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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

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 »

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 »

Wishful Thinking: The Nexus 1000V Edition

imageSo, here we are again with another”Wishful Thinking” post because, yet again, someone would rather hurry to TGI Fridays for their appletini fix, than take the time to do some due diligence. Or, perhaps they can’t come up with anything useful to say about their own products and decided to make stuff up about ours.Anyway, lets tackle some of the rumors, whispers and innuendo our customers are hearing around the Cisco Nexus 1000V. The most popular assertion seems to be something along the lines of:

  • The 1000V only works with Nexus switches, so you have to upgrade your network
  • The 1000V requires you to use that new-fangled FCoE
  • The 1000V requires you to replace your server’s network adaptors
  • The 1000V can only be configured while wearing special slippers (OK, I made this one up, but its about as valid as the other things I have heard)

So let’s be clear: if your infrastructure can run ESX+vSwitch, it can run ESX+1000V without changes. The switch will run over GbE or 10GbE. The switch will run with your existing network interface (assuming it is on the ESX HCL–and if its not, you have larger problems). The Nexus 1000V will happily work with whatever upstream switch you have in place now–Catalyst, Nexus, whatever. Finally, the Nexus 1000V does not require FCoE, and, of course, your choice of footwear is your own. I’d say the Nexus 1000V is one of the most agnostic products we have every shipped.In fact, I’ll take this a step further on the issue of openness and compatibility. The Nexus 1000V will concurrently work across multiple server vendors and multiple form factors (blade, rack, multi-RU), which is something that not everyone can say. In short, if your infrastructure supports the next version of VMware ESX, it will support the Nexus 1000V.The second assertion is that there really isn’t any problem for the Nexus 1000V to solve, which is kinda funny, since we created the switch in partnership with VMware. In reality, I think anyone that has any kind of sizable VM deployment or has aspirations for a sizable deployment sees the immediate need for the Nexus 1000V both in terms of the VN-Link features it offers (VM-level config and troubleshooting, policy portability, etc) as well the streamlining of operations and coordination between server and network teams…or at least that has been my consistent experience talking to dozens of customers over the last year or so. I’d love to be able to wrap with some firm details on availability, pricing, etc, but, alas, we are not quite there yet. We are chugging along through the beta and we are currently on target to hit our goal of first half of this year.Stay tuned for details.

End to End (Almost!) Nexus Data Center

Michael Morris, one of the first Cisco Certified Design Experts, and trusty engineer Kamal Vyas are blogging about their experience is setting up a Cisco Nexus based Data Center. They are going through an extensive proof-of-concept in Cisco’s CPOC lab right now and covering this near-real time on the Cisco Subnet blog over at Network World.They have the Cisco Nexus 7000 in the AggregationThe Cisco Nexus 5000 for 10GbE AccessThe Cisco Nexus 2000 for 1GbE AccessCatalyst 6500 for Network ServicesCisco ASR 1000 for WAN EdgeThey then went and tested the Virtual Port-Channel code to eliminate Spanning Tree from being a topology bound protocol to simplify the network, reduce convergence times, and enable, if necessary, a larger and flatter topology to support virtualization more effectively.Michael- what is working well? Also where can we improve and what would make this easier for you and Kamal?dg