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It was no great surprise to hear the 2012 McKinsey report Women Matter1 say that women are still under-represented at board and leadership levels. This slow-but-steady progress isn’t for want of trying. In fact, the report notes there are more learning and development initiatives aimed specifically at women than ever before.

This increased investment is a result of a clearer-than-ever business case for the advancement of women. It’s vital to solving complex business challenges and increasingly important that company leadership reflects its customer base. The McKinsey report also highlights the link between the leadership behaviours that women tend to adopt more frequently than men, such as collaborative decision making and their approach to problem solving.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Project “Brain Gain” & The Rice Bomber (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

In Taiwan they discovered a natural resource which is badly needed everywhere, but which at least two Intelligent Communities have developed in an endless supply.  This resource was at first difficult to mine and to harvest, but now it is easy and continues to add wealth to the national economy.  It also adds social capital in the form of low unemployment, pride and a reawakened sense of community and culture.   It was discovered close to home.  In fact right inside the home.  In two communities, both with urban and rural populations, it has helped resolve the “digital divide” and, as one CEO told me, turn the divide into dividends.   The resource is called human intelligence.  We once called it “brainpower.”  Companies like Cisco refer to it as “the human network.”  I think of it as “Brain Gain.”  All of us are right.

In a small nation like Taiwan, which has no oil, rare minerals or raw materials that can be extracted and exported around the world, an economic engine has been created using basic cultural talent increasingly harnessed to the Internet.  In the Intelligent Community of Taichung, a city of about 2.7 million, you will find the world’s third largest exporter of high tech precision machinery equipment.  Taichung is also home to Giant Bicycle, the largest producer of those high-end bicycles used by racing professionals and cycling enthusiasts worldwide.  Giant has design offices in The Netherlands and nearly 50% of its sales come from dealers in North America and Europe.  The company employs 200 people to work in R&D alone.  Rather than resource extraction of commodities such as coal or timber, which are the traditional items for many export-driven economies, including nearby China, the exports of Taichung and Taoyuan County are  based on the production or refining of industrial and recreational (or what I call “re-creative”) products.  These arise from R&D, applying added value for higher margin sales and an increasingly important layer of hard-to-match technological or logistical processing.  Each is designed by human intelligence, collaboration and massive data sharing and data management.  Each relies on the Cloud and an educational network which takes advantage of the Cloud’s ability to eliminate the barriers of distance.

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‘Tis the Season for Events, Trade Shows & Cisco UCS Servers

‘Tis the Season – for Events and Trade Shows

Make sure to visit the Cisco booth and talk to the team about Cisco UCS Servers

Well, we are officially deep into the IT and Data Center event and trade show season. 

This is a great time for Cisco and a tremendous opportunity for us to meet and talk with IT professionals about what is important to them.  The discussions range from deployment challenges, to management, networking, collaboration and even failover and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO).  It is very rewarding when new customers stop by to say how great Cisco UCS is, how easy it was to integrate into their data center, and how they are using Cisco solutions (including Cisco UCS) to deliver superior performance for their organizations.  The most fun is when they tell me what server(s) there were using and then evangelize to me the benefits of UCS, wishing they hadn’t waited so long to make the move up to Cisco servers and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

One of the most compelling conversations I have ever had was at VMworld.  A visitor to the Cisco booth (from a major mid-west university) came by to praise UCS and to ask some technical questions.  The most important question for him was the need to verify the correct NIC failover settings for his VMware environment.  {Cisco UCS Manager lets you programmatically specify how failover is handled, either at the individual Service Profile level or at the Service Profile Template level, depending on your setup.}  The customer did not remember what his current settings were and did not have his VPN information with him, but he still needed help.  While he was calling his team to get the access information he needed, I called over one the Technical Matter Experts staffing our booth.  From the event floor, we actually logged into the university’s UCS deployment, inside the data center (view only mode of course), accessed UCS Manager and drilled down into the Service Profile Template for the VMware servers. The end of the story is that the UCS B-Series server NIC failover settings were optimized for his VMware deployment, which in this case was to let VMware handle it.  UCS adapter policies were set to “VMware”.  Even better was the ability that Cisco UCS delivers which enables this degree of visibility and management.  I can tell you it impressed a number of folks that were watching the process and had multiple questions afterward. {For step by step guidance to set the UCS Service Profile and Templates policies discussed above, see Cisco Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with VMware vSphere 5.1 for 250 Virtual Machines.  Figures 71 through 76 are great illustrations of this capability.  They are located in the section titled:  VSPEX Configuration Guidelines – Physical setup – Create Service Profile Template}

The “hands on” story above was a one-time experience for me.  The truly amazing thing is that it is an absolutely normal occurrence to be talking with someone about Cisco Unified Computing System, and have an existing customer, who is just walking by, join the conversation.  When this happens it typically kicks off a 10 minute “customer and visitor” discussion.  The UCS customer goes into detail about how much they like UCS and the Cisco partnership, the benefits they are getting from their UCS Solution, and how much better it is than their old (always named) vendor. This is not an unusual occurrence, and the depth of customer appreciation for the UCS solution is amazing.

