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Is “Cloud in a Box” a Contradiction in Terms?

September 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

As various infrastructure vendors promote “cloud in a box” approaches, at times there seems to be a significant omission with regard to the role of the network in cloud computing architectures. Based on my work on Cisco Cloud Enablement Services, on factors that should influence your Cloud Strategy, I’d like to give you insights into one of the key surprises that came out of our own market research into the challenges of cloud adoption,  that really makes me question those who espouse “cloud in a box” as a marketing message. Or, to expand what they say, their “cloud in a box and let’s forget about the network” message. Do they really ‘get’ what cloud is about?

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Meeting Old Challenges in the New Normal

So it’s more or less official: the recession ended in June 2009. Anyone watching IT departments this year could have told you that. When the economy ramps up, there’s a shift in focus from cost savings and maintenance (back when I was an IT manager, we called it “bunker mode”) to innovation that moves the business forward. And in 2010 we’ve certainly observed that. IT departments are concentrating not only on streamlining operations and lowering costs—an absolute mandate of the recession—but also on innovation that leads to better business operations, greater productivity, and increased revenues—a clarion call of recovery.  Now, this innovation can be in business practice or improved technology—and most likely both—but it almost always begins with IT. Streamlining IT functions, managing assets carefully, and ensuring uninterrupted operations can lower costs, increase reliability, and free resources for research, development, and innovation.

 So it’s back to business as usual running IT departments and data centers in an expanding recovery, right? Wrong.

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Ever Wonder What a UCS Service Profile Actually Looks Like?

A picture really is worth a thousand words. I found this out many times over doing booth duty at IDF and then Oracle Open World recently. We had the UCS Manager Platform Emulator running at IDF, but not at OOW, and being able to actually show people the flexibility, breadth and depth of control you get with the UCS approach to management made a notable difference in the tenor and seriousness of the conversations.

You can download the Platform Emulator from the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) and play with it to get a feel for how UCS Manager is organized. But I wanted to give a nod to the valuable public service provided by Kevin Houston over at BladesMadeSimple: he’s created a YouTube video using the Platform Emulator that walks you through the information and tools available to the administrator(s) in UCS Manager, including the creation of service profiles, templates and pools.  It’s definitely long, but thanks to the soundtrack I found myself wanting to samba as I watched (not that I have the slightest idea how to samba; fortunately nobody was around).  Simply put, it may well be the coolest 15-minute tech video you’ll see all week.

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Data Center Energy Case Study

IP Energy Cisco White PaperIn the spirit of follow where the data leads you; how thoughtful are we in how we plan for and manage the data center?  As an IT industry we spend a lot of time debating what a data center is and how much of an impact it may have on productivity, competitive advantage, security, business continuity and as of late ecologic impact.  This is perhaps why the most senior, challenge-loving type A’s focus their careers on data centers. 

Whatever your definition, a data center represents the physical manifestation of our digital behaviors across a range of activities.  Data centers also support the most mission critical of all our “day job” applications; web services, email, payroll and so on.  So why is it that our “IT” industry is not aggressively applying more collaborative ingenuity to real world challenges?  A complex question of course but what we are happy to share today is an example of what we’ve been able to do over the last year.

Built on a foundation of Cisco Energy Management Technologies and Services we were able to save $1M USD in one year across 11 labs…or data centers depending on your definition.  While this is only a pilot, it serves as a proof of concept for things to come…

The case study and white paper now available…

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Oracle on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS): A Real Evaluation

September 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST


This year Cisco has a growing presence at Oracle Open World with a booth in the exhibition area  comparable in size to the booths of the major server vendors.
Don’t make any mistake . In case you still don’t know, Cisco is in the server market, and has big plans with the unified computing systems (UCS)   and the Cisco Data center Business Advantage architectural framework

As a vendor of servers we talked a lot about performances and benchmarks --  And why not ? After all thanks to  the UCS we have been breaking one after one all the major benchmark records, proving many times, that  our vision and design of server  is the right one.

But I am more interested in what the customers who discovered the unified computing system have to say – So I invited yesterday Brady Reiter, NaviSite General Manager, Enterprise Architecture and Application  for a little and casual conversation in front of the  camera with Alex Krasne one of our blogger.

The NaviSite team is deploying a cloud based platform , that they use to deliver Oracle Application Management – So we asked Brady  what was the business context and  the evaluation process (Cisco vs HP, IBM, Sun) , and what are the results he got so far   -- Here is what Brady  has to say 

I met also Doug Beasley, one of our consulting engineer, who shared with me  some of the amazing capabilities that the Unified Computing System offers to the IT organizations in the context of Oracle applications deployment and management 

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