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The Evolving Data Center : Perspectives from the Gartner DC Conferences

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.
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Cisco EMC VSPEX for VMware V250…CVD is published!

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. 

Check it out at

Keep the discussion going.  How can we help accelerate your journey to the cloud?

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VSPEX on the Fast Track…Microsoft Fast Track

Did you catch the announcement from EMC? 

EMC announced the new EMC VSPEX Private Cloud for Microsoft Windows Server 2012.  You can read the Press Release here

Cisco and EMC believe there are three distinct paths…or choices…on the journey to the cloud.  Build-your-own using best of breed products, a truly converged infrastructure product in Vblock from VCE, or VSPEX…a flexible reference architecture approach.  A picture says it all…see below.


VSPEX offers an unprecedented choice of industry-leading virtualization, server, network, storage, and data protection.  Accelerate your journey to the cloud with the EMC VSPEX proven infrastructure.

What was announced?  Microsoft Fast Track for VSPEX

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Three Paths to Private Clouds with Cisco, EMC and VCE

Cisco Live 2012 has been  another great opportunity to show the power of the partner ecosystem that Cisco built to provide compelling solutions to the IT organizations, interested in deploying a Unified Data Center, and a private cloud infrastructure.

I invited this week VCE Tom Chatham to blog about the collaboration between VCE, Cisco and EMC to support workload mobility and business continuance, and EMC Brian Gracely to write about VSPEX.  But I also took advantage of the presence  at Cisco Live of EMC Parmeet Chaddha VP Partner Solutions and VCE Jay Cuthrell, Office of the CTO, to invite them to a short video panel with Cisco Senior Director  Data Center Cloud and Enterprise Solutions Shashi Kiran to talk about the different architectures that can simplify, automate and transform IT while helping customers accelerate the journey to cloud computing.

There is no doubt that the collaboration between our 3 companies over the past years has been  very productive , and today this “triad ” is able to offer to the customers 3 clear options  depending on their unique business IT needs:

  • ŸBuild Your Own—Solutions built using tested and proven products and services
  • ŸReference architectures through VSPEX—Pre-packaged reference architectures
  • ŸConverged infrastructure through joint venture VCE—Vblock
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Another trend affecting data centers – “Convergence”

Interesting trends are taking root around us and one of them is convergence. The term conjures up different thoughts depending on our background and experiences. Economists may say convergence is the parity of per capita income around the world. Convergence for telecom is the combination of voice, data and entertainment services. So what does it mean for data centers? In one of my recent informal webcast polls of technologists, one opinion was that convergence implied the union of telecom and IT. Reality is that data centers now are the hub and source for voice, video, data and application services.

So if we look at application workloads running in data centers, there are four infrastructure capacity variables – CPU, Memory, Storage and Network. One approach is to optimize on the utilization of one of these variables. If we decide to optimize on Storage, then it must be virtualized and/or provided as a service. Implementation would involve purchase of the best of breed storage hardware, and building highly skilled teams to manage, tweak and optimize performance of the storage resources. Similarly a COE(Center of Excellence) for servers (CPU and Memory) must be formed for servers and for networks. This implies that any project would involve multiple teams and project management would be a challenge, to put it lightly. This reminds me of my mainframe experience in relation to the distributed platform. We could get an entire application developed, tested and ready to go before getting a RACF id to even access the mainframe.

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