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New Webcast: Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 with FlexPod Data Center – Cisco Validated Design

If you weren’t already aware, FlexPod is a huge success with desktop virtualization implementers.  This integrated infrastructure solution offers the scalability, performance and convenient infrastructure modularization that many look for when deploying virtual desktops.

Citrix XenDesktop with FlexPod Datacenter InfographicIt should be no surprise therefore that we’re doing a lot of design optimization, testing and validation work based on FlexPod, especially in support of XenDesktop environments.  Case in point: our latest FlexPod Cisco Validated Design (CVD) focused on 2,000 seat mixed workload.

This configuration speaks closely to very typical environments our customers are implementing, involving a mixed delivery model approach leveraging both traditional VDI (Hosted Virtual Desktops / HVD) along with Hosted Shared Desktops based on XenApp.

What’s exciting is the notable density and performance gains we’ve seen as this solution has evolved:

  • We’re now realizing a 25% increase in per blade desktop density (compared with previous generation processors)
  • An overall greatly compacted footprint resulting in 2,000 users served out of 32RU
  • The system is completely virtualized within ESXi 5.1: This includes Active Directory, Provisioning Servers, SQL Servers, XenDesktop Delivery Controllers,
    and XenDesktop RDS (XenApp) servers, all hosted as virtual machines

And maybe the biggest headline coming out of this effort: the boot-up and login performance:

  • The 2000-user mixed hosted virtual desktop and hosted shared desktop environment booted and registered with the XenDesktop 7.1 Delivery Controllers in under 15 minutes

I highly encourage you to check out Frank Anderson’s blog hereHe does an excellent job walking through the solution architecture, CVD methodology and key findings. You can also check out some great perspective from NetApp’s Rob McDonald, and Citrix’s Malathi Malla on the new CVD.

Want to hear first-hand how we put this solution together, and gain more insight into how it’s raised the performance bar?  Don’t miss our webcast with featured presenters from Citrix, Cisco and NetApp. Our panel of experts including Mike Brennan (Cisco), Marcelo Brosig (Citrix) andPanel of experts Cedric Courteix (NetApp) will guide you through our latest CVD, and you’ll have a great opportunity to engage them with questions pertaining to your VDI project.

Join us for our Webcast: Cisco Validated Design: Citrix XenDesktop with FlexPod Data Center

For more info, including the CVD, featured case study, and solution brief, see below:

FlexPod at Cisco Live Milan 2014 Recap

March 13, 2014 at 5:02 am PST

A little over a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending Cisco Live in Milan, Italy. It was a busy week doing FlexPod demos and meeting with our customers and technology partners. This provided me the opportunity to grab some video time with Michael Harding, FlexPod Marketing Manager at NetApp, to discuss our recent announcements to the FlexPod solution.

Michael and I discussed the support of important new products and technologies enabling FlexPod to meet the broadest possible range of IT needs.  One such product is the Cisco Nexus 9000, FlexPod now offers validated designs covering the breadth of Nexus Data Center Switches. In addition, FlexPod continues to receive recognition for industry leadership and innovation by winning Best of TechEd 2013 for its Microsoft Private Cloud solution and the Windows IT Pro award.

Cisco Live in San Francisco is coming up in May, so please attend and stop by the Cisco data center or NetApp booth to hear the latest on the FlexPod portfolio. I hope to see you there.

#EngineersUnplugged S5|Ep2: ACI and Traditional Networking

March 12, 2014 at 10:53 am PST

This is an amazing episode of Engineers Unplugged, where two technologists from the community, Hal Rottenberg (@halr9000) and Colin Lynch (@ucsguru) discuss how ACI disrupts traditional networking thinking while leveraging current networking skills. It’s a great tutorial for anyone looking to understand what application centric infrastructure really means.

Will network engineers all become programmers?

Watch and see:

This unicorn comes with birthday wishes--Happy 5th Birthday UCS!

Happy Birthday UCS Unicorn courtesy of Colin Lynch, with commentary by Hal Rottenberg!

Happy Birthday UCS Unicorn courtesy of Colin Lynch, with commentary by Hal Rottenberg!

**The next Engineers Unplugged shoot is at Varrow Madness, Charlotte, NC, March 20, 2014! Contact me now to become internet famous.**

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here:
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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With Cisco Cloud Management, FASTWEB Delivers New Value-Added Cloud Services

Imagine that you head the leading telecommunications provider in Italy and you are watching traditional service and revenue streams struggle under intense competitive pressure. Customer retention is a major issue because the types of services required by your residential and business clients are changing. Clearly, you need to retain customers and do so by offering new services. It is a generally known business fact that often it is more cost effective to invest in retaining customers than trying to get new ones in such competitive industries.

So, how would you do it?

FASTWEB, a Swisscom company, asked Cisco exactly that question. FASTWEB’s analysis indicated that offering cloud-based service delivery would be an excellent opportunity to retain existing business while capturing new revenue streams from Italian businesses looking for new IT solutions. But FASTWEB struggled with execution due to insufficient resources to develop and deliver these new services.

