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Journey to “Self-Healing” Enterprise Networks

Within IT & Network Process Operations community, automation started with the big hype and promise for “self-healing” solutions for systems, network, and process automation.  Remember the promise of “Robotics”!? Wouldn’t it be great to have our servers, systems, and networks solve their own problems? Leading to more stable systems and networks in which system administrators and network administrators would be free to work on higher priority activities and be more productive, improving the quality of Enterprise solutions. Though it is a noble goal, IT and network process automation did not deliver its full promise but instead started us in the journey towards the goal.

There are many reasons why IT process automation solutions for network domain has not fulfilled its promise. Many people have done in-depth analysis, which can be summarized as two big inhibitors for wide-spread adoption of automation in network operations:

  1. Need for out-of-the-box workflow templates for rapid development of network operation process automation for quick-wins
  2. In-depth understanding of complex network implementations with domain knowledge of the Enterprise processes and industry best-practices for support

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The Evolving Data Center : Perspectives from the Gartner DC Conferences

I have just come back from the Gartner Data Center conferences in London and Las Vegas where I got to witness the increasing relevance of Cisco in the data center. The critical role of the network to enable the world of many clouds has becomes evident, and Cisco continues to establish itself as an innovator in the server market.  Our vision and solutions really grabbed the attention of the analysts and customers at a level that I certainly didn’t see last year.
Data center consolidation, server virtualization, and converged infrastructure continue to be chief concerns among decision makers.  Emerging topics such as fabric –based infrastructure, hybrid cloud, and network programmability were definitely the focus of numerous presentations and endless conversations.

Cisco continues to innovate on all these fronts, and we had a lot of progress to present to the audiences in London and Vegas.

Three Insightful Conversations 

I’d like to share with you three conversations I had at the Gartner DC Conference in Las Vegas. Two are with the sales and engineering leaders for Cisco Data Center, Frank Palumbo (@fpalumbo) and David Yen, and the third is with one of our partners, Siki Giunta from CSC, who participated on a panel on Cloud that I moderated.

Frank Palumbo on convergence, virtualization, network programmability, and SDN

In the first conversation, Frank Palumbo, VP Global Sales, reports some of the major concerns of the IT organization.  Our conversation covers:

  • The new role of the “cylinders of excellence” — servers, network, storage and security teams — when the goal is to implement a convergence infrastructure;
  • The benefits of deploying unified computing in environments where virtualization coexists with “bare-metal” workloads; and
  • Network programmability and SDN.

David Yen on the evolving data center

My second conversation was with David Yen, Cisco SVP & GM, Data Center Group, who gave a great presentation to more than 600 attendees called “The Evolving Data Center:  Past, Present, and Future.”

David — who brings in-depth knowledge of IT technologies from his years working with Sun Microsystems, Juniper, and Cisco – provides new perspective on the evolution of the data center.
In his presentation David explains how the convergence infrastructure, on the one hand, and network programmability, on the other hand, reshapes the data center landscape to make the world of many clouds possible.
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College Migrates from SPARC to Cisco UCS

When it comes to their IT infrastructures, academic institution IT teams have a lot in common with IT departments in the business world. Both need to offer their customers the flexibility to access applications and resources at anytime, anyplace, and on any device. They also need to provide these services with limited budgets and administrative resources while maximizing the efficiency of the data center.

Sheridan College, renowned for its leadership in the field of digital media studies, serves approximately 18,000 full-time students and 35,000 part-time students a year. Their IT department has up to 18,000 active network connections and each student may use various devices. They also have applications that serve the faculty and staff.  Key applications such as Oracle PeopleSoft and Oracle Database are running on Cisco UCS. During open enrollment there are as many as 5000 concurrent connections per second.

Migrating off its legacy SPARC architecture and consolidating its data center using Cisco UCS the Sheridan College IT organization was able to realize tremendous benefits:

  • Improved infrastructure virtualization from 40 to 85 percent.
  • Increased capacity while reducing the number of physical servers that it needs from 200 to 70.
  • Reduced power consumption by 78 percent.
  • Service levels improved and to nearly 100 percent uptime.
  • Highly efficient 100 to 1 server to administrator ratio. Read More »

Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 4-Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 3.0

Over the past weeks, Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design , then Laszlo Bojtos,  illustrated this concept with the Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design, with a specific emphasis on the integration with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud . Finally John Kennedy shared with us the latest news on Flexpod.

jotungThis week , I met Johnny Tung, Systems Marketing Manager for Data Center Solutions, to talk about a very interesting announcement : The Virtualized Multiservice Data Center

” Johnny , can you tell us what Happened to Cisco’s Unified Data Center on Dec 3th?

Well…it just got more interesting! You may have heard of Virtualized Multiservice Data Center. Let me remind you. It is Cisco’s reference architecture for the Unified Data Center. The big news here is that we have just released the 3.0 design. We are introducing Cisco FabricPath into the Unified Data Center network in order to simplify and scale Cloud Ready Infrastructure designs for Private and Virtual Private Cloud deployments.


FabricPath simplifies and expands existing data center network design by removing the complexities of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), and thus enabling more extensive, flexible, and scalable Layer 2 designs. This release marks the introduction of FabricPath-based designs into VMDC;  further FabricPath-related VMDC releases will follow as Cisco develops and evolves its FabricPath offerings.

 What does it mean for our customers ?

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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 2: Virtualization and Abstraction

Last week I introduced our new Cisco Services framework to help guide your data center and cloud transformation – Cisco Domain Ten (SM). I also described the types of challenges you should be thinking about in the Facilities and Infrastructure layer, Domain 1.  Now let’s discuss the type of challenges that Domain 2, Virtualization and Abstraction, could present to you.  While Cisco Domain Ten can be applied to help you in any data center transformation, I’ll keep focused on showing you how Cisco Domain Ten helps illuminate your path to cloud transformation.

Domain 2 pic


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