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Breaking through Performance Barriers: Desktop Virtualization at Cisco Live

We’re halfway into Cisco Live!  Each year I find more and more attendees are coming to talk to us about running various desktop delivery models on UCS.  Some observations from folks I’ve chatted with:

More and more of you are asking about NVIDIA GRID solutions for graphics intensive use-cases.  I had several in fact, from the oil and gas industry who were especially interested in our C240 M3 solution with GRID – which conveniently we’ve been demo-ing here, remoted out of our San Jose lab.  If you’re not familiar with it, check out our solutions for both Citrix and VMware.

CAPEX-friendliness with great performance, for small seat count environments is key.  Lot’s of folks asking about solutions that are optimized for 100-200 seats of Horizon or XenDesktop, that are completely self-contained, including compute, storage, broker and the infrastructure assets.  I’ve shared this brand new whitepaper on our C240 200 seat config with everyone I talk to – just a single rack footprint that includes the LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller with 200 GB of flash for write-caching, plus 12 x 600GB SAS drives.  Here’s what’s been tested:

Hardware Components:

  • Cisco UCS C240-M3 Rack Server (2 X Intel Xeon processor E5-2697 v2 @ 2.70 GHz) with 384GB of memory (16 GB X 24 DIMMS @ 1866 MHz), hypervisor host
  • Cisco UCS VIC1225 Converged Network Adapter/Rack Server (Optional for 10GB Connectivity)
  • 2 x Cisco Nexus 5548UP Access Switches
  • 12 x 600GB SAS disks @ 10000 RPM
  • LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller 8110-4i

The infrastructure/user file volumes are on the 1st 4 drives set up in a RAID 5 config, and the 2nd and 3rd groups of 4 drives (combined in RAID 10) are for XenDesktop MCS (Citrix) or Floating Assignment / Linked Clones (VMware).  Extremely cost-effective for 200 seats with great performance that doesn’t max out the system and has plenty of room to breathe.  Check out the Citrix and VMware configs of this “in-a-box” solution.

Flash – Flash and more Flash.  It’s hard to move around SF without seeing a Cisco UCS / Flash-Forward advertisement promoting UCS Invicta Solid State Systems.  Invicta is changing the economics of desktop virtualization with industry-leading wear life rating, expansive write-IOPS capacity, and superior manageability within the UCS fabric with UCS Director.  We’ve got a nice demo of 600 XenDesktop seats booting off an Invicta appliance, in under 9 minutes.

There you have it – great performance that goes beyond the traditional barriers associated with cost-effectively delivering desktop virtualization.  Definitely check out these three solutions if you have some time remaining at Cisco Live this week.

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ACI Walkabout at CiscoLive 2014, San Francisco

In a few days at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live. This year we are expecting record attendance exceeding 20,000 participants, 9 amazing keynotes, 600 sessions, live demos at world of solutions, big analyst and partner presence, and last but not least, the opportunity for you to meet and network with top minds in high-tech. If you are new to Cisco Live and feel overwhelmed by the grandness of the event, let me assure you that you are not alone.  I have been there before. I have set out in this blog to give you an easy walkabout of Cisco Datacenter highlights, particularly the Cisco ACI key activities over the duration of the event.

Much like you I will also be eagerly looking to attend John Chambers’ majestic keynote that starts the proceedings on Monday, May 19. John in his unique style will lead with the Theme “Tomorrow Starts Here” covering leading industry trends such as Internet of Everything (IOE), Fast IT, and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) among many others. So, do not miss this opportunity. I want to shift gears and take you on a fast cruise of Cisco Data Center and Cisco ACI highlights at the event.

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In less than a year since the announcement, Cisco ACI has taken the industry by storm with a large customer base  and several of the industry’s key partners such as Microsoft, Red Hat, Citrix, F5, et al endorsing and building joint solutions. There is so much excitement around ACI at this year’s Cisco Live. I want to give a structure to how I am planning to cover the topic in this blog. Essentially, I consider them as Cisco-led and Partner led.

Cisco has a packed agenda of ACI activities and announcements. Cisco APIC, which enables ACI Fabric mode on Nexus 9000 networks, will be available this summer along with a robust Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy that includes additional eco-system partners, Cisco Validated Designs (CVD), additional platform support and leading-edge hardware innovations across the portfolio. We are also introducing two new additions to the existing portfolio of Nexus 9000 to meet scalability, flexibility and performance requirements of standalone and ACI mode deployments.

Executive ACI speaking sessions feature prominently this year with Cisco President Rob Lloyd’s session “Infrastructure for the Agile Enterprise” keynote, May 20, 10 AM, at the North Hall.  Rob’s keynote also features Soni Jiandani, who will present how ACI delivers agility. Rob Soderbery and Soni Jiandani are presenting a technology trends keynote (GENSK 1109) on May 21, 8.30 am, titled “Fast Track to Fast IT: Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure”, another choice from a catalog of exciting offers.

