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Microsoft Integrated Infrastructure Solutions. Deploy, Deliver, and Scale with FlexPod and VSPEX

Like many of us I am in the wonderful city of Chicago on a warm sunny day preparing Cisco’s presence for Microsoft Ignite 2015. Starting Monday in booth #122 at McCormick Place we’ll be showcasing our leading solutions for the Microsoft stack.  Stop by if you are here!

Our Ignite focus will be on our core technologies: our UCS family for compute, the Nexus  portfolio for switching, and our industry leading integrated infrastructure solutions. In addition we will breakout some cool new Cisco technologies and solutions but you are going to have to wait until Tuesday morning to get that news!

Sunday Morning Booth Set-up and Prep

Sunday Morning Booth Set-up and Prep


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The Palms Casino Resort Wins Big with Cisco to Enhance the Guest Experience

Running a Las Vegas resort and casino is like running a small city. As Vice President of IT at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Eric Saint-Marc is responsible for keeping traffic and maintenance of that city running as smoothly as possible. But his added responsibilities go further than any city council member of your typical city municipality.IMG_5200

The Palms property includes over 1,200 rooms and suites across three towers, a 95,000 square foot casino, a 2,500-seat concert theater, a recording studio, a Michelin-starred restaurant and more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space.

And at the core of the Palms operations is a Cisco network that essentially runs this “city” and the business.

When you consider all the elements of the Palms that Saint-Marc and his staff need to manage, it can seem like a tall order for a network to handle.

Not only does Saint-Marc use the network to employ a private cloud to manage critical systems, such as the Palms’ gaming systems and email, but also to manage the Palms’ point of sale system for all purchases on the property, which includes over 1,200 gaming machines throughout the resort and casino, totaling 5,000 devices in all.

“IT is a business enabler, allowing our business to grow while preparing for new technologies and guest services,” said Saint-Marc. “On a regular day, we can have 4,500 customers conducting 30,000 transactions in a constantly changing environment, so the network has to be flexible to accommodate these changes.”

Over the years, the role of the network at the Palms has gone through several phases, beginning with the ability to provide basic WiFi connectivity for guests in their rooms. However, the rise of smartphones and mobile apps has required the network to move beyond basic access to provide personalized, targeted content and promotions for guests during their stay.

So when the Palms recently underwent a multi-million dollar transformation of the entire property, they did so with the resort and casino guests in mind, looking for ways to engage with guests on the property that would enhance the overall experience.IMG_5167

Saint-Marc’s vision is to build “services of the future” that leverages mobile technology to personalize the guest experience that knows a consumer’s tendencies so they can provide benefits such as special comps, coupons and other deals as they move around the resort and casino.

And when they began plans for this network transformation to support these new demands, Eric and the Palms looked to Cisco. Presently, the Palms network is exclusively Cisco switching, with Nexus and UCS servers in the data center and Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) and access points throughout the property, in addition to voicemail and collaboration technologies.

At a press and analyst reception at the Palms during the Interop Las Vegas show, Saint-Marc unveiled his vision, which included the latest phase by including new Cisco IP phones for the entire property.

“The network is a platform for innovation,” said Saint-Marc. “Cisco has taken us forward by providing this innovation platform that provides presumptive outcomes when engaging with our guests. We want to provide a personalized experience for guests when they arrive on the property through notifications based on their preferences, and the network makes this happen.”


ESG Survey of IT Security Professionals Provides Insight to Data Center Security Issues

Yesterday, I reported on Cisco’s new ACI security announcements and an overview of our secure data center strategy. Today, I wanted to share some interesting market insights that we pulled from a survey conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) that Cisco commissioned, and that validates some key data center security trends and requirements that support our product strategy. Some of the key conclusions and data collected were shared in press coverage of the product announcement. The full survey results are here, and below are some summary graphics we prepared for our launch event.

Project Overview

Cisco commissioned the survey (conducted by ESG) to learn more about the challenges and issues IT professionals face when planning and implementing data center security.


