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Why Standards Matter…And When They Don’t

The year was 1992, Disney’s Aladdin was the top grossing movie, Garth Brooks had the top-selling album in the US, and I was a freshly minted SE.  Being a studious and diligent SE, I read up on all the gear sold by the integrator I worked for, and I decided that the Wellfleet BCN was the product of choice for our customers based on its hardware architecture and the impressive list of standards to which it laid claim.


And, then a funny thing happened…I learned that, while customers value standards compliance, what they value even more are networks that work and do what they need them to do.  And herein lies the inherent contradiction of networking standards and the constant tension between innovation and standards.


Ultimately customers look to us to address their problems: “I need my network to _________ (fill in the blank) so I can support the needs of my business–oh, and I’d like that ASAP, please” .  Luckily, our customer base is not shy, so when we see a trend, we move to address it and put solutions out there for our customers.  This is where innovation is critical–having the ability to continually move the ball forward to ensure networking continues to meet the needs of markets that are themselves continually evolving.  


But, ultimately, standardization is the end goal.  Without standardization, innovation cannot scale.  Time and again, we have seen that if a technology is balkanized, it stalls because no one wants to choose poorly (on a somewhat related note, I have a fine collection of HD-DVDs I’m willing to part with at a fair price).


Most of you are probably familiar with some version of the technology adoption lifecycle chart below, made popular by Geoffrey Moore in his seminal work “Crossing the Chasm”.



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New Book Published from Cisco IT

Not sure if you’ve seen it yet but a great book for anybody trying to define what a “Green” data center means and take steps towards migrating to one.  I’ve known Doug Alger for about 4 years now, he is a Solutions Architect within Cisco IT.  Doug does is a rare breed, he has a strong facilities background but is employed by an IT operation.  Doug often jokes that if Facilities and IT departments had no issues in planning and management, his job would go away.  I was privileged to provide technical editing for this book and from what I know in the industry, I believe it is the best work today in providing a resource base to build upon.

Since there is no such thing as a Green Data Center today (in a purist sense), this book addresses what steps you can take and what standards are their to move towards one.  This is a great book to not just read once but refer back to in building your plan.

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Every cloud needs a net

Most enterprises have been exploring cloud computing to see how it might work for them.  Cloud computing offers the ability to run servers on the Internet on demand.  The storage, compute, and network functions are positioned and ready for use, so servers can be deployed within minutes, and paid for only for as long as they are in use.

An essential component of any cloud installation is its network.   When servers are deployed in a cloud, they need an external network to be usable.  The network services that they need are more than simple IP connectivity, and each customer of the cloud will need some customization.  Here are some key types of cloud network service.

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Virtual Computing Environment coalition -Can you list the benefits for your company ?

You probably didn’t miss the today announcement of the coalition  between Cisco, EMC and VMware designed to address the challenges of pervasive virtualization and private cloud computing .We met Mark Fulgham , Vice-President Data Center Solutions to get his point of view on the Virtual Computing Environment coalition , on the Vblock Infrastructure Packages approach .In this short extract , Mark Fulgham describes some of the benefits he sees for our customers. 


We also invite two customers, a CIO and a CTO to share their analysis of the Vblock Infrastructure Packages approach  

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Wishful Thinking: The Innovation Edition

I am an unabashed fan of social networking.  For the data center team, being able to get direct, unfiltered feedback from the market has been a boon for making sure we are tracking in the right direction.  I also thoroughly enjoy the online conversations on the various blogs and in Twitter.  There are a great number of people out there with a lot of good thinking on the data center and I highly encourage you to do a little googling to get plugged into these conversations.  There are folks out there with views diametrically opposed to mine (you know who you are) but they have well-reasoned, well-spoken opinions and you can’t help but respect them for that–and I honestly enjoy the back-and-forth.


And then I’ll come across something that will leave me scratching my head thinking “Really…that’s the best you could come up with?”  I was reminded about this when I recently ran across a diatribe on our “lack of innovation”.  So, as a company, I will readily admit that there are a number of things we need to work on (and are), but “lack of innovation”? Really?


Let’s deconstruct this a little bit.  Just for the sake of argument, let’s start with a definition.  My trusty Mac dictionary defines “innovate” as “make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products,” so lets run with that.  So, what have we done along these lines in the data center space in the last 20 months or so (not meaning to brag, just trying to make a point): 


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