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Engineers Unplugged (Episode 10): Get Help for Your Home Network

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, VMware’s Mike Laverick (@Mike_Laverick) confesses on air that his home lab is a mess and he needs help. Good news, Cisco’s Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell) to the rescue! No VLANs? No problem. Let’s watch and see what Josh suggests.

Sound familiar? Suffering a similar problem? Contact us (@CommsNinja) and we might solve your problem on-air.

Mike Laverick and Josh Atwell address Mike's home lab situation.

Mike Laverick and Josh Atwell address Mike's home lab situation.

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:
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Questions for Mike or Josh? Join the conversation on Twitter. Follow @CiscoDC to stay up to date on all the news.

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Cisco IAC Availability, Scalability, and Geographic Distribution

When building a cloud, scale it out.

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud architecture and topology options enable scalability, availability, and geographic distribution. This white paper discusses several options, their strengths and uses, and the technical details underlying these options.”

Cisco IAC Availability, Scalability, and Geographic Distribution White Paper is available in the Cisco support community (log in needed)

Here’s an excerpt:


Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) is a software-based solution for managing hardware infrastructure tasked with delivering various IT services as-a-service (XaaS). Cisco IAC provides configuration “content” to help customers rapidly deploy service-delivered, self-service enabled IT services on certain hardware architectures. Consulting services from Cisco Advanced Services or Cisco delivery partners can use the IAC infrastructure to create custom services for customers. This white paper discusses the software underpinnings of these services and options for deployment that provide scalability and resilience for large enterprises or service providers.
The major platform products which make up IAC relevant to a scaling and resiliency discussion are:

  • The Cisco Cloud Portal – The dynamic, tailored end-user web site where customers and administrators can browse available services and options, and order new services or changes to existing services. This element consists of a web tier which interacts with the browser to expose the Portal UI and an application tier which includes the Portal and Service Catalog. The Service Catalog provides the menu of available services, including new-service and update-service requests, as well as definitions and configurations for roles, business rules, dynamic form rules, and entitlement.
  • Cisco Process Orchestrator  – The delivery engine that makes the Move/Add/Change/Delete (MACD) changes to the steady-state configuration of the computing, network, storage, and application infrastructure (“Infrastructure”) needed to deliver the requested new service or service change. Orchestrator processes automate workflows which interact with applications, systems, and devices in the environment.
  • A database stores configuration, state, and runtime information from the above systems.
  • Cisco Network Services Manager (NSM) Server – a specialized engine for network provisioning. Cisco Network Services Manager’s policy-driven approach allows clouds to be created within single or multiple network Points of Delivery (PoDs), each with potentially different and unique offerings and operational behaviors.
  • Cisco NSM Controller – a local element near network devices within a network PoD which performs direct device interactions to achieve network provisioning at the direction of the NSM Server.
  • Cisco Server Provisioner – provides bare metal provisioning (remote installation) of an OS or hypervisor on a physical or virtual server, as well as bare metal imaging for system cloning and backup.


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Cisco Nabs Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards

Each year Windows IT Pro announces their Editors’ Best and Community Choice awards recognizing the hottest  products in the world of Microsoft. The Editors Best award highlight products that the Windows IT Pro editors and contributors believe are worthy of recognition. The Community Choice awards lets the Windows IT Pro readers from around the world decide which products are the best.

For 2012 Cisco was honored with 5 awards – covering Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Our Catalyst switch took home Gold in the networking category with Cisco’s Technical Support organization winning Silver. We wrapped up this medal trifecta with a Bronze for our UCS server family.

The Windows IT Pro awards complement our June 2012 Best of Tech Ed award for UCS Manager and when combined together they show the breadth and depth of our capabilities for our Microsoft server and workload solutions.

Read more on the awards and recipients here. To learn more on Cisco and our offerings for Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange, SharePoint, and SQL Server please visit

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Just what we need on Cyber Monday – Cisco UCS Central

Total (consumer) spending for the (Thanksgiving 2012) weekend reached an estimated $59.1 billion, a 13% increase from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.  Online spending on Friday alone topped $1 billion for the first time, according to the data-analysis firm comScore Inc.

We can analyze the seasonal patterns of traffic by studying the Alexa reports such as the one below for different retailers.  In the case of the holiday traffic is 400% the average during the year.  It remains to be seen how much more the traffic would spike today – Cyber Monday 2012. It is clear that retailers like Walmart need the ability to scale up the e-commerce infrastructure during the holiday season.

A retailer’s e-commerce infrastructure would include software applications, middleware, server, network and storage resources.  Virtualization technology has made scaling of e-commerce applications easier.  However, virtual machines can only start on physical servers after they are racked, stacked and necessary network and storage access components have been properly configured.  The preparation of the physical infrastructure is still mostly a manual task, unless they are using something like the Cisco UCS.  The Cisco UCS Manager embedded in the system, handles the simplified configuration.  With large environments (thousands of servers) infrastructure management software such as Cisco UCS Central becomes increasingly important. Cisco UCS Central, which simplifies compute infrastructure scaling, became generally available last week.   With it, physical compute infrastructure management can now be policy based and automated.  This in turn can increase the velocity of changes and reduce the possibility of errors while scaling rapidly.  This blog by Steve Kaplan and the short video below give a nice overview of Cisco UCS Central software.

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Take 2: From an Ancient Scottish Castle to the Gartner Data Center Conference in London

Time flies!  I’m off to the Gartner Data Center conference in London again.  And as per last year, I’ll drive my this ancient and very historical Bothwell Castle on my way to the airport.

Bothwell Castle


Last year I was very busy at the Cisco stand in the Solution Showcase.  This time, I’m spending all of my visit  in the actual conference sessions, learning about top concerns and trends in the data center world, and I plan to tweet out some of the most interesting and controversial learnings, as well as following up in subsequent blogs here.  So follow me on Twitter @StephenSatCisco to learn what is surprising me (and I’ll use hashtags #CiscoDC #GartnerDC.  And  if you are at the conference, I should be near the Cisco stand at the breaks so drop by and say hello!

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