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InterCloud Plus Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

Cisco continues to roll out innovations that will enable the next generations of multi-cloud computing.  I’m a product manager working on Cisco’s Cloud Management software, and we’re all about the high-level, self-service, automatic provisioning of services that the end-user cares about.  The network just moves ones and zeros, and all protocols of interest (HTTP, SSH, RDP, SQL, etc.) work fine over TCP/IP.  The hypervisor takes care of putting that pesky motherboard chipset and storage bus into a black box, right?  The end-user doesn’t care about that stuff, or at least doesn’t want to have to care about it.

A common perspective, except among the engineers who manage the network, is that network infrastructure is a bunch of mysterious plumbing that “just works” and how it does what it does doesn’t matter.  Indeed, many vendors in the “cloud” arena would like to perpetuate this perspective on the network.  They would like you to believe a bunch of dumb pipes can carry traffic and that determination of the traffic (content, flow, etc.) is determined at higher levels in the stack.

In some cases, this is true, but operating this way doesn’t unlock anything new.  The model they describe would be brilliant if all of your network requirements were defined in 1998.  Few companies can afford to operate technology today like they did in 1998 and remain competitive.

Cisco is announcing a new Nexus 1000V (N1KV), and this one changes the game.  In brief, the Nexus 1000V is the foundation of the networking services that Cisco brings to virtual computing.  The N1KV can be managed using the same NX-OS commands and practices used to manage the Nexus 5K and 7K switches, and extends network control down to the VM and virtual port into which a VM is “plugged in”, even across different vendors’ hypervisors.

The N1KV is also the platform for additional L2 and L3 network services such as those provided by the vASA Firewall, vNAM, and VSG.  The new Nexus 1000V InterCloud extends this ability to cloud service providers, such as Amazon, but is “cross-provider” (in fact, it doesn’t even depend on the Cloud Service Provider).  For me, in my role as a Cloud Product Manager, this is an important new addition to basic networking capabilities, and is exactly the kind of thing that Cisco can and should do in its role as “Networking Giant” to open up the promise of hybrid or multi-cloud.

I have a mental image of what this can do, and I tried to put this into images to the right. Animation would have been better, I just don’t have the Flash skills to put it together for a quick blog post. I envision a virtual machine as a ghostly “physical” server tower with network cables plugged into it. These network connections can come from end-users in a client-server model, or any of our web-and-mobile constructs. After all, we still are end-users connecting to machines. Of course, the “client” for a compute function could be another compute function, so there is a network cable coming from another nearby ghost server. These ghost servers can today float from blade to blade thanks to most mainstream virtual machine managers (VMM) and a virtual switch like the N1KV, and the cords stay connected throughout. With the new N1KV, that VM can float right out of that VMM and into another VMM (such as across VMware datacenters, or even from VMware to Hyper-V), or out to a public or hosted provider. The cord just magically uncoils to remain connected wherever that machine goes! I love magic.

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The N1KV provides that cable that can float after its ethereal virtual machine.  It also provides the platform to maintain monitoring by the vNAM, even as the machine moves.  You simply can’t economically achieve this using basic dumb pipes. Add to this the new Virtual Network Management Console (VNMC) InterCloud management capabilities.  In order for that cord to stay connected, there do have to be network switches or routers along the way that understand how to make that network cable follow the machine.  VNMC InterCloud manages these devices, but adds another particularly important capability: actually moving the workload.

VNMC InterCloud adds the ability to discover virtual machines, and convert them to a cloud-provider’s instance format, move what could possibly be a fairly large set of files, and get that machine started back up in a far-away environment, with seamless network consistency. VNMC InterCloud is like a puff of wind that pushes the ghostly VM from my corporate VMWare-based cloud to float over to my hosted private cloud. Remember, ghosts can float through walls.

This is groundbreaking.  Workload mobility is one of those hard-to-do core capabilities required for all of us to realize the promise of multi-cloud, and it requires a network that is both dynamic and very high performing.  I’ve been looking forward to this from Cisco for some time now.

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New Collaboration Tools and Tips to Help Partners Capture the Midmarket

February 12, 2013 at 7:56 am PST

The midmarket segment (100-1,000 employees) is huge, representing a $7.1 billion opportunity. And we’re here to help you get your fair share.

Midmarket customers have the same collaboration needs as larger enterprises, yet require scalable and tailored IT solutions that allow them to communicate effectively, make decisions faster, and compete in this increasingly global economy. Tapping into this segment can lead to increased sales opportunities, and ultimately, growth for your collaboration practice.

To help you win big in midmarket, Cisco is providing a number of new product, program and partner enablement tool updates designed specifically for this segment.  Cisco continues to invest in programs like Partner Plus, as well as enhanced solutions and services offers to help partners succeed with midmarket customers..

What are the updates and how can it help you get your share of this untapped opportunity?  Read More »

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Cisco Security Vulnerability Management Presentation at (ISC)2 New York City

My colleague, Dario Ciccarone from the Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) will be presenting “Security Vulnerability Handling at Cisco” at (ISC)2′s New York Metro Chapter meeting on February 13th, 2013. This will be an evening of information security presentations, networking reception and filled with Chapter activity discussions during this event. This event also qualifies for 2 CPEs for certified information security professionals (CISSP). Read More »

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Work Your Way is Not Just an IT Challenge [Infographic]

Often we focus on the challenges associated with IT with little consideration of the end user viewpoint.  In Cisco’s Work Your Way Global Study, completed in January of 2013, we polled over 1300 IT professionals and business-focused end users around the globe to investigate how BYOD is not only affecting IT, but how the challenges directly impact the end user experience.  We were curious to compare and contrast the different viewpoints to understand if the difficulties IT was facing had an impact on how end users get their devices on the network, access business applications and perform day-to-day activities on the move. Based on these results we created an Infographic that talks about the challenges and provides key insight to what the results mean. Read More »

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The Future of TV: Coming Soon to a Wall Near You

The future of television may well include holographic, multisensory experiences worthy of science fiction. But many other visionary predictions are closer to the horizon, if not already upon us. These are creating exciting opportunities, while forcing all players in the television value chain to adapt quickly.

Recently, I met via Cisco® TelePresence® with more than 50 journalists from 11 countries—all in Central and Eastern Europe—to discuss the future of television and its impact on these mostly emerging markets. I participated with two of my colleagues: Kate Griffin, from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) service provider practice; and Guillaume de Saint Marc, from Cisco’s service provider video technology group (SPVTG). The roundtable took place over two days and used a Cisco IBSG study, “The Future of Television: Sweeping Change at Breakneck Speed,” as a springboard for discussions that were lively and free-spirited. Read More »

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