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Are Overlays the Duct Tape of Networking?

Duct tape is pretty amazing stuff because its versatile and easy to use.  That being said, sometimes, that versatility and ease-of-use means it gets used at times when maybe it shouldn’t.

This thought came to mind a couple of weeks ago at VMworld.  Over the course of the show, I had a number of conversations with folks about tunneling and overlay network.  For many (mostly non-networking) folks, it seemed like the best thing since sliced bread—it gave them the holy grail—flexible, agile, one-demand connectivity without having to talk to the network folks.

From a networking perspective, its kinda funny, since the concept of tunnels is a decades old technology. It’s always played a legitimate role in a comprehensive networking strategy (MPLS and IPsec VPNs for example) so its cool to see an old concept find new applications.

However, lest we be lulled into blissful slumber by the unicorns playing lilting melodies through their horns, its good to remember, as with pretty much everything in IT, there is no free lunch.  While overlays networks make life simpler for the server admin or the virtualization admin, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

From an operational perspective, the overlay environment becomes a second network that needs to be managed—often a dumber, less instrumented network.  Somewhere, someone still needs to maintain a fully functioning, highly available, secure, properly traffic-engineered network that underpins that virtualized connectivity. Think of this as the difference between your checkbook and your checking account—just because you can write a check doesn’t mean there is money in the account to cover it.

Now, if you are not a networking dude or dudette, your first reaction may be “why do I care?”  Well, when you start seeing performance issues on your tunnel, you start to see intermittent drops on your tunnel, or you need to demonstrate auditable regulatory compliance, then you start to care.  While some folks propose that the underlying network becomes irrelevant once you start using overlays, the truth is that the strengths and weaknesses (performance, availability, security, manageability, etc.) of the underlying physical network are going to manifest themselves in in whatever rides on top.  While overlay technology is undeniably useful, having an approach that leverages the intelligence of the underlying infrastructure (assuming any exists) is going to pay off in the long run.

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Welcome to Barcelona: Cisco Data Center Cloud Activities at VMworld

If you’d like to learn more about the evolution of the data center, and how Cisco is supporting that mission, it’s a great time to be in Barcelona. VMworld Barcelona kicks off full force today, and there is a great deal to experience.

Get your I Speak Geek button from a roving reporter here at VMworld Barcelona!

Get your I Speak Geek button from a roving reporter here at VMworld Barcelona!

Here’s a quick overview of Cisco’s presence in Barcelona in booth D200 and beyond.

For the first time, we’re taking the Roving Reporters and Engineers Unplugged abroad! This event will be covered by Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell) and myself, and we’re shooting several episodes of our new video podcast, which we’ll be releasing every Wednesday.

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Cisco Announces Four World-record Oracle E-Business Suite Performance Results on Cisco UCS

Cisco continues a tradition of enterprise application performance leadership with four new world records on Oracle E-Business Suite benchmarks, demonstrating that Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) powers business-critical software better than any other server vendor.

In four of the Oracle E-Business Suite Standard Benchmarks, the Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server delivered the best performance of any server, regardless of configuration or number of processor cores.

The benchmarks were run in a two-tier configuration with a single Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server hosting both the database and the application server instances, all running on a single Oracle Linux image.

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Cisco Announces Industry-Leading TPC-C with Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition One on Cisco UCS!

Right before the recently concluded  Oracle Open World 2012., Cisco announced world-record  TPC-C performance with Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition demonstrating continuing industry leadership for database performance with the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®).

The tested configuration consisted of a Cisco UCS 240 M3 equipped with two Intel Xeon processors E5-2690 at 2.9 GHz with 768 GB of main memory. The server ran Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition One and Oracle Linux with Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2. The client tier consisted of two Cisco UCS C200 M2 servers. The storage system consisted of two Violin 6000 series arrays.

World-record TPC-C Result on Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server: Fastest Two-Socket Database Server

Cisco’s world-record Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) result of 1,609,186 transactions per minute in the TPC-C benchmark (tpmC), with a price-to-performance ratio of US$0.47 per tpmC ($/tpmC), in combination with Oracle Database, delivered world-record performance for 2-socket servers at lower cost than the competition.

  • Better Performance at Lower Cost: The 2-socket Cisco UCS® C240 M3 Rack Server achieved 1,609,186 transactions per minute in the TPC-C benchmark (tpmC), with a price-to-performance ratio of US$0.47 per tpmC ($/tpmC).
  • Faster and cheaper than competition: Cisco’s results are 34 percent faster and the cost is 32 percent less than for IBM DB2 running on a 2-processor IBM POWER7 system . The results are 7 percent faster and the cost is 11 percent less than for a 2-socket IBM Flex System x240 running IBM DB2

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Customer Insight: How one Cloud services provider reduced provisioning time by 50% with Cisco Unified Computing System ™ and FlexPod

What comes to mind when you think about the color blue? Whenever I think about the color blue in nature, I’m transported to the clear blue skies and turquoise ocean waves of Hawaii. For many people, the color blue has a restorative quality: It’s invigorating and puts us back in control of priorities. My affinity for “all things blue,” is why I was attracted to this story about Cisco customer, BlueWave Computing, LLC., a cloud services provider based in Atlanta, Georgia. BlueWave’s existing server and storage infrastructure had reached its limits and was creating performance and reliability issues. That’s when BlueWave decided it was time for a change. They worked with Cisco to reinvigorate their data center, making it ready for next generation of cloud services, and clearing the way for “nothing but blue skies ahead.”

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