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Observations from London SDN Conference… “Wait, it’s coming…” … But Can You Afford To?

June 26, 2014 at 10:05 am PST

Last week I spent some time at the “Software Defined Networking 2014” conference in London.  It’s a relatively small conference I would say however given the growing interest in SDN and rapid progress of the technology it’s always good to hear alternative viewpoints and experiences.  And I certainly found the previous conference here in December 2013 interesting -- in particular one vendor in my view using SDN as the “hammer to crack a nut“.

Cisco wasn’t present at this conference last week, so what are others saying about SDN?  Here is a quick summary of my takeaways (in some cases questions raised in my mind), which I will expand on below.  And let me be controversial in my summary!

(1) Negligible discussion on live SDN deployments.

(2) NFV -- at least for service providers -- is potentially a quicker win than SDN

(3) SDN “Washing” is alive and well :-)

(4) Is OpenFlow more of an academic pursuit?

(5) Open Daylight excitement

(6) Negligible Discussion on “Making It Happen”

As I say, to some my statements may be controversial -- let me explain!

Read More »

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Decoding UCS Invicta – Part 2

Solid State Drives (SSD) 101

In part one of this series we covered the internals of HDDs and some basic techniques manufacturers use to increase performance. In part two we are going into a deep dive of Solid State Drives (SSD), how they work, and some caveats.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

The solid-state drives (SSDs) have a simple unit where one or more bits are stored: the “NAND Flash Cell”. So, this should be easy! Right! Lets see.

The SSDs are constructed like a Lego where the smaller piece is the “Flash Cell”. We aggregate multiple “Flash Cells” into a “4KB Page”. The amount of “Flash Cells” in a “Page” depends on the amount of bits the “Flash Cell” can manage. Now, here is the first caveat, a “Page” is the minimum writable unit in SSD. Even if you need to write a single bit, you would have to write an entire “4KB Page”.

We take “Pages” and group them into “512KB Blocks”. Here comes the second caveat, “Blocks” are the minimum erasable unit in SSD.

This causes a phenomenon known as the “write amplification” effect in SSD. If you need to erase a single bit, you need to modify and entire “Page” (the minimum writable unit), but you can only erase a “Block”. The drive needs to read the “128 Pages” that made the “Block”. Next it erases the “Block”, then write back the 127 unmodified “Pages” plus the 1 modified “Page”. Read More »

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Data Abstraction: The Lingua Franca for Data Silos

Enterprises are seeking ways to improve their overall profitability, cut costs, reduce risk and more through better leverage of their data assets.

Significant volumes of complex, diverse data spread across various technology and application silos make it difficult for organizations to achieve these business outcomes. To further complicate matters, there is a range of problems such as

  • Separate access mechanisms, syntax, and security for each source
  • Lack of proper structure for business user or application consumption and reuse
  • Incomplete or duplicate data
  • And a mixture of latency issues

Data abstraction overcomes these challenges by transforming data from its native structure and syntax into views and data services that are much easier for business intelligence and analytics developers to use when creating new decision-making applications.

Enterprises can approach data abstraction three ways:

  • Manual data abstraction
  • Data warehouse schemas
  • Data virtualization

Of the three approaches, data virtualization is the superior solution for data abstraction because it enables the most flexibility and agility when you need to provide simple, consistent, business–formatted data from different data locations and sources.

As a complement to Cisco’s Data Virtualization software and services, Cisco also provides data abstraction best practices that help you accelerate your data abstraction activities. Composed of three distinct layers (application layer, business layer and physical layer), these best practices support a data reference architecture that rationalizes multiple, diverse data silos for a range of BI and analytic applications. The architecture aligns closely with analyst best practices mapped out by both Forrester and Gartner on the topic of data virtualization. Using these best practices will enable your company to access the right data for the business, gain agility and efficiency, maintain end-to-end control, and increase security of your data across all your data silos.

To learn more about data abstraction best practices using Cisco Data Virtualization, check out our white paper.

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FlexPod’s Success and Technology Roadmap Point to a Bright Future

The integrated infrastructure segment continues to be one of the fastest growing IT markets. We recently highlighted that Cisco was the leader in the integrated infrastructure market with industry leading integrated systems built on top of Cisco UCS and Cisco Nexus. The FlexPod platform, jointly developed by Cisco and NetApp, is a leading solution in this segment.

The alliance between Cisco and NetApp has been rewarded with tremendous success. FlexPod has generated $3 billion in shared revenue since its inception in 2010 with a $2B annual run rate, making FlexPod one of the fastest growing solutions in Cisco and NetApp history.  In addition, FlexPod now has more than 4100 customers in over 100 countries being sold and supported by a network of 1,000 FlexPod channel partners. Read More »

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Decoding UCS Invicta – Part 1

Storage 101

Less than a year ago, October 29th 2013, Cisco acquired Whiptail , a high performance scalable solid-state memory system. Shortly after its acquisition, the product lines were renamed UCS Invicta.

The idea behind UCS Invicta and its market positioning is application acceleration. This is not to be considered a traditional storage but instead a solution to enhance application performance. In fact, Cisco has made it quite clear that they have no plan to target the traditional storage market:

“This acquisition is really about the server market. It’s a significant opportunity, but distinct from the portion of the market served by traditional stand-alone storage systems. As a result, our continued engagements with NetApp on FlexPod, EMC on VSPEX and VCE on Vblock will not change. We have no current plans to expand into the broad based, traditional storage market.”

Now, just as it happened in 1998 when Cisco got into the VoIP market, and then in 2009 when it got into the server market, we need to learn a new lingo and we need to understand the pains of that market.

In this blog series, I’ll be covering some of the lingo, highlighting some of the pains the users have and describing what UCS Invicta brings to the table. Read More »

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