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.
This is the question I continue to ask myself as I look back at my career at various companies in multiple industries. As I look back, I remind myself of the industry changing trends that we’ve gone through in past few decades: the rise (and fall) of the mainframe, the PC, numerous different networking protocols and technologies, and various standards that come and go. On top of all this I recall, dozens of system architectures and hundreds of programming languages. And these days … Open Source Software, Si-photonics, mega/giga/tera-bit interfaces, smart phones and tablets, big data and real time analytics, cloud computing, everything fully virtualized.
Let’s pause here to think about the game changers. The architectures, processes and ideas that once pushed industries forward seemed to eventually disappear into the next big thing. Distributed Object Technology (RFC), Loosely Coupled Technology and Architectures (SOA). Agile, or is it Dev/Ops? As you can see, there are major differences here. Each technology trend brings tremendous value and is of critical importance but, like so many of these examples there is that fundamental difference, that many of these trends evolve and merge into much bigger vision. It’s also present in how we view SDN and how we are including it in what we’re building at Cisco.
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.
For at least the past two decades, knowledge workers have been firmly rooted in the PC era. Within enterprises of all sizes, that meant that the predominant operating system on the desktop – and often in the data center — was Windows.
We had unprecedented productivity gains during this time, no doubt, but I would now firmly assert that as Ray Ozzie suggested — and Steve Jobs was more than happy to reinforce — that we are transitioning to an era where PCs play a secondary role, if at all – this is the Post PC era.
I believe we will now have more access to more information on more devices from more applications than ever before.
It’s not as if PCs are going away, so what do we mean by the “Post-PC Era”? PCs have their place. They’re still useful business tools. But it’s clear: We are rapidly evolving from a predominantly client-server world to one in which the Windows PC is just another device in a broad list of options.
We now have many choices in devices – even the option to perform the same tasks on different devices depending on our preferences at different times. Everything is anchored by persistent services that enable device portability and mobility.
Once upon a time, I dreaded having to replace my mobile phone or PC. The transition invariably brought with it lost data, lost time, lost sanity… But I can now upgrade from one device to another fairly quickly without breaking much of a sweat. And I really need that ability if I want to keep up with the latest advances in technology.
Why is that? Because it’s cloud-enabled!
Although they’ve performed well for over two decades, traditional business tools and infrastructure based around the desktop PC and office-productivity software no longer exclusively fit the modern knowledge worker nor the global distributed form of 21st century work.
In an earlier part of my career I learned the extreme importance of Workload Automation, aka Job Scheduling. Workload automation is the oldest IT technology on the planet coming from the need to schedule jobs on an IBM Mainframe. Job Scheduling has evolved from driving JCL (Job Control Language) to Workload Automation where the Scheduler stitches together batch and real time activities across mainframes, proprietary OS systems, x86 systems, applications (both packages and commercial off the shelf such as SAP or Oracle or Informatica) and now web service enabled applications whether they be onsite or in the cloud. Walk into the operations center of any data driven company and you will see multiple screens where operations are monitoring the state of these jobs. Why are they so critical? Over 50% of all transactions that occur on this planet are batch in nature. They are scheduled based upon specific times or based upon dependencies being met. These workloads can be a complex and interrelated set of activities. Effectively these job streams are the business processes that drive modern enterprises.
Without these jobs companies don’t get information (and large amounts of it) in the right place at the right time. Most companies today could not close out their financial quarters without enterprise schedulers to move data from their disparate systems into a consolidate place for either the general ledger to close out or for a critical Business Intelligence report to run to drive placement of the correct product into the specific physical location to serve the global economy. Workload automation tools open and close stock exchanges and process all the transaction data from trades. They also drive compliance checks. This is important stuff for the global economy! This was my realization in touring key operations centers and realizing that half of the big monitors were covering the movement of batch data in the enterprise.