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Chapter Description

With more people accessing your business through a digital experience, application performance is more critical than ever, and managing resources across your complex IT environment has big implications on user experience and costs. In this sample chapter from Cisco Cloud Infrastructure, you will learn about workload management solutions including Intersight Workload Optimization Manager (IWO) and Cisco Intersight Kubernetes Service.

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Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer

Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer is a real-time decision engine that ensures the health of applications across your on-premises and public cloud environments while lowering costs. The intelligent software continuously analyzes workload demand, resource consumption, resource costs, and policy constraints to determine an optimal balance. Cisco IWO is an artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) toolset that makes recommendations for operators and can trigger workload placement and resource allocations in your data center and the public cloud, thus fully automating real-time optimization.

With Cisco IWO, infrastructure and operations teams are armed with visibility, insights, and actions that ensure service level agreements (SLAs) are met while improving the bottom line. Also, application and DevOps teams get comprehensive situational awareness so they can deliver high-performing and continuously available applications.

Benefits of using Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer:

  • Radically simplify application resource management with a single tool that dynamically optimizes resources in real time to ensure application performance.

  • Continuously optimize critical IT resources, resulting in more efficient use of existing infrastructure and lower operational costs on the premises and in the cloud.

  • Take the guesswork out of planning for the future with the ability to quickly model what-if scenarios based on the real-time environment.

Figure 5-2 illustrates how IWO ensures application performance with continuous visibility, deep insights, and informed actions.

Figure 5-2

Figure 5-2 Application performance with continuous visibility, deep insights, and informed actions

CWOM-to-IWO Migration

In June 2019, Turbonomic and CWOM became inaugural members of the Integration Partner Program (IPP), which takes the technology partnership to another level by helping joint customers maximize the value of their AppDynamics and CWOM investment. The extended integration and partnership delivers on the vision of AIOps, where software is making dynamic resourcing decisions and automating actions to ensure that applications are always performing, enabling positive business outcomes and improved user experiences. Organizations across the world are investing heavily in developing new applications and innovating faster to deliver better, more simplified user experiences. The partnership and the combination of AppDynamics and CWOM ensure that applications are architected and written well and are continuously resourced for performance.

As a full-stack, real-time decision engine, Intersight Workload Optimizer revolutionizes how teams manage application resources across their multicloud landscape, significantly simplifying operations. It delivers unprecedented levels of visibility, insights, and automated actions, as customers look to prevent application performance issues.

Figure 5-3 provides a very high-level view of IWO application management.

Figure 5-3

Figure 5-3 Very high-level view of IWO application management

Simply put, IWO provides the following customer benefits:

  • It bridges the gap between application and IT teams to ensure application performance.

  • It eliminates application resourcing as a source of application delay, meaning applications can perform and continuously deliver services.

  • It helps IT departments stop overspending and delivers a modern application hosting platform to end users.

  • It enables high-value application and IT teams to focus on strategy and innovation without jeopardizing applications.

IWO expands Intersight capabilities. All in one place, Intersight customers can manage the health of the infrastructure and how well that infrastructure is utilized to ensure application performance. Additionally, Intersight customers can monitor and manage application resources on third-party infrastructure, public cloud, and container environments.

Optimize Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with IWO

Application resource management is a top-down, application-driven approach that continuously analyzes applications’ resource needs and generates fully automatable actions to ensure applications always get what they need to perform. It runs 24/7/365 and scales with the largest, most complex environments.

To perform application resource management, Intersight Workload Optimizer represents your environment holistically as a supply chain of resource buyers and sellers, all working together to meet application demand. By empowering buyers (VMs, instances, containers, and services) with a budget to seek the resources that applications need to perform and empowering sellers to price their available resources (CPU, memory, storage, network) based on utilization in real time, IWO keeps your environment within the desired state, with operating conditions that achieve the following conflicting goals at the same time:

  • Ensured application performance: Prevent bottlenecks, upsize containers/VMs, prioritize workload, and reduce storage latency

  • Efficient use of resources: Consolidate workloads to reduce infrastructure usage to the minimum, downsize containers, prevent sprawl, and use the most economical cloud offerings

IWO is a containerized, microservices-architected application running in a Kubernetes environment (or within a VM) on your network or a public cloud VPC (Virtual Private Cloud). You assign services running on your network to be IWO targets. IWO discovers the entities (physical devices, virtual components, and software components) that each target manages and then performs analysis, anticipates risks to performance or efficiency, and recommends actions you can take to avoid problems before they occur.

Intelligent, proactive workload optimization simplifies and automates operations. With many tools, the focus is on monitoring and alerting users after a problem has occurred. Cisco IWO is a proactive tool that is designed to avoid application performance issues in the first place. It continuously analyzes workload performance, costs, and compliance rules and makes recommendations on what specific actions to take to avoid issues before they happen, thus radically simplifying and improving day-to-day operations.

