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A Look Back at 2012: Evolution of Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI)

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.

Phil

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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 2- Cloud Service Assurance and Intelligent Automation

October 30, 2012 at 9:57 am PST

Welcome back to this series of blogs on Cisco Validated Designs (CVD)  for Cloud -- In my first blog, I talked with Tom Nallen on the concept and benefits of CVD for Cloud -- The second interview was with Laszlo Bojtos on a new CVD for Cloud : Cloud Service Assurance - Today we will explore one specific but critical aspect of this work, which is  the integration of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Zenoss Cloud Service assurance.

So obviously  orchestration systems can make better decisions with performance KPIs, and can also be used to provide precise and immediate monitoring for newly created or changed tenant services. For advanced workflow integration, all Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA)  function and data is available using the documented JSON interface.

As mentioned , this CVD also features the integration of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Zenoss CSA as an example of how Zenoss’ API can be used with Cisco’s cloud management software. It shows IA for Cloud provisioning VMs while sending information about the tenant and VM to Zenoss to enable the creation of a dependency map.

Zenoss CSA is designed to make it easy to integrate Cisco Cloud infrastructure and cloud management software, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, into an existing data center. Zenoss CSA will be integrated with client’s MoM system and configured for automated event forwarding.

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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 2 – Cloud Service Assurance

October 29, 2012 at 4:00 am PST

Last week Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design -- So  I asked today Laszlo Bojtos, System Manager for the Cisco Cloud Service Assurance validation effort, to illustrate this concept with the recently published Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design.   This design guide is one of the recent CVD releases in the Cloud systems management and orchestration area.  You can view the complete portfolio of Cisco Validated Designs for Data Center and Virtualization on Design Zone at  www.cisco.com/go/designzone/datacenter . We will cover this topic in two chapters , with a second chapter  more focused on the integration of Cisco Intelligence Automation for Cloud.

Q: Laszlo, last time we heard that Service Assurance is critical for companies, organizations and service providers looking to deliver cloud –based services.  Why is it so important?

A: Enterprises and Service Providers need to ensure that DC/Cloud services can be trusted and service levels ensured, hence they need to use advanced service assurance tools to automate service monitoring and issue resolution.  Cisco Systems Development Unit (SDU) identified key enterprise and service provider data center and cloud service assurance requirements and selected Zenoss Inc for Cisco Unified Data Center management implementation.  Cisco’s Cloud Service Assurance provides both fault and performance management with service impact and root-cause analysis.

As a DC/Cloud domain manager, Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) provides comprehensive monitoring coverage for data center infrastructure components and workloads, and tracks ever-changing relationships between infrastructure components and applications automatically.  Zenoss CSA understands how business services make use of cloud resources and provides contextual root cause analysis to provide clarity during event storms, and ties cloud projects easily into existing management processes.

Q: And customers can purchase Zenoss CSA from Cisco, right?

A: Yes, Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) became a Cisco SolutionsPlus product from Zenoss  and was added to the Cisco price list in September, 2012.

Q: OK, I’ve done a little research on Zenoss CSA. What is the difference between the original Zenoss Service Dynamics product and Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) from Cisco?

A: Zenoss CSA was built from the same proven code base that powers Zenoss Service Dynamics. We worked with Zenoss on additional ZenPacks (product adapters) and new functions for complete Cisco Unified DC (VMDC reference architecture) coverage. Then, we created a Cisco Validated Design through the verification of this Zenoss CSA package in Cisco Virtualized Multi-service Data Center (VMDC) lab facilities. It’s pre-built and pre-tested to deliver success rapidly. Additionally, Zenoss CSA is licensed and priced with the Cisco Data Center in mind.

Two key new Zenoss CSA functions are expanded monitoring coverage and auto-discovery of VMDC networking devices.  The initial release covers Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and MDS 9000 series platforms, as well as the Nexus 1000v and Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG), and the Nexus 2000, 5000, and 7000 series.  It also covers the Catalyst 6500 series and Virtual Switching System (VSS) with the Firewall Services Module (FWSM) and the Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) modules.   The Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) series is also included in the monitoring and auto-discovery scope of Zenoss CSA.

The diagram below illustrates how Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance simplifies data center & cloud infrastructure management and provides a single API to other management applications (orchestration, chargeback, service desk etc.).

 

 

 

Q: And best practices to set this up are described in the CVD, right?  Briefly summarize the key technical benefits of Zenoss CSA one more time for us, Laszlo.

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Top Five Considerations for Enabling IPv6 Support on Your Application Delivery Controller

May 14, 2012 at 11:35 am PST

As we approach the much talked about World IPv6 Launch on June 6th, 2012 it is important to help as many as possible do what is needed to prepare their own Internet Edge to not only participate in the launch but also to ensure business continuity regardless of which IP version is used.  Start now so you don’t have to rush your deployment at the end.

There are important first steps to take before you ever type the first command or click the first check box on a product.  Important stuff like a gap analysis on what you can and cannot support as well as what your provider supports IPv6-wise, what your address plan will look like and other considerations. Luckily Cisco has either written a document or a blog on many of these topics. Recent blogs include:

Given that we are just shy of a month away from World IPv6 Launch, I wanted to blog on the top considerations for enabling IPv6 support on one of the most important components of any Internet Edge design, the Application Delivery Controller (ADC) or more commonly known as a Server Load Balancer (SLB).

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North American IPv6 Summit: My Critical Takeaways for the Enterprise Customer

April 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm PST

The 2012 North American IPv6 Summit was held in Denver, Colorado on April 9-12, 2012.  As usual, it was an excellent conference with the largest attendance of any IPv6 event in North America this year.  There were many excellent speakers who gave timely talks on the state of IPv6 deployment, gaps in the overall education within the end-user base as well as advances and limitations in vendor support.

I gave a keynote talk on “Enterprise Internet Edge Design for IPv6″ and afterwards I was approached by several enterprise customers who stated that they had great success using the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) options defined in our Deploying IPv6 in the Internet Edge CVD.  This is great to hear but our work is not done yet.  We still need to help customers understand the significance of deploying IPv6 in not just the network but throughout the enterprise.  This is most evident in the lack of documentation by commercial off the shelf (COTS) application vendors who need to do a better job of helping customers understand the support for IPv6.

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