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Innovation Distinguishes Between a Leader and a Follower

Steve Jobs is arguably the most amazing innovator of our times.  I recently read some of his thoughts on innovation. His statement “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” caused me to reflect upon my eight-year association with data virtualization, and consider who in the IT analyst community have been the innovative leaders.

Since 2006, I have worked with over one hundred IT analysts to define and advance the data virtualization market.  I even teamed up with one, Judith Davis, to co-author the first book on data virtualization, Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility.

Others such as Rick van der Lans, author of data virtualization’s second book, Data Virtualization for Business Intelligence Systems: Revolutionizing Data Integration for Data Warehouses and the seminal article, The Network is the Database, have contributed mightily to the market’s understanding of data virtualization’s capabilities, advantages and benefits.

The role call of top analysts doing innovative work continues with Noel Yuhanna of Forrester who wrote the analyst community’s first research paper on data virtualization in January 2006, Information Fabric: Enterprise Data Virtualization.

Gartner’s Ted Friedman and Mark A. Beyer, and more recently Merv Adrian, Roxane Edjlali, Mei Selvage, Svetlana Sicular and Eric Thoo, have been both descriptive and proscriptive about the use of data virtualization as a data integration delivery method, a data service enabler and a key component in what Gartner calls the Logical Data Warehouse.

Dave Wells, author of TDWI’s Data Virtualization Course, Data Virtualization: Solving Complex Data Integration Challenges, helped bring data virtualization into the mainstream.    As did Boulder BI Brain Trust members Claudia Imhoff, Colin White, John O’Brien, Ralph Hughes, John Myers and more who I recently wrote about in Rocky Mountains High On Data Virtualization.

Further, there have been myriad analysts who have amazing contributions.

  • The learned trio of Dr. Barry Devlin, Dr. Robin Bloor, and Dr. Richard Hackathorn have pushed the art of the possible.
  • While analyst / practitioners such as Jill Dyche, Mike Ferguson, Rick Sherman, Steve Dine, Evan Levy, David Loshin and William McKnight, via their hands-on client work, have “kept data virtualization grounded on reality street,” to quote Mike Ferguson.
  • And let’s not forget the Massachusetts’ Waynes — Wayne Eckerson formerly of TDWI and Wayne Kernochan, author of the eponymous Thoughts From a Software IT Analyst blog.  Their voices and insights have proven invaluable.

To quote Gene Rodenberry, “It isn’t all over; everything has not been invented; the human adventure is just beginning.”  The same is true for data virtualization.  So I look forward to more great insights from these innovators, as well as a new generation led by Puni Rajah of Canalys and Vernon Turner of IDC.

To see Rick van der Lans and Barry Devlin on stage and gain even more insights from the 2014 Data Virtualization Leadership Award winners, join us at Data Virtualization Day 2014 on October 1 in New York City.

Watch for a sneak peek of Data Virtualization Day 2014.

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Meet the Next Generation Fabric Extender – Cisco’s Nexus 2300 Series

More than 5 years ago, Cisco introduced its first Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender (FEX) into the market. This broad portfolio has enabled over 15,000 customers to seamlessly add network access port density across server racks without adding the inherent management complexity that comes with adding more boxes into your architecture to meet scaling requirements which ultimately translates into lower capex and opex for the business.

Today marks the next evolution for this portfolio as we introduce the Nexus 2300 platform -- the 3rd generation Fabric Extender family. Based on the extensive innovations you have come to know from the Nexus 2100 and 2200 platforms, Nexus 2300 Fabric Extenders expand on these capabilities with:

  • Larger buffers to absorb bursts of traffic for a wide variety of workloads such as multicast feeds, voice traffic, video traffic, and healthcare applications
  • Unified Ports support enabling a flexible LAN and SAN deployment through support for Ethernet, Fiber Channel and Fiber Channel over Ethernet connectivity
  • Support for Cisco’s 40G BiDi optics simplifying migration 10 to 40 Gigabit Ethernet speeds while reusing existing 10G cabling
  • Additional versatile TCAM which can be used for:
    • Advanced features such as ACL classifications and QOS
    • Hardware-capable local flow redirect for architectures that require intra-rack traffic to reduce bandwidth

Put all of these together with the single point of management, policy enforcement, zero-touch provisioning installation and automatic configuration that is available across all Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders and you further benefit from a more simplified and flexible network design that helps you commission and decommission server racks faster, simplify operations, and support varying workload requirements.

Now let’s look at the first member of the Nexus 2300 platform, the Nexus 2348UPQ. Priced at $9500 (US List), almost the same price as current 1Gbps FEXs, the Nexus 2348UPQ supports 48 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. You can add further 10 G ports when you split the 40G ports for up to 64 10G ports – perfect for data centers that are migrating their servers from 1 to 10G network connectivity. The 6 on-board 40Gbps ports support Cisco’s BiDi optics so that as you migrate from 10G to 40G as your uplink speed, you can reuse your existing 10G cabling – helping you save on the costs of re-cabling your network and get it upgraded faster! This new fabric extender can be deployed in conjunction with Nexus 5500, 5600, and 6000 parent switches and with the Nexus 7000 and 9000 Series in the future.

In summary, Cisco’s Fabric Extender portfolio has seen tremendous traction in the market as the many benefits of this architecture ultimately help create a cost-effective, flexible and simplified approach to building a data center network. The Nexus 2300 Series Fabric Extender, with the Nexus 2348UPQ, continues to deliver on these same principles and further expands on the promise of helping simplify network deployment and operations while ensuring the data center network is ready to support varying application needs. I invite you to learn more about the Nexus 2348UPQ and other Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders at www.cisco.com/go/nexus2000.

