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Making Connections When Mother Nature Hits

When natural disasters strike, our first instincts are to phone or text loved ones; check news and social media sites; and go online to lend support. These connections become our lifelines. In the process, mobile devices become paramount in connecting people to people and people to data.

That’s why the Internet of Everything (IoE) is so critical. In the moments immediately following a disaster popular social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, serve as quick ways to locate loved ones. At the same time, social media allows those affected to inform multiple people at once that they are okay, with a simple tweet or post. Read More »

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Hurricane Isaac, We’re Ready.

I moved down to D’Iberville, MS February of 2005.  A quaint up and coming starter community just North of Biloxi, MS.  I remember, while working for the State Police, taking my lunch to the end of a pier that was near by our office, sitting on the edge and looking out over the water.  I enjoyed the peace, especially since it wasn’t even two years ago before that I was in Afghanistan looking forward to holding my 6 month old daughter that I spent 5 days with before deploying.  I found this pretty little 4/2 split plan home less than a mile “as the crow flies” from the beach that August.  It was humble, but I knew it would be a good place to start my life over.  I remember watching and listening about some storm that month out in the middle of no where, thinking to myself, “I better hurry and close on that house otherwise I will not be able to get Home Owners Insurance.”  Well, my house luckily enough was not in a flood zone, it was the suckers across the street, so I didn’t need to pay the extra insurance at closing.  I closed August 25, 2005.  Looking back, it’s funny to think how I was barely able to get all of my belongings moved into the house before I had to board up and head for higher ground.  Little did I know at the time that the one night I spent in the house would be the last night.  I packed an over night bag, locked the door, and left.

Hurricane Katrina before landfall, Category 5

Intense Hurricane Katrina video of 28 feet of storm surge.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She bolstered swells upwards of 30ft and reeked havoc throughout the Mississippi Coast Line with her devastation physically noticed over 160 miles inland to the heart of Mississippi, Jackson.  She claimed nearly 1900 lives, displaced more than 700,000 people (more than the Dust Bowl Migration of the Great Depression) and cost our country nearly $125 Billion Dollars in property damage and insurance pay outs.  To this day, there are still nearly 700 missing persons from that infamous day 7 years ago.

In Mississippi alone, over 200 lives were taken, 67 missing persons, and 5 still yet to be identified.  Over 65,000 homes were destroyed, including one that sat at 10229 Cottage Court Cove, D’Iberville, MS 39540, my home.  My neighborhood went under 15ft of water with about 7ft sitting inside my home before residing.  I remember looking through the portal of the front door, seeing the damage, the water line, the mud, everything.  I didn’t even unlock the door.  I did what I knew to do:  Report for duty.

I reported to the Emergency Operation Center in Gulfport, MS, linked up with the Director of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, Sam Howell, and conducted Search and Recovery efforts with the Harrison County Coroner’s Office.  Search and Rescue teams would identify remains and our team would recover those remains and transport them back to the “Reefer Trucks” (Refrigerated Tractor Trailers) parked outside one of the funeral homes in Gulfport, MS.  We had recovery teams mobilized throughout the Gulf Coast.  My area of responsibility was Biloxi, MS.

 
 
Conditions were terrible.  I slept on a slab the first night across from the EOC.  Our communications were non-existent, the only service provider available was Cell South, now called C-Spire.  Our collaboration across the board with mobilized agency’s from law enforcement volunteers to the MS National Guard was decayed.  It was analogue and archaic.  There were next to no communications capabilities while we were deployed to our AOs.  Each team had to be internally self sufficient, bringing everything we needed with us that morning.  Response was slow, the people were restless, and resources were coming close to depleting.  We weren’t ready.
 

Biloxi, MS

Now it’s 2012.  On the eve of the Anniversary of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters of our time, Hurricane Isaac will eerily make landfall on this momentous day 7 years later.  At this point, as I listen to the News from the other room, Isaac has increased to a Category I.  The Army National Guard has already mobilized, the Joint Information Center (JIC) was deployed two days ago and is set up for distribution D+1.  The stage is set for one of the quickest responses that the state of Mississippi has to offer with every available hand poised and ready.  I myself, a Nationally Registered EMT-B, am also ready to provide assistance if need be.  Now, we are ready.

In the short time I have worked for Cisco, I have been part of an amazing team that has relentlessly worked to bring attention to Cisco’s technology in order to aid and assist First Responders so that they may seamlessly do what they do best:  Serve.  With Cisco’s TacOps team and NERV mobile command center those who respond will have at their finger tips what they need to provide assistance to the public.

Today, we are ready.

This was difficult for me to write and share.  As you finish reading this, please give a moment of silence for those that Hurricane Katrina claimed and their families.

Humbly Yours,

Mark Rogers

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The costs of data center downtime and dealing with data center failures – Hiren Desai

Few months ago, I blogged about getting the most from your current Data Center resources while customers evaluate options such as cloud for their business needs. We all understand that today’s business environment is characterized by rapid, unpredictable change. Some changes bring opportunities for your business, while others bring challenges and threats. But no matter what, your business has to be responsive and resilient —seamlessly taking advantage of opportunities while mitigating risks.

Your business depends on IT infrastructure (whether hosted in your own internal data center or in Cloud) and must be designed to maintain the continuity of your operations and secure data integrity in the event of an unexpected disruption. It also must help you comply with government regulations and integrate risk strategies to reduce costs while scaling rapidly and automatically as the marketplace changes.

