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Data Center and Cloud

Once again, it’s the perfect storm of IT pros, all-you-can-eat-buffets, and outstanding content on end-user computing, and it all starts next week!

But before I get to the part where I try to hijack your calendar with all the great Cisco VXI content available to you at VMworld 2011, I want to share some perspective from my visit to Metro Health in Grand Rapids Michigan last week.  It was a great opportunity to tour their campus, meet some of their clinicians, and talk with their management team about their experiences with Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and Desktop Virtualization.  If you don’t have the back story, check this out

One of the things that struck me was their perspective on our differentiated approach leveraging FlexPod as the data center computing infrastructure for clinician virtual desktops.  In their quest to build a private healthcare cloud that would enable a collaborative health system for Metro, their clinicians, provider-partners, and patients, they’ve found that the Cisco/VMware/NetApp end-to-end architectural approach including a strong network-relevant focus, enabled them to better scale and ensure consistent performance of their virtual desktops, irrespective of patient or practitioner location.  We’ll be sharing a lot of information on the Metro Health story in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

I find that we’re increasingly talking with customers about why server infrastructure innovation matters for user virtual workspaces, scalability, and overall end-to-end performance.  Three great proof points of this include:

Cisco Virtual Security Gateway – think about the impact a corrupted virtual desktop can have on your extended enterprise infrastructure (web, app farms, etc.) now that the user is sitting amidst this much larger attack surface.  Conversely, think about that HR application getting pounded during benefits enrollment season, and the impact that surge in traffic might have on user desktops sharing the same infrastructure.  The Cisco Virtual Security Gateway is a virtual appliance that works in tandem with Cisco Nexus 1000v, and uses a technology called vPath, implementing policy-based traffic steering and flow classification.  Security isn’t just about what’s running on the desktop, it’s also about the VM it’s sitting on, and what that VM is exposed to, especially when it vMotions across your infrastructure. 

Cisco Virtual Interface Card (VIC) – too often a pilot implementation fails to make it to full scale production, with poor user experience a major contributing factor.  We’ve previously discussed how UCS offers rapid scalability, with predictable performance for 100’s of users to 10,000’s.  When you pull the covers back, you start to realize the UCS includes some very cool capabilities like patented extended memory technology, and converged networking fabric.  What you might not have known is that it also aids in providing much greater VM-level networking visibility as well as QoS for virtual desktop traffic.  Specifically I’m talking about the VIC, and its ability to increase desktop workload performance, assigning Classes of Service to virtual desktops, and bandwidth prioritization.  These concepts may be new ground to cover for virtual desktops, but they extend trusted, proven capabilities we’ve enjoyed in the network for a while, now seamlessly integrated with the data center fabric.  Think about this as you converge media-rich communications with virtual desktops, delivered across data center, LAN and WAN.

UCS Manager and Service Profile Templates -- Typically, one can expect a significant delay between the time a server is made available to the time it’s provisioned and ready to be placed in service for hosting virtual desktops.  This effort traditionally requires a lot of manual work, usually done in a highly serial manner, server by server.  Cisco UCS greatly simplifies server operations by changing the way in which we spin up compute infrastructure.  Service Profiles provide the attributes of a logical server, abstracted away from the actual physical hardware.  Now, the complete “personality” of a server is captured within a template that defines vHBAs, vNICs, UUID, MAC, VLAN, VSAN, policies including boot device order, etc.  Why is this important?  Consider how this approach can enable rapid scaling, without having to constantly redefine server attributes and properties.  This reduces the potential for errors, since provisioning virtual desktop servers is now fast and easy, allowing admins to deploy and scale virtual desktop services more rapidly and cost effectively than before.

So now back to Vegas… if you like what you’re hearing but want to learn more, we’ve got a ton of content available for you next week.  If you’re skeptical, swing by our booth to talk to our experts, or even better, attend one of the sessions listed.  I’ll also be covering a number of these on Twitter, so make sure to follow me at @TonyPaikeday.

Featured Sessions:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Demos

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