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Cisco and Microsoft: Radically Improving I.T. Effectiveness Together

Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in Washington D.C. we entered into a new phase of our Microsoft relationship. Together Cisco and Microsoft announced a multi-year, worldwide sales and channel program focused on driving infrastructure solutions for Server Migration, Private Cloud, and SQL Server engagements. Based on key technologies such as UCS, Nexus, Hyper-V, and Windows Server 2012 R2 these solutions help to enable I.T. organizations to radically improve their I.T. effectiveness while improving their business outcomes.

At Cisco we believe our foundational technologies -- with UCS as the compute platform, Nexus as the switching platform, and with UCS Manager and System Center management integration – provide customers an optimal infrastructure for their Microsoft Windows Server workloads of SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, and Cloud.  Our industry leading UCS integrated infrastructure solutions combined with storage from EMC or NetApp, delivers an even more robust end-to-end value proposition via our FlexPod or VSPEX offerings to our customers. These solutions position our customers well on their respective journeys to the cloud. You’ve read my thoughts here; but let’s hear from Microsoft and their comments on Cisco, Microsoft, our partnership, and value to our joint customers:

We have focused heavily on infrastructure solutions for the Microsoft ecosystem over the past ~2 years and now that our UCS integrated infrastructure architectures are proven we will be putting more emphasis on discrete Microsoft workload solutions. Our initial focus will be on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and how UCS and its differentiated features, such as Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect, deliver improved performance, availability, and scalability.  Satinder Sethi, Vice President of UCS Engineering, details out the benefits of UCS and SQL Server 2014 in this video:

The solutions we deliver to our customers, whether they be private or hybrid cloud, workload or infrastructure focused, are architected and engineered by Cisco, and certified for the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program as well as certified for the Microsoft Fast Track program. This delivers more value for customers as the prescriptive guidance in each solution offering enables customers to accelerate their deployments with lower risk.

If you happen to be at WPC 2014, please stop by the Cisco booth #801 to speak with our Experts; see things hands on; and simply learn a bit more.  You can also read more about Cisco’s channel programs for the Microsoft ecosystem in Cisco VP Denny Trevett’s blog.  Finally, please feel free to visit www.cisco.com/go/microsoft.

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Your Guide to Cisco at Microsoft TechEd 2014

May 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm PST

Platinum Sponsor BannerCisco and Microsoft have been working closely to integrate our data center solutions to provide agile, secure and scalable platforms for private cloud, hybrid IT and modern business applications. The Cisco team is looking forward to showcasing these solutions at Microsoft TechEd 2014, May 12-15,  in Houston, Texas.

We have a full line-up of demos, sessions and events that will highlight the unique benefits of the Cisco Unified Data Center for Microsoft environments and applications. If you’ll be in Houston for TechEd, drop by the Cisco booth to speak with Cisco experts and learn how you can take advantage of deep integrations between the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Microsoft Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center, to deliver Microsoft applications in private or hybrid cloud environments.

Connect with Cisco in Booth 701

Learn about Cisco Data Center products and talk to Cisco solution experts in booth 701. We’ll be conducting live solution demonstrations on:

  • 3-D UCS demos featuring FlexPod and VSPEX for Microsoft Private Cloud and Applications
  • UCS Management with Microsoft System Center
  • Network Visualization with Nexus for Hyper-V
  • Cisco InterCloud Fabric
  • UCS Invicta Series Solid State Systems
  • Application Centric Infrastructure

You’ll come for the demos but you won’t leave empty handed. We’ll have exceptionally cool Cisco hats for visitors to our booth.

Cisco Showcase Sessions

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XMPP: A Power Tool in Your Tool Box

February 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm PST

Extensive Message Protocol (XMPP) is an open standard protocol based on XML (Extensible Markup Language). XMPP is designed to transport instant messages (IM) between entities and to detect online presence. It supports authentication of IM application and secure transport of messages over SSL/TLS. In XMPP entities can be bots, physical users, servers, devices or components. It’s really a powerful tool that has great potential for system administrators to add to their toolbox because:

  • XMPP is powerful
  • XMPP with Python is only 12 lines of code – trust me, it’s easy!
  • XMPP only requires a single query for multiple nodes
  • Status message can be used to track host presence

The Power of XMPP

For those of you that are not familiar with XMPP, it not only supports one-to-one messaging between entities but it also supports multi-party messaging (which enables an entity to join a chat room for the exchange of messages with several participants). The messages can be text messages embedded in XML format but XML can also be used to send control messages between entities as we will see with the presence stanza in a bit.

