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Data Center Fabric of Tomorrow

August 5, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

This was a really fun show to do.  We certainly hope that comes across in the video…but for the first time ever, we wanted to capture TWO entire shows while at the conference.  This Data Center launch is just the first one. First and foremost…depending on how you arrived at our little web real-estate here…have you seen the show?  Register now and watch this episode right now so these notes will make more sense!

Cisco FabricPath was the big topic on this one…but there was so much more to talk about as Big Data Center Announcements were featured throughout the week -- as usual, we wanted to bring you the details!

Check out the Preview clip here to whet your appetite..but read on below for more of the detailed notes.

Segment 1: CiscoLive!

Change is in the air at CiscoLive this year and the Data Center team has chosen this venue to reveal new tools, technologies and strategies.

‘Keys to the Show’

  • Fabric of our Lives – Cisco is not new here.  Delivering on this approach since 2007. Unified Fabric and UCS are just two of the proof points.  Look closely at where this is going with one of the biggest things being announced – Cisco FabricPath
  • Transformational Innovation – The end of spanning tree, layer 3 control on a layer 2, multipath design and some very interesting product extensions we will bring you in our ‘Show and Tell’ segment with WAAS 4.2, the Catalyst 4948-E and more.
  • Operational Innovation – Cisco Intelligent Automation featuring the Tidal Orchestrator and Scheduler as well as Cloud Enablement Services for flexible application delivery and design guides to eliminate the inevitable trial error.

Segment 2: Announcing New Stuff

Data Center expert Omar Sultan maps the recent evolution of the data center with Cisco’s relentless march towards flexible automation.
Omar Sultan

- Data Centers have to been as dynamic as the applications they support
- FC to FCoE
- Virtualized servers to virtualized networks
- Networks to cloud based services

At this point it is clear that to be successful in the DC your designs must meet three critical requirements:

  • Have a flexible architecture regardless of tiers, domains or even place in the rack
  • Data Center must be looked at as an overall system rather than piece by piece. The old adage of “You’re as strong as your weakest link” applies here big time. A side effect of virtualization is that every single part and piece greatly effects each other.
  • Investment Protection. While a DC needs to be flexible, that does not mean ripping and replacing gear to support features that should have been there in the first place. Data Centers are built upon uptime ratios and our requirement as design engineers is to implement gear that is non disruptive as possible.

Segment 3: Cisco FabricPath

Jimmy Ray catches Francois Tallet just before the show opens and convinces him to walk us him through the new FabricPath technologies that promise to eliminate spanning tree protocol.

Francois Tallet

The Official Language:
Innovations in Cisco NX-OS and Nexus 7000 Series Switches are transforming the data center to address business agility requirements. New features provide the building blocks for highly scalable networks facilitating workload flexibility and low-latency, high-performance computing throughout the data center.
FabricPath is a set of capabilities within the NX-OS software that combines the “plug and play” simplicity of Ethernet with the reliability and scalability of Layer 3 routing.
Using FabricPath you can build highly scalable Layer 2 multipath networks without Spanning Tree Protocol. Such networks are particularly suitable for large virtualization deployments, private clouds, and high-performance computing (HPC) environments.
When deployed across multiple Nexus chassis, FabricPath creates a flat data center switching fabric with high switching capacity and cross-sectional bandwidth and low predictable latency. This FabricPath Switching System (FSS) improves business agility through workload flexibility and delivers operational efficiencies through network simplification, provisioning, and reduced power needs.

Learn more about FabricPath:

Drawing


Segment 4: Show and Tell

Three…count’em….three new hardware offerings including…
32-Port 10 Gb Ethernet F-Series I/O Module

Jimmy Ray

A new I/O module provides scalable low-latency, high-performance 10 Gb Ethernet network configurations.

* FabricPath support: Flexible and scalable Layer 2 networking fabric
* Scalability: 512 ports per system, 230 Gbps per slot
* Flexibility: 1 Gb Ethernet and 10 Gb Ethernet autosensing
* Energy efficiency: 10W per 10 Gb Ethernet port
* Investment protection: Hardware-ready IETF TRILL, DCB, and FCoE support

Eric Wolff

WAAS 4.2

So what’s new?

Four Key Points:

* WAAS on the ISR G2 SRE – delivering IT agility, both higher performance and scalability, and high availability through hot-swap RAID disk on the SRE-900.
* Optimization for Cloud-based applications -- including autonomic adaptation to elastic cloud changes and a dramatically enhanced HTTP protocol optimizer.
* Performance and scalability enhancements to Cisco WAAS virtual blade technologies -- which together gained WAAS 4.2 validation in the Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation program and enables customers to run multiple full guest operating systems and applications and app servers on Cisco WAVE appliances
* Simplicity and security delivered with the following:
* Serial inline clustering for data centers, permitting the simplicity of inline deployment coupled with the availability of a cluster;
* Single-screen setup of a new appliance, including proactive diagnostics that occur for each setup step, and automated WCCP registration for ISR blades
* Finally the globally-recognized security profile known as Common Criteria EAL-4 certification has been granted to WAAS 4.2.

WAAS 4.2(1) is now available on CCO!

