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Choices in the Data Center

February 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

 

I just wrapped up with a couple of customer briefings this morning that reinforced a trend I have been seeing over the last few months.  For the last couple of years, most of the customers I talked to were in sponge mode--they were absorbing info and trying to wrap their minds around things like unified fabric and virtualization--all while battling things like immediate challenges such as regulatory compliance and infrastructure sprawl.

 

These days, I find our customers much more opinionated--they are asking very pointed questions, pushing back, and generally expressing a more fully formed vision of where they want to go with their data centers.  To be honest, this makes for much more interesting conversations and is generally a positive development.

 

 

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A UCS blade can run any Intel workload on all the mainstream OS’s- Shocking?

February 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

Steve Chambers embarked these days on a series of posts designed to open our eyes to a new approach to IT infrastructure. Sounds ambitious or arrogant? Well, Steve is a well known and respected blogger, who capitalizes on his deep knowledge of Unified Computing systems as a Cisco  Data Center Architect. As Steve Kaplan  another well respected IT blogger wrote on this blog “Excellent post Steve. I write and talk extensively about UCS, but didn’t really think about the benefits described in your Last Thought.”,  

We have been talking extensively about the extended memory technology provided by the UCS. While Steve does not discuss in this blog, it’s definitely a key feature of the UCS that further increases the OS flexibility and ROI he describes.

In his post , Steve is bringing on another key differentiator of the UCS “This post explains how Cisco UCS offers IT infrastructure a new way of working with stateless computing.  You could manage UCS the way you manage any other compute platform with the minimum of change, just like you can drive a Ferrari the same way you’d drive a pick up truck. But should you?  No, you shouldn’t, you’d be wasting a fantastic opportunity”

“So how  does UCS change how you drive your infrastructure?” To answer this question Steve starts with a brief description of four types of workloads (Oracle RAC database, IBM Websphere, Microsoft Windows 2008, VMware vSphere 4) and how these workloads can all run on the same blade type without any human having to reconfigure the compute, network or storage. He then reviews six UCS features (WOW-A, Unified Fabric, Over-commitment, Service Profile, Virtualized CNA and Stateless Computing) which contribute to what Steve describes is “about increasing ROI and reducing complexity, and therefore reducing OpEx”.

This first pass is just the beginning , as Steve will provide in six follow-on posts practical examples of each of these six UCS features

 

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Optimizing your Hosted Virtual Desktop Delivery Architecture

Delivery of hosted virtualized desktops is seeing increasing up take by organizations that want to reduce the cost of deployment and management of end user systems. While desktop virtualization offers many advantages, there are benefits to be gained in performance, scaling and security that can be addressed by choosing the right hosting platform and networking components. By optimizing the network architecture organizations can host and deliver the highest number of view images and users sessions while keeping down the total cost of ownership. 

For example by hosting virtual desktop images on the Cisco Unified Computing System organizations can greatly increase the number of images per server while reducing complexity, by taking advantage of capabilities such as memory capacity, virtualized adaptors, Unified Fabric and centralized management that is integrated with solutions from VMware.

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Networkers at CiscoLive 2010 – Barcelona – Daily Blogger Techminute Day 1

January 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

Today we open the “World of solutions” at 10:00 am  - As experienced in San Francisco at Cisco Live last July, the Data Center of the Future demo  was quickly packed with very interested visitors -  The Data Center of the Future demo is a 15 racks  simulated data center showcasing a complete suite of Data Center partner solutions in a data center environment -  As expected we got  a lot of questions on the Vblocks infrastructure packages  which were presented for the first time  by VMware, Cisco and EMC on a show floor.

