What are Cisco Cloud Center (CliQr) and UCS Director, how to choose/integrate?

Before we get into the details about each technology, and how you should choose which one best fits in your environment, I would strongly advise you to sit down and think about what exactly you need, what would be your ideal target environment. While doing this here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What do I want to offer, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, or a combination of these?
  • Do you want to automate the Application Deployment or Infrastructure Deployment?
  • Are you really ready for automation? I strongly believe that once you choose your Platforms, you should stick to it, because everything can be done in each of these… It's just that some are more suitable for certain tasks/ways of use then the others.

USC Director is used for the Infrastructure Automation and Management (yes, management as well!). UCS has a huge Task Library for Infrastructure Elements such as Cisco Nexus and ACI, UCS, NetApp, EMC, vCenter, VMware vSAN etc.

The main competitors of UCS Director are:

  • vRealize Suite (Automation, Orchestration) by VMware. I've seen very cool projects done with vRealize, but typically it's optimized for a mostly VMware environment.
  • Terraform by HashiCorp. Linux geeks tend to love this one, as it only has a command mode, and you can deploy your infrastructure directly using the Code.
  • Ansible by RedHat. You right your own Playbooks, they are human-readable. Very flexible.

Why choose UCS Director? It really depends on your environment and what you want to do. In my opinion it's a perfect fit when you want to include the automation of the physical infrastructure in your Workflow,  and get the unified support by Cisco. Out of the Box UCS Director has bunch of Tasks already at your disposal (as you probably guessed, most Cisco products, such as ACI, Nexus, UCS etc. are already included). If you need to add tasks, there is a pretty nice community. Just check this one, it's a UCSD Workflow INDEX (UCSD Technical Content Index):

TIP: If you are really interested in UCS Director I strongly advise you to build your own Lab and test it, before you make a purchase. Don’t trust that Power Point, the stakes are to high. There is a built in Evaluation License in a UCS Director, and you can download it as an OVA or VMDK from Cisco.

Cisco Cloud Center (ex Cliqr) is a CMP (Cloud Management Platform). It is was a pretty pleasant surprise for me to see that Cisco is finally learning how to do Software products. In all fairness most of the original code comes from the company they acquired (Cliqr), but still… they also bought Insieme and turned it into ACI, and… well, you know how ACI GUI is.

The main competitors of Cisco Cloud Center are:

  • CloudForms by RedHat. While CloudForms is more flexible, it doesn’t come with Libraries so you will need to do most coding yourself.
  • vRealize Suite again, since it now supports Public Cloud.
  • Rightscale, which purely follows SAAS model. You can not deploy Rightscale in your environment. Its already hosted somewhere, all you do is, login to it, add your cloud solution account and start managing it.
  • Others (CloudBolt, Oracle etc.).
  • Dell Multi-Cloud Manager (don’t use this one, sorry @Dell).

These sound similar, should I use UCS Director, Cloud Center, or both?

A short answer would be - UCS does Infrastructure, Cloud Center does Application. This does not mean that UCS Director couldn’t automate the Application deployment, or that Cloud Center cannot do the infrastructure. It means that both products are better suited doing what they were designed to do. Now, go back to the first paragraph and answer the questions. At this point you should have a clearer picture which is the right product for you.

What if you need both, Application Deployment automation with Infrastructure modifications in accordance with the Application needs? In such case, you would use both, UCS Director as Day 1 product, and the Cloud Center for Application Deployment in Multi Cloud. On top of both these you would need an Orchestrator of Orchestrators. This is where you would place your Service Catalogue which would then use UCS Director and Cloud Center Northbound APIs to Automate your Application Deployment, doing the Application Tiers and Infrastructure deployments separately.

If you don’t want to build your own Service Catalogue Web, Cisco has a product of this type called PSC (Platform Service Catalogue). It's simple, but I'm not really sure how expensive it is… after all, it is Cisco.


  1. Great... Excellent sharing.. This is very helpful for beginners. Read that provide me more enthusiastic. This helps me get a more knowledge about this topic. Thanks for this.hunt vmware jobs in hyderabad

  2. Great article. Would love to add your reviews for Cisco Cloud Suite or UCS Director to IT Central Station.

    As you already mentioned, many tech professionals compare solutions like UCS Director to VMware vRealize Automation. This Senior Systems Engineer in particular writes about how he made his decision when choosing between VMware and Cisco for his company: https://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/vrealize-automation-review-44012-by-ryan-renn/tzd/c510-sbc-6.

    I hope this helps provide some additional insight.

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