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Looking for Action? Citrix Synergy or Disneyland – or Both

I am looking forward to next week’s Citrix Synergy conference in Anaheim, Los Angeles with sense of great anticipation. If you are fortunate enough to be attending, I am sure you are looking forward to next week too – and surely not because of the proximity to Disneyland. Whether it’s Mark Templeton’s keynote or the CTO innovations session or the Citrix party – there is always lots to learn and great people to meet.  Just as important for me, we at Cisco have another great opportunity to share and demonstrate the latest innovations in our Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions portfolio for Citrix XenDesktop environments. There is something in store for every IT professional, from self-guided demos to a live expo of what’s going on behind the scenes at the conference.  I want to spend the next few minutes taking you through a virtual tour of the Cisco presence at the event.

Since I visited Citrix Synergy Barcelona in 2012 October, Cisco has made significant progress by expanding on the Desktop Virtualization front to help you choose a desktop virtualization solution ideally optimized to your own delivery model, scale, use case and cost requirements Ashok Rajagopalan does a great job describing these solutions in his video blog

 ashok

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Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

I recently had the opportunity to host several customers in a roundtable discussion, exploring their experiences in deploying desktop and application virtualization, the challenges encountered, and the benefits they’ve reaped.  It was an engaging dialog with organizations spanning mid-market, enterprise to large service prVirt_during Webinar w_Jim Mchughovider environments deploying either Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View desktop virtualization software.  In case you missed it, you can check out the event here.  I mention this because it provides a valuable backdrop to some important news Cisco is sharing today, centered on helping IT organizations (like those I met with) more quickly achieve success in VDI.

Over the last few years, Cisco UCS has rapidly established itself as a leader among competitors with a much longer history in the server marketplace.  Why is that?  If you talk with anyone who’s implemented UCS in their data center, they’ll instantly tell you about the operational streamlining and simplification that UCS Service Profile Templates offer, the value of a unified data center fabric for LAN and SAN, and the performance derived from a platform that was purpose built for highly scalable, virtualized environments.

It shouldVirt_info graphic_UDC to End User be no surprise then, that when organizations evaluate their options for server infrastructure to host virtual desktop workloads, the same UCS core value proposition extends nicely to desktop virtualization – the benefits of which are multiplied, in fact, given that virtual desktops can consume infrastructure resources and capacity in unique ways compared to other mission critical enterprise applications.  We’ve therefore seen great response from our customers (as demonstrated in our webinar/panel discussion) when it comes to the fitness of UCS in hosting virtual desktops.

What we’ve come to find through our customer’s experiences, is that the vendor marketplace has traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all mentality around VDI architectures that either forces organizations to overspend CAPEX on approaches that are tuned for much larger environments, or wrestle with an economized approach that results in poor desktop user experience.  Clearly, there’s a spectrum of IT implementation use cases that apply, when we’re talking VDI.  Persistent desktops vs. floating, SAN in place vs. greenfield, one-hundred seats vs. tens of thousands, etc. so one size will never adequately fit all!

For this very reason, we’re expanding our portfolio of desktop virtualization solution architectures, along with the ecosystem of technology partners who are helping us accelerate the path to VDI success for environments of all sizes.  While Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with NetApp and EMC, we’re now  offering desktop virtualization solutions that also include technologies from partners such as Nimble Storage, Nexenta, Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, Tegile and others in process.

With these partners’ technologies come new capabilities that exploit key trends in the VDI and data center marketplace, including the proliferation of flash-based storage solutions, and appliance based approaches that mitigate the need for embedded SAN infrastructure and expertise (especially in smaller environments).  Additionally, unlike our competitors who are narrowly focused on their own storage portfolio, Cisco can offer our customers the flexibility and choice they desire in selecting the storage technology and solution for VDI, that best fits their environment.

I encourage you to learn more about this exciting new portfolio of architectures by checking out the assets below.

Please also check out the webinar “Customer Insights: Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms

Our featured guests include:

  • Mark Balch, Director UCS Product Management, Cisco
  • David Johnson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Charles Rosse, Baptist Memorial HealthCare
  • Udaya Kiran, WiPro Technologies
  • Robert Dixon, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • And myself (Jim McHugh) as your Host/Moderator

Check it out and let me know what you think in the Comments section!

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Architecture Options for Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions

Today Cisco is introducing an expanded architectural portfolio and partner ecosystem in support of our successful desktop virtualization solution built on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  Cisco UCS market traction has been phenomenal over the last 3 years. In fact, desktop virtualization has been one of the top workloads deployed on UCS as IT organizations apply the benefits of our stateless, simplified operations model, expansive I/O, and scalable performance to desktop workloads in the data center. Combined with unique product integration and the software eco-system partners such as VMware, Citrix and Microsoft, Cisco has delivered a number of reference designs with our strategic storage partners such as EMC and NetApp. Typically, these architectures were based on designs that easily scale from supporting a few hundred virtual desktops to thousands of desktops.