While some tools provide visibility into applications or visibility into an individual tier of physical or virtual infrastructure, Cisco IWO bridges all these layers with a single tool. It creates a dynamic dependency graph that visualizes the connections between application elements and infrastructure throughout the layers of the stack, all the way down to component resources within servers, networking, and storage. Figure 5-4 shows how Cisco IWO analyzes telemetry data across your hybrid cloud environment to optimize resources and reduce cost.

Figure 5-4

Figure 5-4 Cisco IWO analyzes telemetry data across your hybrid cloud environment to optimize resources and reduce cost

Cisco IWO can optimize workloads in any infrastructure, any environment, and any cloud, and it works with the industry’s top platforms, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and OpenStack. It automatically manages compute, storage, and network resources across these platforms, both on the premises and in the cloud. It analyzes telemetry data from a broad ecosystem of data center and cloud technologies, with agentless support for over 50 targets across a range of hypervisors, compute platforms (including Cisco UCS and HyperFlex), container platforms, public clouds, and more. Cisco IWO correlates these telemetry sources into a holistic view to deliver intelligent recommendations and trigger actions, including where to place workloads and how to size and scale resources.

Cisco Intersight is a cloud operations platform that delivers intelligent visualization, optimization, and orchestration for applications and infrastructure across public cloud and on-premises environments. It provides an essential control point for customers to get more value from hybrid cloud investments.

The Cisco IWO service extends these capabilities with hybrid cloud application resource management and support for a broad third-party ecosystem. With this powerful solution, you can have confidence that your applications have continuous access to the IT resources they need to perform, at the lowest cost, whether they reside on the premises or in a public cloud.

The combination of Cisco IWO and AppDynamics can break down siloes between IT teams. This integration provides a single source of truth for application and infrastructure teams to work together more effectively, avoiding finger pointing and late-night war rooms.

AppDynamics discovers and maps your business application topology and how it uses IT resources. Cisco IWO correlates this data with your infrastructure stacks to create a dynamic dependency graph of your hybrid IT environment. It analyzes supply and demand and drives workload placement and resource allocation actions in your IT environment to help ensure that application components get the computing, storage, and network resources they need. Together, these intelligent tools replace sizing guesswork with real-time analytics and modeling so that you know how much infrastructure is needed to allow your applications and business to keep pace with demand.

If you have workloads running on the premises and in public clouds, your IT teams need to make complex, on-going decisions about where to locate workloads and how to size resources in order to ensure performance and minimize cost.

Figuring out what workloads should run where is nearly impossible if you lack clear visibility into available resources and associated costs. And for workloads that run in the cloud, how do you determine what cloud instance or tier is the best fit at the lowest cost? Cloud costs can become volatile, and you can get lost in a myriad of sizing, placement, and pricing decisions that can have very expensive consequences. Cisco IWO can help in the following ways:

  • Manage resource allocation and workload placement in all your infrastructure environments, giving you full-stack visibility in a single pane of glass for supply and demand across your combined on-premises and cloud estate.

  • Optimize cloud costs with automated selection of instances, reserved instances (RIs), relational databases, and storage tiers based on workload consumption and optimal costs.

  • Dynamically scale, delete, and purchase the right cloud resources to ensure performance at the lowest cost.

  • Extend on-premises resources by continuously optimizing workload placement and cutting overprovisioning based on utilization trends.

  • De-risk migrations to and from the cloud with a data-driven scenario modeling engine.

In increasingly competitive markets, more organizations are adopting containerized deployment options to deliver business-differentiating applications quickly. Kubernetes has become the de facto standard for container orchestration and helps to build, deliver, and scale applications faster. For IT teams, Kubernetes has introduced new layers of complexity with interdependencies and fluctuating demand that make it nearly impossible to effectively manage modern IT at scale.

Cisco IWO simplifies Kubernetes deployments and optimizes performance and cost in real time for on-going operations in the following ways:

  • Container rightsizing: Scale container limits/requests up or down based on application demand.

  • Pod “move”/rescheduling: Reschedule pods while maintaining service availability to avoid resource fragmentation and/or contention on the node.

  • Cluster scaling: When Cisco IWO sees that pods have too little (or too much) capacity in a cluster, it will give the recommendation to spin up another node (or to suspend nodes).

  • Container planning: Model what-if scenarios based on your real-time environment. With a few clicks, you can determine how much headroom you have in your clusters or simulate adding or removing Kubernetes pods.

How Intersight Workload Optimizer Works

To keep your infrastructure in the desired state, IWO performs application resource management. This is an ongoing process that solves the problem of ensuring application performance while simultaneously achieving the most efficient use of resources and respecting environment constraints to comply to business rules. This is not a simple problem to solve. Application resource management has to consider many different resources and how they are used in relation to each other, in addition to numerous control points for each resource. As you grow your infrastructure, the factors for each decision increase exponentially. On top of that, the environment is constantly changing—to stay in the desired state, you are constantly trying to hit a moving target. To perform application resource management, IWO models the environment as a market made up of buyers and sellers. These buyers and sellers make up a supply chain that represents tiers of entities in your inventory. This supply chain represents the flow of resources from the data center, through the physical tiers of your environment, into the virtual tier and out to the cloud. By managing relationships between these buyers and sellers, IWO provides closed-loop management of resources, from the data center through to the application.

