging, and then production. Again, no problem.

    Service Optimization

    • Monitoring and auto-scaling – CloudCenter lets you horizontally scale legacy applications in your datacenter. That’s right! Cloud-like scaling without rewriting applications. Set performance triggers and scale out by deploying additional instances of the whole stack or individual tier, with just enough resource to minimize cloud costs and optimize infrastructure utilization. You can even burst to cloud by scaling out to a cloud for periods of heavy usage.
    • Usage Visibility – IT executives love the consolidated reporting of costs and usage from any of 20 supported datacenter, private and public cloud environments, all in one platform. View usage and costs by tenant, by user group, by application, by cloud. Roll up or drill down. And allocate or charge back costs as needed. You get data needed to make effective decisions.  IT can add use-based economics to traditional datacenter and legacy applications, just like in the public cloud.

    External APIs

    • CloudCenter has mature, documented APIs. Everything users can do from the UI, you can access via API. This facilitates easy integration with development tools like Jenkins, ITSM catalogs like Cisco Prime Service Catalog or ServiceNow, existing ITOM tools like IPAM and DNS. Read the integration guide.
    • SDN like VMware and Cisco API are supported. So you get the security and operational efficiency of zero trust, white list communication between tiers, via fully automated integration. Application owners get confidence in case of a security breach. Network teams don’t need to hand craft port settings or configure firewall runs for each deployment.
    • CloudCenter abstracts the cloud. CloudCenter supports more than 20 different data center, private and public clouds. But the APIs are hidden and abstracted by the CloudCenter Orchestrator. Users don’t need to learn each cloud. They get the benefits of Software defined data center and cloud, without the cost of learning APIs specific to each platform.

    There’s more.  Check out the webinar to find out about benchmarks, bursting, automated end-of-life actions that all cut your cloud bill or improve datacenter resource utilization.

    Read about how CloudCenter is now part of the revamped Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite.

    This blog originally appeared on Cisco Blogs.

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