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Cisco Data Center Automation and Cloud Management Software at #VMworld

August 24, 2014 at 9:01 am PST

We’re excited to be back at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for VMworld this week and our theme is Bring IT: Unleash the Possibilities. You’ll see this theme unfold throughout the Cisco activities at VMworld – where we’ll be featuring our data center automation and cloud management software this week.

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In particular, we’re bringing Cisco UCS Director to VMworld and it will be featured in our demos, theater presentations, and breakout sessions at the show. If you’re not already familiar with UCS Director, it’s our flagship infrastructure automation software – for provisioning not only VMs but also bare metal servers, storage, networking, and layer 4-7 services.  It’s a key component of many of our solutions that you’ll see at VMworld.

For example, check out the video below of application-centric cloud management and infrastructure automation, powered by Cisco UCS Director, Cisco Prime Service Catalog, and the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC):

This past week, we also announced our new Cisco UCS Performance Manager software for performance monitoring of UCS and UCS-based integrated infrastructure – leveraging technology from our partner Zenoss. Stop by the Cisco or Zenoss booths at VMworld and be one of the first to see a live demonstration!

We’re also showcasing our software solutions for hybrid cloud, virtual network services automation, integrated infrastructure management, cloud automation, and more.

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Unleashing IT magazine Profiles Early adopters of Cisco ACI

 

Application Centric Infrastructure Special Edition

Application Centric Infrastructure Special Edition

It has been just a few short weeks since the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) began shipping, building upon the availability of the Nexus 9000 series and laying the foundation for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  The feedback from early adopters has been quite positive. As of August 13th, 2014 we had over 580 Nexus 9000/ACI customers and over 60 have bought the APIC within just two weeks.  We are highly encouraged by the momentum and are looking to build upon this over the course of our next fiscal year.

Recently, IT leaders have been talking about how software-defined networking (SDN) will usher new levels of business agility into their IT organizations, and it’s clear based on our early results that ACI not only delivers on these expectations but takes a leadership stance in delivering the industry’s best SDN solution.It is therefore a great time for us to take a look at these early adopters, explore and share their motivations for choosing the ACI approach.  Customers are genuinely excited with the open architecture and the flexibility and cost savings they get with a true systems approach and it is pertinent to understand their business challenges, architectural expectations and benefits they hope to receive over time.

To create a forum for these stories, we’ve produced a special edition of Unleashing IT -- a publication I’m very excited to share with you as it sheds light on what I truly believe is a transformative innovation.

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The Bases are Loaded for a Cisco UCS Grand Slam

August 22, 2014 at 10:20 am PST

“The innovation pipeline is very strong, and you can expect to see announcements in the fall that will continue to accelerate our momentum with UCS and add to our competitive advantage.”

Those are comments from Cisco’s earnings call last week, and on September 4th I hope you will join us for the unveiling of the next wave of Unified Computing that John Chambers was speaking of.

We don’t invoke the term innovation lightly at Cisco.   As Frank Palumbo recently talked about, change is the only constant, and our data center customers need to stay in front of that change.   What we’re hearing from them often centers on three critical concepts:

 1.  We need a common operating environment that spans from the data center to the very edge.   “Edge” in this sense is used to describe the many worlds that exist beyond the walls of the data center, where the demand for computing power is inexorably growing.  For service providers that can mean IT infrastructure located at the Customer Premise.  For large enterprise and public sector IT teams the Edge is found in the branch offices, retail locations and remote sites where innovation is exploding with dynamic customer experiences and new ways of doing business.   It’s at the wind farm and the end of the drill bit miles below the oil rig.   It’s in the “fog” of connected sensors and smart objects in connected cities.  And it is the handheld devices that billions of people are using today to consume and generate unprecedented volumes of data and insight, and the 50 billion people and things that Cisco estimates will be connected by 2020.