Amongst the different data center break-out sessions,  the panel around “Application Mobility across Data Centres”  with Cisco Thomas Scheibe, VMware Ravi Neelakant and NetApp Joel McKelvey  attracted quite a lot of attendees.  Not a big suprise, as this session was dedicated to the architectural evolution in virtual machine (VM) and application mobility across separate data center sites or across different pods in the same data center. Topic we started to address last August
On the networking front,  this session highlighted  a new Cisco solution as a way of extending layer 2 across data centers using an IP core. Additionally, Nexus 1000V Virtual switches provide granular visibility and integration at the VM level. This session also covered Routing optimizations, where optimal and service aware routing is provided to client accessing services running on Virtual Machines which have been VMotioned from one data Center or pod to another. On the Application and Storage front, using VMware’s VMotion and NetApp’s Flexcache Storage technology, customers can achieve Active-Active VMotion with no application downtime while the virtual machine moves. Stay tuned as we will post very soon  some interesting video interviews that we captured today on this topic.

After a long day of videotaping and meeting customers and partners, I invited  bloggers from VMware, EMC and Cisco to join me for a new Daily Blogger Techminute -- It was an opportunity to talk about some of the major data center events of the day including  Nexus 1000 V, the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) panel and Vblocks.

Tomorrow we will have another interesting day.

 

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Networkers at Cisco Live Barcelona 2010 – Daily Blogger Techminute Day 2

January 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

Knowledge is Power.
The Cisco Live 2010 tagline here in Barcelona seems to have been well understood.  Despite a sunny day, the audience was still very eager to participate and learn. Large flows of visitors, and attentive attendees characterized the spirit of this day on the show floor as well as in the conference rooms.  Last time I checked on our data center partners , Panduit ,APC, Intel, EMC, VMware, NetApp  were enjoying  a significant traffic on their booth, making the participation to this event obviously worthwhile.

Another type of partners were eager to participate  and learn – At the Partner Symposium, Cisco, VMware and EMC  shared with our channel partners the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition strategy and efforts to expand the Vblock  partner ecosystem.  Amongst our partners, the  VMware, and/or EMC partners are ready , but EMC as well as VMware are seriously committed to make their best efforts to invite Cisco partners to their network in order to build a robust group of partners able to support a growing demand for Vblocks . This symposium was certainly a great opportunity for the members of the coalition to communicate on  rich set  of partners programs.

The meeting  with Groupe Agrica was another highlight of the day . This Cisco VMware EMC French customer is an insurance conglomerate, which  manages retirement, injury, health care and saving plans for employees in the agricultural sector.  Groupe Agrica is also well known, as it was one of the fist company to roll out a VDI project with VMware View. Today, Groupe Agrica manage 200 Virtual Servers running on 20 ESX hosts, and 550 Virtual Desktops running on 8 ESX hosts. Almost 99% of servers are virtualized yet. Groupe Agrica is also one of the first user of Nexus 1000V, as well as an early adopter of unified fabric and  FCoE on Nexus 5000.
The presentation of Julien Mousqueton , Groupe Agrica’s Data Center Architect, generated a ton of interest and a lot of questions from an audience eager to collect  customer details on the challenges , best practices and benefits of these migrations.The deployment of a suite of Cisco Nexus virtual switches, combined with VMware vSphere management tools, facilitated cooperation between server and networking teams and resolved challenges arising from this infrastructure consolidation project . According to Julien, “The combination of these solutions allows our IT teams to discover new benefits to virtualized infrastructure because we can now administer a network in avirtual environment the same way as we have done in the physical world, and it is simplified and intuitive.”
I will come back very soon with video interviews of Julien Mousqueton. Stay tuned.

Tonight, before an outstanding appreciation show  with good music, nice food and wonderful artist , I invited bloggers from VMware and NetApp  to share with us the experience of the day. It was an opportunity to talk about the Cisco VMware NetApp January 26th announcement around secure multi-tenancy design architecture

Tomorrow is the last day of Barcelona Networkers at Cisco Live 2010, with a new series of break-out sessions and the well expected super session with David Lawler  on “Data Centre Virtualisation Architecture”

 

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