  • The survey sampled 154 IT security professionals in North America responsible for network security requirements and operations. All respondent organizations had to be using physical firewalls (or virtual firewalls) and access control lists (ACLs).
  • Most respondents represented large midmarket organizations (defined as organizations with 500 to 999 employees) and enterprise organizations (organizations with 1,000 up to 10,000 employees). 71 percent operated from three up to 20 data centers worldwide.
  • The study included broad representation from industry verticals: financial, manufacturing, health care, government, retail and business services.
  • The survey was conducted in April 2015.

Top Survey Findings

The people problem:  Implementing network security controls is tedious and time-consuming.

  • 69 percent of organizations reported it takes from one man-hour up to four man-hours on average to convert a single new application network requirement into a network device or firewall configuration (before they even implement the new configuration, test it, etc.)
  • 74 percent say that it takes days or weeks to implement security device updates from request all the way through to production implementation. (See InstaGraphic below)

Solution: Just like SDN revolutionized the data center by automating network configuration changes, ACI is accelerating security changes by automating device updates and configuring how security services are inserted into application networks, helping to ensure greater accuracy and allowing IT to keep up with business requirements.

ACL changes days or weeks

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Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) wins best of Interop award for DC category!

Just a few months ago, Cisco announced an innovative new feature called Intelligent traffic Director (ITD) on the Nexus 7000. ITD offers customers a  hardware based multi-terabit load-balancing and traffic re-director solution unmatched in the industry. Yesterday, at Interop, ITD was recognized for its industry leading innovation and capabilities with the best of Interop award in the data center category.





Since it’s introduction, the customer feedback has been nothing short of remarkable.  ITD has gotten tremendous interest and traction from both Enterprise and Service providers who are using it to scale out Firewalls, IPS, Video Caching, Server Load Balancing, Professional Media Network devices, WAAS etc. ITD is helping businesses solve their real world problems and delivering significant value in terms of increased capabilities, scale while significantly lowering their lower Capex and Opex.

Based on the strong demand for ITD, Cisco is extending ITD across the Nexus portfolio starting with the Nexus 5000 and Nexus 9000 Series by the end of this month. We are also continuing to enhance ITD with a comprehensive roadmap which includes new features, support for enterprise and SP router/switches, new extensions for mobile operators and an ecosystem involving several partners.

Needless to say, the ITD team was totally excited with the recognition and they didn’t hold back 

ITD award










Congratulation to the entire ITD team for their dedication and passion…indeed a well deserved award.

You can get more information on ITD capabilities and features here.



Enhance Data Center Security and Automation with New Cisco ACI Features and Partners

We’ve been talking for a while about Cisco ACI’s leadership in SDN security features (like here), and in the design of our fine-grained security policy enforcement between individual workloads, sometimes called microsegmentation. Today, here at Interop, Las Vegas, Cisco is reaffirming its thought leadership in data center security and SDN automation with a couple of announcements, including the integration of Cisco FirePOWER next generation intrusion prevention system (NGIPS) into the ACI security framework. In other news, another ACI ecosystem security partner was announced last week at the RSA Security Conference: Fortinet, who will be integrating their Fortigate firewall platform with ACI.

The Cisco ACI + FirePOWER solution enables real-time detection, mitigation and remediation for advanced security threats inside the data center by combining granular application visibility and control, threat detection, advanced malware protection (AMP) capabilities of FirePOWER NGIPS with ACI microsegmentation, advanced security service insertion, and L4-7 policy automation. To quickly summarize how this all comes together and a sample use case for ACI security, we created the following video:

Available in June, 2015, new ACI advanced security works to protect data centers before, during, and after attacks, dynamically detecting threats and automating incident responses. The Cisco FirePOWER family of security appliances consists of industry-leading NGFW, NGIPS appliances offering best-in-class threat effectiveness, superior visibility and global threat intelligence.

Attack Continuum

FirePOWER + ACI = Automated Security with Advanced Protection Across Attack Continuum for Physical and Virtual

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