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Unifying the Data Center, a Customer’s Perspective

I have been posting on this blog for a couple of years now as a member of the Data Center Marketing team. However, I’ve been silent for several months as I transitioned into a new customer-facing role selling to some of our largest customers in Nothern California. Stepping outside marketing into the real world, if you will, has given me a unique perspective into our customer’s data center problem set.I recently attended a data center briefing with a large healthcare provider that is in the process of consolidating and virtualizing their data center assets. After a few hours of presentations that covered our strategies around Virtualization, Unified Fabric, and Unified Computing, I quickly realized that the lightbulb going off in their heads was not about how cool this technology was or how much money they could save but how much time they would get back in their lives by implementing our Data Center 3.0 products and solutions.That by enabling hitless ISSU on the Nexus 7000, they could perform software upgrades without dropping a single packet. This combined with the built-in out-of-band Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) meant they could perform required maintenance anytime from anywhere they happened to be.That by implementing a Unified Fabric with the Nexus 5000 that converges their LAN and SAN architectures, they could drastically reduce the number of switches, adaptors, and cables they would have to manage and configure on a day to day basis by at least 50 percent.That by using the Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender, they could consolidate dozens of top-of-rack switches they currently manage down to a single switch with a single image and a single configuration while enjoying the performance benefits of an end-of-row architecture.That by installing the Nexus 1000V in each of their virtualized servers, they could save the time of manually configuring security policy on switch ports every time the server team decided to Vmotion a VM from one physical server to another. That the VN-Link architecture automated the process and made sure that the proper network configuration followed the VM where ever it happened to wander, night or day.I started my career in IT as a data center manager and I remember many sleepless nights and late-hour pages while on-call. I’m actually quite jealous of some of the technology that is available today that allows an IT engineer to live a somewhat normal 9-5 life. As my father frequently told me when I was growing up, “You don’t know how good you have it today, son.” Don’t I feel like saying that sometimes to the young IT folks I meet on a daily basis.Maybe I should go visit my old friends in Data Center Marketing and tell them that their messaging is all wrong. Data Center 3.0 is not about how to enable a CIO to get the most out of his or her data center assets but how it will get the most out of their overworked IT staff.

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