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Cisco UCS Business Advantage Delivered: Radically Simplified Data Center Management

In my last blog I focused on the architectural differences between traditional blade servers and Cisco UCS. Although I touched on the issue of management complexity,  let’s take a closer  look into how operational costs are affected by the cost of provisioning, monitoring, and managing your infrastructure.

According to many industry studies, roughly 70% of current IT budgets are allocated to maintenance activities with only 30% allocated to innovation. This spending imbalance comes from the fact that maintaining infrastructure is hard.  Much of the difficulties are caused by the “accidental architecture” of management systems that have been put in place as an afterthought. For example, a traditional blade server chassis with 16 blades can have anywhere from 13 to 20 management interfaces!

Then you want to add virtualization on top of this environment? It is no wonder IT departments are struggling to meet cost objectives and run day-to-day operations smoothly!

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Open Networking Summit, Day 1

So, I hit the tutorials at the Open Networking Summit, yesterday.  Going back over my notes, some of my musings from the day:

  • There is certainly a lot of energy and passion around SDN–it was cool to see what all the folks were showing in their booths.  Granted, half these folks are trying to put me out of a job, but hey, that’s life in Silicon Valley.  In general, a fun day.
  • There certainly seems to be a lot of technical dogma for such a nascent technology.  Cloud went through the same sorts of growing pains with arguments around architecture and technology.  I think the sooner we can move beyond SDN being solely defined by a particular technology or protocol and start looking at SDN as a set of characteristics and capabilities, the better off we will all be.
  • SDN will continue the trend of moving the IT decision-making center of gravity outside of IT and towards the lines of businesses (LoBs). Cloud kicked off this trends and I believe SDN will continue it.  SDN will allow LOBs to assert more direct control, which is good, but, there is some maturing that needs to happen.  I heard a number of folks refer to OpenFlow as the networking equivalent of the x86 instruction set.  I don’t completely agree with the analogy, but it is illustrative.  I am not sure there are many LoBs out there that want to be directly manipulating flow tables any more than they want to writing in machine code.  Most LOB-based developers are using Java or Python or the like, not assembly language.   Cloud had its almost vertical adoption curve because the barrier to entry was pretty low–pull out your AmEx and, bam, you are in business. Huge potential with SDN, but still work to be done.
  • Speaking of which, there are some use cases like hyper-scale DCs and service providers, where SDN lets you do some cool things that are truly move the needle for them.  In the enterprise, I still don’t see the killer apps.  Talking to enterprise customers, most kinda shrug about SDN and question what it offers that they currently cannot do.  For enterprise traction, the conversation really needs to show how it moves the ball forward.  Kudos to Rakesh Saha from IBM yesterday for being one of the few folks to show how SDN can potential move the needle.

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Cisco and Microsoft’s Private Cloud Fast Track Program

This morning at Microsoft’s Management Summit event here in Las Vegas Microsoft announced their new Private Cloud Fast Track program. Cisco is pleased to be recognized as a charter member of this program. Private Cloud Fast Track, a joint effort between Microsoft and Cisco, enables our clients to quickly get up and running with pre-configured Windows Server & Hyper-V based private clouds utilizing Cisco UCS, Nexus, and UCS Manager technology.

At Cisco we believe we are moving to an interconnected “World of Many Clouds” – our Fast Track offerings will enable our clients who choose a Microsoft private cloud environment to quickly activate and deliver an agile, efficient, and simple IT infrastructure.

Learn more about Cisco’s Microsoft solutions and capabilities at


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More Musings on SDN and OpenFlow

Just in time for the Open Networking Summit, we are ready to tease a bit more of what we are doing on the Software Defined Networking front. David Ward has posted some really intriguing musings on SDN.  Its a really good read and it should give you some hints on our thinking not the topic.  If you don’t know David, he is über smart and quite entertaining–he is also the current chair of the Technical Advisory group at ONF, so he knows of what he speaks.

For those of you at ONS this week, David will be speaking on a panel on Wednesday @ 2pm.

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Cisco’s UCS Manager and PowerTool: Optimally Managing Microsoft Environments

Many of us at Cisco who focus on the world of Microsoft are in Las Vegas, NV this week for Microsoft’s Management Summit 2012 (MMS 2012) event. Management has been a key focus area for our Cisco® Unified Computing System (UCS) family since the beginning and we have made extensive investments in management technologies.

Our Unified Management solutions afford seamless management and control of physical and virtual server environments and extend via integration into Microsoft’s System Center family. At MMS 2012 we will be showcasing our new infrastructure management tool offerings for Cisco UCS, UCS Manager, and System Center, specifically:

  • The Cisco UCS Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, enabling IT staff to monitor health status for 1-to-N Cisco UCS domains.
  • The Cisco UCS Integration Pack for Microsoft System Center Orchestrator, helping administrators automate and standardize UCS management.
  •  Integration of Cisco UCS with Windows PowerShell through the Cisco UCS PowerTool, enabling administrators to manage infrastructure alongside operating systems and applications on UCS B-series, C-series, and stand-alone C-series servers by using a command line interface.
  • The UCS Manager XML API, providing a common programmatic means of managing Cisco UCS.

These new technologies can help IT staffs manage and orchestrate server and networking infrastructure and the Microsoft software stack holistically. Organizations can build on this foundation to achieve a data center that is integrated, with the network as the core foundation for innovation; highly available within and between data centers; and open, through support for standards and innovation for the best possible integration across systems.

To test drive UCS Manager, please visit: .

To download PowerTool and our Microsoft System Center management packs, please visit: .

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