 2.    We need a stronger engine to accelerate core applications and power data-intensive analytics.  (AKA, “you’re going to need a bigger boat”)  The imperative for faster and better decisions has never been greater and the tools to extract the signal from the noise in the data deluge require big horsepower.  Recommendation engines, real-time price optimization, personalized location-based offers, improved fraud detection… the list goes on in terms of opportunity created by Big Data and the IoE.  All while IT continues to deliver the core applications -- that keep business running – uninterrupted and faster than before.

 3.    We need a common operating environment that spans traditional and emerging applications.  Complexity is the bane of innovation and the bane of IT.  In addition to the familiar workloads, which are well understood in terms of bare metal scalability and virtual encapsulation, there is growing use of applications architected for massive horizontal scale.    In-memory, scale up analytics are being utilized right alongside cloud-scale technologies like MapReduce to tackle different elements of business problems in different ways.  Very different architectures, with very different demands on computing infrastructure.  The conditions for complexity loom.  Will a hero emerge?

When UCS was born it shook up many of the fundamental assumptions of what data center infrastructure should be expected to do and what IT could do to accelerate business.   With this launch, history repeats itself, as we work to help customers future proof the data center for change tomorrow and transformation today.   Our development team has taken the next stride in the journey of re-inventing computing at the most fundamental levels, to power applications at every scale.

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I hope you will join us for the event on 9/4 to see how we’re taking our strategy forward in the data center.   We have a bit of a baseball theme in the launch since we’re delighted to be joined by Major League Baseball’s Joe Inzerillo at our event in New York.   So follow the conversation at it unfolds over coming weeks with #UCSGrandSlam and #CiscoUCS.   The bases are loaded.   

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Is as-a-Service in it’s ascendancy or decline?

The classic work of English historical literature “The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire” is a book written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, which traces the trajectory of Western civilization from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium.   I’m using this comparison to bring to light discussions that my team and I have conducted over the past few years on the topic of as- a-Service (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) in the Public and Private Clouds.

Shifting your workloads to the cloud, whether public or private, looks attractive in a number of ways.  You conceptually see the gains from quick and readily available infrastructure by just clicking a button or two, your service from a new virtual machine in the cloud appears ready as you need it.   The initial gains materialize as on-demand capacity, high availability, and disaster tolerance to name a few.   What about the costs of building all of this and has anyone ever seen a positive gain?  Has anyone really seen a gain from IaaS alone?

Public and Private cloud services models are still maturing but the overall question that we are hearing, is it worth it?   We’ve come across several articles that look at the features, and functions of as-a-Service offerings (to include PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, etc) along with theoretical return on investment (ROI) of each.   What we have seen is the shift in focus that sole IaaS eventually plays into higher delivery models like BPaaS (Business Process as-a-Service),  or SaaS (Software as-a-Service) etc.   Of course the message is different between Enterprises and Service Providers where this could help focus more reliable revenue flows for Service Provider’s and a more deliberate approach for Enterprises.

In the months spent researching this, we never found a definitive paper or published research outside of system integrators or service providers that had actual projected financials for SP or Enterprise.   Also, given the financial calculations were heavily weighted on the ROI models from specific vendor equipment vs any diversity in mixed infrastructure environments.  In further calculation of the costs for IaaS, requirements from Service Providers or Enterprise do not involve simple scenarios where the predictable medium based Virtual Machine would suffice as a definitive control point for those calculations.   We’ve seen the requirements need to align in the form of complex workloads such as database and transaction processing that require more robust, and more expensive IaaS-class VMs within diverse infrastructure, distributed about multiple tiers.  Regardless of the requirements category, multiple small scale and diverse control projects are needed to gather precise cost, performance, and availability metrics to validate the real cost and ROI IaaS models.  IaaS,  for the most part, has to increase it’s service offerings to go further into areas like Virtualized Desktops (VDI),  offer enhanced security for data,  and potentially pay-per-use capacity on demand services just to name a few.  At that point, IaaS is moved from it’s rudimentary form to more of a superset like PaaS, BPaaS, SaaS, etc.  One thing to keep in mind, PaaS is very closely associated to the lower end services similar to IaaS where it’s monetization and revenue generation is almost identical.

