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Storage Encryption Enhanced!

Lets keep things rolling lets talk about another great upgrade unveiled at Cisco Live San Diego 2012. With the latest version of NX-OS 5.2(6) on the MDS, Cisco has made some interesting changes to the Cisco Storage Media Encryption (SME) product. First, lets do a quick primer on SME for those of you who might not be familiar with the product and why you would consider it.

Cisco Storage Media Encryption is an in-line product that runs on the MDS storage switches that encrypts data at rest on tape, virtual tape, and disks. Encryption of data at rest is becoming more and more common as companies take additional steps to ensure the integrity of corporate IP and customer data. There are also a number of government regulations that require the encryption of data at rest, most notably HIPA regulations in the healthcare industry. Increased regulation requiring encryption of data at rest is likely as well.

SME does the encryption with encryption hardware engines built onto Fibre Channel modules on the MDS. SME is also managed with Cisco Data Center Manager (DCNM). This in-line, integrated approach prevents the performance bottlenecks caused by add-on encryption appliances and the integrated management with DCNM ensures ease of operation.

So what’s new?  The first new feature on SME is Master Key Re-Key. This feature allows customers to change the master key. When the master key is changed, all of the sub-keys are unwrapped and rewrapped with the new master key. This kind of operation allows customers to change the master key with minimal disruption to operations.

The second feature available with the latest incarnation of SME is Signature on Disk. In disk signature mode, you can take snapshots across LUNs during key-change operations. SME will automatically recognize these snap shots based on the signature. This simplifies snap shots and makes it easier to maintain both encryption and the backup safety of snap shots.

These features are available to anyone who as licensed Cisco Storage Media Encryption and is on NX-OS 5.2(6). Feature enhancements like these are part of Cisco’s continuing commitment increasing the value of our products to our customers. If you are interested in SME and it’s features, be sure to check out the Storage Media Encryption Design Guide for full details on how SME and these new features work.

Cisco Live Update on Intelligent Automation for Cloud – The Journey and How Cisco Partners Help IT Shops Get to Cloud

Being at Cisco Live was a very different experience for me this year.  Previous years I spent most of my time in the Intelligent Automation booth discussing functionality in the areas of service catalogs, portals, and orchestration workflows.  It was mostly a technical conversation of how to build private cloud catalogs and how to provision infrastructure.  This year my Cisco Live experience started off in talking to about 80 partners at the Cisco Connected Architecture Forum Summit; a very interesting crowd.   It was here that I talked about what Cisco IT and our Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit experience was in deploying private clouds for end users.  I discussed Cisco’s private cloud CITEIS, and our new product release Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition.   I discussed Physical and Virtual Clouds and there was much interest in the concept of a services portal and automation construct for both Physical and Virtual clouds, something that is enabled very elegantly with the UCS Manager API.  Partners asked great questions:  How quickly can they deploy this starter cloud?  How do customers chart out their journey to the cloud?  Where do they start and what do they do first?  Great conversations ensued…

Service Delivery Partners are a key strategy for the deployment of Cisco Cloud software stack.   Watch the following interview with Sydney Morgan of Cisco IT and Dave Kinsman from World Wide Technologies, a partner of ours in this area as we talk about the Journey to Cloud and our experiences on the deployment side.

I  spent the rest of Cisco Live talking to some great IT organizations about their cloud plans and journey that they are on.  Some interesting examples are:

Financial Services:  This customer of ours was focused on the deployment of cloud and the changes to the organization as they were coming off of Mainframe centric workloads, deploying them to x86 architectures on UCS.  How the application developers would use the newly minted cloud was top of mind.

Service Provider:  Many Cloud Service Providers are right at the intersection of business and technology:  what service offers can I offer out of the chute to differentiate my company?  Discussions around how our IA for Cloud technology stack and pre-built services and automation can make that easier.  We also discussed the need and desire to train up their staff to become service designers and workflow authors.

Manufacturer:  This customer is focused on operational efficiency and how automation software can reduce the mundane and routine tasks in operations.   Replication of system configuration in a standardized way allows their deep application support teams to focus on differentiating their business.

We are now in the thick of that Journey.

