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Part 3 – The Winchester House and the Strategic Imperative for Architectural-led IT Evolution and Transformation

October 7, 2011 at 9:30 am PST

An “architectural-led” approach to your data center, indeed to your overall IT architecture, given the previous discussion in part 1 and part 2 of this blog, is therefore a strategic imperative for progressive organisations.   We in Cisco don’t want to see your IT architecture have problems analogous to the Winchester House.  So how can you achieve an “architectural-led” approach?  I’ll cover 5 key recommendations in this, my final part of this trilogy :-).

Avoiding the Winchester House Scenario for your IT Architecture

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Cisco UCS Servers and Blade Server Evolution, part 1

Arguably the place to begin a Cisco UCS blade server journey would be with “Why Blade Servers”.  ‘Blades’ are cool.  There was “Blade Runner” (a cult classic) and the Wesley Snipes “Blade” movies, several TV series with ‘blade’ in the name, on and on; but for data centers and servers?  Why blades?  Where is the Blade Server TCO & ROI benefit that drives business decisions and therefore innovation and how do blade servers / chassis get there?

Before:

Blade servers have been around since about year 2000 and arguably came about as a way to make data center footprints smaller and reduce power consumption (reduced TCO).  Nothing new here for blade enthusiasts.  Rack servers were taking up more and more space and power in data centers.  The concept of blades was brilliant, insightful and simple. Take as many common rack delivered functionalities (services) as possible, and package them together for delivery to a fixed group of servers.  The easy targets for this were server power, cooling, and I/O (well, some I/O functions).  To look at it another way, a blade chassis takes a data center rack with servers, I/O cables and switches, then shrinks them into a ‘building block unit’.  Once you have the ‘unit’, put a single sheet metal wrapper around everything and voila, a blade chassis.  Overly simplistic I know, but a close enough visual.  If you want a step-by-step evolution, Sean McGee (a colleague of mine here at Cisco) did a darn good overview The “Mini-Rack” Approach To Blade Server Design.

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Mobile apps and the data center

The demise of Apple’s Steve Jobs is a big loss to the tech industry. He was instrumental in changing the way we consume digital media and communicate. With the unveiling of the iPhone 4s, this week, I wonder if it would change my life any further than cell phones and mobile devices already have. Gone are the days when I called friends ahead of time to get directions to their house. Heck, I don’t even bother reconfirming directions to places I vaguely remember. All because I can count on my cell phone to call the friend in case I get lost (happened to me last week).

Will cell phones and other mobile devices change the way I work more than they already have? Will they change how data centers are managed? If the recent spate of news is any indication I think the answer is yes! What do you think?

According to a recent paper on biomedical-engineering-online.com titled How smartphones are changing the face of mobile and participatory healthcare, “Indeed, Georgetown Medical School in the USA, for example, is now requiring every medical student to have an iPhone, and surgeons are finding the device (and its apps) very useful in improving their diagnostic skills and education .” Closer to home, I found some iPhone applications written specifically for the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). One iPhone application , SiMU, monitors the UCS. A second application allows users to find the technical specification of UCS components. Another UCS Systems Management ecosystem partner, Cloupia even has an iPad app to manage the FlexPod -- an integrated server and storage data center offering that includes Cisco UCS.

Flexpod Management

I also found some android apps like the one shown in this video below. Another application named UCSand monitors UCS blade systems.

Android application

Remote management is not new, but these mobile devices provide new ways to handle data center management. Clearly these apps are a starting point of changes yet to come in the way we monitor and manage data centers. I would expect the number and variety of applications to only grow, and at times radically change the way we work. Do you agree?

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Interop NY – From the Expo Floor

I was given the opportunity to walk around the expo floor at Interop NY 2011 today before I spent some time working in the booth, speaking with customers, and presenting in our theater on the show floor. There were many good conversations around the value proposition of UCS, the magic of service profiles (UCS Manager) to drive automation into server management and reduce operator time spent on tedious configuration chores, the new Nexus 7009, and Cisco’s Virtualized Multi-Tenant Data Center (VMDC) solution design for private and service provider clouds.

Here’s a quick video showing the booth very busy right after the 10:30AM opening of the show floor and a couple of interviews with attendees and bloggers Matthew Norwood (@matthewnorwood) and Andrew von Nagy (@revolutionwifi) about what they are looking for at Interop.

Follow along on twitter @ciscoDC and on the Cisco Data Center blog for updates from both Interop NY and Oracle OpenWorld from San Francisco. For details on sessions and demos, check out the Interop New York 2011 Cisco event page.

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Cisco John Chambers brought a lot of substance today at Oracle OpenWorld

October 5, 2011 at 11:42 am PST

Some people with probably think that I drank the Kool aid- Well our CEO and Chairman did a fantastic job this morning as a key note speaker at Oracle OpenWorld! Not as controversial as other CEOs , but certainly a speech which makes employees very proud to work for Cisco.

John McAbel who has been involved in the preparation of this speech warned me couple of days ago

“We are very excited to have John Chambers at Oracle OpenWorld this year.  It’s the first year he is a key note speaker in four years at the conference  I think it’s a reflection of the growth of the UCS within the Oracle ecosystem  We have now hundreds of customers who are running UCS today , many of these customers are running large Oracle mission critical workload, such as EMC, Qualcom, University of Colarado, and others . So I think that John being here is a reflection of this growth, but also of the overall commitment of the partnership between the two companies Openworld in fact runs on Cisco networking gear and we  run a lot of Cisco on  Oracle eBusiness  Suite  and  Oracle data base . So there is a nice synergy between the two companies

I think you’ll find this  key notes unlike other key notes at Oracle OpenWorld , where we are going to have demonstration on stage of Cisco UCS running Oracle codes, we are also going to show how we can take that technology to help improve how customers will process words and some of the processes you will find them entertaining !”

- He was right !I saw this morning a constant flow of appreciative tweets on John’s speech Here are some of them starting with  Marc Benioff  from SalesForce.com  “John Chambers is delivering one of the best keynotes in our industry. Watching him is humbling. He is as good as they get.”( @benioff)

“Have to say, Cisco CEO John Chambers is an excellent speaker, nice mix of biz, tech and vision RT “(@mfauscette)
“That winds up John Chambers. Impressive talk! I learned a lot.”(@Oracleheretic)
“Keynotes focusing on substance, not style issues. Other keynoters should take note, emulate“(@carterlusher)
“Vendors that speak at industry conf’s should replay John Chambers #oow11 keynote. Very  good balance of Thought Leadership + Product Pitch” (@sameerpatel)
“John Chambers is the best speaker in our industry. #oow11 He sets the bar.”
“Bold & consistent if nothing else” (@ca_bshimmin)
“Great ideas! John Chambers, Cisco President, at Oracle OpenWorld”

I will not go through all the rich content of this entertaining and some times provocative speech  (“If you agree with everything I say today, I haven’t done my job”. John Chambers).  I hope to be very soon in a position to point to a the slide deck or even the recording of the speech -- So stay tuned
But here are some talking points (as perceived by the audience) , as well as the first reactions  on this speech about change from The Register and The New York Time

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