As you may have seen in the announcement on December 17th, Cisco along with its partners Citrix and Desktone by VMware, are announcing our joint solutions for Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS). Clearly our customers demand choice and flexibility in how they choose to implement desktop virtualization, not just in terms of the delivery technology, but also in terms of the ownership model. You’ve told us you want virtual desktops and apps that fit your business and IT consumption models. You want it “your way”. And for a growing constituency, it just makes sense to shift the burden of designing, implementing and managing the solution to an affordable OPEX model, outsourced to a Cisco-powered Service Provider. Cisco DaaS offers our customers the choice and flexibility they expect.
What you may have also noticed with this announcement is that Cisco and its partners are continuing to bolster the underlying infrastructure/fabric of our desktop virtualization platform, to the benefit of both our premises-based and cloud-based (DaaS) clientele. To that end, we’re sharing some important enhancements we think make the overall platform an optimal underpinning for virtualized desktops and apps.
Raising the CPU Performance Bar
The Cisco UCS B200 M3 Series Blade Server continues to be our flagship VDI workhorse delivering industry-leading performance for virtual desktops and apps. We’ve updated this server to incorporate the latest Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Series Processors (Ivy Bridge), and with that we’ve delivered unprecedented performance gains. For example, based on single-blade characterization testing conducted by Cisco, and using the industry-recognized LoginVSI for workload testing, we’ve successfully deployed 252 VMware Horizon View desktops on a single blade (based on LoginVSI Max threshold). This represents a 31% increase in server hosting density over the previous CPU.
The Economics of Flash
Nowhere is the benefit of flash technology seen so forcefully as with VDI workloads where the IOPS bottleneck has traditionally driven the up front CAPEX hurdle of desktop virtualization, out of reach for many environments, especially smaller ones. Cisco has worked extensively with our portfolio of industry-leading storage technology partners to continue to offer prescriptive design guidance on how to tap into the benefits of the flash and hybrid-flash arrays.
Nimble Storage has been a featured joint solution on which many of our customers have experienced the economics of this hybrid-flash solution first-hand. Many organizations are increasingly tapping into the efficiencies of this solution in conjunction with Hosted Shared Desktops (ie: Citrix XenApp), for which we’re announcing a brand new reference architecture based on Nimble’s CS240G-X4 with Cisco UCS, Citrix XenApp 6.5 on Microsoft Hyper-V. The Citrix Validated Solution supports 1,000 hosted shared desktops running on the Nimble array. The compact 3U solution provides cost-effective performance and capacity through its flash-optimized hybrid storage architecture, that combines the exceptional performance of flash with the favorable economics of high-capacity disk. The validated architecture allows customers to eliminate risk, speed time to deployment, and scale as needed using the modular design.
Making Physical and Virtual Indistinguishable: Immersive Graphics
You may have caught my blog in support of the Citrix/NVIDIA/Cisco joint solution announcement on Dec. 11th. Similarly, customers like SSOE are reaping the benefits of our joint solution with VMware and NVIDIA. It’s no surprise that end users need (no, demand) that their virtual environment behaves akin to the physical one they left behind. Just talk to any designer, healthcare clinician or researcher in an academic setting. This has been one of the stumbling blocks around expanding the number of use cases that can be targeted by VDI, specifically where graphics-intensive applications are used.. I encourage you to learn more about our joint solutions with VMware and Citrix
Accelerating the ROI of VDI and App Virtualization – It’s All in the Bundles
To close this out, I want to shift focus to the “last mile” problem of the journey to virtual desktops. No, not the “networking” last mile, but rather that point at which you’ve made the determination to implement a solution, to get your feet wet, ie: how to get started.
Earlier this month, Cisco released brand new Solution Accelerator Paks for Desktop Virtualization with VMware and Citrix. These bundles offer attractive discounting, along with single-SKU ordering simplicity. Organizations seeking to get into desktop virtualization can take advantage of Solution Accelerator Paks to deploy small pilot or proof-of-concept environments that offer great scalability when the need arises.
