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A Model for Open Platform Development

I was discussing the Apple Victory this weekend with a lot of friends. Personally, I think the mobile platform war was just won, or darn close to it, and even naysayers must admit it was a major offensive that opened the battle on a new front. (Think Battle of Normandy, 1944). What I really appreciate though is the brilliance of the development model and what was retained in the ‘closed’ portions of the platform that to me are a master-stroke. The application acquisition, commercial transaction, and catalog are all maintained as part of Apple’s infrastructure. Subtly, but I think potentially most important for on-going development and adoption is the retention of the ongoing application upgrade cycle, version control so to speak. Apple built the application upgrade model centrally and into a core part of the mobile app delivery platform. Most importantly in the end, Apple is masterful in consumerizing IT, making technology fun, cool, and approachable. There are many lessons we can learn from this, lessons that go back to Cisco’s core as a company such as: Why do static routes when dynamic routing protocols make things simpler and easier; why run 4 routing protocols when you can run one for multiple network protocols, etc. In then end revolutionary developments, market entrances, and new operating models for open platform development like this set a good bar for all of the technology industry. So while applauding Apple’s success and style in this announcement and achievement, I also want to ensure that we take away some very positive lessons learned about platform development, and IT simplification.dg

Q&A with John McCool on Virtualization in the Network

Jim Duffy from Network World just posted a solid interview with John McCool, our SVP of the Data Center Technology Group here at Cisco. (I sorta work for John so be nice on the comments, okay?) but this is a really good snapshot synopsis of how we are approaching optimizing the network for future broader deployments of virtualization, especially some of the advanced capabilities virtualization technologies enable such as disaster recovery, VM portability/mobility, and VM segmentation. John also gives some good leading indicators as to how our network platforms are evolving and what the future holds for key investments such as our Catalyst 6500 Series and Cisco Nexus Family of Data Center switches.

‘Green’ Business, not just DC

Sitting here in Data Center land I often write about how we can drive energy efficiency in the data center, of course. But there was a nice article on TechSoup today showcasing some of the comments our VP of Green Engineering, Paul Marcoux, made about the potential benefits of collaboration technologies and Unified Communications in driving a tremendous reduction in carbon emissions, potentially greater than that of your data centers alone. Employee commutes, both from the home to the office and then from office to office, and then the ever present flight out to meet customers and ‘hit the field/road’” creates a tremendous cost center and carbon footprint. Some costs the business has to bear, others the employee does. I am not going to be so bold as to advocate permanent telecommuting for all work-types as there have been some efforts in creating work-spaces that are shared by multiple businesses, located along mass transit lines, and that then use collaboration technologies like TelePresence to link them back to the main HQ or Campus locations in the area. The participating companies in many cases then subsidize the mass transit fares for the employee base as well.Collaboration technologies benefit from Virtualization technologies in the Data Center to allow for more efficient implementation of the technology, lowering the cost of deployment and operations of these ever more critical technologies.

On Graphs and Plugging Devices In

Enjoying being back in the office after a few days of travel and lots of wonderful customer visits at CiscoLive (ne Networkers) the other week. A special thanks to everyone who did the Video Blogging with us, some of those were pure comedic genius, others quite insightful. But on to today’s point or thought du jour….Power draw is not an absolute. Devices will vary in the amount of power it takes throughout the course of time in which workload is processed, sometimes a switch is forwarding packets, sometimes not, sometimes it needs buffers, sometimes not, some traffic takes more lookups than other traffic, and so on so forth. i.e. power draw is variable based on the type of workload being done.If we can take this as a given that would help me a bit here. I would like to offer up ‘nominal use case’ test results for most/many of our products showing how much power they draw. Right now we have moved forward and provide an accurately measured number based on the data center devices being resident in a controlled temperature facility operating somewhere int he 20-25C range. This is available on our Data Center Assurance Program tool today. In the future though I see this less as an absolute, and courtesy of a good discussion with Paul Marcoux I see it as more or a graph with multiple slopes represented.We need to show power draw under different load factors, in different thermal conditions, with different features turned on or off, and in the end still provide a nominal use case number for planning purposes to get us started with proper planning information.This begs the question though- why did one of our competitors recently shout from the rooftops while wrapping themselves in a green flag and decrying the ‘Cisco Energy Tax’ and talk about how much more efficient their infrastructure is… …when the test had the switches unplugged, no traffic going them, and no real-world features in use? I think I may have to offer an answer, spicy/snarky as it may be: Because for this competitor in particular the nominal use case is that their infrastructure remains unplugged, with no traffic going through it, with no real world features turned on? I am not sure the industry will ever, or could ever, resolve to a one-size fits all test scenario. What we can do is test as accurately as possible, inform openly about what our products can and cannot do and how efficiently then can do this function, and continue to innovate in ways that will ultimately reduce the power draw required to process workload, store the results of it, and communicate to other servers, storage, apps, and end users. dgP.S. the ultimate problem though, and challenge, is that which scenario below is best?1) Business Problem A uses Application X. It runs on 100 Quad-Core servers at 85% efficiency via a superior interconnect that enables built-in clustering and automated load balancing. It has a distributed clustered storage file system with 65% storage utilization efficiency. 2) Same Business Problem A using Application Y. It runs on 10 Dual-Core Servers at 15% efficiency on a standard Ethernet network. It uses a central SAN (eitehr FCoE, iSCSI, or FC to avoid argument) and the storage utilization is also at 65% efficiency.By some measures Scenario 1 is most effective. By other measures Scenario 2 is. The challenge to those that intend to standardize power draw measurements is to ensure that your test methodology picks the right one.

Multi-cores and Megabits

July 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

Anwar Ghuloum recently posted to the Intel Research blog about the conversations they are having with developers around developing for multi-core and terascale environments. To quote Anwar: “Ultimately, the advice I’ll offer is that these developers should start thinking about tens, hundreds, and thousands of cores now in their algorithmic development and deployment pipeline.” Read More »