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What makes Cisco Cloud Services Application Centric ?

Cisco’s announcement on Cisco Cloud Services “Introducing Cisco’s Global Intercloud”  is the next step in our transformation towards being an end-to-end cloud platform and software function solutions vendor. This announcement underscores the importance of the Internet of Everything and network-centric SaaS application areas like collaboration to Cisco’s strategy.  A key component of this strategy is the enablement of application centric performance and scale.

Cloud computing has rapidly matured in the market.  Many businesses have adopted private and public cloud strategies and deployed infrastructure and support systems. With this adoption, applications need to address a new set of performance capabilities.  These capabilities consist of an application centric marketplace, open source software development ecosystems, software defined platform, and application service orchestration control policies.

ACCloudPerformances

This diagram presents the application and presentation framework that integrates to the cloud platform. The integration components of importance for application centric performance are in the Application Infrastructure services, Services Framework, Content Management, and Business Services API. As an example, as a developer publishes code to production, the Application Infrastructure services will validate the Cassandra instances in the platform are available. As the service is being consumed, the APIC controller will validate the network latency, throughput, and services dependencies on all application services supporting the application. In this example, if the Cassandra instance fails, APIC will proactively re-route the traffic to the next Cassandra instance with the best performance required for the service.The figure below shows how the consumer contracts are abstracted from the services and service providers to enable application centric cloud performance.

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Simplifying Cisco UCS Management with Microsoft PowerShell

March 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm PST

Many IT organizations use Microsoft PowerShell to automate and accelerate data center management tasks. The Cisco UCS PowerTool module for PowerShell provides users a comprehensive list of cmdlets to manage all components of Cisco UCS.  Users can use these cmdlets to write PowerShell scripts to simplify, speed up, and error proof UCS management and deployment. With Cisco UCS PowerTool, IT operations teams can tie together the management of storage, compute, and software applications into custom, end-to-end management solutions.

New to scripting on UCS? Check out this Google + Hangout (Tips and tricks for managing Cisco UCS with PowerShell and Microsoft Systems Center) or this video on Microsoft’s Channel 9: Manage Cisco UCS with System Center 2012 and PowerShell.

Everyone is invited to share their scripts and possibly win some prizes by entering the UCS Power Scripting Contest on the Cisco Communities.  The contest will run until May 11th.  A distinguished panel of judges (@jsnover, @rob_willis, @concentrateddon, @halr9000, & @ThomasMaurer) along with other members of the community will select the grand prize winner from a set of five finalists.

Distinguished Judges for the UCS Power Scripting Contest

Distinguished Judges for the UCS Power Scripting Contest

 

We will announce the finalists at Microsoft TechEd 2014 and announce the grand prize winner at Cisco Live 2014 in San Francisco. You don’t have to submit scripts to participate! You are encouraged to review, comment, and share best practices. Use the Twitter hashtag #CiscoScripts to share.

If you are in the Houston or Dallas area, Cisco will be hosting a UCS User Group Meeting (Houston) and Meetup (Dallas) to help you get started.

Are you interested in starting a Cisco UCS User Group in your area or hosting a local meetup? Contact your Cisco representative and let us help!

 

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Let Cisco Cloud Work for Your Business

At a recent event I saw a T-shirt that said “Remember when cloud only meant rain?”  In the days before cloud computing, asking someone what they thought about cloud usually invoked a response about an animal-shaped formation or looking at cumulonimbus and predicting precipitation. One thing that today’s IT clouds have in common with their heavenly-based brethren is the ability for IT clouds to make it rain for your business.  When cloud is a part of your business strategy, they can increase business agility and effectiveness that translate into revenue generating opportunities.

Every day customers tell me what keeps them up at night is not how to reduce costs but how to survive. Cloud can take you far beyond survival to thriving  by delivering everything from data center services to applications to even office supplies.  But to get this benefit you need to bring together IT and your business strategy. And you need a new way of managing all these components in a unified manner.

Traditional management strategies and solutions utilize fragmented tools dedicated to specific systems.  They are ineffective in an environment where end users are empowered to request services on-the-fly and expect delivery almost instantly.

A customer told me this week that he believed all cloud management solutions were the same.    This is simply not true and two new reports from EMA and IDC provide supporting evidence.

Cisco’s cloud solution understands that your journey is a multi-step process.  You need to first automate your physical and virtual infrastructure to provide a foundational base for as-a-service, across heterogeneous hardware.  Let’s be honest – how can you increase efficiency when your solution manages a single hardware stack or hypervisor?

Cisco UCS Director delivers unified management and automation across both physical and virtual environments from a single pane of glass.   Designed to manage integrated and converged infrastructures utilizing Cisco UCS and Nexus fabric, UCS Director also manages third-party infrastructures such as HP, Dell and Brocade. Its innovative model-based orchestration tracks configuration changes ensuring that your business workflows run to completion, even if a switch is down or unavailable. UCS Director frees up your IT engineers from mundane daily management tasks allowing them to focus on more advanced projects.