In summary, we see the Cloud is here to stay but there is a decline in the need for just a simplistic offering of services beyond what is IaaS.  The enhanced subset of services must move away from IaaS to be more like BPaaS, SaaS and other models to cost effective.  Businesses, whether SP or Enterprise, are going to leverage those services in their market and effect significant changes in the way they operate.  The budgets that once filled groups of individual business units (speaking in the context of the Enterprise) to accommodate for their own IT presence, are now consolidated to larger capital and revenue budgets for enhanced IT subscription services that go far beyond what used to be just cloud infrastructure.

Authors:

Marc Buraczynski, Solutions Architect, Cisco Systems, Inc, Cisco Advanced Services (Boston, MA)

Chris Shockey, Solutions Architect, Cisco Systems, Inc, Cisco Advanced Services. (Seattle, WA)

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Better Visibility into UCS Integrated Infrastructure with Cisco UCS Performance Manager

Data centers are rapidly adopting integrated infrastructure to run their businesses. However, the monitoring and management tools for these integrated components are not yet converged. Performance monitoring and capacity planning is done with multiple tools leading to sub-optimal resource management. Customers have to spend multiple days or weeks to install and configure typical agent-based solutions. Then they will have to train additional personnel to manage and maintain these multiple tools.

Cisco UCS Performance Manager provides visibility from a single console into Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) components for performance monitoring and capacity planning.  It provides data center administrators assurance for Cisco UCS and other integrated infrastructure implementations (e.g. FlexPod, Vblock, VSPEX) and ties application performance to physical and virtual infrastructure performance allowing IT staff to optimize resources and deliver better service levels to customers.

Cisco UCS Performance Manager was built in partnership with Zenoss. UCS Performance Manager is a virtual appliance designed for easy installation and configuration. UCS Performance Manager install and setup takes less than an hour, a departure from typical customer experience. Main customer requirements have been built into the product to provide key performance indicators out of the box. It provides a customizable dashboard for a quick view of the components of interest.

Vish Converged Infrastructure and Application Portlets 2

One of main constructs of UCS Performance Manager is user defined host groups. Customers can put related hosts in a group and UCS Performance Manager will automatically figure out the underlying infrastructure those hosts and applications are dependent on. This dynamic view provides the relationship and health of the hosts and related infrastructure for a quick glance of the status. Each of the devices and components can be clicked for more information about them.

aFern Application View dynamically Identifies Converged Infrastructure Components supporting the app

From UCS perspective some of the frequent questions is how to find the bandwidth utilization of the server ports connected to servers, fiber channel uplinks going to SAN, Ethernet uplinks going to LAN and so on. UCS Performance Manager will provide this information in graphical and tabular form for easy consumption. Bandwidth utilization and health information overlay is applied on a UCS topology view for easy consumption.

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By utilizing the views and trend graphs available customers can quickly identify any congestion points in the integrated infrastructure to prevent application performance degradation proactively. Administrators can provision additional resource to ease congestion or move load across the integrated infrastructure based on business needs.

With UCS Performance Manager in the data center customers will:

  • Have a better understanding of UCS integrated infrastructure at a component level
  • Maintain and provide high level of service with optimal resource allocation
  • Save time and resources with a single pane of glass for integrated infrastructure monitoring

Here is a short video demo of UCS Performance Manager.

We are presenting an overview of UCS Performance Manager at the Cisco booth at VMworld next week. If you are attending the event stop by for a demo and live Q&A. Get a first look on the show floor at the Cisco booth #1217.

While at VMworld attend the theater presentation and break out sessions for more information.

1.  “Performance and Capacity Management for Cisco Converged Infrastructures”
Tuesday August 26, 2:00pm, Cisco booth #1217

2. “Management and Automation for UCS Integrated Infrastructure”
Tuesday August 26, 3:30pm, Room 3022 Moscone West

For more information, or to schedule a demo reach out to Vishwanath Jakka vijakka@cisco.com or Andrew Blaisdell ablaisde@cisco.com