Cisco UCS Manager

Cisco UCS Manager

The most prevalent reason to switch (but not the only one) I have been hearing from customers who have adopted UCS could be best summarized this way:  Cisco UCS is Cisco Unified Computing System. UCS truly does deliver a solution that unifies data center computing.  The key ingredient, the thing that everyone “digs the most” (1960’s flashback), is management – try out the UCS Manager Test Drive. Cisco UCS abstracts the server identity (over 120+ configuration parameters) to reside in UCS Manager, so that any like UCS server can easily be designated the host for that specific server identity – and with UCS it could be a Rack or Blade server.  Not only that, you can use a pre-defined Service Profile and duplicate it to generate a UCS Service Profile Template for broader use.  See this excellent blog by my colleague Ranjit Nayak for a brief intro to UCS Service Profiles – Cisco UCS – Quintessential Fabric-based computing Part 2.  Using UCS Service Profiles drive rapid deployment and potentially more important, screaming fast recovery time objectives (RTO) so data centers stay up and running with the best possible SLA.  It all happens inside a single redundant management tool that enables collaboration and that can span data centers and geographies (Cisco UCS Central) with a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

It is hard for me to leave UCS TCO out of any blog or conversation.  So here you go.  Below is a very short video from EMC World 2012 booth.  It is very relevant to UCS Manager and the IT economic environment, both then and now.


We hope to see you at the next event and definitely encourage you to come to Cisco Live.

If you have already been to one (or more) shows and stopped by the Cisco booth, that is fantastic and thanks for your support.

  • If you have upcoming trips on your calendar don’t forgot to stop and see the innovations Cisco is delivering for your IT organization and meet with one of the multiple experts we have staffing the booth. To mention just a few, Cisco is driving significant innovation in:  networking, management, servers (of course) and solutions based designs.  Something for everyone.
  • If you are still working on your schedule and are not sure which event will fit, take a look at our Cisco Global Events Calendar.  There are still multiple shows and events going on worldwide.  Cisco Live, US (late June in Orlando FL) is an incredible opportunity and is always a fantastic event.


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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 9: Security and Compliance

Security and Compliance is the next domain in our Cisco Domain TenSM model that I will cover, following on from my previous post on Applications.  And following on from my previous posts around Cisco Domain Ten, I’ll give you a brief overview of the questions that come up when we discuss data center security and compliance challenges with customers as we help them transform data centers, migrate applications to Cisco UCS, and adopt cloud computing solutions and architectures.  Security has and continues to be a major focus area in Cisco, so it was great to see Cisco come top in the recent survey by Infonetics Research, “Data Center Security Strategies and Vendor Leadership: North American Enterprise Survey, March 2013”!


Domain 9: Security and Compliance

Domain 9: Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are indeed exciting areas, indeed security is often highlighted in surveys – including my own survey of Cisco customers a few years back now – as the #1 issue impacting customer adoption of cloud computing.  So what are come of the issues, challenges and considerations should be on your mind with respect to security and compliance in the data center and cloud?

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4000 Seat Mixed Use Case Desktop Virtualization Study Provides Road Map to Lightening Fast End User Experience

Awesome end-user experience is what Desktop Virtualization is all about!

Hello Everyone! Back again to talk to you about our latest Cisco Validated Design for the Desktop Virtualization (DV) space from Citrix Synergy 2013 in Anaheim, CA.  This one is particularly interesting because of the variety of Cisco, Citrix and EMC technologies deployed.

As you know, over the past several years DV has grown at a stunning rate. Our studies in the past have focused on 100% hosted virtual desktop solutions.  In the real world that our Customers live in, there is a mix of hosted shared desktops (Citrix XenApp) and hosted virtual desktops (Citrix XenDesktop.)

So, we set out to show that the combined power of Cisco UCS, Citrix Desktop Virtualization products, and an EMC VNX7500 multi-protocol storage system with Fast Cache could provide screaming fast performance under a large scale, real-world mixed workload. After all, awesome end user experience is what we have to deliver!

