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Cloud Must Balance Innovation With Operational Excellence

One of Cisco’s internal mantras of late is the need to balance innovation with operational excellence. Our corporate CTO, Padmasree Warrior, laid out this argument as a part of a recent series predicting the future of collaboration. Essentially, a critical organizational debate is changing focus from “what takes precedence–innovation OR operational excellence” to “how do we balance the two?” Coming from the Silicon Valley, with its history of “fresh out of college” entrepreneurship and collapsing bubbles, this is a much needed discussion.

It occurs to me, though, that this is a question that the entire cloud computing market should consider.

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The Cloud Conversation is Changing

I was privileged to be a part of the Enterprise Cloud Summit that took place at the beginning of Interop in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The program was excellent, with an all-star list of cloud computing experts and a surprisingly large number of attendees who were new to cloud computing and trying to get a sense of what it was all about.

What was different from prior cloud-related conferences, however, at least for me, were the types of questions this inquisitive audience was asking. Almost nobody asked around defining cloud computing, but many took advantage of the show to ask panelists and speakers to describe how they could put the cloud to use in their own businesses.

The cloud conversation is moving from “what is it?” to “how would I use it for my business or institution?”

Post continues on The Wisdom of Clouds…

FCoE: The Standard is Here

So, after a lot of hard work by a number of individual across the industry, I am happy to say that on June 3rd, the FC-BB-5 working group of T11 has completed its work and unanimously approved a final standard for FCoE. Today, the plenary session of T11 approved forwarding the FC-BB-5 standard to INCITIS for the publication process as an ANSI standard. For more details on the efforts to date, check out my post from March. You call also pull down a copy of the standard from here. As I noted earlier, this was an industry wide effort, but, personally, I would like to call out the efforts of our Cisco folks, Joe Pelissier, Landon Curt Noll, and Claudio DeSanti, the latter serving as chairman of the working group.So, what comes next? Well, for folks that have bought the Nexus 5000, as noted in the March post, the current hardware is compliant with the standard. There will be software updates to handle things like implementing the the final version of FIP and the like.We are also making good progress on the Ethernet front. As many of you know, FCoE relies on a set of extensions to the current Ethernet standards to make Ethernet serve as reliable transport. These extensions are also progressing through their own standards process:imageFinally, last month, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab hosted an interoperability plugfest for IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging (DCB). Testing was held in two phases. Initially, participants completed individual tests for specific DCB features such as Priority-based Flow Control (IEEE P802.1Qbb), Enhanced Transmission Selection (IEEE P802.1Qaz), and DCB Capability Exchange Protocol (IEEE P802.1Qaz). After that, participants built a large DCB-based network and tested higher layer protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI. Participants in the PlugFest included Cisco, Dell, Finisar, Fulcrum Microsystems, Intel, NetApp, QLogic and Spirent Communications.As the Ethernet Alliance, sponsor of the PlugFest notes in its press release:

The plugfest results were impressive considering that this was the first time multiple vendors had participated in testing products based upon the IEEE 802.1 DCB draft standards. Participants were able to demonstrate effectively the interoperability of their products and participate in a lossless Ethernet fabric simultaneously on the same network. These plugfests help to review the IEEE 802.1 DCB draft standards and to create interoperable products.

There is a white paper with details on the interoperability testing that is due to be published by the Ethernet Alliance in the near future.

Unified Computing System In Production, Redux

Since our initial announcement of the Cisco UCS, there has been a great deal of interest, skepticism, and speculation about this new platform. Though the system won’t start shipping to customers until the end of June, Cisco IT has had it deployed in production for a number of months now in one of our existing data centers, where we have been using to run several production and business critical apps to ensure it got a thorough and realistic workout. Since hands-on details are currently scarce, we thought folks might be interested in a first hand account of the very first deployment of this technology. So, we recently held a live Internet TV broadcast and Q&A session with John Manville, VP of Information Technology, Network and Data Center Services at Cisco, and Chris Hynes, director of IS, Network and Data Center Services at Cisco. If you missed the original broadcast, you can find the archive here.If you have any other questions, post them as comment to this blog post and I’ll see if I can get them answered for you.

Unified Computing System News

Today at Cisco’s Partner Summit, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior and other Cisco executives are discussing the company’s strategy to accelerate go-to-market plans for unified computing with channel partners. The strategy includes new IT Career Certifications in Data Center Management, new programs for channel partners, and the expansion of the Unified Computing System family to include a new C-Series Rack-Mount Server. The news is being announced at the Cisco Partner Summit press conference that is webcast live from 9:45-10:30 a.m. PDT/12:45-1:30 p.m. EDT: Partner Summit Data Center News Update. You can read further details on the news in the press release: Cisco and Partners to Accelerate Data Center Virtualization.