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Have a Problem? Ask an Expert (Even if He, She, or It Is 3,000 Miles Away)

Your smart sprinkler system is happily pumping water to your lawn in highly efficient sprays that are “aware” of the soil, the climate, the weather, the time of day, and even whether or not your kids are playing in the backyard on a Saturday. Suddenly, a faulty valve bursts and an uncontrolled geyser erupts. One part of your property is about to be ruined by flooding while the rest of the lawn is left to yellow in the sun.

You and your family are miles away, yet you know all about it.  Sensors throughout the system alert your smartphone. At the same time, machine-to-machine signals shut down the pumps, and an expert from the sprinkler company is dispatched to your home with the precise replacement part and the real-time knowledge to fix the system.

It’s a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) may soon funnel precise information in real time to the people — or machines — that need it most. Many of these “remote expert” technologies are either already here or on the horizon.

remote-expert

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When Sensors Act Like Teenagers

A common cornerstone of both the Internet of Things and Internet of Everything concepts is the idea of a future with billions, if not trillions, of connections to the Internet. As the Internet of Everything connects objects, data, people and processes, the future of connected things will not be traditional computers or smartphones. Rather, it may be your refrigerator, or a traffic light, or even a litter box. Basically, anything that can have a status change that will interest someone has the potential to be connected to the Internet in order to alert you to that change.

The idea of being alerted to important information automatically is appealing. After all, if your refrigerator is having a cooling issue and it can send you a text alert, you can save money by taking corrective action before your milk and other products go bad. However, not all of the data generated by the Internet of Everything will be of high value. In fact, most of it will be of little value at all.

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As Cloud Empowers Lines of Business, Challenges for IT

As the key delivery model for the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy, cloud is helping to drive sweeping changes across nearly all aspects of our lives. But while the growth trajectory of cloud has been carefully charted, there has been comparatively little insight into its impact on IT organizations. To gain a better understanding, Cisco® Consulting Services, in partnership with Intel®, undertook an extensive global survey of 4,226 IT leaders respondents in April-March 2013 to investigate cloud-driven IT change.

The Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models” study explored the dramatic changes affecting IT at all key consumption lifecycle stages — how businesses plan for, procure, deploy, operate, and govern IT. This is part two in a four-part blog series that will explore some of the findings of this study and discuss how today’s IT leaders can prepare for the new model for IT.

One of the clearest expressions of this cloud-driven change is the emergence of lines of business (LOBs) — human resources, sales, R&D, and other areas that are end users of IT — both as direct consumers of third-party cloud-based services, and as ever more prominent influencers of companies’ IT agendas. This represents a major paradigm shift from decades of IT tradition, when IT itself set the agenda and made all planning and procurement decisions.

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When IoE Gets Personal: The Quantified Self Movement!

Microsensors in your shoes compile data on where you go and how much you walk or run. Your workout clothes track your daily progress at the gym and tell you when to slow down or speed up. The pill you swallow reports back on the state of your digestion, vital signs, and overall well-being. And as you sleep, a headband monitors your REM patterns.

A far-fetched sci-fi fantasy? Not at all. It’s merely a glimpse Read More »

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Evolving Cisco’s Unified Computing System for Big Data and the Internet of Everything

Evolving Cisco UCS for Big Data and the Internet of Everything

Image credit: imediaconnection.com

In an earlier blog, I discussed the incredible success behind the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) in Darwinian evolutionary terms.  Since I wrote that blog three months ago, we’ve continued to grow rapidly and have strengthened our position as the #2 blade server player worldwide from 19.3% to 21.5% revenue share (per IDC 2CQ2013 server market tracker, September 2013), with 33.9% revenue share in the US.

Prediction – The #1 spot is well within our reach sooner than you may think.

As we grow our installed base with roughly 1,000 new customers every month, our conversations about the future of UCS have taken an interesting turn. Until now in what I’ll call the “UCS 1.0” phase, Cisco focused on virtualization and private cloud as the dominant use cases that were top-of-mind for industry CIOs and we struck a resonant chord based on our growth – just look at our numbers.

