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Unifying the Data Center, a Customer’s Perspective

I have been posting on this blog for a couple of years now as a member of the Data Center Marketing team. However, I’ve been silent for several months as I transitioned into a new customer-facing role selling to some of our largest customers in Nothern California. Stepping outside marketing into the real world, if you will, has given me a unique perspective into our customer’s data center problem set.I recently attended a data center briefing with a large healthcare provider that is in the process of consolidating and virtualizing their data center assets. After a few hours of presentations that covered our strategies around Virtualization, Unified Fabric, and Unified Computing, I quickly realized that the lightbulb going off in their heads was not about how cool this technology was or how much money they could save but how much time they would get back in their lives by implementing our Data Center 3.0 products and solutions.That by enabling hitless ISSU on the Nexus 7000, they could perform software upgrades without dropping a single packet. This combined with the built-in out-of-band Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) meant they could perform required maintenance anytime from anywhere they happened to be.That by implementing a Unified Fabric with the Nexus 5000 that converges their LAN and SAN architectures, they could drastically reduce the number of switches, adaptors, and cables they would have to manage and configure on a day to day basis by at least 50 percent.That by using the Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender, they could consolidate dozens of top-of-rack switches they currently manage down to a single switch with a single image and a single configuration while enjoying the performance benefits of an end-of-row architecture.That by installing the Nexus 1000V in each of their virtualized servers, they could save the time of manually configuring security policy on switch ports every time the server team decided to Vmotion a VM from one physical server to another. That the VN-Link architecture automated the process and made sure that the proper network configuration followed the VM where ever it happened to wander, night or day.I started my career in IT as a data center manager and I remember many sleepless nights and late-hour pages while on-call. I’m actually quite jealous of some of the technology that is available today that allows an IT engineer to live a somewhat normal 9-5 life. As my father frequently told me when I was growing up, “You don’t know how good you have it today, son.” Don’t I feel like saying that sometimes to the young IT folks I meet on a daily basis.Maybe I should go visit my old friends in Data Center Marketing and tell them that their messaging is all wrong. Data Center 3.0 is not about how to enable a CIO to get the most out of his or her data center assets but how it will get the most out of their overworked IT staff.

The FEX: A bit more detail

After our announcement of the Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender (FEX), Omar provided a nice overview of it in his January 28 post below. Based on some questions and comments that came back, we thought it might be useful to give a bit more detail via the video below. This allows you to see the FEX in action, so to speak, and illustrates the notion that the Fabric Extender, as its name implies, does indeed function as a remote extension of the Nexus 5000 fabric. Take a look (make sure you do it in full screen mode), and let us know what you think…

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NetApp on Unified Computing

Jay over at NetApp wrote a good piece on Unified Computing The role of the Virtual Machine is changing and evolving -- from a virtual server, to a virtual container that includes the OS, Application, Storage, Network, and Transport Services state. The packaging of this container, and the coordination of its movement/mobility will be the interesting opportunity.dg

ComputerWorld Article on Virtualization Trends

Just had a quick read through Eric Lundquist’s article on Virtualization trends. I provided some commentary back on his article, but it is generally a good read. I do feel the industry is over-reaching a bit on the term ‘Virtualization‘ though and trying to apply it to everything we do without consistent ‘purpose’ or end-state in mind. I tried to address this a bit in the paper I posted -- which is coming along nicely based on everyone’s copious feedback btw. dg

Private Clouds are Real – Internetworking for the Cloud

Just read a very nice piece my Tom Bittman over at Gartner. I agree with Tom, the term Private Cloud, to mean the cloud computing principles and architectures applied internally to an enterprise to achieve economies of scale, simplified and standardized service offerings, scalable growth, and increased efficiencies is fundamentally real.Cloud computing architectures, whether public or private, or frankly ‘virtually private’ (private cloud extending into public infrastructure with enterprise control and trust established) will need a set of networking systems and architectures. As James Urquhart told me once, “you can move the servers to the cloud, you can move the storage to the cloud, but you still have to connect to the cloud.” Cloud Networking could be about building the networking architectures to support private clouds -- LAN switching systems with the universal I/O characteristics to allow wire-once infrastructures, the multi-tenant segmentation to allow Layer-2 and Layer-3 isolation, and the operational management characteristics to enable cost-effective operations of a large-scale homogenized infrastructure.But what about ‘Cloud Internetworking’. Internetworking is the core of Cisco, it’s what we do. We link networks together. To me Cloud Internetworking is about enabling the Inter-Cloud, the federation of cloud computing systems between enterprise and provider and one provider to the next. Workload becomes portable, and the Cloud Internetwork embraces this portability and ensures that the elements of trust and control don’t break or disappear with the advent of mobile workloads. Additionally, the Cloud Internetwork ensures that as workloads move they are still reachable via the most efficient path. Lastly, the Cloud Internetwork ensures that enterprises have choices, providers have markets, and infrastructure interoperates.Internetworking is the first-name of Cisco’s core operating systems- Internetwork Operating System. It’s what we do. dg