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Designing Unified Fabric Products Before Unified Fabric Existed

Designing a (successful) product is always tricky; first of all, you need to properly define and wisely select your product requirements. But whatever market segment you are in, your product requirements will change over time. No matter how good you are at predicting market dynamics. Typically, it’s “simpler” to address this variability if your product has relatively short development cycles and if the switching cost for your customers is low. In such conditions, you might lose a cycle but you can get back in your market, with the right product, within few months. Consumer space could fit this description for example. The problem with networking products in particular is that development cycles are instead certainly long: 12, 18, sometimes 24 months from product definition to availability. More importantly, from a customer perspective, the investment involved in networking gears is significant and the product life is expected to span over multiple years to maximize the Return On Investment (ROI). Read More »

Virtualization Breaks Everything – The Internet is Next…

The Virtual Machine is like Neo in The Matrix. The IT world shapes itself around the VM. Remember the ‘Classic 3-Tier network architecture with Layer-2 and Layer-3 segmentation, a standard address hierarchy, and consistent policies????, Burn it. Throw it away. It is dead. Fundamentally virtualization broke the network. Fortunately we are not alone. Virtualization broke the servers, shifted the information to centralized pools (SAN or NAS in most cases) , and reforged operational processes. Virtualization as a technology and its associated capabilities is more important to IT leadership than legacy server architectures, legacy network architectures, and legacy storage architectures. To quote Bob Dylan, The Times they are A-Changin’. (coincidentally what I am listening to right this second… Up next All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix version))Why? Why is it so groundbreaking, so transformative? Why not just keep doing things the way we have been? Why is virtualization more valuable than 10-15 years of best practice? Read More »

A Plumber’s Guide: Great Architecture Needs Great Infrastructure, Part 3

The London Underground. The Tube. The first subway system. This system showcases the value of multi-nodal designs and symmetric traffic capabilities in creating a high-value system. The more nodes connected to a network, the more valuable the network is -- gestalt. This is the reason the Internet is the valuable communications medium that it is today -- the most valuable communications medium ever. image Read More »

Will a Unified Fabric Kill Fibre Channel for Storage Area Networks? No Way!

Over the week-end I was reading this article on unified fabric and storage and in particular a sentence surprised me:

The likelihood is that storage arrays will be linked to the Nexus in this scheme by Ethernet and not Fibre Channel. MDS9000 Fibre Channel fabric switches won’t appear in this setup because including Fibre Channel will be the very antithesis of a unified fabric.

Let me give you my perspective on this. Fibre Channel is all but the antithesis of a unified fabric, it’s part and parcel of it and it’s here to stay, as independent technology or co-existing with other connectivity options, including FCoE. Which by definition is Fibre Channel, simply carried over Ethernet. And MDS 9000 Family, Cisco Storage Area Networks, is a critical component of Cisco Unified Fabric strategy to support Fibre Channel, Storage Services and, in the future, FCoE connectivity to complete the unification of SAN and LAN. I talk a lot to customers, journalists, analysts and the question about the disruptive introduction of FCoE does come up all the time. And it comes up in a consistent variety (what an oxymoron!) of ways. Is FCoE going to kill Fibre Channel (and hence is Cisco not investing anymore in MDS 9000 product line)? Is FCoE going to kill iSCSI? Or is iSCSI going to kill FCoE (and maybe Fibre Channel too, why not?) I typically split my answer in two parts: the first about technology, the second about Cisco approach to technologies in general. It helps a lot to clarify how the future (and Cisco commitment) of the storage industry will shape.

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Unified Fabric: A Technology for Tough Times — Real, Shipping and in Production

As I read about forced industry consolidations and our competitor’s ambitious plans to catch up with Cisco to deliver Unified Fabric years from now, it makes me realize the power and effect of Cisco Unified Fabric vision. While these companies have just started to work on these “me too” plans and may or may not be able to deliver even years from now, Cisco customers are already reaping the benefits delivered by Cisco Nexus switch products based on Unified Fabric architecture. Read More »