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Cisco UCS Mini – Edge-Scale Computing

September 4, 2014 at 8:24 am PST

Cisco’s Unified Computing System, originally designed for the datacenter is now optimized for Branch Office / Remote Office (ROBO), point-of-sale, and smaller IT environments with the announcement today of UCS Mini.  This solution delivers servers, storage, and 10 Gigabit networking in an easy to deploy, compact form factor. Expandable to 15 servers, UCS Mini provides a scalable solution with the proven management simplicity of the award winning UCS Manager.
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Cisco UCSO – A solution whose name length is second only to the list of customer benefits

Open source software is driving innovation in mobile devices and platforms, cloud services, big data and social technologies, as it continues to shape next generation data center architectures.  Specifically, interest in OpenStack has been growing: IT organizations are looking for new ways to increase efficiency and have expressed preference for a more agile, modular and vendor neutral approach to building cloud platforms.

Today, to capitalize on these important trends, Cisco and Red Hat announced that we will be building upon the strong success we have had with Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (REHL).  Cisco and Red Hat will accelerate joint engineering and product development around three additional key technology areas:  OpenStack, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and the Intercloud. Cisco and Red Hat offer customers a broad and robust portfolio of integrated solutions for data center modernization, true hybrid cloud and big data. To gain more insights regarding the breadth of our alliance activities with Red Hat you can read Denny Trevett’s blog .

At the Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) Launch Event in New York City, we have announced a powerful array of new computing  solutions and we also have introduced the initial phase and offering of this expanded relationship: UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat OpenStack or as some like to call it for short: UCSO. This offering is the combination of the Industry leading UCS Integrated Infrastructure with the Industry Leading Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform into a set of solutions – with accompanying Bill of Materials (BOM), 24x7 Solution Support and Professional Services -- based on Cisco and Red Hat Validated Designs to accelerate the deployment of OpenStack-based clouds.  With Cisco UCSO, mid-market and enterprise customers will be able to lower the risk associated with their cloud deployments while retaining control and choice over their environments with open and interoperable cloud architectures.

While adoption of OpenStack has been growing, customers continue to express concerns about the enterprise readiness of OpenStack, its ability to provide a complete solution and potential complexity of deployment.  By partnering with Red Hat and offering Cisco UCSO -- which is backed by our professional services -- Cisco and Red Hat will be able to address many of these concerns. Red Hat’s excellent track record in the open source community can provide our joint customers with the performance, scalability, and security they need for their private or hybrid cloud deployment. If you want to learn more about Red Hat OpenStack capabilities I would encourage you to read this blog or check out this video.

With Cisco Intercloud Fabric, ACI, and OpenStack, we take a leadership role in network services integration with Cloud technologies. In the future, Cisco UCSO will progressively leverage these capabilities to enable highly secure Intercloud portability of workloads across heterogeneous environments with consistent network and security policies.

‘Cloud-native’ applications (e.g., applications that are architected and designed to run on Cloud) represent ideal use cases for UCSO. Development and test of new applications, proof of concept implementations and workloads in a private IaaS environment are often brought-up during our initial customer conversations.

Our cloud strategy relies on our intent to offer the power of choice to our customers. Cisco’s commitment to open, interoperable and standards-based cloud solutions has been unwavering. In fact, Cisco has been a very active member of the OpenStack community and by partnering with Red Hat we can bring OpenStack to the enterprise, with confidence and without compromises.

In order to eliminate any barriers for adoption, Cisco Cloud Consulting Services will enable organizations to deploy the infrastructure and configure OpenStack in a short period of time. They will also provide the option for deploying customized Cloud capabilities and integrating with existing tools and processes leveraging prior experiences and best practices.

With a growing number of UCS integrated infrastructure solutions for Red Hat OpenStack, we will provide our customers with enterprise grade, foundational building blocks to modernize their IT operational models, processes and technologies to accommodate new cloud-scale workloads and related requirements while achieving:

• Accelerated Deployment Times – For organizations that need to more quickly deploy cloud solutions to address business needs.

• Lower Cost – For organizations that want to increase operational efficiency associated with cloud deployments by leveraging open source solutions.

• Lower Risk – For organizations that need to lower the risk associated with their cloud projects while avoiding proprietary vendor solutions.

• Increase Portability – For organizations that need to implement cloud strategies that include a combination of Private, Public and Hybrid clouds with seamless interconnection among the various deployment models and full portability of workloads.

• Accelerate ROI – Cisco Cloud Consulting Services can provide expertise for deployment and configuration of OpenStack environments in a short period of time.

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Solving the last mile in Hadoop deployment

A recent Gartner report quotes “More than 30% of all support tickets (for hadoop) are related to mis-configuration”.

Despite the immense opportunity with Big Data, Customers deploying Hadoop clusters are still riddled with the complexity of deployment and manageability of Hadoop clusters at scale.  To make it worse, latent issues with incorrect configuration can impact application and business performance. With data volumes growing so quickly and business decision makers demanding faster response time, organizations need to find ways to consistently deploy Hadoop clusters and manage them efficiently.

