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I <3 Fibre Channel

January 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm PST

I was reminded this week of how much perception is driven by perspective.  In this case, it was because of our advocacy of FCoE.  I was exchanging messages with one individual who interpreted this as an attempt to undermine Fibre Channel (FC) and send it to an early grave.  At the same time I was exchanging messages with someone else who felt we should not be wasting out time on FC and be spending more time and effort on IP-based storage.  Needless to say, I found the contradiction entertaining, but I thought it might be worthwhile exploring these sentiments a bit.

“Doesn’t Cisco want to get rid of Fibre Channel?”

This one is easy--nothing could be further from the truth.  We are committed to FC for the long haul because, simply, our customers are committed to FC. At the end of the day, in the enterprise, FC is still the standard against which other solutions will be judged for performance and availability. Even if customers make the decision to adopt IP-based storage, there is going to be a huge amount of data thats going to stay in the FC domain.  It may stay put or be migrated slowly as part of normal refresh, but the end result is that FC is not going away anytime soon. From our perspective, we will continue to invest in FC as long as our customers tell us its important.  Lest you doubt that, look at the updates to our Cisco MDS family over the last year and also remember that we still sell gear with Token Ring interfaces.

“Why spend time on Fibre Channel protocols?”

This is a fine question.  To paraphrase bank robber Willie Sutton, we’re investing the time in FCoE because that’s where the data is.  One of our primary data center design tenets is a unified fabric at the access layer for its TCO and functional benefits. We are agnostic about how you do that, whether its via IP-based storage or FCoE.  From a practical perspective, as noted above, for most enterprise customers, their data is sitting in an FC domain, so any convergence strategy needs to take that into account. And while the storage folks may not care what we are doing at the server access layer, they are certainly not looking for their lives to be made any more complicated.  Hence, we have FCoE.

At the end of the day, storage strategy shouldn’t be technology-dependent.  The next-gen data center is going to need to support the ability of apps to grab data wherever it happens to be sitting: on IP-based storage, FC-based storage, or in a cloud somewhere, which is what we are ultimately helping our customers prepare for.

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Cisco Completeness of Vision and Execution Ability in the 2010 Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controller

Cisco’s placement was evaluated on both completeness of vision and the ability to execute in the “Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers (WOC)” authored by Severine Real, Andy Rolfe, and Joe Skorupa and published in December, 2010.

Gartner 2010 MQ

2010 Gartner MQ for WOC

In addition to our position in the 2010 Gartner MQ Report, Cisco introduced WAAS 4.3 software in December 2010, which provides a rich and comprehensive portfolio of innovations such as virtual WAAS (vWAAS), WAAS central management for the WAAS Express, and improved optimizations for Cloud (SaaS) applications like Microsoft Office 365.  These most recent innovations and significant customer wins in the recent quarters showcase Cisco WAAS market leadership.
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Why the Network Matters for Virtualization and Cloud Computing

I’ve written before (here, here, and here) that Cloud Computing is more than some cool software running on a server. Sure, the applications are the sizzle on the steak (+ all the marketing terms -- dynamic, elastic, on-demand, etc.), but there’s a little more to it than that. A user needs to access the application, get the information quickly (or sent it information), and feel confident that the information was delivered securely. The application doesn’t always know what type of device will access it (PC, Mac, Browser, Tablet, Smartphone, etc.), so it can’t be 100% sure it’ll deliver the best user-experience.  And users will demands that applications continue to run regardless of the mobile device’s location. All those demands on applications get a lot easier, and in some cases require, an intelligent network providing the infrastructure.

But people often forget those details because they have become so accustomed to a robust network always being there. They might struggle to define the value of that network, just as Kodak did in defining “original technology” in the famous Mad Men episode (Carousel).

Don’t take my word for it, hear what Cisco Cloud CTO Lew Tucker had to say during a recent set of meetings with industry analysts -- here, here, here, here and here. Read More »

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UCS And Your Management Universe

I’ve mentioned our diverse management partner ecosystem more than a few times. This naturally leads to a couple of different questions for a lot of people:

1.       Why does Cisco rely on 3rd party software providers for monitoring, provisioning/configuration, and service orchestration? And

2.       Which tool does Cisco recommend?

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“Cisco should have made this version 2.0”

As you may have already noticed, we released UCS Manager v1.4 in late December. While I was busy cooking and eating my way through the holidays, others were less fatteningly and more productively engaged with checking it out. Here’s what they had to say:

First, our own Sean McGee provided an excellent overview of the new features on his personal blog.

Cisco partner Dave Alexander talked about the implications of direct-attach storage capabilities

Customer Michael Heil was upgrading to 1.3 in mid-December, and then promptly did another upgrade to 1.4 a couple of weeks later.  His in-the-moment reaction is here.

Cisco partner Jeremy Waldrop posted about his favorite features, too--different things than Mike.

And thanks to v1.4, we already have a customer signing on to UCS for a blade/rackmount combo architecture.