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IPv6 in the Enterprise Data Center – Why is it important

Why is it important to start thinking about IPv6 across your entire network especially the data center?
Remember the term Y2K? The panic and haphazardness that was there to ensure every single device and application was compatible with Y2K? I see IPv6 as a similar situation except that there is no impending date forcing you to adopt it.

The more you wait, the more you lose time to develop IPv6 architecture with ease and peace of mind so that things are done right. And if not done way ahead of time, then you may end up doing things quickly to ensure the business is operational with a poorly designed and operated IPv6 network.

The Next Generation Data Center
IPv6 is becoming ever increasingly important and critical with the success and proliferation of mobile devices and other such applications that require enormous addressing needs. Lot of customers are taking the first step to enable IPv6 in their Internet edge, Campus and WAN edges, but very few customer are realizing the importance of enabling IPv6 inside their data centers.

I came across few such customers that are eager to enable IPv6 inside the data center but have not done any planning or design. Before coming to the reasons why they are eager, it is nevertheless important to say that IPv6 is going to be the protocol of the future.

As an Advanced Services Solutions Architect for the Data Center Practices team, one of my jobs is to deliver planning and designing workshop for customers who are looking into building their “next generation data center architecture”. The word Next Generation is enough to tell them that they should start not only planning and design but most importantly start assessing their data center devices and design to enable IPv6.

My Experience with Customers
In this post, I want to share my experience with customers who are seriously planning to take the next step of building the next generation data center, yet are completely skipping IPv6 in their planning phase. For most of these customers, replacing the Catalyst platform with the newer Nexus platform is extent of building the next generation data center in their minds.

Others want to use the newer, cooler features in the Nexus platform like vPC, VDC, OTV and FabricPath. Agreed, that these features and architectures would entitle their data centers to be called “next generation” but the actual plumbing of the new data Center is still the same: IPv4.

Change the Plumbing, its time
In my view, the real next generation architecture is where you enable the new plumbing system inside the data center and be ready to shift to the enormous and powerful protocol when the business needs you to.

Migrating or integrating IPv6 is not a job that will take few days or months. It will take serious planning and effort to ensure that the expertise in-house is familiar and comfortable with the gigantic protocol whose similarity with IPv4 ends at the first three letters used to represent both the protocols: IPv 😉

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Unified Fabric for a Backup Server

Outside of that large, black, monolithic machine in the middle of the datacenter referred to as the mainframe, there aren’t that many servers that require as many network and storage connections as the backup server.  It’s not really sexy, it’s not computing Pi, generally doesn’t run a hypervisor and is bought with one goal in mind, move data. Not just some data, but a lot.  These machines often move all of the data in your datacenter off of disk and onto tape, either real or virtual.  In many datacenters, these backup servers are sometimes the only non-x86 platforms left due to their ability to contain high numbers of HBAs for SAN connectivity and NICs for network connectivity.   They’re like the tractors of the datacenter. Read More »

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Cisco Build and Price Gives Customers Access to Blade Server and Rack Server Prices

It’s no secret that Cisco Unified Computing Sytem (UCS) has had some tremendous success in terms of customer adoption.  In just three short years, UCS is nipping at the heals of IBM for the #2 spot for Worldwide x86 blade server revenue with 15.2% market share, compared to IBM’s 15.4%.  In fact, Cisco now has over 15,000 customers that have moved from legacy architectures to a more “Unified” approach, combining compute, network and storage access into a single, easy to manage solution. 

 So what’s missing? 

Well, believe it or not, until now it was relatively hard to do business with Cisco.  Quoting and ordering took days instead of minutes.  Well Cisco is changing that with the release of its new online presence called “Cisco Build and Price“, offering direct access to blade server pricing and rack server pricing.

A Simple Approach to Building and Pricing Cisco UCS Servers

Read More »

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More VMworld Redux: Customers Love Cisco Nexus 1000V

VMworld last week was a great success for Cisco (well, if you don’t count the #v0dgeball challenge). Leading up to the show we announced that the ASA 1000V cloud firewall was shipping, we announced a new major release of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, and a new version of our Virtual Network Management Center.

Talking to customers is always the best part of the show, hearing what their challenges are, and positioning our technology to fit their needs. On Wednesday, I met up with Paul O’Leary, an Infrastructure Specialist with the international law firm of King & Wood Mallesons. Paul is a big fan of the Cisco Nexus 1000V and shares why his networking team loves it so much, and how it consistently saves them time in managing their network policies.

We showed Paul some of the features coming out in our next release, like the vCenter plug-in, and vTracker for viewing statistics on the virtual fabric, et al., and he was really excited. Anyway, Paul was good enough to let us share his thoughts with you rather spontaneously, so without any further ado, let’s roll the video:

But wait, there’s more…  Read More »

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So you want a real private cloud?

I had a customer ask me last week what differentiated our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution.  He had reviewed many of the vendors in the space of private cloud software stacks including some of the virtualization vendors and was somewhat impressed to see that overall the industry was making progress in building out these solutions.  He did have a nagging thought in the back of his head that going with many vendors meant he was getting a “prefabricated” cloud experience much in the way prefab homes are offered.

His management wanted a private cloud, wanted it fast, but was not sure exact what a private cloud would look like or how it would operate.  His enterprise had specific needs, whether they be naming conventions for VMs or physical servers, or any number of integration points into 3rd partner products.  What his company really wanted was a home built to their specific needs for their private cloud.  This did not mean a fully custom house, but something that could use standard components  (think of all the standard construction components we use now a days) to build a designed to spec home.

This did not mean they needed high end digs right away but the ability to start in a pragmatic way and to enhance, extend, and build upon that first home.  This requires an underlying framework that can be used to build a company’s first pragmatic cloud and to grow up, much like my 63 year old house in its fourth remodel over the years.  The basic platform is present, we are just making much needed changes to support the needs of 2012.

After we got on the same page about clouds and why he would want to build his companies 5-10 year strategy of cloud on an extensible framework, we moved on to the composition of the solution:  product license, Cisco TAC support, and Cisco Advanced Services.  Given a clear business driver for the private cloud (such as in-sourcing of rogue VMs in the cloud, or driving infrastructure support of elastic business needs, or leverage Cisco network functionality for multi-tenancy) the financial conversation resulted in a positive outcome for both sides.  Of note was that building this individual’s Enterprise Private Cloud means that he was going to consume a good amount of Cisco Advanced Services.  To him this was a good thing as he was leveraging the knowledge and experience of the Cisco team to build and configure his cloud to start out and to scale out.  Just like when I am building a new great room in my house, I want the best people figuring out structural loads, making construction recommendations for extensions and to build out those special design features.

That is the thing about REAL private clouds, they need effort to configure it the way your company wants to operate it.

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