I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to many CLUS. It’s anticipation, excitement and dread all balled together the few weeks before while preparing for the show. Remembering last year in Vegas, or the year before that in Las Vegas, or the year before that in San Diego, or the year before that in San Francisco, or the year before that in …you get it. In the weeks up to the event, an excited and reluctant, tugging anticipation.Knowing, on the horizon - too may conversations, too many hours standing, too many drinks, and too much food - the kind of intense week requiring stamina and a weekend afterward for recovery. Lucky, yes! - The topics are good, conversation is easy and it’s always great to have Cisco DevNet to share. What a great program to be a part of. and makes for easy conversation on the exhibitor show floor when describing Quali’s unique Sandboxing technology and how DevNet uses it.
This year in Orlando was no different, it was a great show and when over, I was ready to be home. Lots of great laughs and fun times with new and old friends, exciting technology, fun parties, and a wee bit of a hangover. As much as it was the same, it was different. After attending for so many years, this time I was a little more reflective, of how much CLUS has grown, changed, evolved, and matured. Which also brought back great memories of all the good years I’ve had as a technologist being associated with Cisco.From being recruited out of college to my first high tech job at Cisco in Menlo Park - 1992, the same year as JC, and through astronomical growth and many technologies and acquisitions - all the way to this past event, #CLUS18. Cisco has lead technology change and innovation at blistering speed, bringing prosperity and growth as well as adopting new technologies for the world to use.Every day giving us, the everyday people, a chance to make a difference.The true magic of CiscoLIVE - the people.Look at the Social Impact initiatives and the Global Problem Solvers initiatives that Cisco promotes.Free access to technology learning and developer experiences through LIVE hands-on Sandboxes through Cisco DevNET’s 500,000 members - all of these are examples of people in action.
On a personal note - I have to tell you, the catalyst for all the reflecting started after seeing many friends I’ve known for years at #CLUS18. In particular, 3 friends of whom we all used to work together at Cisco, but hadn’t seen each other in 13+ years. The kids are now grown, the times have changed a lot. But the introductions were as close, warm and familiar as if we had seen each other two weeks before. Talking family, tech, and toasting to the years. Quality experiences and quality friendships fostered at CiscoLIVE live on and on.Martin, Andy, Pablo - great seeing you.
Reflecting back on this event, here's another contribution from Brian Mehlman, Director of Enterprise Business Development at Quali:
It has been many years since I have attended Cisco Live, and after being at the show this year, I am very happy that Quali allowed me to go to this event. It was one of the best events I have been to in a very long time. The many vendors that attended had really solid exhibits and engineers doing demo’s/explaining the value of their technology. Stopping by the Cisco DevNet area was also a highlight. It was very impressive – tons of developers testing out the easy to use an online portal to spin up specific Development environments in minutes. I am glad Quali had a booth and represented how we help many of our customers including Cisco Labs and the DevNet Automate the delivery of the environments by allowing them to build sandboxes through our CloudShell Software’s API. Many people were very excited about our new technology and automation for their companies future needs as they are moving resources to the cloud.
Quali is pleased to announce that we just released CloudShell version 8.1 in General availability.
This version provides several features that provide a better experience and performance for both the administrator , blueprint designers and end users many of them were contributed by our great community feedback and suggestions
Let's go over the main features delivered in CloudShell 8.1 and their benefits:
Orchestration is a first class citizen in CloudShell, so we've simplified and enhanced the orchestration capabilities for your blueprints.
We have created a standard approach for users to extend the setup and tear-down flows. By separating the orchestration into built in stages and events, the CloudShell user now has better control and visibility to the orchestration process.\
We've also separated the different functionality into packages to allow more simplified and better structured flows for the developer.
We have made various enhancements to Apps and CloudShell’s virtualization capabilities, such as allowing tracking the application setup process , passing dynamic attributes to the configuration management.
CloudShell 8.1 now supports vCenter 6.5 and Azure Managed disks and premium storage features
To enhance the visibility of what's going on during the lifespan of a Sandbox for all the users , CloudShell now allows a regular user to focus on a specific activity of any component in their sandbox and view detailed error information directly from the activity pane.
Administrator can now edit any resources from the inventory of the CloudShell web portal including Address, Attributes, Location, as well as the capability to exclude/include resources.
To allow uninterrupted automation process and prevent any error during the setup stage, the sandbox will be in a “read only” mode.
Blueprint editors using abstract resource can now select attribute values from a drop down list with existing values, this shortens and eases the creation process and reduces problems during abstract creation
A new view allows administrators to track the commands queued for execution.
The Sandbox list view now displays live status icons for sandbox components and allows remote connections to devices and virtual machines using QualiX.
Additional REST API functions have been added to allow better control over Sandbox consumption.
In addition, version 8.1 rolls out support for Ranorex 7.0 and HP ALM 12.x integration.
Providing more out-of-the-box Shells speeds up time to value with CloudShell. The 8.1 list includes Ixia Traffic Generators, OpenDayLight Lithium , Polatis L1, Breaking Point, Junos Firewall, and many more shells that were migrated to 2nd generation.
See you all in CloudShell 8.2 :)
Pubic, Private and Hybrid Clouds
The last 10-15 years have seen a tremendous amount of investment take place in building data centers. Enterprises worldwide had targeted data center consolidation as one of the top CIO initiatives in a bid to optimize costs and increase efficiency. This investment also evolved to be the foundation for private cloud as virtualization, as-a-service offerings and software defined data centers grew.
