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Virtualization Everywhere, but not a Cloud in Sight!

Customers have often said to me, “Joann, we have virtualization all over the place. That’s cloud isn’t it?”   My response is, “Well not really, that is not a cloud, but you can get to cloud!”  Then there is a brief uncomfortable silence, which I resolve with an action provoking explanation that I will now share with you.

Here’s why that isn’t truly a cloud. What these customers often have is server provisioning that automates the process of standing up new virtual servers while the storage, network, and application layers continue to be provisioned manually. The result is higher management costs that strain IT budgets, which are decreasing or flat to begin with. With this approach, businesses aren’t seeing the agility and flexibility they expected from cloud. So, they become frustrated when they see their costs rising and continue struggling to align with new business innovation.

If your IT department adopted widespread virtualization and thought it was cloud, my guess is you are probably nodding your head in agreement.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

So then, what are the key elements an organization needs to achieve the speed, flexibility and agility promised by cloud?

1)      Self-service portal and service catalog
The self-service portal is the starting point that customers use to order cloud services. Think of a self-service portal as a menu at a restaurant.  The end user is presented with a standardized menu of services that have been defined to IT’s policies and standards and customers simply order what they need.  Self-service portals greatly streamline resource deployment which reduces the manual effort by IT to provision resources.

2)      Service delivery automation
After the user selects services from the portal service menu, then what? Well, under the hood should be automated service delivery—which is a defining characteristic of a real cloud environment.  Behind each of the standardized menu items in the self-service portal is a blueprint or instructions that prescribe how the service order is delivered across the data center resources.  This has been proven to appreciably simplify IT operations, reduce costs and drive business flexibility.

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Modern GPU Integration in MPI

February 8, 2013 at 5:00 am PST

Today’s guest post is from Rolf vandeVaart, a Senior CUDA Engineer with NVIDIA.

GPUs are becoming quite popular as accelerators in High Performance Computing clusters. For example, check out Titan; a recent entry into the Top 500 list from Oak Ridge Laboratories. Titan has 18,688 nodes (299,008 CPU cores) coupled with 18,688 NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPUs.

To help ease the programming burden working with GPU memory in MPI applications, support has been added to several MPI libraries such that the MPI library can directly send and receive the GPU buffers without the user having to stage them in host memory first. This has sometimes been referred to as “CUDA-aware MPI.”

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Cisco ONE Webcast Series: An Introduction to OpenFlow

UntitledTopics such as Software Defined Networking and programmable networks are of great interest to many network operators these days. With that in mind we’re pleased to kick off a new series of Webcasts to help our customer learn more about Cisco’s Open Network Environment strategy.

Please join us on February 14, 2013 (9:00 am PST, 5:00 pm GMT) for an educational webcast featuring David Ward, Cisco CTO, Engineering and SP Chief Architect, and Chair of the Technical Advisory Group at the Open Network Foundation (ONF). It’s a chance to learn more about OpenFlow and its components, the protocol evolution and use cases, as well as its integration into existing networks. Read More »

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So Many Smartphones and Tablets! It’s Time You Get On Board the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Train

February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm PST

Here are tips to help you adopt and support mobility for your small and midsized business.BYOD blog image

Did you know, 42 percent of employees who own smartphones use them for work? In addition, 8 percent of Internet web based transactions and activities are conducted from a mobile device.

The new BYOD trend has changed both employee and customer expectations. The future is in your hands now! Are you reading this on your smartphone?

When you consider this new way we all live—the mobile world, as a small or medium sized business why would you want to ignore this BYOD trend? As Linda Beaton, marketing manager for Cisco points out in her recent blog, this BYOD trend encourages business growth and has security challenges. The upside is that companies that choose to embrace mobility reap a lot of benefits, including attracting more customers and serving them better. According to the Cisco ISBG Horizons Research, mobility improves employee productivity and ultimately can provide you with a competitive advantage.

In addition, when employees get to choose how, where, and with which tools they work, there is a 16 percent increase in job satisfaction. Cost savings are a benefit, too! Companies save approximately 15 percent when employees pay for all or part of their own devices and mobile data plans. And what company wouldn’t want to save money?You many ask: so how can I prepare my business for this new growing trend? It’s easy. By taking into account the following tips, you can get your business ready to adopt mobility and start reaping the benefits today.

Network infrastructure: According to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 40 percent surveyed expect to be able to access their company network from their personal mobile device. The inability to access the network impedes productivity—up to six hours per week. To support employees with mobile devices, you need a robust network, fast access and a lot of bandwidth, all wireless! You may also need to invest in network improvements to support advanced technologies to improve communication and collaboration among employees, partners and customers all seamlessly—and Cisco’s unified communications is the key.

Security: You may think that your anti-virus is the only protection you need. But guess what? In a recent Dark Reading article it points out, even when 40 antivirus products were tested with the most common viruses today they detected less than 5 percent of those threats. A breach in your company business data can result not only in financial loss, but also lost customer and business downtime. In fact, the new Cisco ISA500 is a comprehensive all-in one solution that performs like a router, firewall, and unified threat management device.

Protecting the privacy of your data from outside threats requires a three-pronged approach:

  • First, put infrastructure precautions in place to protect your network from malicious activity, such as: firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam software, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
  • Second, you need a VPN to ensure secure access and transmission of your data from mobile employees.
  • Third, you need an acceptable use policy that includes guidelines for mobile device usage. The AUP should outline your expectations for these devices, such as who has rights to the data on them, users’ responsibilities, and security procedures.

Support: So, when employees use their mobile devices for work, how do you provide them with support? For example, if your employees use their smartphones or tablets for work and encounter a technical issue, who do they call? Time spent dealing with technical issues is time that your employees aren’t spending on company business.

To address this, consider purchasing a service contract. A service support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve issues, keeping employees productive. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for small and medium-sized businesses is where to start when it comes to mobility and BYOD. A Cisco Partner can help plan, implement, and support a secure, scalable mobile experience for you and your employees. So what are you waiting for? Find a partner today!

This is a great topic, right? Want more? Check out these posts:

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Speaking of Convergence – Cisco at ARC World Industry Forum

February 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm PST

header_ARC_World_Industry_Forum

Every year, ARC Advisory Group hosts forums and conferences in major cities around the world.  Topics range from automotive, CPG, aerospace, biotech, chemicals, mining, oil and gas and other sectors.  The forums allow corporate executives to network with peers and gather industry intelligence.

Cisco is pleased to be highlighting its converged, industrial networking architecture at the seventeenth annual ARC World Industry Forum: “Achieving Breakthrough Performance with New Processes and Technologies”.

This year, that event takes place at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida on February 11–14.

Please be our guest at the welcome reception in the Oceans Ballroom on Monday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, courtesy of Cisco and the ARC Advisory Group.  Then, Read More »

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