There are a number of trends that are impacting data centers today, many of which will have a profound impact on how businesses consume data center resources. These can provide a variety of challenges. Perhaps most obvious, is the fact that people and businesses are more connected than ever with the proliferation of mobile devices and tablets. These new devices are driving more applications, more users, and an insatiable appetite for network bandwidth. This blog will discuss a few of these trends and how Cisco is shaping its data center strategy to enable customers to meet these rapidly changing demands.
Another major data center trend that is driving change in the data center is the continued adoption of virtualization technologies. What’s interesting is that although server spending has remained relatively flat for over a decade, there is still a great deal of “head room” for companies to further adopt virtualization.
In fact, IDC studies show that many applications are yet to be virtualized as the chart to the right indicates. However, virtualization is driving complexity elsewhere including the network, software and storage. So what has created a more agile server, has not necessarily created a more agile system.
The next major trend is that of Cloud Computing, with more business leveraging private, public or potentially even hybrid cloud models. Some actually forecast that there could eventually be a small number of mega data centers and companies will all leverage capacity exclusively from these since they can offer extreme efficiencies. The truth is, there are two ends of the spectrum, some customers will prefer to host their own infrastructure and others may choose to use Cloud providers exclusively. We are finding today that many customers are somewhere in the middle and choose their model based on the application needs.
Lynn University is a 50-year old private, coeducational institution located in Boca Raton, Florida. So how was this fairly small and quiet school selected to host the final 2012 presidential debate? It’s booming with technological innovation.
The school has long held the belief that student collaboration and sharing of knowledge is vital to the learning process, but realized with time, they need to increase student support through technology. To move to a 1-to-1 program entailed giving each student an iPad and overhauling its network environment. In late 2011, as this transformation was underway, Lynn discovered that they would also soon be the youngest school to ever host a presidential debate.
This meant the school had less than a year to undergo a complete technical refresh, so Lynn turned to Cisco for help. University CIO Chris Boniforti summed up his decision to select Cisco by saying “All of our diverse technical requirements, for both the debate and the university, could be done under one umbrella, with one vendor, and that was Cisco.”
This umbrella of technology included Cisco wireless solutions, Cisco Unified Computing System and Cisco security, voice and IP communications. Cisco joined forces with longtime partner Modcomp to deliver a solution the university could use well beyond the presidential debate. The result: A successful implementation that resulted in a “technically smooth” debate.
It’s important to note this project didn’t shut down once the debate was over. Today, the school is committed to providing a mobile platform for its entire faculty and students by the time the newest crop of freshmen arrive in fall later this year. The addition of the new business school will include lecture capture and resources-sharing tools, including video. Now embedded in the teaching environment, this benefit would not have been possible without Lynn’s new Cisco network.
I’m personally impressed with the university’s commitment to technology. They are a great example for other small schools looking for cost-effective innovation. What do you think? Is your school ready for this kind of transformation?
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.
Ed Christmas understands the potential complexities that bringing high-definition video onto the network can entail.
As the managing principal of Sology Solutions, one of our Premier Certified safety and security integrators, he’s worked for the last couple of years to define a video strategy for his customer Dallas County. The plan involved recommending the newly re-architected Cisco Video Surveillance Manager 7.0 as the cornerstone of a business transformation project that goes far beyond just simply improving safety and security for citizens and employees. It aims to help improve the way that services are delivered to citizens.
A key factor in Sology’s choice as a partner lies in the ease of deploying this new video surveillance solution, which was completely rebuilt from the ground up for very large scale video deployments. In this video Ed describes how he was able to go into the customer at 10am in the morning, deploy the software in a virtualised Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) environment, set up the IP video surveillance cameras and have the whole system up and running and providing operational HD video feeds back to Dallas County’s Tax Assessor office within hours. His team were on their way back to the office by 2pm that afternoon.
By taking advantage of another key Cisco innovation, the Cisco medianet proxy service, Ed’s engineers were able to automate the configuration of cameras on the network. MSP is a function of the Cisco switching infrastructure that builds on innovations such as SmartPorts. Using MSP, the network automatically recognizes the new device plugged into the switch port as a video surveillance camera, allocates it an IP address, places it into the correct VLAN, reserves the right amount of bandwidth for delivering video streams to operators and prioritizes the video traffic automatically.
March 2009 was an exciting time for both for Cisco and for me personally. Cisco launched the revolutionary Unified Computing System, with many observers across the industry doubting if we’d stay the course (and if we’re honest, some truly misplaced derision -- I wonder who is on Planet Zircon now!). And I joined the Cisco Data Center Services team from the Cisco R&D organization! So with the recent third generation launch of Cisco UCS, described very well by my colleague Todd Brannon, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on our data center services portfolio around that time, and where we are now. My previous blogs chronicle part of this journey, however I have to say, the direct comparison I draw here I personally think shows that we have indeed brought a new transformational experience to the data center for our customers. And I’d like to give you my personal recollections on how and what I found out about Cisco’s approach to shaking the incumbents’ lack of innovation in the blade server market.