So, FASTWEB adopted Cisco’s Unified Data Center architecture which includes Cisco UCS Blade Servers and Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC). Cisco UCS servers were selected for performance, reliability, and the ability to integrate smoothly with other heterogeneous elements in their solution stack. They thoroughly analyzed cloud management solutions, and Cisco IAC scored the highest in their evaluation for:

• Openness and flexibility
• Ease of use by users and administrators
• Single management console access to the entire cloud service lifecycle
• Ability to build services without deep technical skills


Teaming with Cisco Services, FASTWEB implemented cloud service delivery across six distinct use cases. Because of UCS they did so with minimum server hardware, gaining a complete cloud infrastructure that consumes only a few racks. With this Cisco Unified Data Center strategy and solution, FASTWEB estimates their customers can save around 50 percent over three years utilizing FASTWEB services compared to on-premises infrastructure.


What’s more FASTWEB relies on Cisco IAC to offer customers a portal that is intuitive with fast delivery thanks to strong automation and orchestration of all cloud elements, including network. None of their competitors in the Italian marketplace has an offering equal to this unified solution from Cisco.

Now FASTWEB’s cloud services are growing smoothly thanks to technology that scales as quickly as their business does. FASTWEB plans to expand its use of Cisco IAC to offer new services as such PaaS and SaaS for their customers.

Read more about FASTWEB’s implementation in this case study and this recent CiscoLive Milan presentation.

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Big Data Now and Then: Introducing Velocity to Volume and Variety

Never before has mankind had access to such an ever-widening range of personal communication options, giving us the ability to create, disseminate and consume information immediately. The frenetic pace at which devices join the Internet is unprecedented, and the constant growth in the amount of data traversing the Web is far from peaking. This whirlwind of data surrounding us will continue to expand as more devices push and pull content across the Internet faster and faster.

Ye Olde Story of Big Data

Disclaimer:Jeff Jarvis and Kindle were not involved in this article -but you may want to check his book!

Disclaimer: Jeff Jarvis and Kindle were not involved in this article -but you may want to check his book!

Before the Internet began its deluge of data, the world was overwhelmed by another data explosion when, in the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. In the 50 years that followed, Europeans printed more books than all of the manuscripts written in the previous 950 years, prompting the great Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus to ask, “Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books?”

People of the 16th century responded to the unbridled volume and variety of printing press output with waves of innovation. With the slow output of manuscripts behind them, strategies emerged to manage the burgeoning content, including the development of bibliographies to catalog all the books written, advances in note taking to summarize the information learned, encyclopedias to organize information by subject and public libraries to share the expanding content.

Big Data Redux
Today, we create more data in two days than all the data produced from the dawn of civilization until 2003 (Tweet This). That’s 5000 years of data overrun every 48 hours. Erasmus’s question is still applicable today, with a slight twist:  “Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new [content]?” Additional devices connect to the Internet daily, while content grows exponentially, which leaves me wondering what will happen when the swarms of new content overrun 5000 years of data in an hour or less?

The 21st century is also responding to its unbridled volume and variety of content. However, the proliferation of the number of devices adds a third dimension with a timely twist: velocity. Velocity is derived from the Latin word Velox, meaning swift or rapid. While volume and variety describe the size and shape of data, velocity describes the rate at which data moves, and data cannot move without infrastructure. The swiftness of infrastructure (megahertz, input/output, bandwidth and latency) and the ability to rapidly enable optimal resources (Network, CPU, Memory and Storage) both directly impact the velocity of data.  When data velocity increases the value of information rises, which lifts business performance.

Cisco UCS and Big Data
The Unified Computing System is designed so businesses can harness the power of velocity. UCS successfully combined network and compute with the ability to assign resources rapidly. Tens of thousands of customers confirm the benefits derived from dynamic provisioning, reduced management time and efficient data center utilization. UCS extends swift performance with the addition of solid state memory, validated by 82+ World Record benchmarks.  UCS combines network, compute and flash memory within a modular, scalable and extensible architecture.

UCS’s agility means workloads can move into service quickly. Its performance enables multiple workloads to consistently operate at high velocity. It shifts effort away from configuring and tuning infrastructure and towards new application deployments and feature enhancements. With UCS, businesses can address expected and unexpected demands with equal aplomb.

Mastering Velocity
The printing press of everything rapidly spread across Europe in the 16th century. The flood of books reshaped European societies as they transformed in response to the outpouring of content. In The Internet of Everything, our devices (which serve as printing press and books) spread data between people and autonomous devices immediately. We attempt to synthesize data in real-time as the number of people and autonomous devices communicating increase globally.

Big Data Version One emerged 500 years ago to wrestle with data volume and variety. Today, Big Data Version Two grapples with data velocity (time) in addition to wrestling with volume and variety. Timely information rules when the Internet rewards the swift and penalizes the slow (Tweet This). Now is the moment to master velocity. What would your business be able to do with more time? Let us know in the comments.

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