As 2012 came to a close, I found myself looking back not only on the events of world at large but also on just how much progress we have made here at Cisco with the Cisco VXI Smart Solution. I took a moment to reflect on the incredible value VXI delivered to our customers last year.
Since its inception in 2010, the Cisco VXI Smart Solution has been at the center of successful virtual desktop initiatives. VXI brings together compute and collaboration in a complete solution and lets people seamlessly experience their desktops anywhere--on any device. I am very pleased to say that we have more than 1,000 VXI customers and that number is growing. With every new release, VXI has evolved with innovations that maximize performance, scalability, security and user experience while minimizing complexity and risk.
In 2012, we delivered major enhancements across the solution. We introduced optimization that reduces storage costs--often one of the biggest investments in a desktop virtualization program. We have enhanced data center performance and scalability with the remarkably successful Cisco UCS, or Cisco Unified Computing System. Now customers can easily scale from 500 to 29,000 virtual desktops on a single system by simply adding blades. The advantage of these performance enhancements becomes very obvious when large user groups are logging on at the same time—just imagine a call center at 8 am on a Monday.
Security is always at the top of the list for any organization thinking about virtualization. In 2012, Cisco VXI enhanced security for end users with support for Cisco AnyConnect VPN and single sign-on with Citrix Receiver. Security policy was also improved with integration of Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) into the solution. ISE gives customers greater control with policy-based security services for both corporate and employee devices, protecting organizations from data loss, compliance issues, loss of revenue and brand damage.
The VXI Smart Solution has always been a leader in user experience for desktop virtualization. We pioneered a new collaboration architecture for voice and video by eliminating the primary cause of poor quality in virtual desktop environments--namely the hairpin effect. We went even further this year by integrating Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Software, which reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to deliver workspace traffic over the WAN by up to 70%. Now, people are able to collaborate with voice and video calling on their virtual desktops – or as we like to call it– the Unified Workspace.
Complementing the VXI technologies are comprehensive design guides, services, support and our technology partner ecosystem. The Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) for VMware and for Citrix give our customers an end-to-end blueprint for implementation and they are updated with every release to facilitate success. To further assure a premium experience and exceptional flexibility, we have expanded our ecosystem of technology partners to include smartcards, endpoints and accessories.
While it gives me much satisfaction to reflect on the past 12 months I am even more enthusiastic about what’s in store for VXI in 2013. Right off the bat, you’ll hear about the next chapter in the evolution of the VXI Smart Solution with our upcoming announcement. Join us on January 17 to learn what’s new.
As we got past the Mayan Apocalyse day and as 2012 comes to an end, a question to reflect upon is if this has been the year of the Converged Infrastructure Solutions. Incidentally, use of these solutions by data centers was a topic of discussion on a panel moderated by Jim McHugh last month.
Just so we are on the same page, Converged Infrastructure Solutions are those which have integrated servers (CPU & Memory), server virtualization (hypervisor) and storage with the necessary network access into a single entity or logical unit. Examples are the VCE Vblock, NetApp FlexPod, Hitachi Data Systems UCP, IBM PureFlex System and HP CloudSystem (all names are trademarks of the respective companies). Even Dell has started marketing converged systems. The term pre-integrated has to be dissected carefully. In some cases the precise choices on server, storage array and the hypervisor have already been made by the vendor. In others, there is a choice on these infrastructure components and the solution is a reference design with tested scenarios. For instance, the Vblock is a fully integrated and tested solution with Cisco UCS for servers and network access, Cisco MDS 9148 storage switches, EMC VNX series storage and VMware virtualization. The misunderstanding on converged solutions is deep enough that an IBM PureFlex video goes on to compare the UCS Manager (manages only the UCS components) to the PureFlex management software, when in reality it should be compared with the Vblock management software. Read More »
The Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller extends the value of UCS Manager and provides deeper compute, storage, and network provisioning for converged infrastructure solutions including FlexPod, ExpressPod, Vblock, and VSPEX. It delivers a unified control point for this infrastructure, with physical and virtual resource management that can be combined with our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution. There are also potential synergies with other management software products in our portfolio including Cisco Network Services Manager and Cisco Virtual Network Management Center for the automation and provisioning of network resources.
Last week, I was at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas where I spoke with several analysts, customers, and partners about this new addition to our software portfolio. I’ve used the graphic below to illustrate our perspective on the management requirements for cloud computing – showing how infrastructure management provides an essential foundation for cloud management and orchestration.
One of the key take-aways from the feedback I heard at the conference was that Cisco has a highly differentiated position in the data center and cloud management market. Many of our competitors have resource management for virtual compute, but their functionality to manage physical resources is limited; few have the ability to manage storage and network infrastructure.
With Cloupia, we’ve strengthened Cisco’s ability to manage both physical and virtual resources across compute, storage, and network infrastructure. Now IT administrators can quickly setup and configure Unified Data Center solutions built around our best-in-class Cisco UCS and Nexus products, from within a single management console – improving both IT speed and agility.