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Three Paths to Private Clouds with Cisco, EMC and VCE

Cisco Live 2012 has been  another great opportunity to show the power of the partner ecosystem that Cisco built to provide compelling solutions to the IT organizations, interested in deploying a Unified Data Center, and a private cloud infrastructure.

I invited this week VCE Tom Chatham to blog about the collaboration between VCE, Cisco and EMC to support workload mobility and business continuance, and EMC Brian Gracely to write about VSPEX.  But I also took advantage of the presence  at Cisco Live of EMC Parmeet Chaddha VP Partner Solutions and VCE Jay Cuthrell, Office of the CTO, to invite them to a short video panel with Cisco Senior Director  Data Center Cloud and Enterprise Solutions Shashi Kiran to talk about the different architectures that can simplify, automate and transform IT while helping customers accelerate the journey to cloud computing.

There is no doubt that the collaboration between our 3 companies over the past years has been  very productive , and today this “triad ” is able to offer to the customers 3 clear options  depending on their unique business IT needs:

  • ŸBuild Your Own—Solutions built using tested and proven products and services
  • ŸReference architectures through VSPEX—Pre-packaged reference architectures
  • ŸConverged infrastructure through joint venture VCE—Vblock
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Nexus 1000V and Virtual Network Overlays Play Pivotal Role in Software Defined Networks

There’s an incredible amount of hype and excitement these days around Software Defined Networking (SDN), which promises to herald in a new age of flexibility, business agility and automation to our existing data center and campus networks. Since there are very few, if any, SDN networks in production environments today, though, we know there are a lot of implementation details to work out before the industry achieves the lofty benefits of network programmability. Cisco opened its kimono this week on its strategy around programmable networks (an even broader concept than what we believe the traditional definition of SDN is), called Cisco Open Network Environment. (Get Omar’s take on Cisco ONE).

Open Network EnvironmentIf you are like a lot of people, you might think that SDN is synonymous with OpenFlow, the leading standards-based approach for SDN today. However, we are already seeing folks across the industry extending the SDN vision beyond what OpenFlow is currently envisioned to do, so we think the definition of SDN will probably evolve over the next year or so to include additional programming models and protocols. Cisco ONE, for example, includes three approaches to network programmability: 1) our own onePK set of API’s to Cisco network operation systems and devices, 2) a portfolio of agents and controllers that will support OpenFlow, among other things, and 3) our Nexus 1000V-based portfolio for building virtual network overlays.

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Behold! A New Nexus!

It’s an exciting time right now with lots of stuff coming from Cisco Live 2012 San Diego, such as the new Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE). Not to plagiarize the late great Billy Mays, but wait there is more! We have just introduced a new member of the Nexus data center switch family, the Nexus 5596T.

The Nexus 5596T is a 2 rack unit high fixed configuration switch with 96 10GBASE-T ports. 10GBASE-T is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet twisted pair copper standard based on IEE 802.3an. This allows customers to use much less expensive twisted pair copper cabling based on Standard Category 6 (<55 meters), Augmented Category 6 (100 meters) or Shielded Category 6 cabling (100 meters).

10 Gigabit Ethernet is becoming more and more prevalent in data center environments. The overall cost of optical components has been one of the limiting factors for further spread of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, especially for smaller or budget-constrained companies. The ability to use Category 6 cabling will decrease costs for customers. In the past, technological limitations on 10GBASE-T such as a heat and power costs have made deployment problematic. Advances have reduced the heat and power envelope of 10GBASE-T to an acceptable level.

The time is ripe for 10 Gigabit Ethernet over twisted pair copper. Take a look at this whitepaper that contains a detailed discussion of the market for 10GBASE-T and how it is going to explode in the months and years to come. 10 Gigabit Ethernet brings not only the bandwidth needed to handle the ongoing data deluge from the internet as well as from internal data gathering points, but it brings greater efficiency. This efficiency comes from the reduction of cabling created by 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Less cables equals less ports to manage and a simpler more efficient environment.

So take a gander at the new Nexus 5596T and keep your eyes peeled for more from Cisco Live 2012 San Diego tomorrow!