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With VPLEX and OTV, Cisco, EMC and VCE change the Mobility and Disaster Recovery Game (Part2)

June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am PST

Today, Cisco Live “World of Solutions ” (the show floor) opens at 4:30 pm PDT  in San Diego Convention Center.  One of the marquis demos has been shown at EMC World with a lot of interest.

This blog is the second part of a two part blog dedicated to this Mobility and Business Continuance demo, created by Cisco, EMC and VCE.  In part 1 (read blog here) I invited EMC Colin Durocher (@OtherColin) to share with us his perspective on the demo.  As promised,  I come back today with more details on the demo,  including a video interview conducted by Cisco Daniel Bogda (@dabogda) with EMC Craig Chapman (@VirtualChappy)  and VCE Tom Chatham (@tchatham).  I asked also Tom, who already wrote here, to bring  his  perspective on the demo.

Tom Chatham is a Principal vArchitect with VCE Corporate Engineering responsible for delivering VCE solutions, customer solution testing, technical marketing events and evangelizing private cloud. 16 years of experience in the industry, most of that time spent focused on storage, virtualization and unified computing. Including extensive network infrastructure, systems architecture and business continuity.

“VCE is excited to kick things off this week at CiscoLive! Between our big booth, speaking sessions, and demos we’ve got a ton to talk about (www.vce.com/events/cisco-live).
Like we did at EMC World,  for this year’s  CiscoLive! show VCE wanted to kick it up a notch with LIVE demonstrations of all the cool technologies we have at our fingertips.

Daniel Bogda, Craig Chapman, Tom Chatham

We have a number of VblockTM Systems going to Cisco Live! (and VMworld in August) so it made perfect sense to show off our Workload Mobility Solution. Besides, isn’t cloud all about the ability to offer services from anywhere?

We have three Vblock 300 systems located in the VCE, EMC and Cisco booths. An additional network aggregation rack has been added to each Vblock system to house Nexus 7010 switches, EMC RecoverPoint appliances and EMC VPLEX engines. Panduit provided 1000 feet of fiber trunk cable containing 6 pair of fiber, which has been hung from the ceiling between booths.

The Nexus 7010 switches are providing our core network services, making each booth it’s own data center. RecoverPoint and VMware Site Recovery Manager are handling traditional long haul disaster recovery. VPLEX Metro is providing Active-Active storage clustering capabilities. This is the ability to stretch a VMware vSphere cluster between two sites today, and up to four in the future.  VPLEX Metro provides storage array block level LUN consistency and data availability while OTV on the Nexus 7000 series switches provide layer 2 network services.

Diagram: VCE Vblock WLM plan for CiscoLive!

Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at what makes this “cool”. Traditionally, migrating data and applications in or between data centers involves manual steps and data copies, where IT would either make physical backups or use data replication services to handle getting the data from side A to side B.

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With VPLEX and OTV, Cisco,EMC and VCE change the Mobility and Disaster Recovery Game (Part1)

May 25, 2012 at 6:15 am PST

if you get the chance to be at EMC World you probably saw an interesting demo shared by Cisco, EMC and VCE  about Mobility and Business Continuance -- If you didn’t , Cisco Live San Diego will be another opportunity to see it

Our favorite bloggers Jake Howering  and Omar Sultan wrote  in the recent past  about DCI (Data Center Interconnect)  , OTV (Overlay Transport Virtualization)  i.e  DCI as an enabling framework for both Workload Mobility & Disaster Recovery 

Today I am pleased to have EMC Colin Durocher, bringing his perspective on the best way to address a critical challenge for a lot of IT organizations.
Next week I will post a second part  (here) , with a video  about the demo itself

Colin Durocher (on Twitter  @OtherColin) is a Principal Product Manager with the RecoverPoint VPLEX Business Unit.He has been working with the VPLEX product in several capacities including QA, software development,
systems engineering, and product management for over 10 years.
He is a father of two, a professional engineer, and is currently pursuing an MBA.
Colin is based out of Montreal, Canada.

“Life Inside the Datacenter Silo

The traditional approach to IT is characterized by datacenter silos.  Within each silo, we have our operations down to a science:

  • We use server clustering, redundant network fabrics, and RAID storage to protect against unplanned local failures.
  • We maintain spare capacity to absorb failures and workload spikes
  • We don’t think twice about moving data between tiers, or even between arrays to optimize cost and performance.
  • We commonly move virtual machines non-disruptively from server to server to load balance or perform maintenance.
    As far as mobility and availability needs are concerned, life is good…  Within the silo.

Crossing the Chasm (Between Silos) 

When it comes to protecting against site failures, we use array replication to maintain a copy of all our data in a secondary (often passive) datacenter.  We maintain scripts to automate our failover in case we ever need to declare a disaster.  We practice our DR plan at least once a year.  Don’t we?  Moving applications between datacenters is complicated enough that we really just try not to do it.  When we do, it often entails a professional services engagement.

All this has worked reasonably well for us up to now.  But IT budgets are being squeezed and IT administrators need to eliminate waste, reduce complexity and find ways to increase their operational efficiency.  It isn’t an optional thing.  Consider the IDC digital universe study (2011) which estimates that by 2020, the amount of information under management will increase by a factor of 50 while the number of IT staff managing it will increase by only 1.5

That gap will need to be filled by different technologies.  Let me introduce one to you – EMC VPLEX Metro.  For hundreds of customers, it is breaking down the barriers between datacenters bringing new levels of efficiency, simplicity, and availability.

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