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Another trend affecting data centers – “Convergence”

Interesting trends are taking root around us and one of them is convergence. The term conjures up different thoughts depending on our background and experiences. Economists may say convergence is the parity of per capita income around the world. Convergence for telecom is the combination of voice, data and entertainment services. So what does it mean for data centers? In one of my recent informal webcast polls of technologists, one opinion was that convergence implied the union of telecom and IT. Reality is that data centers now are the hub and source for voice, video, data and application services.

So if we look at application workloads running in data centers, there are four infrastructure capacity variables -- CPU, Memory, Storage and Network. One approach is to optimize on the utilization of one of these variables. If we decide to optimize on Storage, then it must be virtualized and/or provided as a service. Implementation would involve purchase of the best of breed storage hardware, and building highly skilled teams to manage, tweak and optimize performance of the storage resources. Similarly a COE(Center of Excellence) for servers (CPU and Memory) must be formed for servers and for networks. This implies that any project would involve multiple teams and project management would be a challenge, to put it lightly. This reminds me of my mainframe experience in relation to the distributed platform. We could get an entire application developed, tested and ready to go before getting a RACF id to even access the mainframe.

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Getting to Know your UCS Fabric Interconnect Neighbors

November 10, 2011 at 8:50 am PST

Early in my career I moved quite a bit, new job, growing family, whatever the reason it seemed like every two or three years we were packing up and going to a new place and meeting our new neighbors.

Each new place had its own protocol for getting to know the neighbors, sometimes they came to us other times we had to walk around the block with the kids in tow to make that connection. The benefits of knowing your neighbors are many, who’ll lend you tools, who will help move furniture, etc.

Knowing the device neighbors in you network is just as important and fortunately there is a protocol for that, Cisco Discovery Protocol Cisco Discovery Protocol.  This article is a guide to getting to know your UCS Fabric Interconnects’ neighbors in a manual and automated way.

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Where were the application clouds when I needed them…..

Earlier in my career, I ran a corporate IT and managed services tooling team.   I wish it was garage type tools, but it was IT operational management tools.   My team was responsible for developing and integration a set of ~20 applications that was the “IT for the IT guys”.  It was a great training ground for 120 of us; we worked on the bleeding edge and we were loving it.   We did everything from product management, development, test, quality engineering deployment, production and operational support.  It was indeed an example of eating your own cooking.  Applications where king in our group.  We had .NET, J2EE, JAVA, C, C+, C++ and other languages.  We have custom build and COTS (commercial off the shelf) software applications.

One day on a fateful Friday, my  teenagers happily asleep on a Friday night way past midnight (I guess that made it Saturday), I was biting my nails at 2 AM with my management and technical  team on a concall wondering what went wrong.  We were 5 hours into a major yearly upgrade and Murphy was my co-pilot that night.  I had DBAs, architects, Tomcat experts, QA, load testing gurus, infrastructure jockeys, and everyone else on the phone.  We had deployed 10 new servers that night and were simultaneously doing an upgrade to the software stack.  I think we had 7 time zones covered with our concall.   At least for my compatriots in France it was not too bad; they were having morning coffee in their time zone.  Our composite application was taking 12 seconds to process transactions; it should have taken no more 1.5 secs.    The big question:  can we fix this by Sun at 10 PM when our user base in EMEA showed up for work, or do we (don’t say this to the management)  roll back the systems and application….  I ran out of nails at this point….  My wife came into my dark home office and wondered what the heck was going on…..

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Diving into Big Data

There’s been some activity inside Cisco around big data, particularly with regards to Hadoop running on Cisco’s Nexus switches and UCS servers. A little bit of that work is starting to surface here and there, so I thought it would be a good time to do a little post to aggregate.

If you’re interested in what else Cisco is up to in the exploding world of big data, check out the new page we put up to pull it all together - cisco.com/go/bigdata.

UPDATE: You can catch Jacob Rapp speaking with the folks from Wikibon live at 1:15PM on Wednesday Nov 9th on siliconANGLE.tv

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Word of mouth: UCS passing the ultimate litmus test

November 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm PST

In this recent article by Alex Barret you’ll find some great commentary by customers on the “snowballing” interest around the Cisco Unified Computing System. It follows on the heels of TechTarget’s Virtualization Decisions 2011 Purchasing Intentions Survey where nearly 20% of respondents pointed to UCS as their platform of choice for virtualization.
When you start to see IT professionals recommending a platform to their friends and neighbors you know it’s for real. It’s exciting to see people talking about the tangible benefits that they’re realizing … and they tell the story better than anyone here at Cisco.

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