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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 7: Platform

Domain 7 in our Cisco Domain TenSM framework for data center transformation is what we call “Platform”.  More specifically, this term refers to the “software platform” upon which your business applications will run.  In short, this area is where we examine operating systems, databases and other types of middleware and help you figure out your strategy, architectural decisions and implementation plans in these areas, to help you drive a more successful cloud or data center project.  Let’s discuss this area in more detail.

First, though, if you are new to the Cisco Domain Ten, please check out my “Cisco Domain Ten: The Story So Far” summary blog I published recently.  Additionally, earlier this week, we ran a public webinar, where some of my colleagues in the Cisco Data Center and Cloud Services team gave their perspectives on Cisco Domain Ten.  If you missed this and their very practical insights, please do catch up on the Cisco Domain Ten webinar recording.

 

Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 7: Platform

Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 7: Platform

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The server business isn’t a popularity contest, but if it was…

…here are the type of votes contestants would love to receive.   We recently saw two items that speak well on the progress of UCS against the most important yardsticks:  how IT professionals and our partners rate Cisco as a computing systems vendor.

First up is CRN’s Annual Report Card.   This is where IT solution providers rate vendors in categories of product innovation, support and partnership.   For Midrange Servers, Cisco took top marks:

CRN Annual Report Card

Note the margin.  A blowout worthy of Dickie V superlatives.  We have CRN’s commentary on the Midrange category posted here and you can doubleclick into a detailed scores breakout on their Report Cards page.

Next up:  TheInfoPro Servers and Virtualization Study.  This is a recurring report from 451 Research, now in it’s 12th iteration, which brings together interview feedback from IT professionals.   You have to love a good old 2×2 (especially the upper right.)   Here, customers located Cisco in the lead among server vendors on both the Promise and Fulfillment indices:

Infopro vendor market window

Report highlights:

  • Cisco tops the charts in both promise and fulfillment among large and midsize enterprises, significantly leading HP, IBM, and Dell.
  • Cisco ranks highest of all vendors in strategic vision and technical innovation.
  • Cisco’s rating is extremely positive, above average in 13 out of 14 categories.
  • Cisco is the ONLY server vendor to be ranked in the leading quadrant in 2010, 2011, and 2012 of the TheInfoPro study.

Now, please re-read that list, but this time out loud and in your best Dick Vitale voice.   You have to throw in a few “BAAAAYBY”s to achieve the full effect.    ‘Tis the Season, after all.

Keep an eye out during the tournament this year, you might just see a TV spot about a Cinderella story….

 

VDI “The Missing Questions” #5: How does 1vCPU scale compared to 2vCPU’s?

More and more this novel idea of user classifications and workload profiles is being used to separate VDI user allocations. I’ve worked with many customers who prefer to stack rank their users based on the importance of their role/job function and the typical applications that user needs in their role as a means to (hopefully) gain a more appropriate VDI resource allocation. Again – this is a great idea and a good excuse for organizations to take a long hard look at their users and the applications they use day to day.

In case you are finding this blog for the first time, we have been attempting to defy blog physics and host a series of blogs – this requires the use of a manually updated table of contents:

  1. VDI “The Missing Questions” #6: What do you really gain from a 2vCPU virtual desktop? 
  2. VDI “The Missing Questions” #7:  How memory bus speed affects scale
  3. VDI “The Missing Questions” #8: How does memory density affect VDI scalability?
  4. VDI “The Missing Questions” #9: How many storage IOPs?

You are Invited!  If you’ve been enjoying our blog series, please join us for a free webinar discussing the VDI Missing Questions, with Tony, Doron, Shawn and Jason!  Access the webinar here!

