Cisco CITEIS Delivers Elastic Infrastructure Services

 How does Cisco provision its own internal services?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 1, 2013
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Cisco is well known as the world's largest networking vendor, but it's important to remember that Cisco is also a consumer of IT services as well. How does Cisco provision and provide IT to its own staff? That's where the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure (CITEIS) effort comes into play.

Michael Myers, Director Technical Services for Cisco Global Infrastructure Services, told Enterprise Networking Planet that with CITEIS, Cisco has been able to dramatically reduce the provisioning time for application infrastructure. The CITEIS cloud has enabled Cisco to deliver a typical mid-size application to users in 15 minutes, down from an average of 5 days. The cost for running applications has also been reduced to $25,000 a year in 2013, down from $75,000 in 2009.

The effort to build the current Cisco CITEIS infrastructure, known now as Gen 2, began in 2011. Myers noted that the goal was to use Cisco technology where possible and to leverage the power of open source components. The first release came out in June of 2011, based on the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud suite. The full infrastructure solution also leverages Cisco UCS servers.

"CITEIS is a combination of the cloud services portal and the Cisco process orchestrator, as well as a set of automation packs that Cisco has produced," Myers said. "It all produces a self-service solution that delivers infrastructure and platform services."

Open Source

CITEIS also leverages Puppet for configuration management as part of the overall system.

"Puppet has deployment capabilities that allow for the manipulation of the operating system post provisioning that was very important to us," Myers said.

Myers explained that while Puppet is really good at orchestrating capabilities on top of a golden image, it didn't give Cisco some of the image creation tools that users wanted in a web interface.

To that end, Cisco also leverages an open source tool that is no longer publicly available called rPath for the CITEIS image library. RPath was a company founded back in 2007 enabling data center automationand virtual machine creation. Rpath was acquired by SAS at the end of 2012. Myers said that Cisco now supports the former rPath technology on its own.

Hardware

The hardware that CITEIS is deployed across represents a massive footprint. The bulk of CITEIS is located across 7 global data centers and provides some 27,000 virtual machines in the framework.

While the CITEIS platform is working well for Cisco, the entire solution is likely to stay as an internal Cisco technology.

Though Cisco will not resell its own CITEIS compute infrastructure, Myers noted that customers can buy the Cisco intelligent automation for cloud suite. He added that customers could potentially build their own environment that would be similar to what Cisco has done internally with CITEIS together with automation packs for the Cisco process orchestrator.

The future direction for CITEIS at Cisco in a nutshell is all about continuing to scale the solution.

Myers said that Cisco will also look at enabling hybrid private/public cloud capabilities as well as some enhanced elasticity between data centers. Cisco is also set to dig deeper into the OpenStack cloud framework to further enable a new generation of CITEIS features.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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