Yes, the question is “Are you really secure?” Now that I’ve asked a loaded question, let me get to the point.
The term “secure” sure has a lot of different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. If we take it from a corporate security perspective, your options are somewhat limited to physical security, as in video surveillance or physical access, or logical security, as in your laptop or data access. But, when you ask a security professional if they are secure, they will most certainly take that in the context of what they can control, and will most likely answer “yes”.
Well, what about the things you cannot control? You can control which products you buy to provide security, you control how they are installed and configured, and you control the processes and procedures that identify how they are managed and updated. But, can you control how they are manufactured?
Today is Earth Day, and that has me thinking green. As I discussed this afternoon at GigaOm’s Green: Net conference, the world is changing around us in many ways, including becoming more urbanized. Over the next five years, some 500 million people will be added to the world’s cities. As we think about how to manage the energy and environmental challenges that will accompany these trends, what role will the network play in helping us be more efficient and more sustainable? And what benefits will that bring to utilities and to consumers, to governments and communities at large?
Cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities and the energy infrastructure are at the heart of city planning. If we are to better manage this impact, we must transform our electrical grid into a modern and more sustainable platform for the 21st century. Technology is the only way we can achieve balanced and sustainable growth.
Lessons in how to make our electric grids more reliable, more secure and more scalable can be gleaned from our experience in vastly revamping the telecommunications infrastructure in the ‘90s. Here too we had somewhat proprietary, siloed networks that didn’t talk to one another. Here too we had an industry that was highly regulated and needed to cautiously implement change. And here too we had an emerging field of companies chomping at the bit to capitalize on making the new telecomm infrastructure everything it could be.
The lessons we learned from this transition are important: architect the infrastructure on open, standards-based technology; build in security from the beginning; and establish public- private partnerships to align policy with infrastructure investment needs.
This transformation will rely on new technologies but also on leveraging existing technologies such as routing and switching for a utility environment. Data centers, cloud computing and security have a role to play in managing and protecting the vast influx of usage data so that we can make better educated decisions about energy consumption. Energy management of businesses and homes will leverage the existing networks extend their reach and impact. And given that the entire grid is the world’s largest infrastructure, integrating energy infrastructure with information technology will require a disciplined, architectural approach that we can only begin to foresee.
This transition has great implications, especially in our largest cities, where the need is most apparent. Examples are cropping up around the world of this vision in action. The Envision Charlotte initiative has set a goal of reducing energy use by up to 20 percent within its perimeter through greater education of citizens and use of information technology. BC Hydro in Vancouver just announced that it will roll out 1.8 million smart meters based on Itron’s OpenWay technology, powered by Cisco, to enable a more efficient grid and foster the use of renewable energy. And the city of Incheon, Korea is building in sustainability from the ground up.
These are but a few of the examples of how cities are changing, based on their energy and environmental goals. As I look around today, I see a smarter, more connected world emerging with a more intelligent and efficient energy infrastructure, supporting millions of customers, and billions of watts, with one network at the core
During the broadcast, he offered an overview of how services are a key differentiator for Cisco partners, and he explained how services can drive partner profitability. Here’s a replay in case you missed it.
Cisco’s services strategy places the partner at the center, according to Bob, because partners are critical to Cisco’s go-to market strategy, whether a partner is selling professional services, managed services, or technical services.
In terms of sales, it used to be that products generated far more revenue for partners than services. Five years ago, 80% of partners’ business was product-based, and 20% was generated by services. Now, partners’ business is almost split evenly between product and services. Bob then told viewers that services help an end-customer see how technology can really generate business outcomes.
Want to learn more? In addition to the video replay above, we’ve got a text summary of the broadcast, along with time stamps to identify sections in which Bob addresses key topics, such as market opportunities around architectures, success stories, and how Cisco’s services are different from those competitors offer.
I have been involved in a lot of Data Center projects over the years and during the design discussions someone almost invariably observes: “it’s not rocket science. We’re just building a Data Center.”
It turns out there is rocket science in some Data Centers after all.
A handful of server environments now incorporate hydrogen fuel cells, the same technology that helped U.S. spacecraft reach the moon as part of the Gemini and Apollo space missions in the 1960s and are still used in space shuttles today. Data Center industry publications have in recent years reported fuel cells helping power server environments belonging to the First National Bank of Omaha, Fujitsu and Verizon.
Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and produce heat and water as byproducts. They typically run on natural gas, which although not a renewable energy does emits less carbon, sulfur and nitrogen than other sources. Probably the best known fuel cell on the market is Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Box” that was profiled by 60 Minutes in 2010.
So, are we at Cisco using fuel cells in Data Centers? Watch below to see why or why not.
Cisco Advanced Services has been involved in quite a few Data Center Migration projects over last couple of years. One common theme in most of these migrations was that the projects were never limited to infrastructure migration to shiny new devices. Statements of work almost always included improvements and customization to routing, configuration of QoS across the Data Center Interconnect and the WAN circuits, and to provide some level of instrumentation to validate the traffic flow across multiple different paths. While these requirements seem like a logical extension of any Data Center migration project, fulfilling these requirements was never straightforward.
In most of the customer environments, by looking at the Network topology, we could easily determine safe upper limits of client to server traffic. The real challenge was to determine traffic between the web front-end servers and the application and/or database servers – the east/west traffic. Some wild assumptions were made in some cases since the data was either not available or was inadequate. This lack of network traffic profiling made QoS provisioning very difficult on WAN circuits and almost impossible on the Inter Data Center links.