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Navigating the Journey to the Cloud

Over the years, cloud computing has been at the center of emerging trends including big data, mobility, security and Internet of Things (IoT). Today’s cloud hosting technology feature capabilities such as rapid elasticity, resource pooling and on-demand self-service. Cloud providers are offering customers the ability to consume theses services with flexible service level agreements. Across government, agencies are more empowered than ever to select, implement and utilize these capabilities to efficiently deliver citizen services and transform the business of government.

However, there are important questions about costs and capabilities that cloud adoptees must answer when creating their strategy and choosing their provider.

  1. What does it cost to deploy the services? What are the costs of the onboarding, and potentially, the off-boarding processes?
  2. Do the cloud service capabilities align with the problem that you’re trying to solve?
  3. Is the cloud provider capable of delivering the specific services and analytical tools your agency needs?

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Developing Products and Solutions in the 21st Century

On November 3rd, 2014 at the Software Defined Network-Multiprotocol label Switching SDN-MPLS (Software Defined Networking-Multiprotocol Label Switching) Conference in Washington D.C: I moderated a stellar panel titled, “Developing Products and Services in the 21st Century.”

Quite a few of the attendees represented Service Providers; with a few attendees from the Public Sector and vendor communities.

In framing up the discussion, I had proposed the following provocative abstract:

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Hard Choices !

Sorry .. I did not mean to steal the title of Hillary Clinton’s book. It so happened that we had to deal with “hard choices” of our own,  when we had to decide on the management approach to our new M-Series platform. In the first blog of the UCS M-Series Modular Servers journey series, Arnab briefly alluded to the value our customers placed on UCS Manager.As we started to have more customer conversations, we recognized a clear demarcation when it came to infrastructure management. There was a group of customers who just would not take any offering from us that is not managed by UCS Manager. On the other hand, a few customers who had built their own management framework were more enamored by the disaggregated server offering that we intended to build. For the second set of customers, there was a strong perception that UCS Manager did not add much value to their operations. We were faced with a very difficult choice of whether to release the platform with UCS Manager or provide standalone management. After multiple rounds of discussions, we made a conscious decision to launch M-Series as a UCS Manager managed platform only.  Ironically enough, it was one such customer discussion that vindicated our decision. This happened to be a customer deploying large cloud scale applications and did not care much UCS Manager. During the conversation, they talked about some BIOS issues in their super large web farm that surfaced couple of years back. After almost 2 years, they were still rolling out the BIOS updates !

UCS Manager is the industry’s first tool to elegantly break down the operational silos in the datacenter by introducing a policy-based management of disparate infrastructure elements in the datacenter. This was made possible by the concept of Service Profiles, which made it easy for the rapid adoption of converged infrastructure. Service Profiles allowed the abstraction of all elements associated with a server’s identity and rendering the underlying servers pretty much stateless. This enabled rapid server re-purposing and workload mobility as well as made it easy for enforcing operational policies like firmware updates.  And, the whole offering has been built on the foundation of XML APIs, which makes it extremely easy to integrate with other datacenter management, automation and orchestration tools. You can learn more about UCS Manager by clicking here.

UCS M-Series Modular Servers are the latest addition to the infrastructure that can be managed by UCS Manager. M-Series is targeted at cloud-scale applications, which will be deployed in 1000s, if not 10s of 1000s of nodes. Automation of policy enforcement is more paramount than the traditional datacenter deployments. Managing groups of compute elements as a single entity, fault aggregation, BIOS updates and firmware upgrades are a few key features of UCS Manager that kept surfacing repeatedly during multiple customer conversations.  That was one of the primary drivers in our decision to release this platform with UCS Manager.

In the cloud-scale space, the need to almost instantaneously deploy lots of severs at a time is a critical requirement. Also, all of the nodes are pretty much deployed as identical compute elements. Standardization of configurations across all of the servers is very much needed.  UCS Manager makes it extremely easy to create the service profile templates ahead of time (making use of the UCS Manager emulator) and create any number of service profile clones literally at the push of a button. Associating the service profiles with the underlying infrastructure is also done with a couple of clicks. Net-Net: you rack, stack, and cable once; re-provision and re-deploy to meet your workload needs without having to make any physical changes to your infrastructure.

Storage Profiles is the most notable enhancement to UCS Manager in order to support M-series. This feature allows our customers to slice and dice the SSDs in the M-Series chassis into smaller virtual disks. Each of these virtual disks is then served up as if they are local PCIe devices to the server nodes within the compute cartridges plugged into the chassis. Steve has explained that concept elaborately in the previous blog. In the next edition, we will go into more details about Storage Profiles and other pertinent UCS Manager features for the M-Series.

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Cloudbusting

In the same year Cisco was founded, Kate Bush recorded the hypnotic Cloudbusting, one of her most iconic songs and music videos.  Conceived by Terry Gilliam and featuring Donald Sutherland, there is a strikingly poignant moment in the video where Bush’s character is ‘cloudbusting’ with her father and she first realizes that adults are fallible.

Cloud Myth Busting Read More »

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Cisco at Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014

October 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm PST

Ready to savor tapas, Gaudi and the most vibrant community of IT professionals in the industry? You must be headed to Barcelona for Microsoft TechEd Europe, 28-31, October. Cisco will be there as well.  We’ll be showcasing integrated solutions from Cisco and Microsoft for Windows Server 2003 migrations, cloud and SQL Server.

Cisco and Microsoft have worked closely to integrate Cisco UCS with Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2, to provide the optimal platform for your Microsoft clouds and applications. Listen to what Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson has to say about the Cisco and Microsoft relationship.

Tech Demos

Make sure to stop by stand #207 to speak with a Cisco solution expert and take in a demo on: Read More »

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