Today’s IT landscape is exciting, but very chaotic. Everyone agrees we need to build cloud-like operating environments. But how do we get from where we are to this new world? What does the Future Cloud look like?

Cisco shared some of what they have been working on work to make the future cloud less complicated for their customers on a recent Tech Field Day event. Here’s a recap of the news they shared.

Orchestrate Hybrid Clouds

The Cisco Intersight Platform is a SaaS driven hybrid cloud operations platform. It looks to solve problems caused by today’s chaotic IT landscape.


The Intersight platform has modular components that are designed to make moving to that future cloud state easier for IT operations teams. It works on the public cloud as well as on-premises. There is even a Terraform service to help build those new environments.

Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator

Cisco says the Intersight Cloud Orchestrator (ICO) provides a low-code, easy-to-use automation framework that simplifies complex workflows. ICO was built to solve the IT operations problems that lead to slow services:

  • multiple endpoints
  • IP addresses stored in spreadsheets, but admins don’t trust the spreadsheets so they grab IP info from a management tool to verify spreadsheet
  • locally stored admin credentials

We have all been there, haven’t we?

ICO comes with pre-built workflows for fundamental IT tasks. Custom tasks can be created to support most any situation. A workflow is tasks required to ac stitched together. The live demo showed how ICO provisions an ACI environment. It went on to provision a VMware environment. This part of the demo starts about the 27:00 mark.


Intersight Workload Engine

The Intersight Workload Engine (IWE) helps customers manage infrastructure for different types of applications. The challenge with applications is that they all must be managed, life-cycled, and secured. In fact, everything down the stack must be managed, life-cycled, and secured in this way. This includes the operating systems, virtual machines, networking, etc.

This only gets more complicated once you add cloud native applications. This management must be extended to container runtimes (bare metal or running on VMs). Once you start really thinking about it, the management sprawl for cloud native applications can get out of control very quickly.

That’s what IWE was built to solve. Right now, it only works on Cisco UCS (nothing else has been tested or qualified). Intersight handles server management (firmware, BIOS, policies, etc.). In fact, server management was table stakes. IWE is the next layer up. It is built on IWE-OS and takes care of clustering and hypervisors. IVS is for virtualization service0s, and IKS is for Kubernetes services.

This release covers containerized applications that run in virtual machines. The next release will address applications running in containers on bare metal.  Later traditional applications running in VMs will be supported. Additionally, the initial release is on-premises only, but the intention is to support public clouds as well.

This presentation got fairly technical, if you are wondering how the service is built start around the seven-minute mark.

Service Mesh Manager

Service Mesh Manager (SMM) is an add-on for IKS (Insight Kubernetes Services). Cisco really, really loves their acronyms!

SMM is for providing visibility across distributed container-based applications with all the different services that need to communicate. Generic authentication for APIs is available, and it sounds like there is a lot of other stuff being worked for the future. The live demo for this starts around 16:30.

Real Talk

I believe that these types of platforms and tooling are mandatory for managing applications in a multi-cloud environment. I’ll go even further: I believe this is what everyone will be using in the near future. It makes total sense that Cisco is starting with their own equipment (Cisco UCS), and then extending their core services to meet this multi-cloud challenge. They are making strategic acquisitions to fill in the gaps.

Cisco is definitely building the right future cloud for their equipment, the question is will they extend this effort to other vendors’ equipment?