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12/7/2011
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Cisco CloudVerse: Build One Private Cloud, Multiple Hypervisors

Cisco steps back from close partner VMware to help firms build a private cloud using Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX Server, plus Cisco blades.

Cisco Systems Tuesday took a step back from its close cloud partner VMware, and launched CloudVerse, a set of integrated components to allow enterprises to build out private clouds running multiple hypervisors.

CloudVerse manages a combined set of pooled resources--including virtualized networking and storage as well as virtual servers--to create a highly automated cloud operation in the enterprise data center.

One of CloudVerse's components, Intelligent Automation for the Cloud, is a new software management system for the private cloud. That cloud can include Microsoft's Hyper-V, Red Hat's KVM, and IBM or HP hypervisors for their AIX or HPUX environments, respectively, as well as VMware's ESX Server, said Lew Tucker, Cisco CTO for cloud computing, in an interview.

Cisco calls CloudVerse a "framework" rather than a new product. It takes software components contributed by Tidal Software and newScale, both recent acquisitions, and puts them together in the Intelligent Automation for the Cloud product. The software components work with Cisco blades and networking to provide an automated operations environment for virtual servers.

CloudVerse's automated end user server provisioning depends on a service catalog and self-service portal engineered by newScale, which Cisco acquired for an undisclosed amount in April. It acquired Tidal Software in May 2009 for $105 million and its software provides insight into what resources an application was using. That helps when it comes to provisioning end user servers and rightsizing their resources.

An end user who needs applications on a new server in the enterprise "should get them out of a service catalogue, like downloads to the iPhone," said Tucker, who is the former head of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems. The future private cloud will account for 50% of enterprise data center computing by 2014, Tucker added. He based the statement on Cisco's first annual study of network traffic, the Cisco Cloud Index, which forecasts a rapid uptake in private cloud computing. Cisco is trying to get into a position, similar to IBM, HP, and Dell, where it's one of the primary hosts of those future workloads.

Cisco, for example, is already a close partner of VMware in the production of VCE integrated cloud server racks. VCE is a manufacturing consortium formed by Cisco and EMC, with VMware and Intel providing additional investment. VCE-integrated units, built with Cisco blades, EMC storage, and VMware virtualization, have gone into several prominent cloud data centers, including the New York Stock Exchange's Mahway, N.J., data center and SunGard's six cloud data centers.

[ Learn more about the NYSE's Mahway cloud data center. See Cloud Plays Disruptive Role In Financial Services. ]

But the VCE consortium's units are for cloud service suppliers. To reach private cloud builders, Cisco wanted an integration approach that included hypervisors in addition to VMware's, hence its CloudVerse approach. As usual, Cisco comes at the problem from the networking side. "The network used to terminate at the server," pointed out Tucker. "With CloudVerse, the network continues through the server port, goes through the Nexus 1000V switch, and terminates at the virtual server."

CloudVerse works with Cisco's Unified Computing System blades and Cisco networking, along with another new software component, Cisco Network Services Manager, to deploy virtualized assets. Network Services Manager handles the virtualized network side of a cloud deployment, making sure the virtual server has the correct amount of network bandwidth and network security. That makes it a competitor with HP's CloudSystem Matrix and Dell's Virtual Integrated System.

One of the strengths of Cisco's UCS is its ability to offload converged network and storage traffic from virtual machines through the Nexus 1000V switch to its nearby network switching fabric. That allows smoother I/O for multiple virtual machines on a single host.

In 2012, Cisco will offer ASR 1000 and 9000 Series routers, which will allow virtual machine administrators to identify workloads and move them between the enterprise data center and the cloud--or different cloud data centers. That will be enabled though another CloudVerse software component, Cloud-to-Cloud Connect, Tucker said.

In effect, Cisco is trying to pave the route to future hybrid cloud computing by offering its CloudVerse integration framework today, with some elements, like the ASR routers, still to come. Early adopters of the CloudVerse approach include Silicon Valley Bank, Orange Business Services, Verizon Terremark, Telstra, Fujitsu, Telstra, and ACS, a Xerox company.

The first Cisco study of cloud network traffic, as reported in its cloud index, projected that global cloud traffic will grow more than 12 times its current level by 2015, to 1.6 zettabytes a year. That's equivalent to four days of "business class" video for every person on Earth, the cloud index report said. One zettabyte is a billion terabytes. In 2009, the Internet was estimated to contain one half zettabyte of information, according to Wikipedia.

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