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Network-Centric Architecture – Backbone to Secure Cloud Delivery

Since the modern network security era begin in late 2001 with NIMDA and Code Red, I’ve been observing how to protect against threats and vulnerabilities to the enterprise across my professional experiences with dedicated security appliance vendors such as Fortinet and ServGate, and more recently in my strategic marketing role within Cisco’s enterprise services customer segment.  Clearly, protecting the network at the edge and devices internal to the network has been challenging enough.  Now, with the movement to virtual or cloud-based computing, this trend even further complicates the need for multi-layers of defenses at all access points into the cloud, both egress and ingress.

The legacy architecture of today’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure unnecessarily increases overall management costs and complexity.  Accordingly, ICT infrastructure is now moving toward a service-based consumption model often referred to as enterprise cloud services.  This new model requires a fresh, contemporary way of thinking about both the underlying technology and the way ICT is delivered to ensure customer success.

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Accounting for Cloud Computing

We’ve all been reading about Cloud Computing for some time now, and some of you have either been using Cloud Computing services or implementing Cloud Computing within your organizations. In many cases, the interaction of technical people with “Cloud Computing” was either a pay-as-you-go model with a Public Cloud service (EC2, Terremark, Savvis, etc.) or rapid virtualization and automation of their Private Cloud computing environment. At first glance, everything associated with the Cloud experience was great because it satisfied a top requirement from the business …. saving money!!

But as we all know, there are always two sides to every story. In this case, we ask the question, “Is saving money going to make the company leadership happy?”

Huh?? How can saving money not be a good thing for the company leadership?

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Using Professional Services to help you with Data Center Challenges

If you look at various businesses across the world, you’ll see that they are facing some similar strategic challenges – such as globalization, innovation, new business models, evolving customer transactions to interactions, environmental sustainability, new partnerships, and the need to reduce costs. To address these challenges, companies are adding rich communication, information and collaboration services and these services are increasingly being delivered by a data center. So, what are Data Centers? Data centers are buildings that house IT resources such as server, storage systems and networking equipment. These data centers typically host a large number of business and consumer applications and data, each running on a dedicated or shared hardware infrastructure. In today’s connected global marketplace, where customers and users expect to purchase products and access services 24×7, datacenters are playing an increasingly important role for successful experience.


In my work in the Cisco Data Center Advanced Services Product Management team, I’ve watched as Data centers have undergone transformation over the past few years to achieve significant savings in time, capital, and energy while increasing flexibility, efficiency, and comprehensive disaster recovery. At the same time, in both Cisco and our customers, I’ve observed how the demand on the next generation Data Center are always  increasing and the push for IT organizations to deliver IT services to their customers faster and cheaper has never been stronger. The challenge to optimize how network, storage and compute resources deliver business services has become increasingly complex. 

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The How and When of Cisco FabricPath

Since we announced FabricPath at CiscoLive!, the most common questions I have gotten are “how do I get it?” and “when should I use it?”

So, the first question is pretty easy to answer.  While we launched the Fabric Switching System (FSS) as part of the announcement as a pre-built option, the reality is that all you need is one or more of the new F-series IO modules to able to deploy FabricPath.  This would be an example of the forward investment protection we talked about when we first introduced the Nexus 7000–customers have an simple way to add FabricPath support to their existing N7K chassis in a incremental fashion. Availability is calendar Q3 of this year.

The “when should I use it” question is a little bit more interesting because there is no hard and fast answer.  

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Where IT Is Not Setting the Standard

So, normally I have some fun with our competitors in this space, but today, I am actually going to go ask you to go read a post on a competitor’s website (then come back!).  Why?  Because some things are really more important then who has the zoomiest new widget today…go on, go read it…I’ll still be here….

Back?  Good….so I have been going to CiscoLive!/Networkers for more than a decade and I gotta tell you, if the audience there is a representative of IT as a whole, then we moving the needle at a glacial pace.

So, considering the fact that our entire industry is about being forward thinking and redefining what’s possible, why is this so tough?

Yes, my implicit opinion is that this is an issue with tangible/practical impact for folks running data centers.  When meeting with IT management one of the top concerns I consistently hear is not technology based, it is around finding enough smart people to design, build and run the next generation of IT infrastructure. If our industry routinely makes IT an inhospitable place for half the population (my wife would argue the smarter half of the population) then its everyone’s problem–or everyone’s opportunity–this report makes some interesting points.

So, dear readers, what do you think and what can we be doing better?  What are the experiences of other folks out there?  Is networking particularly behind the curve and other parts of IT are more hospitable?  Is this even an issue–should I go back to writing about who has the zoomiest new widget?




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