We have seen an inflection point with the perfect storm of the evolution of storage options, desktop software maturity, and data center architectures. One of the important changes in the storage market is the emergence of flash storage to address performance problems.

Taking advantage of enhanced UCS features and expanding the eco-system of storage partners including Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, LSI, Nexenta, Nimble Storage and Tegile, Cisco is defining a broader portfolio of data center architectures for delivering desktop virtualization solutions – on-board architecture, simplified architecture and scalable architecture. “Converged” or “Unified” infrastructure stacks such as FlexPod and vBlock have, and will continue to be another successful option for desktop delivery infrastructure.  Let me walk you through each of these architectural approaches.

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Cisco UCS Delivers a World-Record VMware® VMmark™ 2.5 Benchmark Result

Cisco continues its cloud computing performance leadership with the announcement of VMware® VMmark™ 2.5 benchmark result published on May 9th 2013. The Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server’s score of 12.00@10 tiles on the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark represents the best cloud computing performance of any 2-socket server in a 2-node configuration as measured by the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark

The VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark uses a tiled design that incorporates six real-world workloads to calculate a virtualization score. Then it includes VMware vMotion, Storage vMotion, and virtual machine provisioning times to calculate an infrastructure score. The combination of these scores is the total benchmark score. 

The system used to achieve this performance included the Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server powered by Intel® Xeon® processors and an industry-leading approach to storage: a Cisco UCS server-based Fusion‑io ION Data Accelerator solution that turns the server into a storage system. The Fusion-io ION Data Accelerator turns Cisco UCS servers equipped with Fusion-io ioMemory into highly available, transparently scalable, shared storage appliances.

For additional insights on the benchmark configuration check the “Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server Delivers World-Record Cloud Computing Performance” Performance Brief. You can also download the official VMware® VMmark™ V 2.5   benchmark disclosure and configuration details at http://www.vmware.com/a/assets/vmmark/pdf/2013-05-09-Cisco-C240M3.pdf

 
VMmark 2.5
With this world-record-setting   VMmark 2.5 benchmark score of 12.00@10 tiles Cisco UCS has delivered the best cloud computing performance of any 2-socket server in a 2-node configuration as measured by the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark outperforming solutions from AMD, Dell, Fujitsu, and HP. Whether a virtualized data center or a public or private cloud is needed, this VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark result indicates the degree to which the Cisco UCS can accelerate applications while delivering virtualization and infrastructure performance and agility for cloud computing environments

Better infrastructure yields better performance. With innovations such as unified fabric, large memory capacity, expansion capabilities, and the low-latency performance of Fusion-io ioMemory and ION Data Accelerator software, Cisco’s results demonstrate the architectural advantages of a system built for virtualized environments.

VMware VMmark is a product of VMware, Inc. The comparative results cited in this document were available at http://www.vmmark.com and were valid as of May 9th, 2013..

Girish Kulkarni

Senior Marketing Manager

Unified Computing System 

gikulkar@cisco.com

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Post CA World 2013

The last couple of weeks have been among my most hectic.  CA World 2013 was a blast and the return flight from Las Vegas was an adventure in itself with an inebriated co-passenger. Over the weekend I attended a colorful Indian wedding deep in heart of the Austin hill country.  Anyone who has been a part of the groom’s party knows how tiring it can be.  To top it, last week I was at OSCON (Open Source Conference) 2013, a conference hosted by Cisco at which we had speakers from IBM, Canonical, Red Hat and Rackspace Hosting among others.

The keynote session at CA World 2013 with Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, was absolutely fascinating.  Richard spoke about how he started Virgin Airlines. We also got to see the advertisement for space travel with another of his ventures – Virgin Galactic.  A musical performance by the Goo Goo Dolls on the 23rd of April ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

The Cisco UCS session at CA World 2013 by Mark Balch and Lax Sakalkale was well received. In the session Mark highlighted how the increasing demands on data centers and adoption of cloud computing require IT departments to be agile and use flexible infrastructure.  He then went on to show why more than 20,000 customers have adopted converged infrastructure based on Cisco UCS technology to meet these requirements.  He gave examples of operational efficiency with Cisco UCS in deploying solutions such as VDI, Cloud and Big Data applications. He also cited case studies in which customers had seen significant economical benefits. Lax then showed some of the advantages of managing the UCS infrastructure with solutions from CA Technologies.

Cisco UCS -- CA World 2013 from Ranjit Nayak

We also had a houseful of attendees in the theater session, which discussed real world operations management results from UCS deployments.  This session aggregated the results from customer case studies. It also went on to explain the underlying basis for the economical gains that customers are experiencing.  Most importantly we had engaging conversations with customers who were designing and deploying continuity and disaster recovery solutions for business critical applications on Cisco UCS.  We heard from at least two customers who had UCS blade servers running the critical software for their business.

The following were some of their reasons to invest in business continuity: Read More »

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