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Cisco Unified Data Center IQ challenge: ONE Click Away

October 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm PST

Did I tell you that we have a contest currently underway?  In case you missed it,  you still have till midnight PST today to answer 5 easy questions with multiple choices. One correct answer makes you eligible to win an iPAD.

Questions this week are about Cisco ONE (Open Networking Environment ) -- Perfect timing as you are  maybe preparing your participation to Openstack Summit (we do!) in San Diego.  But even if you don’t plan to go,  I am sure that you heard about SDN -- Haven’t you?

OK,  here are the questions:

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Cisco UCS Servers – From the loading dock to production in no time at all

October 11, 2012 at 9:20 am PST

In my first blog post, I highlighted some of the benefits being seen by customers using Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS®) from Case Studies. In the second post, I discussed reduction in cabling in more detail. Today I will drill down on provisioning.

A reduction in time to provision and deploy servers is the benefit most often cited by customers. This is accomplished with UCS Manager. Cisco UCS Manager integrates the management interfaces for server, network, and storage access into a single unified tool. UCS Manager uses a building block approach combing pools, polices, and templates into Service Profiles. Service Profiles allow you to configure over 120 settings that make up a server’s “personality” enabling one-click deployment.

Here are three customer examples.

Basefarm – The crucial feature of Cisco UCS Manager is its use of service profiles to provision server resources, enabling infrastructure to be provisioned in minutes instead of days. “What Cisco has done with server profiles is brilliant,” says Månsby. “You can’t have a server online without storage and network, so it makes perfect sense to package all three administrative functions into a single interface. It’s all about resource efficiency: if server, storage, and network are three different phases, then you spend three times as long on a deployment or change as you would using Cisco UCS. And time is money.” Stefan Månsby, Chief Business Development Officer

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Healthcare for all?

October 11, 2012 at 8:39 am PST

As we all just witnessed the presidential debates last Wednesday, the hot topic was Obamacare.  I knew this act was aimed at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall costs of healthcare.  These high level goals sounded great until I bumped into an article this week that some popular casual dining establishments will no longer offer full time work schedules to employees starting in 2014 aimed to help address the cost implications health care reform will have on their business.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare was signed into law back in March 2010 with multiple provisions to be enacted over a 10 year period. A provision starting January 2014 states that companies with over 50 employees will be required to provide health insurance to employees working over 30 hours a week.  There is a punishment of $3,000 per each uncovered employee for companies who do not follow the law. Read More »

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RISC/UNIX Migration to Cisco UCS: Application Modernization

October 11, 2012 at 7:12 am PST

RISC/UNIX migration is creating big opportunities for Cisco in the Data Center.  Last week at Oracle OpenWorld 2012 we highlighted world-record Oracle application and database performance with the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®). In my conversations with customers many indicated they were very anxious to migrate their Oracle database sooner rather than later. This feedback is consistent with what many analysts are predicting will be a massive migration off of proprietary RISC/UNIX platforms over the next few years.

Watch the video below for a short discussion on the successes, benefits, and services methodology of Cisco’s RISC/UNIX migration program. Read More »

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Are Overlays the Duct Tape of Networking?

October 9, 2012 at 12:50 am PST

Duct tape is pretty amazing stuff because its versatile and easy to use.  That being said, sometimes, that versatility and ease-of-use means it gets used at times when maybe it shouldn’t.

This thought came to mind a couple of weeks ago at VMworld.  Over the course of the show, I had a number of conversations with folks about tunneling and overlay network.  For many (mostly non-networking) folks, it seemed like the best thing since sliced bread—it gave them the holy grail—flexible, agile, one-demand connectivity without having to talk to the network folks.

From a networking perspective, its kinda funny, since the concept of tunnels is a decades old technology. It’s always played a legitimate role in a comprehensive networking strategy (MPLS and IPsec VPNs for example) so its cool to see an old concept find new applications.

However, lest we be lulled into blissful slumber by the unicorns playing lilting melodies through their horns, its good to remember, as with pretty much everything in IT, there is no free lunch.  While overlays networks make life simpler for the server admin or the virtualization admin, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

From an operational perspective, the overlay environment becomes a second network that needs to be managed—often a dumber, less instrumented network.  Somewhere, someone still needs to maintain a fully functioning, highly available, secure, properly traffic-engineered network that underpins that virtualized connectivity. Think of this as the difference between your checkbook and your checking account—just because you can write a check doesn’t mean there is money in the account to cover it.

Now, if you are not a networking dude or dudette, your first reaction may be “why do I care?”  Well, when you start seeing performance issues on your tunnel, you start to see intermittent drops on your tunnel, or you need to demonstrate auditable regulatory compliance, then you start to care.  While some folks propose that the underlying network becomes irrelevant once you start using overlays, the truth is that the strengths and weaknesses (performance, availability, security, manageability, etc.) of the underlying physical network are going to manifest themselves in in whatever rides on top.  While overlay technology is undeniably useful, having an approach that leverages the intelligence of the underlying infrastructure (assuming any exists) is going to pay off in the long run.

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