Most of the time the three main items separating user classes are:

  1. vCPU quantity
  2. Memory allocation
  3. Disk space

The first sort of pitfall that I see occasionally is too much granularity in the workload profiles. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a good view into your users and applications that you see the need to support and manage 5 different user classifications – that’s great news! But most of the time it comes down to 3 particular types of user classifications:

  1. Gold (Multiple vCPU’s, a lot more RAM and disk space than other folks)
  2. Silver (Could be a couple of vCPU’s, usually more RAM than the OS calls for, can be required for specialized apps, etc)
  3. Bronze (These are almost always single vCPU and minimum amount of RAM profiles)

A good sort of buildup approach to start determining your workload profile requirements must take into consideration the users and compute requirements based on the apps those users will be running. In most cases, the Operating System you choose will be the foundation to start your buildup approach. The aging Windows XP platform is quickly being consumed by Windows 7 in the corporate workspace. There are few folks out there continuing to stand up net new systems for users and using Windows XP. This is for a number of reasons – most new PC’s and their manufacturers (not to mention this little company called Microsoft) are not developing drivers and supporting the workhorse XP operating system. Let’s be honest, Windows XP came out in 2001. Windows XP is older than my twin girls that are in 4th grade! It was a good ride, but it must come to an end. You probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned Windows 8 yet. After all, it is the newest desktop Operating System (OS) that Microsoft has out. There are a couple of reasons for this: Most corporate users don’t jump onto the latest OS because they have to support many users, must test/qualify their applications on a new operating system and as we all know – anything new usually has fixes and enhancements to follow. Plus, as a general rule of thumb, the first Service Pack must come out before anyone will give real consideration to mass deployment in any organization. Beyond the general newness of the Windows 8 OS, it will be interesting to see how “Corporate America” will integrate the new look and feel of Windows 8. With that being said, we have Windows 7 which came out in 2009 and already has Service Pack 1 with a host of subsequent updates. This is the OS that most folks are planning their VDI environments for. Per Microsoft, the requirements for Windows 7 are as follows:

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Building on Success: Cisco and Intel Expand Partnership to Big Data

This has been an exciting week. Further expanding its Big Data portfolio, Cisco has announced collaboration with Intel, its long term partner, for the next generation of open platform for data management and analytics. The joint solution combines Intel® Distribution for Apache Hadoop Software with Cisco’s Common Platform Architecture (CPA) to deliver performance, capacity, and security for enterprise-class Hadoop deployments.

As described in my blog posting, the CPA is highly scalable architecture designed to meet variety of scale-out application demands that includes compute, storage, connectivity and unified management, already being deployed in a range of industries including finance, retail, service provider, content management and government. Unique to this architecture is the seamless data integration and management integration capabilities between big data applications and enterprise applications such as Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP and others, as shown below:
CPA Magt 1
The current version of the CPA offers two options depending on use case: Performance optimized – offers balanced compute power with I/O bandwidth optimized for price/performance, and Capacity optimized – for low cost per terabyte. The Intel® Distribution is supported for both performance optimized and capacity optimized options, and is available in single rack and multiple rack scale.

The Intel® Distribution is a controlled distribution based on the Apache Hadoop, with feature enhancements, performance optimizations, and security options that are responsible for the solution’s enterprise quality. The combination of the Intel® Distribution and Cisco UCS joins the power of big data with a dependable deployment model that can be implemented rapidly and scaled to meet performance and capacity of demanding workloads.  Enterprise-class services from Cisco and Intel can help with design, deployment, and testing, and organizations can continue to rely on these services through controlled and supported releases.

A performance optimized CPA rack running Intel® Distribution will be demonstrated at the Intel Booth at O’Reilly Strata Conference 2013 this week.

CPA at Strata 2013

References:

1. Cisco UCS with the Intel Distribution for Apache HadoopSolution Brief
2. Cisco’s Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data
3. Paul Perez and Boyd Davis on Cisco and Intel Partnership on Big Data (Video)
4. Cisco and Intel Announcement – blog by Didier Rombaut
5. Intel Guest Blog

 

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#EngineersUnplugged: S2|Ep2| #SDN Doughnut Style

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Brian Gracely (@bgracely) of Virtustream takes on the challenge of explaining the industry’s top buzzword, Software Defined Networking, using doughnuts. Seeing is believing:

Welcome to 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

Technology made delicious and simple. Thoughts, comments, or feedback? Join the conversation @CiscoDC.

Join us next week for Engineers Unplugged Episode 3: OpenStack, featuring Joe Onisick and Colin McNamara.

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