Cisco Expands Intelligent Automation for the Cloud

As companies deploy cloud computing more often, security is becoming an increasing worry for network administrators as they allow third parties to host data and assets that would be typically managed and secured in-house.

To help ease these worries, and provide more automation to secure data and assets in the cloud, Cisco has updated a tool that's designed to intelligently, and automatically, manage security in a hosted environment. This kind of security will become more important as even engineering systems, with all their complexity, begin to move to the cloud alongside enterprise systems, which have a head start.

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud 3.1 includes a host of new features that make it easier to add security to a cloud-based network, without a lot of hands-on administration, by setting controls within the tool, said Jason Schroedl, Cisco's director of product and solutions marketing for its datacenter and cloud management division, in a blog post on the company's website.

Schroedl outlined several new features of the product, including virtual datacenters, a resource discovery and tracking tool called CloudSync, and the addition of a network service management tool Cisco already offers.

The new virtual datacenters feature allows administrators to provide project teams or departments with a dedicated pool of computer, storage, and network capacity resources, rather than having them dip into the shared pool. This provides more security, agility, and flexibility for those using such hosted resources, allowing them to manage and provision their own as they scale, without affecting other assets in the cloud.

CloudSync, another new feature of version 3.1, is an infrastructure discovery and resource tracking tool that allows administrators to automate the process of just those things -- discovering, tracking, and then managing all of the cloud environment's infrastructure assets.

"You can run discovery of the infrastructure inventory on-demand or on a scheduled basis," Schroedl writes. "Your cloud administrators can keep track of infrastructure resources, assess capacity, and prevent sprawl; they also have the visibility and control they need to ensure security and policy compliance."

A third new aspect of version 3.1 is an existing Cisco product -- Network Services Manager. Integrating this product -- which allows for the organization of network resources into containers for use as discrete pools across a network -- into the intelligent management software provides "a foundation for network-as-a-service," according to Schroedl. This gives companies the ability to extend how they use the cloud, and provides potential for different cloud deployments.

More extensibility for the product will come in future versions as Cisco continues to develop product extensions, such as the ability to configure specific environments' workflows, and upgrading seamlessly without losing these changes.

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