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Unified Workspaces That Go Beyond VDI: Built on Cisco Unified Data Center

Today we introduced release 2.6 of the Cisco VXI Smart Solution, offering enhanced performance user experience and faster ROI,  with unified workspaces that go beyond VDI. VXI 2.6 offers new capabilities and enhancements to the underlying platform, spanning Cisco Unified Data Center, Borderless Network, and Collaboration pillars.  I invite you to check out posts from Phil Sherburne and Brian Dal Bello to learn more.  For now, let me turn your attention to the data center pillar, specifically the advancements that are part of this release, and as amply illustrated  in the Cisco Validated Design for VXI.

Reducing the TCO of virtual desktops

With VXI 2.6 we focused significant attention on improving performance, and driving down the cost of deploying end-to-end desktop virtualization through a combination of data center enhancements that are now part of the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for VXI 2.6.  These include:

  • The Cisco UCS B200 M3 server blade, based on the Intel Romley- platform delivers continued leadership in virtual desktop  density.  We recently commissioned a study with  Principled Technologies to evaluate  B200 M3 performance with virtual desktop workloads – check the results we published for VMware and Citrix based platforms.  We’ve also added the UCS VIC 1240 (mezzanine LOM)  to the CVD, offering up to 80 Gbps aggregate bandwidth per Blade Server.  Bandwidth management capabilities of the VIC 1240 and its effect on delivering QoS in a mixed workload scenario of  virtual desktops and other workload types is covered in detail here.  The CVD also includes the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect, 6296UP, that provides up to 2 Tbps throughput, thereby offering enhanced workload scalability and overall performance
  • Support for published shared desktops with XenApp 6.5, including Jabber for Windows.  With this feature, we deliver much greater scalability while also extending our industry-leading Jabber solution support to this popular application delivery approach, resulting in a more scalable, cost-effective, superior collaboration user-experience
  • Optimizing storage costs is also a key focus area for the release, and VXI2.6 introduces support for a number of capabilities that help reduce storage costs.  With VMware vSphere 5, we have Content Based Read Caching (CBRC) addressing performance bottlenecks associated with the high read IOPS found during O/S boot and AV scans.  CBRC offers host RAM-based caching to reduce read IOPS to back-end shared storage, improving scalability and overall storage performance and end-user experience.
  • With B200 M 3 servers, we support “Tier-0″ Solid State Disk (SSD) which enables the storage of Desktop images internally on the server while user data and personalization can be stored on back end shared storage, allowing for better overall performance and reduced dependency and costs associated with  back-end shared disks  We  have also included validated testing of the WhipTail Flash silicon storage array (SSA) offering  up to 12TB of flash with 250k IOPS in a 2U array.

Want to learn more about VXI Release 2.6?  Check out the following:

And visit our website at

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Data in Motion – The Highest Value of Big Data

Massive amounts of data are being created every day, and shaping the way we live, work, and interact. Big Data  can give  a strategic advantage. Big Data can also create a richer experience for customer. We all agree about that.

But early on our scientists have speculated on the implications of the explosion of data. They described their  vision for a future Internet of Things — when trillions of networked computers could free people to focus their energies on pressing issues like climate change or resource shortages. (See video interview  from  David Evans, (@DaveTheFuturist) Cisco’s Chief Futurist and Chief Technologist and blog from  Shaun Kirby,  Director of Cisco’s Innovations Architecture Practice  for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions)

Today we definitely see the Internet as the next realm for Big Data to shine : From a video camera, a tire pressure sensor  to a smart meter  these devices are creating a constant flow of data. In fact, as Carlos Dominguez , Cisco SVP , Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO explains in his today blog “Finding Wisdom in Big Data” , the data generated by the devices will very soon make up the majority of all information available.  With the caveat , that  the real-time nature of these new sources of data requires that it is evaluated in motion and in meaningful way. The value of data is often dictated by time – being at its highest value as it is created. It is less and less relevant  to look at them later.

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Follow-up Q&A on Nexus 1000V Free-mium Pricing Model

[See also: Detailed FAQ on New Nexus 1000V Editions]

We’ve had a great response to our announcement earlier today about the free Nexus 1000V Essential Edition. After seeing all the comments and questions, there are probably a couple of implementation details I should point out:

Existing Nexus 1000V Customers Will be Upgraded to the Advanced Edition

If you are an existing Nexus 1000V customer, you will be upgraded to the Advanced Edition in the next release, not the Essential Edition. One of the nice things about this is that Nexus 1000V customers that were not using the Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) firewall will get it for free as part of the Advanced Edition, along with the other new Advanced Edition features, at no charge.

VSG is Free for Existing Nexus 1000V Customers Today

In preparation for VSG to be included with the Advanced Edition, all new Nexus 1000V orders starting now will include VSG as well at no cost. Existing Nexus 1000V customers can contact their account managers to get a one-time free license for VSG to use with the current Nexus 1000V release prior to upgrading to the new 2.1 release.  Read More »

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Data Centers are NIX’g UNIX

In any industry, customers running critical applications are typically slow to move to something new.   Whether it is a new technology, platform, application, or service provider, people tend to be comfortable with the status quo and it is human nature to try to avoid a “CNN moment” or a resume generating bad decision resulting from implementing something new ->thus, people tend to avoid making changes to their critical workload environment.   However, as new solutions or technologies become available and mature, the  “I don’t want to  be first” mantra is eventually followed by “Oh-oh- looks like I am last” when the realization you are  falling behind your competition (who have already adopted the new technology) starts to set in.  Finding that point in time when a new technology- solution-product has reached an adequate state of maturity to meet your particular needs and requirements is paramount when considering changes to a critical workload environment.

My brush with being a part of a “CNN moment” was from my past life in the Telco world (circa early 2000’s)- Read More »

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Workplace Services. A Brief Personal History of the Service Catalog and Its Evolution

When Cisco acquired netwScale (my company), in addition to our cloud portal, it also brought in the Cisco Workplace Portal (formerly RequestCenter).

There was a lot of curiosity as to what Cisco would do with an ITIL style service catalog and what the future of such product would be within Cisco.   Well, it’s 18 months later and it is doing quite well, with an exciting roadmap and some new things already shipped and some in the wing.

In this post, I want to discuss what are workplace services, how they have evolved, how they are evolving and what it means to the service catalog.

Workplace services are those services that employees need in order to do their jobs. They include computers, phones, offices, new employee set up, terminations, access to applications and anything else you can imagine.  I have seen tens of thousands of service definitions both common and unusual.

Common ones are the desktop computer variety, but even these sometimes have an unusual bent. For example, banks have different workstations for tellers than admin staff.  Other have engineering workstations that are  different salespeople. Role definition becomes a pretty important aspect of a service catalog implementation.

Unusual ones were “Report chemical fire”, “Order Executive Sedan”, “Inter-factory mail”, and “File patent idea”. Patent as a service, if you will

If it was something that could be requested, it went in the catalog. Today some customers have 1,500+ service definitions in their catalogs with user bases in the 350,000 employees.

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