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Cisco Takes Holistic Approach to Reducing Energy Use and Costs

Cisco’s EnergyOps team is tasked with reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency at our offices, labs, and data centers worldwide. Cisco’s labs are our largest consumer of energy and although we are putting a lot of effort into improving the efficiency of those environments, we’re finding great success in taking a more holistic approach that includes implementing efficiency opportunities within all of our building support systems such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), building controls, and lighting.

For example, in January 2014 we engaged in such a holistic energy efficiency effort at a number of our Shanghai facilities, which included three primary areas of improvement:

  • Computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit retrofits
  • Software upgrades for cooling equipment
  • Lighting upgrades for offices

In just 3 months, 5 buildings at our Shanghai location underwent energy efficiency upgrades in these areas that will generate approximately US$145,000 in savings per year.

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Power of Open Choice in Hypervisor Virtual Switching

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

Customers gain great value from server virtualization in the form of virtual machines (VM) and more recently Linux Containers /Dockers in data centers, clouds and branches.  By some estimates, more than 60 % of the workloads are virtualized although less than 16% of the physical servers (IDC) are virtualized (running a hypervisor).  From a networking perspective, the hypervisor virtual switch on these virtualized servers plays a critical component in all current and future data center, cloud, and branch designs and solutions

As we count down to the annual VMworld conference and reflect on the introduction of the Cisco Nexus 1000V in vSphere 4.0 six years ago, we can feel proud of what we have achieved. We have to congratulate VMware for their partnership and success in opening vSphere networking to third party vendors. It was beneficial for our joint customers, and for both companies. VMware and Cisco could be considered visionaries in this sense. Recognizing this success, the industry has followed.

Similarly we praise Microsoft as well, for having also provided an open environment for third-party virtual switches within Hyper-V, which has continued gaining market share recently.  Cisco and Microsoft (along with other industry players) are leading the industry with the latest collaboration on submitting the OpFlex control protocol to the IETF. Microsoft’s intention to enable OpFlex support in their native Hyper-V virtual switch enables standards-based interaction with the virtual switches.  Another win for customers and the industry.

In KVM and Xen environments, many organizations have looked at Open vSwitch (OVS) as an open source alternative. There is an interest in having richer networking than the standard Linux Bridge provides, or using OVS as a component for implementing SDN-based solutions like network virtualization. We think that there is an appetite for OVS on other hypervisors as well.  Cisco is also committed to contributing and improving these open source efforts.  We are active contributors in the Open Virtual Switch project and diligently working to open source our OpFlex control protocol implementation for OVS in the OpenDaylight consortium.

To recap on the thoughts from above, Table 1 provides a quick glance at the options for virtual networking from multiple vendors as of today:

Table 1:  Hypervisors and Choices in Virtual Switches

Hypervisor

Native vSwitch

3-party or OpenSource  vSwitch

vSphere

•Standard vSwitch
•Distributed Virtual Switch
•Cisco Application Virtual Switch
•IBM DVS 5000V
•HP Virtual Switch 5900V

Hyper-V

Native Hyper-v Switching
•NEC
•Broadcom

KVM

Linux Bridge(some distributions include OVS natively)
•OVS

XEN

OVS -- open source project with multiple contributions from different vendors and individuals
•OVS

 

As an IT Professional, whether you are running workloads on Red Hat KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere, it is difficult to imagine not having a choice of virtual networking. For many customers, this choice still means using the hypervisor’s native vSwitch.  For others, it is about having an open source alternative, like OVS. And in many other cases, having the option of selecting an Enterprise-grade virtual switch has been key to increasing deployments of virtualization, since it enables consistent policies and network operations between virtual machines and bare metal workloads.

As can be seen in the table above, Cisco Nexus 1000V continues to be the industry’s only multi-hypervisor virtual switching solution that delivers enterprise class functionality and features across vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM. Currently, over 10,000 customers have selected this option with Cisco Nexus 1000V in either vSphere, Hyper-V, or KVM (or a combination of them).

Cisco is fully committed to the Nexus 1000V for vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM and also the Application Virtual Switch (AVS) for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), in addition to our open source contributions to OVS.  Cisco has a large R&D investment in virtual switching, with a lot of talented engineers dedicated to this area, inclusive of those working on open-source contributions.

Nexus 1000V 3.0 release for vSphere is slated for August 2014 (general availability). This release addresses scale requirements of our increasing customer base, as well as an easy installation tool in the form of Cisco Virtual Switch Update Manager.   The Cisco AVS for vSphere will bring the ACI policy framework to virtual servers.  With ACI, customers will for the first time benefit from a true end-to-end virtual + physical infrastructure being managed holistically to provide visibility and optimal performance for heterogeneous hypervisors and workloads (virtual or physical).  These innovations and choices are enabled by the availability of open choices in virtual switching within hypervisors.

