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Cisco and Red Hat – All In with OpenStack for the Enterprise

When it comes to driving innovation in next generation data center architectures, open source is clearly at the forefront. A perfect example is OpenStack, which is defining the future of cloud computing across private, public and hybrid clouds. This innovation is being driven by a strong and vibrant community that is taking place in Paris this week for the OpenStack Summit. I’m looking forwarding to reconnecting with friends in the OpenStack community and discussing the recently announced Cisco and Red Hat solution for OpenStack.

Interest in OpenStack as a cloud platform is clearly on the rise. At the recent Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) launch event in New York City, Cisco and Red Hat introduced the UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (UCSO).  The pre-integrated and validated solution is a major step forward in providing an enterprise ready private cloud solution based on OpenStack.

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The Top 5 OpenStack Adoption Challenges – View from Cisco Services’ Experts

openstackOpenStack is gaining increasing industry attention and, while it can deliver huge advantages, some may say it is “hyped”. Although OpenStack has an ever growing range of enthusiastic practitioners and advocates,  as you may be aware, OpenStack is not without its critics – including Gartner – who outline the challenges of OpenStack adoption. It’s therefore generally recommended that OpenStack adopters consider engaging professional services experts to help them avoid the pitfalls

With the November 2014 OpenStack Summit in Paris opening as I write this – you can find us at stand C3 along with our newest acquisition, Metacloud (Stand E37) if you are going – my thoughts turn to the issues and challenges facing our customers when they deploy OpenStack into production projects.  And who better to ask than our Cisco Services consultants who are delivering OpenStack adoption services (which we launched this time last year at the Summit in Hong Kong).

These consultants are at the “coal face” (as we say in my part of the world, Scotland) of OpenStack– they are the experts digging deep in the IT equivalent of the mines working with real customers going live with real-world OpenStack.    More than R&D investigations, these deployments are happening with customers who are betting their business dollars, pounds, yen and other currencies on OpenStack.  However as the video (below) shows, OpenStack has its deployment complexities.  Hence increasing numbers of our customers are engaging Cisco Services to help them on OpenStack.

To share our practical experiences with you, we sat down and came up with our “top 5” adoption challenges list which you may find useful if you are considering or embarking upon an OpenStack deployment:

  1. Cross-domain technical expertise is mandatory
  2. Going deep with Open Source
  3. “It’s just middleware”
  4. Don’t underestimate the learning curve
  5. Expect your OPEX to increase (sorry!)

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Cisco UCS: The Optimal Platform for Microsoft SQL Server 2014

The world of data is changing. Businesses face growth in the volume of information and the types of data they encounter. There are new landscapes of vast and dynamic information that must be processed, managed and analyzed to achieve business insight. It is no surprise, therefore, that legacy infrastructures are failing to meet I.T.’s expectations.

For many of you this is why you are in Seattle this week – to attend PASS Summit 2014, the SQL PASS organization’s annual conference on SQL Server.  You want to learn this week from your peers, from Microsoft, and from vendor’s ways to successfully harness SQL Server and drive solutions that do meet your business and user’s expectations.

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Cisco Features you should be using

I know more than once now the Cisco ISR/ISR-G2’s Series have been dubbed as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of networking devices, simply due to the amount of flexibility & the number of technologies available to you when deploying these devices. Luckily for us, these devices provide even more features available to us to assist with troubleshooting and maintaining the overall health of the network. What is even better is that many of these useful troubleshooting features exist on many of the other product families not just ISR/ISR-G2’s. I’ve had the pleasure to work on networks all around the world for some decent size companies so I wanted to kick off this list with what I consider to be the most useful tools built-in to Cisco devices that are not very well known out there.

1. Embedded Packet Capture (EPC) – There is no doubt about it, but the ability to perform a packet capture at key points throughout the network can make troubleshooting particular issues that much easier. Luckily this feature exists on many different devices:

1. ISR G2’s – Even the older ISR’s have this ability
2. ASA Firewalls
3. IOS-XE devices – From the powerful ASR’s to the newer Catalyst 3850
4. NX-OS devices – Granted on NX-OS you can capture packets that are process switched, there is an easy way around this by creating an Access-list to match the traffic you want to capture.
5. Even in Cisco UCS we can configure a traffic monitoring policy to capture traffic directly from particular servers and capture directly off the Fabric Interconnects. *This is more of a SPAN-type session than Embedded Packet Capture. Read More »

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Balancing Innovation and Evolution: Cutting Through the Noise

Thinking back to how much the data center has transformed in the past ten, five, or even two years is enough to make your head spin. Keeping pace with these changes has been nearly impossible for IT departments, and it’s not getting any easier. When looking ahead, consider what changes the Internet of Everything (IoE), application-centric architectures, software-defined networking (SDN), and everything-as-a-service (XaaS) will bring. Confused? It’s no wonder.

My recent blog post described what every IT leader already knows: Running a data center is hard. Making matters worse are high-tech vendors who aren’t focused on addressing near-term customer needs. I feel that our industry, including Cisco on occasion, confuses customers with too much hyperbole around vision and strategy.

I spend a lot of time with customers all over the world, and there’s been a reoccurring theme: What customers tell me they need are solutions that will work for them today. Balancing innovation and evolution is important, but that burden needs to be carried by us—the tech vendors—not by our customers. It’s rare that customers have the time to slow down to sort it all out. Even as their IT operations are evolving, they need to “keep the planes in the air.”

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