Once infrastructure is automated, you can expand your horizons to automating the delivery of applications or general business processes.   Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) is a full-stack cloud solution that includes embedded application provisioning, governance and usage tracking all from an end-user portal and service catalog that spans multiple cloud platforms and tenants.   Leveraging its networking strength, Cisco IAC simplifies  cloud-based deployment and management of network services with out-of-box templates for firewalls, load balancers and VPNs eliminating the need for manual, trouble-ticket based provisioning.   

Watch these videos to learn more about Cisco UCS Director and Cisco IAC.

Earlier this week, Cisco announced its open, hybrid cloud solution, Cisco Intercloud.  Cisco IAC is one of the management solutions powering this offering and is an example of Cisco IAC’s flexible cloud service capabilities – flexibility that your company needs.

With cloud becoming strategic to your organization’s IT strategy, Cisco’s two step solution of Cisco UCS Director and Cisco IAC gets you on the path to anything-as-a-service and your organization on its way to experiencing those rain making opportunities.    

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#EngineersUnplugged S5|Ep4: Big Data

March 26, 2014 at 10:56 am PST

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Floris Grandvarlet (Cisco) and Richard Pilling (Intel) take on Big Data across the proverbial pond, at Cisco Live Milan. Where are we now, how are we going to approach the ever increasing amount of data (an ocean of it) to fish for information? This is a great overview for the challenges and the evolution of approaches.

Let’s watch and see what they propose to address the challenges:

It’s our very first seahorse--outsmarted once more.

**The next Engineers Unplugged shoot is at EMC World, Las Vegas, May 2014! Contact me now to become internet famous.**

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Cisco UCS Five Years On: The Right Solution at the Right Time

March 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm PST

I knew we were on to something good when a customer told me “This is so easy, it’s CTO proof.”

Early in the business, I was talking to a front-line server admin who had found that Cisco UCS made server deployment so reliable, automated and simple that he was convinced even his CTO could pull it off without breaking anything.  The enthusiasm was real, and infectious, and it changed the face of the data center market.

Thinking back five years to March of 2009, when Cisco introduced UCS, the economy was still spiraling into the worst recession of our lifetime.  IT budgets were being slashed.   Many wondered if it was the right time for Cisco to enter a new market with deeply entrenched competitors.

As it turns out, it was the perfect time.  Because change occurs fastest when times are hard.

looking for change

In the decade leading up to 2009, computing innovation had stalled.  The incumbents still had tunnel vision on the power and cooling challenges that arose out of multi-core processing in the mid-2000’s.  Innovation was essentially focused on mechanical packaging:  blade servers for mainstream IT and  “skinless” boxes for the hyperscale crowd.   Overlooked was the real problem for the vast majority of customers:  operational complexity. Remember that server virtualization was rapidly spreading in nearly every data center.  Again, this was originally a response to a hardware problem: processor utilization; but as everyone recognized the operational benefits, virtualization was taking hold very fast.  As was cloud.  Combine all this with the disaggregation of data storage from the server, which had already moved out onto the network as NAS and SAN many years before, and you had a perfect storm of complexity threatening to outpace the capacity of many IT organizations.  The individual technologies in the data center were not overwhelmingly complex but tying them all together, into a system where you could land and scale an application in a very secure and available way, became the all-consuming job of the customer.   Collectively, the industry had failed.   In 2009, more than ever, customers needed something to help them slash OPEX in the data center and free people up to face the challenges of the day.  This was the innovation vacuum that UCS had been designed to fill.

Think of UCS as the Turducken of the data center:  the sum is much, much greater (and tastier) than the parts.   A lot of true innovation has gone into UCS in the areas of server I/O and in fundamental advancements to server management technology.   The latter is especially critical, because what is often overlooked in virtualization and cloud discussions is the underlying issue of deploying, managing and scaling the physical infrastructure itself (details, details…)   The advent of UCS completed the total abstraction and automation of hardware in crucial ways that hypervisor and cloud technology still can’t acheive on their own.   API-controlled data center hardware is a foundational element of modern IT innovation, and UCS started it all.  This may be Cisco’s greatest contribution to the industry and charted the course for Cisco ACI in the broader data center.

Cisco Unified Computing System Five Years of Data Center Innovation from Cisco Data Center

 

Cisco’s not stopping.   In the intervening five years, new innovation opportunities have appeared.   Most recently, the addition of flash systems to Unified Computing in the form of UCS Invicta, which opens up a whole new chapter for what customers will be able to achieve with the System.  UCS Director is taking on a pivotal role for automation across Cisco solutions and the integrated infrastructures that we construct with our storage partners.  The future is so bright, our partners need sunglasses.

UCS timeline

The team has put together this interactive timeline that commemorates many of the milestones in the first five years of UCS.   Looking back over it, I can only feel proud and humbled to be associated with the team here at Cisco, our technology and channel partners, and most importantly with our customers, who have clearly proven that UCS was (and is) the right solution at the right time.

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