We were market makers with expanded-memory 2-socket Intel EX blades (remember the B230’s?), which were gobbled up like candy into large-scale VDI deployments much to the surprise of the industry. We also jump-started a very attractive RISC-to-x86 migration practice, including Cisco IT’s own production environment: a 40TB mission-critical database that ran on HP Superdomes – a “circle of life” moment for me since Superdome was my program from 1999-2003.

We’ll continue leading in customer value for our original design centers, but we are now focusing on market expansion with what we call “UCS 2.0”, expanding into data-intensive, mission critical, analytics and service provider cloud environments with an increased level of R&D funding and strong corporate support from our top executives.

Prediction – You’ll see us more focused on architectural solutions for key industry vertical markets with tuned solution environments that leverage Cisco’s wide portfolio and that of our partners.

One such act of support is the announcement today of our intent to acquire WHIPTAIL, a leading solid-state systems company that boasts the highest scalability in performance and capacity of any scale-out flash vendor on the market today.  WHIPTAIL systems span from single-node entry products to 30-node behemoths that drive almost 400TB’s of flash, 40GB/sec of bandwidth and 4 million random R/W IOPS – for starters.

Prediction: Cisco will unseat Infiniband with low-latency Ethernet fabrics. Check out our USNIC technology for starters…

In our customer interactions it became very clear they view application acceleration using persistent solid-state memory as a use case that belongs in the server tier, not the storage tier.

In an application-centric world, we started thinking not about server vs. storage infrastructure, but how applications viewed data – hot “important right now” data, warm “may be of interest data” and cold “let’s keep it around for background mining or compliance” data.

We arrived at the conclusion that UCS needed to be best-in-class at accelerating hot data layers. Hot data is closest to applications and therefore has high affinity for the server tier.  Hence WHIPTAIL.

Assertion: Flash is a “boundary technology” that can be viewed as part of the memory or storage hierarchy. With respect to storage it’s faster and more expensive per GB. With respect to DRAM memory it’s slower but cheaper per GB. It therefore allows cost/performance arbitrage for applications by applying an accelerated persistent data model that can save on DRAM and de-complicate underlying permanent backing stores.

WHIPTAIL is a great fit with the fabric computing UCS architecture and also complementary to our C-Series rack mount servers and our SingleConnect capability in our UCS Manager that allows mixed-density blade/rack deployments to be managed from a common pane of glass.

Our intent is to fully integrate UCS computing and WHIPTAIL solid-state technologies over a Nexus fabric to create scalable persistent memory systems. That’s our vision.

Why? Because customers will be able to do things they could not before. Such as loading vast amounts of data in seconds and minutes, not hours or days – or – shrinking their performance footprint to a rack vs. 30 racks – or – accelerating Hadoop on all solid-state infrastructure – or – extending in-memory analytics to a scale previously not thought possible. That’s why.

As converged infrastructure advances as an ensemble computing architecture, boundary technologies like solid-state memory can be viewed as part of the memory or the storage hierarchy. Cisco’s point of view is to make it part of the memory hierarchy in the compute tier. That allows customers the best of both worlds – performance acceleration for applications while retaining their investment in permanent backing stores and simplifying their overall data center total cost of ownership (TCO).

To close on a Darwinian note, if UCS existed in the Cretaceous Period it would have been a Velociraptor  (meaning ‘swift seizer’)– sleek, fast and ferocious – eating everything in its path.  Velociraptors are believed to have hunted in packs, which is great considering the strong partner ecosystem that Cisco and UCS have built with industry leaders like EMC, NetApp and VCE as shining examples. We are committed to maintaining and expanding our hunting pack – more on that later!

if Cisco UCS existed in the Cretaceous Period it would have been a Velociraptor

if Cisco UCS existed in the Cretaceous Period it would have been a Velociraptor. Image credit: dark.pozadia.org

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