BONUS CONTENT!
Eric Wolff interviewed Ranjan Goel, the Cisco WAAS Product Manager.  Michael Leonard posted this blog entry covering the announcement.  Be sure and follow the WAAS team on twitter if you want an easy way to keep up!  http://twitter.com/ciscowaas

Eric is relatively new to Cisco…but he brings some great knowledge with him:

Eric Wolff is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Cisco WAAS. Eric has been marketing WAN optimization products since 2006, previously at Citrix on WANScaler and Branch Repeater and later at Blue Coat. Prior to WAN opt, Eric competed with Cisco ACE on Citrix NetScaler, and before that, competed with Cisco MDS at Brocade.  Eric’s glad to be on Cisco WAAS as it is poised to take over the WAN optimization market.

Cisco Catalyst 4948-E

Jimmy Ray

The Cisco Catalyst 4948E is a wire-speed, low-latency, Layer 2-4, 1 rack unit (1 RU), fixed-configuration switch for rack-optimized server switching. Based on the award-wining Cisco Catalyst 4948 hardware and software architecture, the Cisco Catalyst 4948E doubles uplink capacity to four 10Gb Ethernet uplinks, offers front-to-back cooling, supports IPv6 in hardware, and continues to offer:
* Exceptional performance and reliability for high-density, multilayer aggregation of high-performance, rack optimized servers and workstations
* 48 ports of wire-speed 10/100/1000BASE-T with 4 alternative wired ports that can accommodate optional 1000BASE-X
* Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP) optics
* Optional internal AC or DC 1 + 1 hot-swappable power supplies and a hot-swappable fan tray with redundant fans for exceptional reliability and serviceability


Learning@Cisco

We were fortunate to connect with Fred Weiller in the Cisco Learning Network ‘Private Area with all the Great Food including Ice Cream Bars’ (not the official name….but I like it).

Fred filled us in on the new CCIE Ameritus.

Who is it for?  Long term CCIE’s who have moved out of the “day to day” technical work but would like to stay involved in the program serving as ambassadors to current and future CCIE’s

Sweet!  I think you will the balancing act here if it applies to you now OR may apply to you in the future as your career takes off.  Great stuff Fred!


Segment 5: Intelligent Automation

Jimmy Ray got the ‘two-fer’ special with both Thomas Hooker and Jeff Dubois filling us in…
Thomas Hooker, Jeff Dubois

Cisco acquired Tidal Software back in May of 2009, the Enterprise Orchestrator and Scheduler were on full display. Although Cisco’s site does not have a lot of detail to share, there is still good information on Tidal’s site. (at the time I wrote this anyway…).  The Enterprise Scheduler and Enterprise Orchestrator details still apply.

Some choice corporate speak:

Move even closer to the automated data center with batch processing and integrate event and alert management with best practices for intelligent event response.

Tidal Software offers the easiest-to-use enterprise job scheduler for completely automating even the most complex batch processing across the complete enterprise.

Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator integrates event and alert management data with best practices to combine decision-driven event processing with automated intelligent incident response.


Segment 6:Cisco Cloud Enablement Services

Guest: Jim Bugwadia
Jim Bugwadia

New Cisco Cloud Enablement services:  Backed by a broad ecosystem of industry-leading partners, Cisco today launched a set of services to help customers transform the data center. Cloud Enablement Services, including strategy, planning, design, and implementation, help customers successfully transition the data center to a cloud infrastructure to quickly realize the benefits of a cloud operational model.


Segment 7: Fabric of Tomorrow. Today.

Special Guest Shashi Kiran, TechWiseTV alum and launch manager for the Data Center team joins us for the action items from these announcments at CiscoLive.

Shashi Kiran on Stage

Feeling Social?

Be sure and connect up with us on our facebook fan page: facebook.com/techwise. Ton’s of ‘behind the scenes pics/videos and conversations brewing…

We create or take part in a lot of other content if you are interested beyond the main show -- you can keep up with us on our YouTube page or you can also subscribe to the podcast channel (opens iTunes).

Our show twitter account is at twitter.com/ciscoCIN but you can also follow Robb, Jimmy RayTina Shakour, (Collabroation) Jennifer Geisler (Borderless) and Omar Sultan (Data Center)

Jimmy Ray’s Blog on Network World is a MUST READ “Networking Geek to Geek”

P.S. -

Some reactions to the launch as it first came out…more since then…what say you?  Are we headed in the right direction here?

Nothing quite as reliable as the theorists spouting age old conspiracy ideas. Jim Duffy does a decent job highlighting Cisco’s competitive nature with FabricPath and OTV (check out our Fundamentals of OTV for the lowdown) but he mischaracterizes it as something evil. What do you think?  Could Cisco be successful by waiting for standards bodies to complete their work?

Some Press Coverage:

InformationWeek
Cisco Unveils Cloud, Data Center Technologies
By W. David Gardner
June 30, 2010

ChannelWeb
Cisco Intros Tech To Accelerate Data Center and Cloud Deployments
By Joseph F. Kovan
July 1, 2010

Did you really read this far?   Wow….lets see if you paid attention in the video…what was Jimmy Ray’s shirt in reference to on this show? Leave it in the comments….got any nominations for a shirt he still needs?  (besides something fashionable…he would not wear it…)

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2 Comments.


  1. Latest Information of Data Centers, Robb.Easy and understandably, thanks for sharing great details.

       0 likes

  2. Robb Boyd

    Thanks Sid!

       0 likes