XMPP is widely used; Google uses it (for its Hangout application -- formerly google chat) and so does Yahoo and MSN. At Cisco, we use Cisco Jabber extensively to communicate internally. The XMPP client function is now integrated in the Cisco Nexus 5000 series with the release 5.2(1)N1(7) and the Nexus 6000 series with the release of 7.0(0)N1(1). XMPP is an integral part of the single console access for Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) which is a powerful framework described in my previous blog.

The new Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) 7.0(1) is delivered as an OVA file that can be deployed quickly on an existing VMware-enabled server. Although DCNM comes with a lot of features that simplify the deployment of the Data Center fabric, we can pick and choose any service we want to use independently -- which is great since DCNM comes with Cisco Jabber XCP and is license free. If you already have a XMPP service installed (like Openfire or ejabberd), it will not be a problem because everything discussed here is valid on any standard XMPP implementation.

On NX-OS devices, the XMPP feature is activated by configuring ‘feature fabric access’ and is part of the Enhanced L2 license (ENHANCED_LAYER2_PKG). Once activated, the switch becomes a XMPP client that needs to be registered on the server. In order to register it, XMPP requires the use of fully qualified domain names (FQDNs) to identify the domain server. If the switch does not have access to a DNS service, I recommend that you use the switch management network for messaging and a static host–to–IP address mapping in the switch configuration.

The switch will use its hostname to login to the XMPP service. If your XMPP server does not support auto-registration, you will need to register the switch and the rooms in the XMPP database beforehand. The DCNM OVA requires users and groups to be created via the CLI, and example of this user and group creation is:

[root@dcnm-ova ~]# appmgr add_user xmpp -u leaf0 -p cisco123
User added.
[root@dcnm-ova ~]# appmgr add_user xmpp -u leaf1 -p cisco123
User added.

User added. Read More »

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Meet the latest additions to the Nexus 7700 and F3 Module Series.

Last July, Cisco announced the new Nexus 7700 switches (Nexus 7710 and 7718) as part of the Nexus 7000 Series, offering higher 40G and 100G densities and also delivering front to back airflow in a smaller form factor. Along with the new 7700 chassis, we announced the next generation F-Series modules, the F3 40G and 100G modules. From a feature perspective, the F3 modules combine the feature set of the F2 and M2 modules into a single module, making module selection, switching configuration and spare stocking much simpler.

In late January at Cisco Live Milan, we added to that announcement with the introduction of the Nexus 7706 and a 10G F3 module for the Nexus 7700’s.

The Nexus 7706 offers the performance and features of its bigger brothers the 10 and 18 slot chassis, but in a smaller form factor. The 10 and 18 slot chassis work great for large deployments where densities drive the chassis selection, however, talking with customers who have small/medium sized data centers, it was clear that they want the rich feature set of the Nexus 7700, but didn’t need 768 10G ports or 384 40G port densities in a single switch. Sure it gives them room to grow, but it also takes up real estate in their small data centers.

The small form factor Nexus 7706 with 4 module slots provides the ideal capacity for small/medium deployments. With up to 192 10G ports, 96 40G ports or 48 100G ports, the Nexus 7706 delivers more than enough switching capacity for today’s small data centers with ample growth capacity for future growth. We are also seeing customers leverage the Nexus 7706 for Data Center Interconnect (DCI) deployments, where high densities aren’t generally  required. Because of its versatility, we’ve seen significant customer demand for the 7706 since it’s introduction…actually higher than we originally expected.

7706 slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cisco Instant Access: What Is It?

What is Cisco Instant Access?

Cisco Instant Access is a concept that was launched at Cisco Live Orlando last year. For those of you familiar with the Nexus product line, think Fabric Extender (FEX). The first customers are starting to implement this concept now. The whole point of Instant Access is explained with the picture below.

Cisco Instant Access1

To the left is the traditional network with multiple access switches located in closets, uplinked to the distribution layer or straight to the core in a collapsed core design. Every access switch is a point of management which needs configuration, software maintenance and feature compatibility with other access switches. Read More »

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