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A Plumber’s Guide: Great Architecture Needs Great Infrastructure, Part 2

Last week we discussed the role of the lowly plumber in building the Dutch country of the Netherlands, reclaiming land masses from the sea, and ensuring that the hardy Dutch traders had a port to call home. It is amazing that infrastructure, designed hundreds of years ago, can still be so valuable today if you have the right architectural vision and scalable engineering approach that turns the vision into a reality.My good friend Silvano Gai commented on this post wanting to discuss the plumbing value that was delivered in the great Roman aqueducts, some built two millennia ago that still serve the city of Roma today! Silvano, a Cisco Fellow and great technology architect, must also be prescient, because today’s installment of this series is about the aqueduct.The Roman aqueducts are certainly the most notable, and aqueducts have been particularly associated with Roman engineering. Aqueducts have been in use for thousands of years -- in the 7th century BC the Assyrians built a 50-mile long aqueduct to carry water across a valley to their capital of Nineveh. The ability to carry water, vital for agrarian society, from a source such as a river, well, stream, spring, et cetera to the location where you want to grow a population center created the first utility.City growth was dependent then, and still is today, on available clean water. The cultural shift from hunter-gatherer to agrarian societies was amplified by the engineering feat of irrigation, compounded again by the distance you were able to transport this vital resource.In essence the value of a utility is amplified or compounded by the distance you can effectively distribute the resource the utility provides. In the city of Rome the aqueducts totaled over 260 miles and set a standard of engineering that was not surpassed for more than a thousand years. A network of aqueducts built an area of seven hills into a metropolis that was the capital of an empire, and the most cultured city of its time. This network that carried water from its source to the client in Rome enabled Rome to support a population of 1,000,000 people in 44 BC to 120 AD -- a number not again seen in Rome until the mid 1930s.Some myopic companies readily dismiss the value of plumbing -- but just like the Dutch owe their land to good plumbing -- we can all look to the golden age of Rome, and to the acceleration of a shift from hunter-gatherer to agrarian societies and thank the lowly plumber for ensuring the world’s first utility was available to create the masses that created the civilizations we know, and many significant cultural, religious, and political icons.dg

Cloud Computing and Package Mobilty

February 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

So, I am a big picture kinda guy, for better or for worse, and, while there are a number of really smart folks working on the plumbing behind cloud computing, from a go-to-market perspective, I have been wondering about what needs to happen to cross that tipping point. Read More »

Techwise TV Episode 42 – EnergyWise

Stay tuned for this Thursdays episode of Techwise TV. I love their tagline “technology you can understand from geeks you can trust”. Let me tell you first hand this is true. Some background on how this show evolved I think is worth a post. So we had recently done TWTV episode 36 on our solutions in the Data Center that improve energy efficiency and whether I like it or not I’ve been branded as the “Green” guy here so immediately the red flags went up from the shows head geek Jimmy Ray Purser. His background is in systems engineering so he has developed the valuable skill set in that line of work of weeding through the marketing quickly. A funny post from Jimmy on his thoughts here.I was able to get Jimmy on board for episode 36 but then just a few episodes later we came back with another “Green” solution, Cisco EnergyWise. Again, it was a tough sell to Jimmy but we brought him around. Robb and Valeire on the show were slightly easier. Basically how I did it was by pointing out some simple facts that show the relevance of energy management:1) Energy is far and away the largest unmanaged cost of any business today2) Energy costs (the kind for wall outlet electricity) have almost doubled in the last 4 years3) Many analysts project that energy costs will soon become the first or second largest cost for large enterprises4) We are anticipating a 20% reduction (absolute) the first year we deploy EnergyWise (we paid $150M USD last year for energy)5) Cisco EnergyWise is part of IOS and is based on a cloud approach to energy managementThat and the fact we rarely even use the term Green in any of our technical discussions, opting for sustainability at the highest level and quickly jumping to energy and the emissions that correlate. Not to mention the possibiity of real regulations around energy use and the efficiency thereof are closer than they’ve been since the Carter administration. So make sure to check this episode out to get the straight scoop on EnergyWise with Jimmy beating us up for you. We also have John Parello on the show who created the core code for it and he talks through how this is based on a cloud approach.For our beloved network managers out there the good news is that we have also simplified the larger network management approach in this version of IOS. In the new approach we allow for tagging of assets in order to establish energy domains. We also provide for criticality levels and different power states to be assigned which ensures the approaches viability for data center operations. Read More »

A Plumber’s Guide – Great Architecture needs Great Infrastructure – Part 1

Recently an alliance partner of Cisco’s lashed out at an honorable profession, that of the plumber. He was upset because the architect and project manager mis-managed the scope of work and he had to have the plumber install a special faucet in a custom home. Following this there was some diatribe about not wanting your plumber to design your home because you’d get charged high prices and you should instead buy into an architecture that encourages everything to be delivered by one conglomerate.Interesting argument -- I’ve heard it before. I’ve made it myself sometimes.I try to not normally call companies out by name in my blog posts -- I did it once and had several valued investors counsel me that this did not reflect well on Cisco, nor on myself. So I am not going to lash out, and am not going to engage in a debate. Instead- I’d like to make this a multi-part blog and today talk about Amsterdam.Yes- Amsterdam.To quote the British- “God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland.”We often think of plumbers as people who toil away steering water in and out of our homes, ensuring faucets don’t leak, and toilets don’t have ‘feedback’. We sometimes forget that plumbers actually engage in about anything to do with pulling of piping -- whether carrying natural gas, or liquids, or even the conduit I ran to put some Ethernet cables in. A leak- especially of something like natural gas, can have a rather high impact result, so we entrust these plumbers with the integrity of our homes, and in many cases our very lives. However, here in America we do sometimes take this honorable profession for granted. In Amsterdam however, the entire city exists because of good plumbing. In the Netherlands 50% of the land exists below sea level. 60% of the population lives below sea level, and 70% of the GDP is produced below sea level. The Dutch design not for the 100 year flood like most US cities, the Dutch design coastal areas for the 10,000 year flood level -- because they have to in order to live. The hydro-aware Dutch have executed on massive hydro-engineering projects in the estuaries of rivers like the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt called the ‘Delta Works‘ and another project called the Zuiderzee (fun to say, hard to spell) works. The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared the Delta Works to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World! The entire city of Amsterdam -- which got its name from the Dam on the River Amstel -- or Amstel Dam has a canal system, that is the result of conscious city planning. Three for residential development, one for defense and all terminating in the IJ Bay.This conscious architecture -- based on a knowledge and experience with hydrodynamics -- allowed structures built in the 1600s to exist below sea-level for hundreds of years and still be valued infrastructure today.Is it all plumbing? No. But is ‘plumbing’ in balance with the rest of the infrastructure, that works as a system, to preserve the Dutch way of life and allow them to reclaim 50% of the land-mass of their country from the sea? Yes!Similarly I am not claiming network pre-eminence, nor plumbing pre-eminence. Unified Computing doesn’t do that either. We are saying that systems need to be built in balance, and when you take an architectural approach, you can reduce costs, extend life-cycles, and simplify operations. Not to mention -- you won’t miss the occasional faucet because the simpler the system is, the easier it is to install and manage.dg

Unified Computing: Looking for Blood? Look Elsewhere

There has been quite a lot of buzz recently about Cisco’s Unified Computing strategy and what that might mean in terms of partnerships and competition. The latest (and well written) report on the subject comes from Nick Lippis and its title (Are Cisco, HP and IBM on Data Center Collision Course?) says it all. Read More »