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“Accelerating time to solution with Fast Track Reference Architectures”

- May 19, 2011 - 0 Comments

This guest blog post is brought to us from Microsoft author:  David Hobbs-Mallyon, Senior Marketing Manager for Business Platform Solutions, Microsoft Corporation

Many IT Executives today are under increased pressure to deliver business results and provide competitive advantage to their organization by helping to drive innovation. 

 There are many examples of companies that are the first to implement a successful innovation gaining significant competitive advantage.  However, creating these new opportunities is difficult when IT budgets are constrained and IT departments are balancing short-terms demands to keep the lights on.  Furthermore, studies have shown that on average, most businesses today spend nearly three quarters of their IT budgets to maintain their existing systems, leaving little budget left over for innovation. 

More and more IT leaders have identified modernizing their mission-critical and business-critical systems as an effective route out of this dilemma.  These systems have high demands for reliability, availability, performance and scale.  Whilst the costs to implement these systems were originally high, many IT decision-makers thought this a reasonable trade-off considering the risks to the business of an application performing sub-optimally or worse suffering an outage.  Many have started to question the high costs they are paying for the support and software maintenance fees to run these applications.  At the same time, the huge gains in performance of industry-standard hardware over the last 5-10 years present many opportunities to reevaluate the platform that these systems were originally developed.  To review some of the case studies of organizations that have benefited from these changes, I would encourage you to visit the Customer Story section of Todays Enterprise.

A further industry development that is helping to accelerate the time to develop and deploy these applications is Appliances and Reference Architectures.  These solutions combine preconfigured servers, storage, networking and software and bring the benefits of accelerated deployment and optimized, predictable performance.

The first solution that Microsoft and Cisco have partnered together to develop is a Reference Architecture for Data Warehousing – one that currently scales to 10s of Terabytes.  The Fast-Track 3.0 Data Warehouse uses the current version of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 with industry-standard x86 architecture Cisco Servers that can be configured as a standalone device or as part of the Cisco Unified Computing System.   To provide more flexibility, Cisco will be releasing SQL Server data warehouse configurations with EMC storage and also with NetApp storage.  The system uses unified, model-based management to automatically deploy servers and Cisco Service profiles speed system deployment and scaling while eliminating configuration errors that can cause downtime. This solution brings important benefits to customers – these include:

  • Rapid migration, deployment
  • Scaling more rapidly and adapting more quickly
  • Outperforming many other offerings that are vastly more expensive
  • Building an infrastructure that is ready to grow to meet future business needs

The Microsoft and Cisco Fast Track Data Warehouse partnership is very exciting, and one that I think we will see further examples to come.  Watch this space! Visit for more details. 


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