The last 5-7 years or so have seen an increased adoption of the public cloud. With the agility, simplicity and ubiquity of public cloud, the need for large enterprise-owned data centers has therefore somewhat diminished. At the same time for various reasons – legacy workloads, compliance, need for control as well as in some cases – cost, traditional data centers and private clouds continue to remain relevant.
Promise of Hybrid Clouds
It is therefore no surprise to see the increased want of hybrid clouds. Several analyst firms have estimated between 50-75% of Enterprises marching down the path of hybrid cloud deployments over the next 2-3 years.
On one hand, they allow the status quo to prevail offering better control, visibility and manageability with familiar operational models. On the other hand, they promise the speed and simplicity that public clouds bring. Hybrid clouds represent the “best of both worlds”. It is therefore no surprise that both private and public cloud vendors are forging partnerships to ensure a better experience for customers. Case in point - the recently announced integration between VMware and AWS.
While the promise of hybrid clouds is alluring the pathway is somewhat challenging. Some refer to the hybrid cloud as “the wild west”, in part due to the non-standardization of toolsets. Hybrid clouds bring their own challenges in terms of varied operational models, architectural mismatches and learning curve. All these can add risk to hybrid cloud deployments and dampen the velocity of cloud deployments in general.
Hybrid Cloud Sandboxes
This is where Hybrid cloud sandboxes can help. These sandboxes replicate environments that are representative of production environments in public and private cloud deployments. These can be brought together in the context of the same sandbox offering simplicity of tooling, standardization of operational procedures and increasing affordability. With such sandboxes – it is easier to build out environments of common use-cases (say Dev/Test, Compliance, Capacity Augmentation etc.) and test these scenarios out in advance combining them with DevOps centric practices. VMblog covered some of these issues and Quali's take in their article here.
Embracing cloud-centric DevOps with hybrid cloud sandboxes can help increase cloud adoption while decreasing risk and increasing quality.
Join this Webinar!
To illustrate these concepts, we are conducting a webinar on November 2nd at 9 AM PST for audiences in the United States and a follow-on webinar on November 9th for audiences in Europe and Asia Pacific. I’m hosting this with our CTO Joan Wrabetz and our demo guru Hans Ashlock.
We’ll go through the top use-cases, showcase a demo and answer questions!
With cyber-attacks on the ascent, the need to strengthen the security posture and be responsive is top of mind for CIOs, CEOs and CISOs. Security is very closely interlinked to all aspects of the business and has a direct bearing on business reputation, privacy and intellectual property. Unfortunately, the IT stack continues to get complicated even as attacks continue to get sophisticated. Further artificial simulations undertaken without a real-world replica or a virtual-only scenario can often overlook vulnerabilities that could not be seen in a simulated environment. And in the cases where an investment is made in building the complex testing infrastructure, it can often be cost prohibitive aside from the time spent to set up and tear down infrastructure and applications. This is where traditional security test beds run into bottlenecks, as they require significant, costly investments in hardware and personnel—and even then cannot scale effectively to address today’s growing network traffic volume and ever-more-complex attack vectors. Government, military, and commercial organizations are deploying “cyber ranges,” test beds that allow war games and simulations to strengthen cyber security defenses and skills.
Quali has always been involved in making these test beds highly efficient, cost-effective and scalable. Over the last few years Quali’s flagship product CloudShell has provided the ability to replicate large scale, complex and diverse networks. It can orchestrate a hybrid sandbox containing both virtual and physical resources needed for the assessment of cybertechnologies. Because cyber ranges are controlled sandbox, CloudShell resource management and automation features provides the ability to stand up and tear down cyber range sandbox as needed in a repeatable manner. Operational conditions and configurations are easily replicated to re-test cyber-attack scenarios. This sandbox utilizes resources such Ixia BreakingPoint, intrusion detection, malware analyzers, firewall appliances, and common services such as email and file servers. The sandbox resources are isolated into white, red and blue team areas for cyber warfare exercise scenarios in a controlled sandbox.
Today we announced how we took this capability a step further in association with Cypherpath to provide containerized portable infrastructure to support virtual sandboxes and cyber agents. Through this partnership, joint customers can use on-demand containerized infrastructures to create and manage cyber ranges and private cloud sandboxes. Through full infrastructure and IT environment virtualization and automation, security conscious enterprises can save millions of dollars in costs associated with creating, delivering and managing the full stack of physical compute, network and storage resources in highly secure containers.
One such customer is the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) the premier combat support agency of the Department of Defense (DoD). According to Ernet McCaleb, ManTech technical director and DISA Cyber Range chief architect this solution provided them with the means to fulfil their mission without sacrificing performance or security and deliver their MPLS stack at a fraction of the cost.
Cyber Ranges are not just for federal defense establishments alone. They have broader applicability across the Enterprise.
Top 3 Reasons to use Cyber Ranges
3 questions to consider for choosing Cyber Ranges or sandbox infrastructure solutions
Teams from Quali and Cypherpath have developed a joint solution brief that can be accessed here.
Finally, as an interesting side note, CloudShell’s capabilities allowed system integrators like TSI to model tools like Cypherpath in. This becomes important as the modern IT landscape continues to evolve and allows not just security professionals, but DevOps teams, cloud architects and other system integrators to leverage the standards-based approach CloudShell has taken towards its “shells” including its open source initiatives.
As enterprises bring newer security tools into their arsenal against cyber-attacks, the modern cyber ranger solutions from the likes of Quali and Cypherpath should definitely be on top of their consideration list.