The paths one can take to automate IT are numerous. If your choices are driven by use cases and business outcomes then it will be easier to make a decision. It does not mean, though, that we as IT staff don’t need to know how the market is shaking out. Today we examine three layers a business could look at to address automation for their data center environment. Like all choices, your mileage will vary based on your need, focus, skills and adaptability.

The Choice is Yours

Does your IT Service Management solution meet your needs? If not, Cisco’s Prime Service Catalog (PSC) provides a platform to create a singular IT portal to start all of your IT service requirements. It is a great choice for most businesses. PSC provides a gateway to create a self-service portal that your staff or customers can leverage.  In the ideal PSC world, every IT request no matter how large or small starts within its self-service portal.  If your users are leveraging the portal for every request, then adding new functionality is easy to socialize as it’s the one place to stop and shop.

In addition, PSC helps you address a wide variety of use cases.  Need a cell phone, memory for your laptop, an additional disk for a VM or package of VMs?  Those are all use cases PSC can front-end on your behalf.  This does not mean PSC is completing all of these tasks per-se but it is a user-friendly entryway to assigning requests.  With this layer of automation, you are programming the requesting and servicing of what your users ask for.  This layer helps: lay down request / integration structures needed for managing the choices your users make, tie choices to Active Directory in some fairly complex ways, and take interface flexibility to the extreme should you need it. In summation, PSC might be the front-end approach you need to unify your IT portal’s look and feel.

Ready, Set, Delivered

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CliQr is Cisco’s latest acquisition around application mobility and deployment.  CliQR has a promise to be the application deployment/management tool to enable legacy, Web 2.0, PaaS and containerized application delivery in a way not seen before by a commercial product. CliQr wants you looking at the clouds you can deploy to, with templates that have the application layers separated out from the Operating System with the features and accountability you need.

As businesses obtain the skills in packaging new applications and systems, they will be in a position to look at the old systems and evaluate them from a business value & cost perspective. CliQr is a fast moving product that will enable businesses to draw a line in the sand.  Any new applications that need to be deployed get deployed using a CliQr model.  It will save money, time and stop the bad legacy application deployment models from expanding outward.

There is no time like the present for forming what constitutes good cloud-native application practices. CliQr provides a level of agility that only comes from proper packaging. Its value is that it lets you define what an application consists of.  For example, if cost is driving your usage of a particular application, then deploying it in the cheapest option might be the best option. If reliability is your driver, then maybe your own internal cloud is best. In addition, unlike legacy applications, with CliQr you can ask if now is the right time to transfer data.  If it is, the software applies your preferences along with its intuitive conclusions, then allows you the flexibility to flex and burst into and out of the specific cloud servers that make the most sense for your needs.  As a result your package is wrapped and delivered, complete with a bow.

In the Director’s Seat

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We have talked quite a bit about Unified Computing System Director in this blog but know that its sweet spot is infrastructure.  As we’ve mentioned previously, UCS Director can also be extended to provide orchestration services across IT. What strategic areas can you automate to free up your IT staff so they can innovate?  Your staff has technical knowledge, business know-how, process understanding. Now, with UCS Director their valuable assets can be freed up to help plan for the future.

UCS Director works extremely well with your storage, network, compute and virtualization layers.  It plays well with PSC and CliQr.  Being good automation friends in the sand box is something that can help maximize your investment while minimizing risk. It can launch programs and scripts after VM deployment. It can talk to Representational State Transfer (REST) services and be queried via REST.  For a piece of the pie that is central to the operations of IT, UCS Director can bring a wealth of features and focus to your organization.  Companies get to choose how much of these legacy layers they automate for future tasks as well as old ones. Suddenly, your internal hybrid cloud will move at a much faster pace because UCS Director is automatically coordinating services from server pools instead of IT employees having to do it manually.

Not Mutually Exclusive

None of these three packages will block the other from working, and that’s a huge bonus.  Prime Service Catalog provides a one-stop shop to get users focused so that they understand better where IT comes from. CliQr can help lay the foundation and create the framework for what would be your new IT transformation, packaging and delivery strategy. CliQr can be called by UCS Director or PSC.  Finally, UCS Director will automate what is a large chunk of your existing IT infrastructure, and can be called by PSC or run in environments without PSC.  All three—though they represent different waves individually—set the atmosphere users should expect to navigate and send us towards the goal of agile and automated IT.

Looking for additional data center information regarding automation orchestration? Contact your account manager and ask to speak to a solution architect.

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