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Importance of the Network in Cloud Computing

On several recent occasions, in discussions with my customers, colleagues and industry peers, the importance of the network, as it relates to Cloud Computing and Data Centers, has been challenged. I am surprised that such a topic is even up for debate ! In my opinion, the underlying network infrastructure of any given Data Center is the architectural foundation for service and application strategy; be it Cloud Computing, Virtual Desktops, Video or even Hosting services.

If we look at a broader scale, no one can argue the complexity and at the same time, the intelligence the modern Internet brings to it’s consumers. How would enterprises and service providers alike, offer converged services like voice, video and data without any network intelligence ? Not to mention, security, application scaling and other managed services. Networks are no longer the traditional packet switching platforms, it’s the heart and soul of intelligence which integrates with other intelligent applications to differentiate the multitude of services that can be enabled over a common medium. As application requirements are increasingly becoming complex, the need for equally smarter transport is critical.

Virtualization is bringing a whole new perspective to this discussion. It’s true you can account for network, compute and storage virtualization within a given solution; virtual switch, virtual machine, virtual firewall, virtual load-balancer, etc.; but how far can we abstract the network ? One can absolutely argue, Cloud Computing is server/compute resource centric, however for most enterprises, when you combine this compute structure with application workload requirements from business, technology and operations perspectives, suddenly the foundation architecture plays a crucial role -- i.e. the network and it’s interconnects.

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Cooling a High-Density Compute Environment

Cisco’s data center in Allen, Texas (DC2), was designed to make best use of the high-density Cisco Unified Computing System and Nexus switches. Cisco’s business requirement for high-density computing, supporting up to five Unified Computing System chassis per rack, essentially quadrupled the per-rack power requirements at Texas DC2 compared to target load requirements at our other data centers.
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They want a cloud real fast, just not sure what exactly it should look like or how it should function…..

I have talked to many enterprises that want a private cloud; also service providers that want to build a public cloud based upon Cisco UCS / Nexus.  They all would like to get to their first generation of cloud very quickly.   We have many conversations on infrastructure to use, the right choice of hypervisor, and what use cases to start with.  Today I talked to a customer of our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud that wants a differentiating end user portal.  Everyone can spin up a VM, but how to do it in a way that will drive adoption and new business, whether it is for the enterprise or service provider?  How do we do this at a cost and a timeline that meets the needs of the business and the CIO.

These are not lightweight concerns.   I have seen many data center automation projects that focused too much on the provisioning and not enough on the end user experience.    The Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit at Cisco has been involved with many customers building private and public clouds with our software stack.  This includes Cisco IT’s very large private cloud deployment based upon our software.  The two services they deployed:  CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services) Express and CITEIS VDC (Virtual Data Center) has received broad acclaim.  Watch the following videos by Jamie MacQuarrie of the Intelligent Automation team on these two CITEIS Services.

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AT&T Brings Unified Communications Services to Customers

We continue to see our service provider partners leverage the economics and agility of cloud services

Today, AT&T announced the availability of its Unified Communications Service, a new way for its business subscribers to offer a complete collaboration suite of features to employees in a secure and cost effective way. AT&T’s enterprise collaboration solution features Cisco’s own Hosted Collaboration Solution, which gives partners, including service providers and integrators, the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations.

Cisco’s cloud services ultimately enable our service provider partners to offer a seamless experience for both their enterprise and end-user customers. For further details, check out the full announcement.

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UCS: Over 10,000 Served

January 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm PST

This month we’re marking a special milestone… there are now 10,000 UCS customers worldwide. The natural question becomes: what’s driving this phenomenal growth? How could this possibly have been predicted?

The best explanation of snowballing UCS adoption is found in customer results. Lest we forget, adopting a new platform in the data center is not a decision undertaken lightly in IT, but word has spread in the industry about the real world benefits UCS is delivering. More and more customers are taking a look and liking what they find. It’s an admittedly bold statement to say UCS has changed the economics of the datacenter, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not marketing hype. We’re hearing from customers who are reporting all-in savings in the range of 40% on the cost of computing. Travelport, for example, conducted a deep dive TCO analysis of their pre/post UCS world and here is how they are seeing their data center economics change over the next 5 years:

Cost Category Cisco Environment Prior Environment Dollar Savings Percentage Savings
Hardware Capital $7,406,982 $9,747,500 $2,340,518 24%
Power and Cooling $915,468 $2,947,273 $2,031,805 69%
Server Administration $162,255 $1,151,945 $989,690 86%
Hardware Maintenance $301,194 $585,749 $284,555 49%
TOTAL $8,785,899 $14,432,467 $5,646,568 39%

 

The savings stem from a variety of sources: lower capex as the platform efficiently scales, dramatically reduced administrator time, density/ power savings and reduced SW licensing costs as more workload lands on fewer servers.  It’s cumulative and powerful.   If you want a firsthand look at the TCO/ROI impact UCS can make in your data center, check out our calculator; with 5 minutes you can get a ballpark estimate.

Economics aside, UCS just seems to make people happy.   I had a customer declare that his infrastructure was now “CTO proof.” He went on to explain that this meant the boss could deploy a server by himself without breaking anything. The infrastructure team let their CTO take a B-series blade straight out of the box, insert it into a chassis slot, and as the system identified and integrated the new resource into the available pool, they congratulated him on his first server deployment.

Beyond economic impact and increasing happiness in the data center, it doesn’t hurt that you can drop the clutch and put serious power to the ground in application performance.   In December Cisco posted TPC benchmark results that surpassed existing records by as much as 32% in raw performance and 26% in price performance.  This brings the total number of UCS world record results to 54 since introduction in 2009.

10,000 customers and growing, and it’s no wonder why.

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