Introducing Cisco’s UCS Director Express for Big Data to consistently, reliably and rapidly deploy Big Data Hadoop clusters and manage them under a single management pane. Built on the leading UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data and award winning UCS Director platform, this product provides a single touch automation for end-end Hadoop deployment all the away from bare metal disk and network configuration to installing and setting up Hadoop services. It is tightly integrated with major Hadoop distributions to complement and communicate with Hadoop managers to provide centralized visibility across both the physical hardware as well as Hadoop services.

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What does this mean for customers? Customers can now deploy Hadoop clusters by pre-configuring hadoop policies in addition to infrastructure policies.  Hadoop stats and infrastructure stats can be correlated to better diagnose cluster bottlenecks. With out-of-the-box performance configured based on best practices for Cisco UCS CPA for Big Data, this means less time and resources spent on cluster tuning. In addition, the extensible and programmable infrastructure with north-bound REST APIs allows further customization and building add-on services.

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Providing a seamless customer experience, with enhanced agility and improved operational efficiency has been a key mantra for UCS. With UCS Director Express for Big Data, the same benefits are extended into the Hadoop application space.  Now, customers have a simpler and faster mechanism to realize the benefits from Big Data Hadoop adoption.

#EngineersUnplugged S6|Ep7: Technology Career Convergence

September 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm PST

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, we take a break from talking about the technology and talk about the technologists! Where is your career headed, what are the trends? John Mark Troyer (@jtroyer) and Matthew Brender (@mjbrender) discuss the silos and the pros and cons of being a generalist vs a specialist.

Technology is quickly evolving from ACI to the storage space. Conclusion: always be learning. Especially if you’re in a unicorn-drawdown.

And we have a winner!

And we have a winner!

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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Four More Awards for the Cisco IT Team and Cisco Prime Service Catalog

The Cisco IT internal implementation of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, dubbed the Cisco IT “eStore”, is no stranger to awards. Earlier this year, the Cisco IT eStore ranked in the InformationWeek Elite 100 and was nominated a finalist for the Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise (CITE) award.

If you aren’t familiar with the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog, this intro video provides a great overview:

Now we are very proud to announce that Cisco IT has won not just one more, but four new honors: the 2014 “Stevie” Awards from International Business Awards.

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The Stevie Awards, which honor and generate public recognition of achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals, feature some of the most exciting work in business and information technology.

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This year, the team behind the Cisco IT eStore was recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for Information Technology Team of the Year. As this internal implementation of Cisco Prime Service Catalog grows in scale, this team has been working to rapidly deploy new services (whether desktop applications or data center infrastructure) and new capabilities (e.g. a new mobile interface) to provide a single, one-stop shop for all IT services at Cisco.  It’s effectively the internal “IT app store” within Cisco for all employees.

For more information on the Cisco IT eStore initiative, you can check out the case study here, my write-up on the eStore here, Adel du Toit’s blog post on the Cisco IT initiative here, and a great overview session from our recent Cisco Live conference here.

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Cisco IT also took home a Silver Stevie Award for their innovative work on our internal Lightweight Application Environment (LAE) – an innovative platform-as-a-service deployment that’s also powered by Cisco Prime Service Catalog as well as other tools including Jenkins and OpenShift.

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Within Cisco, we have a private cloud – dubbed the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) – that offers infrastructure-as-a-service with ready-to-go server, storage, and network resources for development teams.  Together, CITEIS and the Lightweight Application Environment allow Cisco application developers to focus on application coding and testing, not on the underlying infrastructure or platform. The LAE is called “lightweight” because the ordering and provisioning processes places very light demands on developers.

For both and CITEIS and LAE, the eStore (Cisco Prime Service Catalog) gives developers an easy-to-use, self-service portal for ordering and provisioning their application environment – providing on-demand access to the infrastructure as well as the required operating system, middleware, and system functions without manual provisioning by Cisco IT. All the resources they need are delivered just a few minutes after the developer orders them.  Here’s an example screenshot:

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You can read more about how Cisco IT enabled this Lightweight Application Environment in this blog post here.

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The final two Stevie Awards for Cisco IT this year were a Silver & Bronze medal for the Information Technology Executive of the year – awarded to our very own V C Gopalratnam (Cisco IT Vice President) and Michael Myers (Cisco’s Senior Director of Information Systems for Cloud Orchestration and Platform Service) respectively.

V C and Michael have played key roles in both the aforementioned CITEIS and LAE initiatives, enabling IaaS and PaaS via the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. We’re excited that these executives are being recognized for their leadership, and we look forward to what lies ahead for the Cisco IT and eStore team going forward.

If you aren’t already, be sure to follow @CiscoUM and @CiscoIT for the latest updates in these areas on twitter. Also visit cisco.com/go/service-catalog for more info on Cisco Prime Service Catalog.

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