IWO uses virtual currency to give a budget to buyers and assign cost to resources. This virtual currency assigns value across all tiers of your environment, making it possible to compare the cost of application transactions with the cost of space on a disk or physical space in a data center. The price that a seller charges for a resource changes according to the seller’s supply. As demand increases, prices increase. As prices change, buyers and sellers react. Buyers are free to look for other sellers that offer a better price, and sellers can duplicate themselves (open new storefronts) to meet increasing demand. IWO uses its Economic Scheduling Engine to analyze the market and make these decisions. The effect is an invisible hand that dynamically guides your IT infrastructure to the optimal use of resources. To get the most out of IWO, you should understand how it models your environment, the kind of analysis it performs, and the desired state it works to achieve. Figure 5-5 illustrates the desired state graph for infrastructure management.

Figure 5-5

Figure 5-5 Desired state graph for infrastructure management

The goal of application resource management is to ensure performance while maintaining efficient use of resources. When performance and efficiency are both maintained, the environment is in the desired state. You can measure performance as a function of delay, where zero delay gives the ideal quality of service (QoS) for a given service. Efficient use of resources is a function of utilization, where 100% utilization of a resource is the ideal for the most efficient utilization.

If you plot delay and utilization, the result is a curve that shows a correlation between utilization and delay. Up to a point, as you increase utilization, the increase in delay is slight. There comes a point on the curve where a slight increase in utilization results in an unacceptable increase in delay. On the other hand, there is a point in the curve where a reduction in utilization doesn’t yield a meaningful increase in QoS. The desired state lies within these points on the curve.

You could set a threshold to post an alert whenever the upper limit is crossed. In that case, you would never react to a problem until delay has already become unacceptable. To avoid that late reaction, you could set the threshold to post an alert before the upper limit is crossed. In that case, you guarantee QoS at the cost of over-provisioning—you increase operating costs and never achieve efficient utilization.

Instead of responding after a threshold is crossed, IWO analyzes the operating conditions and constantly recommends actions to keep the entire environment within the desired state. If you execute these actions (or let IWO execute them for you), the environment will maintain operating conditions that ensure performance for your customers, while ensuring the lowest possible cost thanks to efficient utilization of your resources.

Understanding the Market and Virtual Currency

To perform application resource management, IWO models the environment as a market and then uses market analysis to manage resource supply and demand. For example, bottlenecks form when local workload demand exceeds the local capacity—in other words, when demand exceeds supply. By modeling the environment as a market, IWO can use economic solutions to efficiently redistribute the demand or increase the supply.

IWO uses two sets of abstraction to model the environment:

  • Modeling the physical and virtual IT stack as a service supply chain: The supply chain models your environment as a set of managed entities. These include applications, VMs, hosts, storage, containers, availability zones (cloud), and data centers. Every entity is a buyer, a seller, or both. A host machine buys physical space, power, and cooling from a data center. The host sells resources such as CPU cycles and memory to VMs. In turn, VMs buy host services and then sell their resources (VMem and VCPU) to containers, which then sell resources to applications.

  • Using virtual currency to represent delay or QoS degradation, and to manage the supply and demand of services along the modeled supply chain: The system uses virtual currency to value these buy/sell transactions. Each managed entity has a running budget. The entity adds to its budget by providing resources to consumers, and the entity draws from its budget to pay for the resources it consumes. The price of a resource is driven by its utilization—the more demand for a resource, the higher its price.

Figure 5-6 illustrates the IWO abstraction model.

Figure 5-6

Figure 5-6 IWO abstraction model

These abstractions open the whole spectrum of the environment to a single mode of analysis—market analysis. Resources and services can be priced to reflect changes in supply and demand, and pricing can drive resource allocation decisions. For example, a bottleneck (excess demand over supply) results in rising prices for the given resource. Applications competing for the same resource can lower their costs by shifting their workloads to other resource suppliers. As a result, utilization for that resource evens out across the environment and the bottleneck is resolved.

Risk Index

Intersight Workload Optimizer tracks prices for resources in terms of the Risk Index (RI). The higher this index for a resource, the more heavily the resource is utilized, the greater the delay for consumers of that resource, and the greater the risk to your QoS. IWO constantly works to keep the RI within acceptable bounds.

You can think of the RI as the cost for a resource, and IWO works to keep the cost at a competitive level. This is not simply a matter of responding to threshold conditions. IWO analyzes the full range of buyer/seller relationships, and each buyer constantly seeks out the most economical transaction available.

This last point is crucial to understanding IWO. The virtual environment is dynamic, with constant changes to workload that correspond with the varying requests your customers make of your applications and services. By examining each buyer/seller relationship, IWO arrives at the optimal workload distribution for the current state of the environment. In this way, it constantly drives your environment toward the desired state.

3. Understanding Intersight Workload Optimizer Supply Chain | Next Section Previous Section

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