These bundles also offer expansion and upgrade options for adding more users, tier-0 flash storage from Fusion-io and LSI, as well as GPU options based on NVIDIA GRID K1, and K2. Check out our brochures for VMware and Citrix as well as the ordering guides if you want more detail (VMware , Citrix )
January 12-14: Citrix Summit
Let me conclude by pointing out that next week is Citrix Summit, and for our channel partners attending the event, you’re encouraged to stop by the Cisco booth, and also check out the following:
Cisco’s Frank Palumbo, SVP Worldwide Data Center Sales takes the stage for the keynote at 9am ET
Cisco’s breakout session, SUM 142 “Driving Success with Mobile Workspaces: the Citrix and Cisco Go-To-Market Framework” is at 3pm ET
And I’ll be in the Citrix Booth Theater at 1pm covering the Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution with Citrix
Tuesday: Cisco’s Ram Appalaraju, VP Data Center Business Group delivers breakout session SUM 111 “NetScaler Roadmap and Vision” at 10am ET
Build & Price has recently announced the launch of new content for UCS Director.
The launch offers new ways to explore the features of UCS Director via Webinars, Whitepapers & Videos.(Learn more: UCS Director on Build & Price)
Webinars: I think that webinars on UCS Director are an excellent addition. Yes – we all understand that Cisco UCS Director provides end-to-end converged infrastructure management — including automation for both virtual and physical resources across compute, network, and storage. (check Joann Starke’s blogs on this topics) But really it is a completely different experience to watch it live in action, ask questions to an expert, get your concerns answered and understand how you can benefit from UCS Director to lower costs and drive away competition. The Webinars are being offered twice a month in two different time zones.
Don’t miss the next UCS Director Webinar on January 14 at 8 :00 am PST or 5 :00 pm PST Register now here
Whitepapers & Videos: Build&Price now also offers Whitepapers & solution overviews covering Infrastructure Management with Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS Director, VCE Vblock Management and Flexpod Management with UCS Director.
Whitepaper- Better Together: Infrastructure Management with Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS Director
Solution Overview -- Comprehensive VCE Vblock Management with Cisco UCS Director
Solution Overview -- Simplify Management of Converged Infrastructure
Solution Overview -- Comprehensive FlexPod Management with Cisco UCS Director
In addition, there are also multiple videos that offer different perspectives about UCS Director.
Happy New Year! We’re kicking off the year strong with this very special international episode of Engineers Unplugged. Matthew Yeager (@mpyeager) and Juan Manuel Rey (@reypo) discuss cloud adoption in Europe and how the terms get lost in translation, but maintain a key focus: customers.
**The next shoot is last week of January at Cisco Live in Milan! If you want to be internet-famous, contact me ASAP to talk about being on the show.**
This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
The Software-Defined Networking market is by all accounts still in its nascent stages – its scale and scope has shifted drastically as everything in the datacenter races to become “software-defined”. As we ramp up 2014, its time to step out on a limb to make some predictions about what we’ll see over the course of the year.
1.Accelerating Application Deployment Will Be the Key SDN Use Case
I had the opportunity to get involved in SDN early in its development and worked with the open source community to promote an SDN controller as a programmable platform. Our team created what seemed at the time to be a compelling vision of moving the network control plane away from the data plane and into a generic x86 server where it could be presented as a generic programming environment.
After quite a bit of sweat teaching folks how to program a network controller, I learned only a couple of PhD students actually wanted to do it themselves. It was far too complex and error-prone, and use-cases often boiled down to rebuilding solutions that major vendors like Cisco were already providing.
As I discovered through countless conversations with customers and operators, it turns out that we, the vendors, were not really addressing the most pressing problem: accelerating the deployment of end user applications securely and at scale. Rather than disassemble applications into VLANs, subnets, and ACLs, application policies must be expressed in simple, abstract terms and remain separate from the IP forwarding fabric itself.
With its launch of Application Centric Infrastructure, Cisco has led the way in redefining SDN to focus on accelerating application deployment throughout IT infrastructure using radically simpler application-centric policies. It’s a major change in focus for the SDN community but one that we believe captures the key use case we’ve seen in the market.
