Just back from Varrow Madness 2013 (#VM13) in Durham, NC, a local event for me, and a great opportunity to connect with customers, partners, and cloud knowledge. Here are some highlights.
Rusty Buzhardt (Cisco), Jason Nash (Varrow), Elijah Stukenborg (Chiquita)
Really enjoyed an inspirational keynote by VCE President Frank Hauck and the opportunity to learn about some new technologies that are emerging in the Data Center space. Look for upcoming #EngineersUnplugged episodes for some discussions around NetScaler, Flash Virtualization, and more.
Cisco’s Unified Data Center strategy is rooted in the idea that customers shouldn’t be put in the position of DIY technology integration. It’s just an unfair ask given everything that IT and LOB leaders contend with above and beyond the infrastructure. As technology has evolved, the component parts of the data center are decreasingly the source of complexity. It’s the connections between them, creating that sum of the parts that can actually run applications, that’s the hardest part. Eliminating this complexity has been Cisco’s guiding star in the data center, building systems that help customers focus on what matters most to them: applications and IT services, not infrastructure.
These new offerings extend the proven value of Vblock: converged, pre-engineered infrastructure that slashes deployment time and ongoing management burden, into a new set of market segments and key workloads.
The team at VCE have done a great job detailing this out; I see the key components being brought forward today as:
Taking Vblock Systems to new customer segments and use cases: System 200 is designed for mid-size data centers and service provider-managed customer premise (CPE) scenarios. System 100 extends to remote office/branch office environments. Combining these new Vblocks with applications like Microsoft Exchange & Sharepoint, VDI, and Cisco Unified Commuications will continue the push to eliminate DIY solution assembly for customers.
VCE Specialized Systems: a series of systems optimized for key workloads, starting with SAP HANA. Certification for Vblock here is an exciting new opportunity for customers to quickly adopt this hot new analytic technology
VCE Vision Intelligent Operations which brings intelligent discovery and single lens management to VBlock Systems. This takes a similar API driven approach found at the core of UCS to enable orchestration of the converged system. This is a critical component for cloud builders.
VCE’s launch is a major milestone in their evolution, but the way each Vblock system is built, maintained and supported remains constant and predictable. Customers can continue to rely on the same comprehensive physical and logical build done in the factory, single point support and the IT agility and economic benefits these create.
FlexPod, by any measure, has been a great success. 2,100 customers worldwide have adopted the architecture and it stands today as one of the leading converged infrastructure solutions in the industry. IT organizations want to modernize their operations, but they need to do it in a way that mitigates risk and lays down a solid foundation on which to scale. To get there they need a solution that brings the best, most innovative technology in an integrated architecture that’s easy to consume. FlexPod has delivered on that combination of innovation + integration + easy.
Innovation comes in abundance with FlexPod and it has allowed customers to land a wide spectrum of applications on a common infrastructure. The key is that while infrastructure elements are abstracted and pooled (the basic food groups of compute, network and storage) the system supports both bare metal and virtualized workloads with aplomb; a crucial capability given the realities in the data center today. Cisco and NetApp have each taken abstraction and API control deep into the server, network and storage infrastructure, below the OS/Hypervisor waterline, and this is what unlocks new agility for everything built on top.
So what comes next? FlexPod solutions to date have been aimed squarely at the enterprise data center. What Cisco and NetApp announced today expands the architecture on two key axis. Both vectors support the growing challenge IT organizations face today: spanning from the data center core out to the branch office and also into the cloud (both to deliver services and to procure them.) Location independence for applications across this continuum requires infrastructure that can be tuned to support a wide spectrum of workloads and operating models. To do it efficiently requires uniformity in deployment and operating models.
One the axis of operating models, the FlexPod architecture will expand out from the solid base of solutions developed for the data center in two directions: into solutions for branch office and smaller use cases, and upward, with massively scalable designs for solution providers.
On axis of workload, the array of application solutions validated by the companies will continue to grow, allowing customers to expand the footprint of converged infrastructure across their IT services.
From a consumption perspective FlexPod has established an impressive, highly scaled presence, because it was designed by both companies to “meet in the channel.” The solution is offered today by more that 700 partners in 35 countries.
While it’s possible to sometimes have too much of a good thing, it’s clear we’re a long way from that with FlexPod.
I have just come back from the Gartner Data Center conferences in London and Las Vegas where I got to witness the increasing relevance of Cisco in the data center. The critical role of the network to enable the world of many clouds has becomes evident, and Cisco continues to establish itself as an innovator in the server market. Our vision and solutions really grabbed the attention of the analysts and customers at a level that I certainly didn’t see last year.
Data center consolidation, server virtualization, and converged infrastructure continue to be chief concerns among decision makers. Emerging topics such as fabric –based infrastructure, hybrid cloud, and network programmability were definitely the focus of numerous presentations and endless conversations.
Cisco continues to innovate on all these fronts, and we had a lot of progress to present to the audiences in London and Vegas.
Three Insightful Conversations
I’d like to share with you three conversations I had at the Gartner DC Conference in Las Vegas. Two are with the sales and engineering leaders for Cisco Data Center, Frank Palumbo (@fpalumbo) and David Yen, and the third is with one of our partners, Siki Giunta from CSC, who participated on a panel on Cloud that I moderated.
Frank Palumbo on convergence, virtualization, network programmability, and SDN
In the first conversation, Frank Palumbo, VP Global Sales, reports some of the major concerns of the IT organization. Our conversation covers:
The new role of the “cylinders of excellence” — servers, network, storage and security teams — when the goal is to implement a convergence infrastructure;
The benefits of deploying unified computing in environments where virtualization coexists with “bare-metal” workloads; and
Network programmability and SDN.
David Yen on the evolving data center
My second conversation was with David Yen, Cisco SVP & GM, Data Center Group, who gave a great presentation to more than 600 attendees called “The Evolving Data Center: Past, Present, and Future.”
David — who brings in-depth knowledge of IT technologies from his years working with Sun Microsystems, Juniper, and Cisco – provides new perspective on the evolution of the data center.
In his presentation David explains how the convergence infrastructure, on the one hand, and network programmability, on the other hand, reshapes the data center landscape to make the world of many clouds possible.
The Cisco Validated Design for VSPEX on VMware Architectures (V250) has been published!
This is a NEW document, and third in the series of CVD’s, for VSPEX and the first centered on the UCS B series server. The CVD provides the end-to-end solution with VMware vSphere 5.0 for 250 Virtual Machines. Here is a high level picture of the architecture.
The Cisco EMC VSPEX solution is based upon the best-of-breed technologies including Cisco UCS B series, Cisco Nexus 5548, and EMC VNX 5500 storage.