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Cisco at CA World 2013

I am writing this from CA World 2013 in Las Vegas where the atmosphere is charged up.  The theme for this conference is “Go Big. IT with Impact”.  The idea is that IT departments have to think big to make material business impacts and succeed.  At the end of the day IT needs to solve business problems. Companies need the right strategy and technology solutions to harness the Cloud, Internet of Everything, mobile and Big Data. In a “partner with impact” session exclusively for partners, David Bradley, SVP Channel Sales, CA Technologies featured Rick Snyder, VP Global Partner Organization, Cisco.  The complete video is below

In this video, Rick mentions Cisco Validated designs (CVD), which are reference architectures, and blue prints for success. These designs incorporate a wide range of technologies and products into a portfolio of solutions developed to address the business needs of our customers.  These CVDs document solutions that are tested to facilitate and improve customer deployments.

CA Technologies stressed the importance of the SaaS delivery model and the benefits of providing application services.  CA also thinks that the opportunity for enterprise class application services offered as managed services will grow rapidly.  Service providers should be beneficiaries of this shift. A common customer of Cisco and CA Technologies – Logicalis, won the partner impact award for their managed private cloud solution for a UK bank.

There were several interesting announcements in the past 24 hours. The following caught my attention.

  1. CA in association with SAP will provide Mobile device Management solutions for enterprises. IT Management and Security are very high on the agenda for most enterprises. As more enterprise applications run on mobile devices securing and managing these devices becomes critical.
  2. CA also announced devops automation capability with the Nolio products.  With application aware system monitoring and management enterprises can expedite application development and reduce costs.
  3. CA Technologies announced the acquisition of Layer 7 technologies, a leader in the API management space.  APIs have become a necessity for application developers. REST-based APIs have allowed application developers to build rich web and mobile apps by providing the ability to integrate multiple services into individual application.

These approaches complement the way in which we help our own customers. The ISR-AXs are application aware and improve user experience at remote branch offices. The Cisco UCS has an API and facilitates infrastructure programmability.  This enables integration, orchestration and execution of automated workflows. We will have two breakout sessions tomorrow at the conference:

TD055SN- Cisco UCS and CA: Operational efficiency with Converged Infrastructure (Speaker : Mark Balch, Director of Product Management, Data Center Business Unit)

TB056SN- Delivering Optimal Application Experience with Cisco ISR-AX (Speaker: Liad Ofek, Manager, Technical Marketing at the Service Routing Group)

I am eagerly looking forward to the keynote this evening by Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

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Cisco UCS – Quintessential Fabric-based computing – Part 3

In Part 1 of this blog series, we looked at Gartner’s definition of Fabric based infrastructure (FBI). In part 2, we explored the benefits of service profiles and automation of server management. In this last installment, we will look into the benefits of fabric extension to virtual machines.

According to an IDC report (New Economic Model for the Data Center), the rate of growth of virtual machines is much higher than physical machines.  The life cycle of virtual machines is more dynamic than physical servers. Virtual machines may need to be moved from one network to another for data access.  Additionally, typical deployments of virtual machines have an extra layer of switching in the hypervisor.  The software switches in the hypervisor emulate hardware at the expense of application performance. Cisco UCS solves these problems with the Cisco Virtual Interface cards (VICs) acting as adapter fabric extenders (fig 1) and bringing the network to virtual machines (VMs).

FEX

Another problem is that network administrators have no control on the soft switches in the hypervisor, which makes monitoring of network traffic to individual VMs very cumbersome. Cisco VICs use the VN-Tag standard in IEEE 802.1 BR standard to manage each link from the VM as if it were a Read More »

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Cisco and Red Hat Explore Partnership for Red Hat Distribution of OpenStack (RDO)

At the OpenStack Summit 2013, Red Hat announced RDO, a freely available, community-supported distribution of OpenStack. OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter.

In addition to the new release, Red Hat also announced today the launch of an official Cloud Infrastructure Partner Program, “a multi-tiered program designed for third-party commercial companies that offer hardware, software and services for customers to implement cloud infrastructure solutions powered by Red Hat OpenStack.” I’m excited about the  solution opportunities that are possible by combining UCS and Nexus offerings  with Red Hat on the OpenStack cloud infrastructure.

Read the announcement here:

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Red Hat OpenStack Announcement

Why is this a good fit for Cisco’s Customers?

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Where Cisco, Microsoft And Partners Win Together In Data Center

It’s a complex world of ecosystem partnerships out there, and it’s important to remember that while technology providers such as Cisco and Microsoft compete in areas such as collaboration and unified communications, they’re also tightly aligned in areas such as data center, where there’s a huge opportunity for Cisco and Microsoft partners to take joint solutions to market.

Cisco and Microsoft took another step in that alignment last week, thanks not only to the integration of Cisco Unified Data Center architecture with Microsoft Fast Track solutions, but also joint marketing and other activities to enable partners that sell both companies’ data center technologies.

The integration itself is a compelling one. Microsoft customers, for example, will be able to have programmatic access to the Cisco Unified Computing System, which gives them a lot more insight and control into how their Cisco Unified Data Center assets work in concert with Windows server and application software. (Here are some more of the details, including specifics on Cisco Nexus 1000V and Cisco UCS.)

Also new is that Cisco will offer several Fast Track solutions that provide customers a reference architecture using technology from Cisco and EMC, under the VSPEX architecture, or from Cisco and NetApp, under the FlexPod architecture. Both of those reference designs have been validated for Microsoft’s Private Cloud Fast Track program. Read More »

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Cisco UCS – Quintessential Fabric-based computing – Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog series, I introduced Gartner’s definition of Fabric based infrastructure (FBI).  I explained the benefit of data center fabrics with the promise of continuing in a follow on blog.  Some readers rightly pointed out to me that I had not yet touched on the automation benefits. This video featuring Gartner analyst, Donna Scott and Cisco CTO Paul Perez provides a great overview of the benefits namely:

  • Capital cost savings with infrastructure consolidation
  • Lower operating costs with automation
  • Speed of implementation and infrastructure deployment
  • Better SLAs with faster recovery or migrations

Let’s dig a bit deeper and start by looking at the difference between a FBI server and a run of the mill server.  FBI essentially lets us define the profile of a server in software. The profile here refers to as many as 120 attributes of a physical server stored as meta data in a profile. These attributes include BIOS version, LAN connection parameters, SAN connection parameters, UUID, MAC Address etc.

fbi0srv

In the case of run of the mill servers some of these attributes remain the same throughout the life of the physical server. You may be able to alter other attributes with manual operations through proprietary user interfaces.  As shown in the figure above, the server identity (service profile) of a FBI server is abstracted from the physical server.

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