Over the course of 2014, expect to see the concepts of application network policies appear in other places like OpenStack and Open Daylight, where subgroups are already forming to design new APIs. Also expect to see other networking vendors pick up on this as well and start working on this approach as well. So far, our competitors at Arista have misunderstood the ACI approach as per-application “tuning” rather than accelerating applications through radically simpler policies but as we open source our models and APIs over the coming months, we expect they will catch on as well.
2. Network Overlays Create Huge Problems in Visibility and Telemetry
Network overlays were among the first solutions to hit the market offering SDN capabilities. The idea is to separate logical and physical network topology using a number of encapsulation technologies. The solution deployed on existing network hardware and on the surface seemed to mimic what IT teams were already doing with hypervisors and servers today.
Unfortunately, the true operational picture is a bit more complicated. Imagine this scenario: You lose network connectivity between two virtual machines in different racks in your datacenter connected via a logical network. How would you debug this? Check the server, hypervisor and vswitch to make sure they are functioning correctly. Log into each switch on the packet path to see if they are configured and functioning correctly. Then check each L4-7 service you are using (assuming they support your chosen encapsulation!) to make sure they have the correct settings as well. You end up with a multi-step process spanning administrative domains.
Over the course of 2014, expect to see a well-documented set of war stories about the challenges of operating network overlays due to the lack of visibility and telemetry. At Cisco, we designed our ACI fabric to integrate virtual and physical environments to provide a uniform view across the network and we expect customers and our competitors customers will come to appreciate why we did so.
3.L4-7 Service Chaining for Both Physical and Virtual Devices Becomes a Killer App
Anyone that has built out a self-service cloud environment understands that in addition to automating virtual machine provisioning and L2/L3 networking, one must also be able to offer network services like firewalls and ADCs in a self-service manner. These services are often essential to the correct function or security of an application so they must be automated as part of any deployment. Also, while virtual machine based services may increase in popularity, some of these services (like SSL offload) will continue to be delivered in hardware.
Over the next year, we expect more customers to require that an SDN solution deliver service automation capabilities by offering dynamic network service chaining. Moreover, this capability must span physical and virtual devices to support performance requirements and preserve existing investments.
With our ACI solution, we’ve already made a major investment in service chaining, offering the first and only open device API that allows the ACI fabric to integrate with the existing APIs or CLIs of any network service. We expect the world to be watching us closely here and a number of other players in the SDN space are hard at work tackling the same problem.
Well, there you have it – some SDN predictions for 2014. We’re obviously excited about our recent launch of the Nexus 9000 and Application Centric Infrastructure and we’re looking forward to working with our partners and our customers to deliver them application agility, visibility and telemetry, L4-7 service chaining, and physical and virtual integration we expect they’ll need.
As the cloud prepares for another history-making year in its campaign to become a part of every part of our lives, a different type of history is being made. The birth of life. As we begin a new year, many around the world are celebrating new life, building on their family foundation.
“Foundations” are traditionally thought of as ground-level, or even underground; but as we ring in 2014, it’s time to start thinking of foundation in a new light. The cloud makes the possibility of sharing our lives with others more easily than before, like birth for instance. It’s enabling this connection and allowing people to access more information, more pictures, more video, and more data, with more ease than ever before. That connection doesn’t stop at content and data points- in fact, it doesn’t stop at all.
The cloud’s biggest value is in the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE brings new experiences and interactions to life, and the cloud will only broaden IoE’s breadth over our lifetime with all of the devices, communicating, and sharing information.
In photojournalist Rick Smolan’s Human Face of Big Data project, stunning facts about how big data and the world of many clouds are changing how we live our lives, from our very first day, are showcased. For example:
During the first day of a baby’s life, the amount of data generated by humanity is equivalent to 70 times the information contained in the Library of Congress.
One-third of children born in the United States already have an online presence before they are born. That number grows to 92 percent by the time they are two.
In 2012, the average digital birth of children occurs at approximately six months.
Within weeks of their birth, another one-third of all children’s photos and information are posted online.