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#EngineersUnplugged S6|Ep5: Fast Track 4.0 Solutions

August 20, 2014 at 9:55 pm PST

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, David Hartman and Tim Cerling discuss Fast Track 4.0 Solutions, which promote fast and efficient deployment of private clouds with Cisco, EMC, and Microsoft solutions.

How many engineers does it take to straighten a whiteboard? (Answer: 5) Behind the scenes on #EngineersUnplugged

How many engineers does it take to straighten a whiteboard? (Answer: 5) Behind the scenes on #EngineersUnplugged

If you would like to become Internet Famous, and strut your unicorn talents, join us for our next filming session at VMworld 2014. Tweet me for details!

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: engineersunplugged.com
  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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Who’s deploying Multi-hop FCoE? – Part IV

August 20, 2014 at 8:50 am PST

Continuing the Multi-Hop FCoE customer adoption series, as FederalEducationTechnology verticals were covered previously, so in this blog I would provide the details on the FCoE design and benefits in an another important vertical -- Healthcare!

AHS_Interior_LogoAdventist Health System is a large, faith-based health care provider. The system’s hospitals include nearly 8300 licensed beds and provide care for 4.5 million patients each year in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room visits. The IT department, AHS Information Services (AHS-IS), provides technology systems and services for 32 of Adventist Health System’s 45 campuses over nine states. The business challenge was to provide a scalable data center that can handle increasing volumes of health care data and as well be flexible enough to support wide range of device access protocols. This DC would support AHS’ mission-critical applications and data, including email, electronic health records, virtualization, and imaging system archives.

AHS chose Cisco Nexus Switches with FCoE capabilities to build a high-density, high-performance converged data center infrastructure. AHS implemented redundant Nexus 5000 Switches and Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders for the access layer. They connect to a redundant pair of Nexus 7000 Switches using FabricPath technology. The Nexus 5000 systems also connect to the Nexus 7000 systems VDCs (Virtual Device context)  through Multi-Hop FCoE fabrics. The Nexus 5000 Switches provide access to traditional FC SAN resources using MDS 9000 Multilayer Directors.  AHS manages the converged infrastructure using Data Center Network Manager (DCNM), which combines management of Ethernet and Storage networks into a single dashboard.

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Cisco and Citrix: Delivering the Unified Platform for Desktop and Application Virtualization

Today Citrix announced the latest advancements for XenApp and XenDesktop, built on the fourth release of their FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA).  With this evolution come significant improvements in Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix Receiver, FIPS compliance, single console manageability across hybrid cloud environments, Workspace Suite, user experience, and much more.

Cisco UCS: The Optimal Foundation for XenDesktop and XenApp

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.52.47 PMCisco is pleased to be a leading technology and infrastructure partner to Citrix, providing the optimal foundation of this unified platform for desktop and app virtualization, benefitting organizations everywhere that seek to evolve their traditional desktop environments into mobile, virtualized workspaces.  At the core of this foundation is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  Check out this animated whiteboard if you’re not already familiar with how UCS has rapidly become the preferred x86 compute platform for XenDesktop and XenApp deployments.

Proof Points!

We believe that the latest features of XenDesktop and XenApp will continue to drive exceptional end user experience and accelerate the pace at which organizations embrace desktop transformation initiatives.  The benefits of this best of breed joint solution are evident in the customer success stories exposed in the following infographic.

Citrix Infographic_06 (final)

In addition to our joint integrated solutions supporting desktop and app virtualization, we also share a common vision of cloud architectures and services.  As demonstrated in today’s announcement we see the end user computing landscape evolving to embrace customer choice and flexibility as organizations seek a “portfolio approach” in how workspaces are delivered, whether that be via on-premise solutions, public cloud or a hybridized approach.  This is a key benefit of the FMA platform combined with Cisco Intercloud, enabling customers to derive the maximum benefit from cloud economics.  And don’t forget, as part of Cisco’s Cloud Network Services portfolio we offer the Citrix NetScaler 1000V application delivery controller, integrating virtual applications to Cisco Unified Fabric, delivering scalable, reliable application services to users.

Transforming Desktops into Mobile Workspaces

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our joint workspace mobility solution.  With this announcement comes Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 providing enhanced support for Citrix Workspace Suite.  You may recall that back on May 6th, we announced the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- bringing together the technologies of two mobility leaders as a complete and validated business to employee (B2E) mobility solution.  This groundbreaking solution allows organizations to deploy mobility at their own pace with a modular approach that builds on the Cisco Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Desktop Virtualization Solutions.  It combines all the essential hardware and software technologies, services, and support needed to embark on mobility projects with confidence, speed, and reduced risk.  Together, Cisco and Citrix are delivering a complete, unified solution for mobile, Windows, web and SaaS-based apps.

How to Get Started…

Before I close, I want to share one more solution for your consideration.  The Citrix Pilot Accelerator is a great way to get one’s feet wet with desktop and app virtualization.  This 200 seat configuration provides all the infrastructure and software elements needed to deploy a pilot environment, or outfit a small office/branch.  It employs a UCS C240 rack server, equipped with on-board flash storage and SAS drives in an extremely economical bundle, with ample performance, and ability to scale.  If you’re wondering how to get started with Citrix and Cisco, this is a great solution that neatly fits in just 2 RU.  And, if you weren’t aware, Cisco offers XenDesktop 7.6 software and other new products as part of our resale program with Citrix.  A great way to build the perfect bundle!

Additional Resources:

Cisco Validated Design (CVD): Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- includes XenMobile, Unified App Store, WorxHome, Receiver, XenDesktop and ShareFile

www.cisco.com/go/citrix

www.cisco.com/go/vdi

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