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Hyper-V Joins the Party

September 20, 2011 at 10:37 am PST

Today, we announced we will be delivering VM networking support for Hyper-V in Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8.  Specifically, we are working with Microsoft to deliver integrated support for the Nexus 1000V and VM-FEX technology in their next generation server platform, thus extending the benefits customers have seen from both these technologies to another server/hypervisor environment.  For more info, check out the announcement and this brief and this Q&A.

With this latest announcement, we offer (or will offer) Nexus 1000V functionality for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V as well as VM-FEX support for those two hypervisors and RedHat Enterprise Virtualization.  For folks building out virtualization architectures and cloud environments, we think this is a key benefit, since it maintains their choice and flexibility and allows them to build out hyper-visor agnostic infrastructure that delivers consistent features and functionality.

So, that’s about it for now. Stay tuned to this space and we’ll keep you apprised as things progress.

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Is Data Center Fabric Just Hype?

June 1, 2011 at 12:21 am PST

Over the last few days, I’ve been listening to some interesting conversations on the topic of “fabric” in the data center.  To be honest, one of the common questions I get is if there is anything materially different about “Fabric” (our Data Center Fabric or anyone else’s), or is it merely the latest buzzword from bored marketing geeks.  From what I have seen, many of the companies throwing around the term “fabric” are referring only to transport and are usually tying it to a specific product or technology.  On these two points, Cisco’s view of fabric markedly differs. Read More »

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On The Price of Innovation

May 16, 2011 at 1:35 am PST

So, I heard last week that some folks want to be known as innovators, which is certainly a laudable goal.  The thing is, innovation is the domain of engineers, not accountants and, sadly, not even marketing folks.  Face it, when accountants get innovative, we end up with things like Enron—not so good. Delivering meaningful innovation to the market starts as an organizational imperative that has to then be nurtured with an ongoing commitment of time and resources. You simply cannot fake it.

For example, let’s look at R&D spend last year some of the industry’s movers and shakers (all data is based on their respective FY10 annual reports):

As I noted in a previous post, I am pleased to note that Cisco remains near the top of the pile both in terms of R&D investment as a percent of revenue and in terms of absolute dollars.  For other folks, the numbers and the historical trends speak for themselves. Talk (and slides) are cheap. These are meaningful numbers because they represent both the commitment and the ability of a company to innovate and lead versus being forced to follow.

If you are a Cisco customer, this should please you because you know we are investing in your future, but, beyond that, why should you care?

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OpenFlow: “Pulling networking into the application stack”

April 18, 2011 at 11:14 am PST

Recently, we announced our participation in the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).  As you may know, ONF is focused on defining a software interface enabling the programming of how packets are forwarded through a switched network as defined in the OpenFlow Switch Specification. Beyond this, ONF is also focused on developing an abstracted software interface that management tools can access.  At the end of the day, ONF is looking to advance OpenFlow and and make it easier for customers to fine-tune, manage and adapt their networks.  In addition to Cisco, the organization includes Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, Force10, HP, IBM, Juniper, Marvell, NEC, Netgear, Verizon, and VMware.

I sat down with Paul McNab, VP/CTO of the Data Center Switching and Services Group, who is leading this effort at Cisco, to get some answers on what this all means.

Omar Sultan: Paul, many industry pundits did not expect us to do this and their reactions were kinda entertaining. So, why did Cisco decide to do this?

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On the Nature of Innovation

March 29, 2011 at 11:15 pm PST

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Soni Jiandani about the nature of innovation at Cisco.  For those of you who know her, you know she knows a thing or two about bringing innovation to market.  Soni is currently a VP in the Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit. In a prior role, she was Vice President and General Manager of Cisco’s LAN and SAN switching business unit within the Data Center, Switching and Wireless Technology Group, where she was responsible for the industry leading Catalyst modular switches and a comprehensive portfolio of intelligent SAN switches.

Omar Sultan: Soni, you often refer to the “Cisco Innovation Edge” -- What does this refer to?

Soni Jiandani: Specifically this refers to our ability to introduce technology innovations more quickly than the rest of the industry that deliver quantifiable benefits to our customers.  This really speaks to our culture of being a customer-centric company. Throughout our history we have maintained a close collaboration with our customers in order to understand their current requirements and vision for how technology can benefit their business in the 3-5 year time horizon.  By listening and then applying our technology expertise and experience of over 2 decades, we have been successful in driving many innovations into our architecture through custom silicon development.  At the same time, we are often leading the charge to drive these innovations through the standardization process and providing engineering support for plug-fests and industry-wide interoperability efforts.  We do this because we believe it is in the best interests of the customers, the industry and Cisco.

A recent example of this is Fibre Channel over Ethernet, a technology which is helping customers to save up to 50% on their data center infrastructure and operation by consolidating equipment and networks.  We were the first company to introduce FCoE switching products in 2008 in our Nexus data center switches.  At the same time we were helping to lead several industry-wide efforts which resulted in Lossless Ethernet and FCoE becoming official IEEE / INCITS standards in 2009.  Our custom silicon development allows us to introduce innovations more quickly to our customers, allowing them to benefit through cost savings and more agile infrastructures.  Once these innovations become standard and required by customers, they may then make it into merchant silicon; but often this can be several years later.  That’s a significant “Cisco innovation edge” that delivers real value to our customers maximizing investment protection.  We are on an innovation treadmill here. As we standardize Cisco innovations, we are constantly investing in the next set of innovations.

OS: There are a number of competent companies out there that make merchant networking silicon, so why does Cisco continue to commit R&D resources to make our own chips?

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