As we look forward to VMworld next month, we are excited to continue the collaborative work with platform vendors VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Canonical, and the open source community to maintain and continue development of openness and choice for our customers.  We are fully committed to this vision at Cisco.

Acknowledgement:  Juan Lage (@juanlage) contributed to this blog.

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IBM builds High-Performance SAN to Deliver Managed Backup Services

IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) team helps clients protect their mission-critical information and maintain continuous business operations, with help from Cisco MDS solutions and Cisco Services.

Business Continuance describes the processes, procedures and technology solutions an organization puts in place to ensure that essential business functions can continue after a disruption. A good business continuance plan consists of risk analysis, contingency planning, and a disaster recovery plan that includes technology solutions to address recovery and data protection needs of business-critical applications. The cost of outage, whether due to natural disasters, power failure, or malicious acts, is usually in tens of thousands of dollars to Millions, depending upon the nature of the business.

IBM

Recently, IBM BCRS in the United Kingdom engaged with a new operating entity of a world-leading financial services organization, to ensure that the organization’s business data was backed up and preserved in the event of a disruption. The client chose IBM Managed Backup offerings. To support the customer requirements, IBM had to build the SAN infrastructure from the ground up, it teamed with Cisco to create and implement a dedicated, large-scale, best-of-class enterprise SAN solution.

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Western Power Distribution creating the Blueprint for Grid Modernization with Cisco

July 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm PST

I’ve been to the UK twice this year. The traffic is terrible! Worse than I ever remember! Commentators that’s a good sign -- a sign of economic prosperity. That certainly seems to be the case in the UK. My last European-related blog -- Ferguson Group Ltd keeps an Eye on Operations with Cisco Physical Security -- talked about the Oil industry and how the UK’s fortunes were turned around by the North Sea Oil discovery at about the same time the US astronauts were landing on the moon.

This time it’s the Utility Industry -- electric power to be exact -- that’s causing a stir.

Creating the Telecommunication Blueprint for Grid Modernization, Weston Power Distribution had already chosen Cisco for a Low Carbon Study, building a pilot communications infrastructure to support 11kV grid reinforcement monitoring. The Flexible Approaches to Low Carbon Networks (FALCON) initiative, a government funded study project in the UK has the goal of improving the  industry’s understanding of infrastructure needs in a low carbon future.

U.K. utility regulator Ofgem has estimated that £32 billion of new grid investment will be required within the next 10 years, twice the rate of investment over the previous two decades. Western Power Distribution (WPD) undertook a study to see how the cost of reinforcing its 11kV grid can be reduced based on smarter investment that draws on innovative intervention techniques that can replace or supplement conventional methods.
The UK wants to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, while still handling the peaks and troughs of increasing demand. “Reliable and secure near real-time communications is a key element to the FALCON initiative”, as Andrew Longyear, a Cisco thought leader on the subject commented. “The telecommunications and data management within our project such as FALCON is the SMART in Smart-grid, added Roger Hey, Future Networks Manager, Western Power Distribution.
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The key objectives of the Cisco communications network solution for WPD included:
  • Designing and deploying an IP-based communications infra structure using IEEE 802.16e WiGRID access and backhaul technologies
  • Helping ensure adherence to WPD’s security policy for design and implementation
  • Learning and disseminating all information and findings related to the technologies deployed so far.
  • Creating a blueprint for WPD and for other utilities in the United Kingdom as they test the same intervention techniques

And the intended benefits? Here’s what Sanna Atherton, Innovation and Low-Carbon Networks Engineer, Western Power, said in the video: “The benefits of Project FALCON are to increase the capacity of the network within the Milton Keynes area, and to enable customers to connect to low-carbon technologies”

Watch the video above to see how the initiative is progressing and to hear about the business outcomes achieved and expected. Read the write-up (Western Power Distribution Chooses Cisco for Low Carbon Study) that gives some more background to the project and some technical insight as to how you might benefit from this approach. As always, I’m indebted to the folks in Cisco and the customer for the source material. A big ‘Thank you’!

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IT Transformation: Avoiding Pitfalls

In the last two blogs, I talked about the reasons for IT Transformation, understanding Enterprise Environment and how to effectively set management goals. As more and more companies begin to move towards IT Transformation, there are mistakes that businesses should be weary of. Today I will discuss the pitfalls that can slump the IT transformation process, as well as, the services Cisco has been developing to help Enterprise on the journey to IT transformation. Read More »

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