This is an IaaS cloud and it originally provided just a self-provisioning mechanism for virtual machines, but we were quick to realize that this capability alone wasn't sufficient for the application teams. They needed an application environment. So, we are now aggressively working on building out higher up the stack to what is normally called the PaaS layer. We are putting a lot of new functionality in there so that it's much easier for the app teams to provision database schemas, Web servers and various other things which make it much easier for them to put their applications straight on top.
This cloud is purely for Cisco's internal purposes. Although all the technologies we use are products that Cisco sells, we believe this can be reproduced for customers as well.
How will enterprises gain from using this solution?
There are two main advantages. One is reducing the provisioning time. There are different definitions for what a cloud is, but cloud, in general, has some aspects of real-time self-service provisioning, and we are trying to go further up the stack to do more.
For instance, I was giving a demo on storage provisioning just the other day. Storage doesn't sound interesting. What's new about provisioning storage? The difference we can show is a drastic increase in the productivity of the storage provisioning team because we now have the self-service interface using Cisco technology where they can assign storage to individual VMs or a collection of VMs, within a very short span of time. We currently have a whole team of people doing this provision work manually, and this is going to help us move those people on to doing things of greater value for us. That boils down to agility.
The second benefit is reduction of TCO. UCS itself brings about a fair amount of TCO reduction. That, along with the cloud itself, and automation on top of that, can reduce TCO to a greater extent. And that TCO includes all the aspects we can think of: DC space, operational staff, implementation staff, and the technology integration team.
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