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Powering the New Citrix Mobile Workspace – built on Cisco UCS

Did you catch the news from Cisco and Citrix yesterday?  Here at Citrix Synergy, we announced the new Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix.  This new jointly integrated solution brings together best of breed technologies from both companies to deliver a pervasively accessible end user workspace – One that can be delivered on any device, anywhere, seamlessly and securely integrated with the applications and productivity suite necessary for workers to be productive.

Central to this solution are the following tenets of the new mobile workspace:

  • Supporting any device, any OS
  • Maintaining secure access to the corporate network
  • Facilitating rapid expansion and control of mobile applications
  • Protecting data and preventing data loss

Foundational to the New Mobile Workspace is a best-in-class workspace virtualization platform built on Cisco Unified Computing System and Citrix XenDesktop.

Check out this infographic which Cisco and Citrix have compiled highlighting some nice proof points of business impact enabled by Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions with Citrix XenDesktop – then, ask yourself – “Can Your Server Deliver Results Like These?

Is your organization ready to enable a mobile workforce? from Cisco Data Center

While here at Synergy, I’ve had numerous conversations with VDI implementers who’ve resonated with the unique benefits and performance advantage associated with deploying hosted VDI as well as hosted shared desktops on UCS.  Surprised in fact, at the number of attendees I run into who are already well familiarized with:

  • The performance advantage VMFEX brings to XenApp environments
  • The simplified manageability of UCS Service Profile Templates, enabling rapid turn-up of XenDesktop environments starting from bare metal servers
  • The linearly consistent performance with scale, proven through Cisco Validated Designs for Citrix XenDesktop

The roster of clientele that have tapped the benefits of XenDesktop deployed on UCS continues to grow, providing these organizations an accelerated path to delivering an enterprise-wide mobility strategy, built on this differentiated virtual workspace infrastructure.

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Get Your Mobile Workspace Solution now – from Cisco and Citrix

Mobility and Strategy InitiativesHaving an enterprise-wide mobility strategy provides a competitive advantage as a recent IT survey from Cisco concluded.  Working with many customers over the last couple of years we have come to recognize that mobility is a multi-stage journey that every organization is taking at its own pace. While some of you might think of this journey as just getting your employees’ devices onto your network, there is significantly more to the journey – device-focused leads to application-focused, which then leads to experiences-focused.

Being a dad to my 5-month old son, I can relate our customers’ mobility journey to the 3 stages a child goes through in his first year as they learn to be mobile – roll, crawl, and walk!

Babies start off without the ability to move from one spot to the next– think of this as your enterprise 10 years ago before the popularization of smartphones.  Then babies learn to roll.  Suddenly, the world opens up to them.  This is the first stage of the mobility journey – similar to a device focused BYOD strategy.  The focus here is to provide a secure onboarding experience for your users while having the right policies in place to enable context-aware secure access control. The Cisco Unified Access solution – with ISE for policy, Prime Infrastructure for management, and converged wired and wireless network – provides the foundation for enable this BYOD solution.  However, would you really want to stop at the rolling stage of development?

The next step for kids is learning to crawl. This is often the most exciting stage as kids can now move with intent. Crawling provides true mobility to the kid as he can explore the fascinating world around him and get access to all his toys. This is the application-focused strategy in your mobility journey. Now that you have enabled secure access for your workforce, you can decide on the right set of applications to enable your workforce to be productive – on the go. This is where Cisco has been working with our ecosystem partners to provide a complete mobile workspace solution.

One of these ecosystem partners is Citrix and in this blog, I’d like to highlight a first-of-its-kind solution for employee mobility, that Cisco & Citrix have developed in close collaboration.

This new Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrixbuilt on the Citrix Workspace Suiteprovides the complete hardware and software technology stack for delivering all the applications, content, and tools workers need on any device. This new Workspace Solution is excellent for companies moving into the second stage of their mobility journey – where their focus is on providing all the applications, content and services their employees need on their devices.

This solution can help your employees, partners, and consultants work and collaborate on their mobile and desk devices, from pretty much anywhere. Read More »

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Setting the Stage for the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix CVD

CiscoWotrkSpaceSolutionThe times keep changing: first there were devices, then there were apps, and today, if you don’t develop a strategy for enterprise mobility and get ahead of the trend, the mobile wave will leave you behind. A year ago, after talking with many of our customers, partners, and our own technical sales teams, we realized that IT organizations were facing enormous challenges when making the transition from simple BYOD to adopting an enterprise mobility strategy across the business. As is typical during such tremendous market transitions like mobility, IT organizations were spending a lot of time figuring out how to line up the pieces required to support a mobile workforce, sorting through and weighing the many technology and vendor choices.

Today in conjunction with our friends at Citrix, we are happy to highlight the  Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrixbuilt on the Citrix Workspace Suite. We are very excited to deliver this first of its kind, comprehensive solution to our customers. Today I’d like to take a step back and set the stage for the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix by taking you through our thought process in creating the right enterprise mobility solution for our customers. Read More »

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