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OpenFlow: “Pulling networking into the application stack”

Recently, we announced our participation in the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).  As you may know, ONF is focused on defining a software interface enabling the programming of how packets are forwarded through a switched network as defined in the OpenFlow Switch Specification. Beyond this, ONF is also focused on developing an abstracted software interface that management tools can access.  At the end of the day, ONF is looking to advance OpenFlow and and make it easier for customers to fine-tune, manage and adapt their networks.  In addition to Cisco, the organization includes Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, Force10, HP, IBM, Juniper, Marvell, NEC, Netgear, Verizon, and VMware.

I sat down with Paul McNab, VP/CTO of the Data Center Switching and Services Group, who is leading this effort at Cisco, to get some answers on what this all means.

Omar Sultan: Paul, many industry pundits did not expect us to do this and their reactions were kinda entertaining. So, why did Cisco decide to do this?

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Cisco UCS Leads the Industry in Server Performance and Productivity

On April 5th, 2011, Cisco participated in the Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 Product Family Announcement with NINE new world record performance benchmark results highlighting the Cisco Unified Computing System’s outstanding performance and IT productivity across key data center workloads. Cisco also announced the broadening of its server portfolio with the introduction of the Cisco UCS C260 enterprise server, an Intel Xeon processor E7 family based platform designed for most data demanding business critical IT challenges. The Cisco Unified Computing System’s outstanding performance benchmark results are highlighted in the Intel® Xeon® processor E7 Family-based Platform Performance Highlights (April 5, 2011) announcement.

Fundamentally, this record setting performance further reinforces the Cisco Unified Computing System’s ability to deliver next generation compute across bare-metal, high performance computing (HPC) and in the most complex virtualization and cloud computing environments in the data center. Check out the Performance Brief for additional information on the nine new Cisco UCS world record benchmarks. The detailed benchmark disclosure reports are available here.

So the momentum continues…In two short years, the Cisco UCS has captured over 40 world records for performance and IT productivity taking its place among the most trusted server vendors on the market. Check out the Cisco Unified Computing System™ Performance Leadership Presentation.  

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If SAP Applications are installed and run on the Cisco Unified Computing System server platform, but no one knows about it, do they really run?

The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) server platform was introduced 2 years ago.  The first SAP installation on this platform happened shortly after that.  Yet when CIO’s and Application Architects are asked if they plan on running their SAP instances on UCS, many times their initial response is, “huh”.

Companies who run their business on SAP, can take no chances.  If their application shuts down, so does their business, costing them, depending upon the size of the business, millions of dollars a day and in some cases millions of dollars an hour.  So why should they take a chance on running their application on a two year old Cisco server platform?

The reasons actually are very compelling:

  1. Cisco is a top tier server hardware partner with SAP
  2. Cisco is already a SAP hardware partner selected and certified for HANA
  3. Cisco is a SAP hardware partner selected and certified for Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA)
  4. The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Server Platform was designed from the ground up, for virtualization
  5. The unique design of the UCS motherboard allows for up to four times the memory slots per blade chassis; no expansion chassis required.  You can either increase the memory on your blade using 16GB DIMMS to satisfy software requirements or use more of the smaller 8GB DIMMS, utilizing the additional memory slots, satisfying your memory requirements and spending less.
  6. UCS blades are stateless and use software-based Service Profiles to manage the server.  This means that you set up a profile once and are able to attach or reassign that profile to any blade added or already in use.  In some cases this saves 2 to 3 days of configuration time and allows the blade to become active in as little as 30 minutes.
  7. Virtual Interface Cards are used in the Unified Computing System.  You can assign 128 VM’s to a VIC.  2 cards are allocated per server.  Instead of having 256 cables behind your server you now have 2.

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What’s going on in Allen, Texas April 15 ?

So what do you think is happening this week on April 15 in Allen, Texas ?
As a reminder for people like me , who have a limited understanding in geography without a GPS, Allen is a city  in Collin County  Texas , United States and a northern suburb of Dallas. As of the 2010 census the city had a total population  of 84,246 (source Wikipedia)
So according to Marci Moon from the Dilly-O,  Jack Ingram will be in town on April15 !

Good news for the music  fans, but in fact what really matters here is that Cisco will open a new state-of-the-art data center.
And you will have the opportunity to participate  to the Live Internet Broadcast, featuring Rebecca Jacoby, Senior VP and John Manville VP IT  Network & Data Center Services

So what is this data center : Here is the official description
The state-of-the-art facility showcases Cisco’s data center products with a high-density footprint and the latest green technologies. Many Cisco data center technologies are used, including Unified Computing System, Nexus switches, MDS storage switches, Security, and more. Together, the Allen and Richardson, Texas, data centers enable Cisco to provide world-class business resiliency for critical business applications. These two facilities will run in active/active mode, meaning that even a catastrophic failure of either data center will not disrupt mission critical systems.

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Cisco customer Chinese University of Hong Kong selected as finalist for the SNW Best Practices Award

Congratulations to Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) which met  the stringent criteria defined by Computerworld, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), and SNW, we are proud of our customer’s achievement.


About the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
CUHK transformed its IT infrastructure with Cisco Data Center Business Advantage Architecture.  With more than 14,300 post-graduate and undergraduate students from Hong Kong and 1,300 students from overseas and mainland China, CHUK also has more than 1,400 faculty staff and 5,100 administrative staff supported by its IT department, the Information Technology Services Centre (ITSC).

IT Infrastructure
The entire campus is connected to the University Campus Backbone Network via high-speed Gigabit Ethernet links, and connections within the campus network are via high speed 10 Gigabit or Gigabit Ethernet links.  Students have 24/7 access to computers in the ITSC, and some faculties and departments also provide students with their own personal computers.

CH Cheng, associate director of ITSC and head of the Infrastructure Division explains, “Our users have high expectations of the data center infrastructure. They want faster and more flexible provisioning as well as lower cost.”

CH Cheng

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