And how does this fit with Cisco’s existing cloud management products? Like peanut butter and jelly, infrastructure management and cloud management are actually quite different. You can refer to this blog post by my colleague Wayne Greene for an overview and some key distinctions. But, like with peanut butter and jelly, when you put the two together – it’s a great combination. That’s the vision we have for Cloupia and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud: better together. Spread it on some UCS, and it’s PBJ time.
As with many software acquisitions in this space, we recognize that there are some areas of similar functionality across our management products – and our product engineering teams will be addressing that in our roadmaps going forward. Now that the acquisition has closed, our teams can focus on this collaboration and integration. The graphic below illustrates how Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud will use Cloupia’s northbound API to consume physical and virtual resources in a Vblock, FlexPod, VSPEX, ExpressPod, or other Cisco converged infrastructure solution.
Converged infrastructure management from Cloupia is the foundation for dynamically provisioning compute, storage, and network resources. Process orchestration is required to manage the end-to-end workflow, bringing infrastructure automation together with business policies and your existing IT operations environment. And as James Staten of Forrester pointed out in a recent blog post, it requires a portal interface and service catalog to “unify enterprise-cloud consumption” across application and infrastructure services, and across private and public clouds.
One way to look at this synergy is to think about the “supply chain” for your IT services: spanning converged infrastructure management, process orchestration, and the end-user service catalog. At one end, you have the factory – it’s where you put together the raw materials (VMs, LUNs, blades, switches), configure the resources, and control the infrastructure. Then you have logistics for transportation and warehouse management, including third party intermediaries – that’s the process orchestration and integration with other operational systems. And finally, every cloud needs a storefront – that’s the service catalog and self-service provisioning experience for IT consumers.
To push the analogy a bit further, let’s start with some raw ingredients. Take coffee* as an example – sounds simple and straightforward, like infrastructure. But is it?
Starbucks claims to have 87,000 combinations on their menu. It can get pretty complicated (like a grande decaf no-whip skinny peppermint white chocolate mocha with an extra shot).
In much the same way, infrastructure-as-a-service may sound simple. Isn’t it just a few basic ingredients with compute, storage, and network? But think about all the variations and service options (like backup or 24x7 support) required for enterprise application hosting. Even if you’re using the same infrastructure components, it’s much more than provisioning VMs, LUNs, and VLANs.
When you do it right, you can hide all this complexity from the end user. The power of the apparent simplicity in the Amazon.com catalog interface, combined with their logistics and supply chain operations behind the scenes, is what fueled the company’s success in e-commerce. And while your IT service catalog may not have the millions of SKUs that Amazon.com sells on their website (or the 87,000 options on the Starbucks menu), customer satisfaction and operational efficiency is just as important to managing your infrastructure and IT services.
That’s the value of converged infrastructure management when combined with cloud management: providing a simple and easy-to-use experience with on-demand provisioning, along with governance and process orchestration, to deliver the right services at the right time at the right cost to your IT consumers.
And that’s our vision for the addition of Cloupia to Unified Management. Better together. Please join me in welcoming Cloupia to the Cisco team.
Yesterday I introduced you to the Cisco Domain TenSM, Cisco Services’ framework for simplifying data center transformation. This model is applicable to both business (enterprise), public sector (e.g. government, federal) and service provider (incl telco) organizations.
Today I will summarize some key challenges that you should consider when planning a transition to cloud (as one example of data center transformation), for Domain #1 -- Facilities and Infrastructure.
Cisco Domain Ten -- Simplifying Data Center Transformation
In my blog last week I introduced a series of conversations in which Mike Spanbauer, Industry analyst at Current Analysis, Cisco Executives, Jim McHugh and Brian Schwarz discussed several topics. One of the topics they discussed was the adoption of Cloud technologies by Enterprises.
If you are interested in another analyst perspective, tune in to a webcast on December 6, at 9:00 am PST , to hear from James Staten of Forrester Research on their findings and analysis of the Cloud computing frontier.
Recognizing that Cloud computing is an important trend, I wanted to see how Cisco and Cisco UCS in particular facilitate a customer’s Journey to the Cloud. First, I noticed that InformationWeek recognized Cisco CTO Lew Tucker as a pioneer in Cloud computing. Second, I found a document by Cisco partner GTSI on the Cloud Maturity model which looks like a roadmap. The Journey included Consolidation, Virtualization and Automation – three things the Cisco UCS excels at.
Consolidation -- The converged server and network access architecture of the UCS promotes consolidation of resources. The notion of server pools and network port channels allows furthers consolidation and better utilization of the resources. The ability to run a large number of virtual machines on the same server as a result of superior performance enables consolidation of workloads on the same physical infrastructure. Read More »