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Crawl, Walk and Run Your Way to Cloud Automation

Stretching the Olympic theme of my previous blog, where I used the analogy of a 100m sprinter and his backup team to introduce the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Deployment Services, I’d like to now discuss how to roll out new cloud projects in the data center.  Thinking again about  a team of Olympic champions – and the Team GB (Great Britain) cycling team, illustrate this principle so well – with their fabulous winning streak, not least the incredibly exciting keirin event win by my countryman Sir Chris Hoy (yes, fellow Scot, however that’s where the association ends :-) ).  Such teams don’t often win with a “big bang” all-at-once, approach.  Their training and successes usually builds incrementally, over several years and phases.  

In the case of Team GB Cycling, they have developed from  practically “also rans” in 1998 to consistent world beaters in Beijing 2008 and now London 2012.  They have improved incrementally, event by event, year by year, demonstrating incremental successes as they went along, to be world beaters.  In essence, they have used an approach we in Cisco sometimes call “Crawl, Walk, Run”, illustrating the progress to success.  From my experience over the past 25 years in IT, there are big lessons here for IT project delivery.  Let’s use a Cloud Automation project as an example.

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What is the longest running item of Cisco equipment in your data center? Can you beat 13 years?!

Where were you in 1998? Somewhere in one of our customers, a customer booted one of our 3640 routers, and it’s been running ever since without a reboot!

It’s been running since last century! Wow.   It’s been running since around the time my daughter was born, and a good few years before my son was born!  It’s been running longer that some of our competitors have been in existence, and longer than Juniper Networks has been a publicly traded company!

I learned this from an email was passed around my office, that highlighted this remarkable evidence of reliability.  It made me wonder, in your data center, what is your longest running piece of Cisco data center equipment?

And it also reminded me of some of our best practices for network reliability, such as Cisco Smart Services, described in this short VoD:

So now for the evidence.  As you can see from the “show version” Cisco IOS output below ……

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So what do we *not* do in Cisco Data Center Services?

Recently I blogged on the rise of UCS and my own perspectives joining Cisco Data Center Services around the launch of Cisco UCS back in March 2009.  I then posed a quick poll on the Cisco Data Center Facebook page, with a number of options, asking which of these options did we in Cisco Data Center Services *not* offer to our customers today. Thanks to all who took the time to answer the poll.  So let’s look at the summary of our services I presented in my previous blog (diagram below), and let’s discuss what you said via the poll.

Cisco Data Center Services Portfolio Evolution 2008-2012

Cisco Data Center Services Portfolio Evolution 2008-2012

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The Rise of Cisco UCS and the Cisco Services Data Center Transformation Experience

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.

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Part 2 – How a Customer Crisis Ten Years Ago Helped Me Understand the Challenges of Cloud Service Creation Today

In part 1 of this posting, I related a real-life experience of mine, where I learned that customer problems were often a better source for product and service definition than formally stated customer requirements.  I’d like to take this discussion further, via a concept in product and project management called the “tyre swing”.  Read More »

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