We recognize that a fair percentage of the hosted virtual desktops deployed today are persistent desktops, each with a dedicated virtual disk and each assigned to a specific user. While this type of deployment provides the end user with maximum flexibility and control, it is a very, very expensive proposition.

Citrix introduced Personal vDisk with XenDesktop 5.6 so that Customers can reduce desktop virtualization costs by using a shared base desktop image for all users in a particular group and giving only those users who need the ability to install non-standard applications space to do so. This technique saves significant CapEx (shared storage space) and ongoing OpEx (administration and backup) costs. For that reason, we included Citrix Personal vDisk in the solution.

We have laid out a prescriptive guide on how to deploy a large scale, mixed use case DV solution that includes:

  • 1000 Seats of Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 Pooled Hosted Virtual Desktops with PVS write cache on local SSD drives
  • 1000 Seats of Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 Hosted Virtual Desktops with Personal vDisk
  • 2000 Seats of Citrix XenApp 6.5 Hosted Shared Desktops

The solution was built and tested at the Citrix Santa Clara, CA Solutions Lab in partnership with Cisco and EMC.

We demonstrated outstanding end user experience with all three workloads running simultaneously at scale.

And because in the real world we don’t ask users to stand in line at the beginning of the day or after lunch to log in and start their applications, we required as a success criteria that all 4000 users be logged in and using their applications within 30 minutes.

Here’s a look at our Login VSI performance chart, from zero to 4000 mixed workload users in 30 minutes:


You can rely on Cisco Validated Designs to provide you with detailed guidance on how to build an identical DV delivery system in your company!

As always, the keys to a successful deployment of a large scale HVD environment start with:

  • Detailed characterization of the virtual workloads
  • Desktop Broker that supports efficient streaming capabilities
  • Reliable, fast User Profile management
  • Compute platform that provides linear scalability, rapid expandability, and excellent management tools across hundreds to thousands of servers
  • Network infrastructure that provides the right amount of bandwidth to the right traffic
  • Storage system that is capable of efficiently handling massive IOPS, both on the read side for boot up and the write side for DV ramp up and steady state
  • A robust hypervisor capable of supporting advanced capabilities required for HVDs
  • Fault tolerance at all levels of the solution, producing a highly available system

Cisco UCS together with Citrix technologies, EMC VNX storage, and VMware vSphere provide the key foundation for a high performance, highly available HVD environment:

  • Login VSI 3.7 Medium workload was used to represent a typical knowledge worker for all workloads
  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 with Citrix Provisioning Server 6.1 provided the ultimate desktop streaming technology with the smallest storage footprint
  • Citrix User Profile Manager was used to manage 4000 unique desktop user profiles
  • Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade servers provided awesome compute resources and Cisco UCS 6248UP Fabric Interconnects (FIs) managed server hardware, network and storage for the environment.
  • Cisco enterprise 300GB SSDs were used for Citrix PVS 6.1 write-cache drives on the hosts for the 1000 pooled hosted virtual desktop cluster, providing significant write IOPS reduction to the shared storage
  • Cisco UCS Service Profile Templates and Service Profiles made server deployment fast, efficient and insured that each blade was provisioned exactly the same as the next.
  • Cisco UCS Manager 2.1, with tight integration with VMware ESXi, handled management of all of the blades across the 5 VMware clusters used in our solution seamlessly
  • Cisco Nexus 5548UP Access Switches and Cisco Nexus 1000V distributed virtual switches in conjunction with our FIs provided end to end Quality of Service for all traffic types from the virtual desktop through the hypervisor, the FIs and through the Nexus 5548UPs – all at 10 GE or 8 Gb FC!
  • Cisco VM-FEX (Virtual Machine Fabric Extender) was utilized in the XenApp 6.5 cluster, providing virtual machine hypervisor bypass for the vNIC. We were able to support 8% more XenApp virtual desktop sessions per host by deploying VM-FEX
  • EMC VNX7500 with Fast Cache, provided the outstanding read and write IO to support 4000 virtual desktops during boot up, ramp up, steady state and log off
  • Our design provides N+1 server fault tolerance at the VMware cluster level. Another real-world differentiator for Cisco!

Here is a look at the hardware used in the solution:


Heading over to catch some of the great sessions at Synergy 2013. Look forward to hearing from you about your real-world desktop virtualization workloads!

For more information download the Cisco Validated Design at:

And for more information on Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions, go to:

Solution Brief: