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Cisco Live 2012 Short Take: Techtorials, FCoE, and Customers

June 11, 2012 at 10:24 am PST

I’m here at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego, and coming off of a high of being able to talk to about 60 CCIE networking rock stars about the next generation Data Center.

In case you aren’t familiar, a Techtorial is an 8-hour continuous spray from the firehose (yes, 8 hours!), on top of the normal Cisco Live fare, that goes into the ultra deep technical weeds. These guys are the ones who are planning, designing, and implementing the data centers that we at Cisco only talk about. Truly stellar group of people who know what they’re talking about.

Our session (I was one of 5 speakers during the day) was a non-stop barrage of some of the most technical networking material you can imagine. We covered everything from Hadoop to VPCs to FabricPath to QoS to VM-FEX, and of course storage.

More and more often, questions from the networking teams are looking at storage requirements as they are planning to accommodate consolidated IO. Not just FCoE, but also iSCSI, NAS, and even Hadoop environments, and they need to know what could come and bite them when they weren’t looking.

When I asked how many of them were already having conversations with the storage teams about converging the networks, about 90% of them raised their hands. As a result, we got into the nitties and the gritties about ingress and egress buffering, COS Virtual Lanes, and QoS bandwidth allocations. Like I said, deep stuff.

As I’ve said before, in my world I have a rather skewed perspective. Since I live, eat, breathe, drink storage -- particularly FCoE -- I see the adoption at all levels in the data center.

And now you can too. I’m going to be giving specific examples of customer deployments at the Expo World of Solutions in Intel’s booth today (Monday, June 11) at 5 p.m., and again in NetApp’s booth on Wednesday, June 13, at 3:00 p.m.

Of course, you can come here it straight from the customer’s mouth, at “Voice of the Customer: FCoE”, where Bart Falzarano, Chief Information Security Officer from Walz Group, will be talking about how his company has deployed FCoE with great success. That session is WoS5030, at the Cisco Main Theatre on Tuesday, June 12 at 12:15 p.m.

These sessions are short -- only 10-15 minutes, so it may not be a good idea to dawdle.

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Scaling out Horizontally, Not Just Vertically.

April 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm PST

Here we are in an age of automation, consolidation, virtualization, optimization and the proliferation of a dozen other terms and technologies that are enabling IT organizations and users to do more with less and from just about any location.  We’re building clouds and service catalogs, virtual desktops and creating IT service providers.   The skills required by IT organizations continue to grow in leaps and bounds.  No more can you just be “the router engineer” or “the backup engineer”, you’re faced with learning other technologies.  Not so much learning, but cross training.  Read More »

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FCOE. Can’t we all just get along?

March 6, 2012 at 12:51 am PST

I was sitting in a room with a client the other day and normally in these conference rooms with the mahogany tables and high back leather chairs*, you have Cisco on one side of the table, and the client on the other. However, this wasn’t the case, as the table was formica and the chairs were folding.  Also, in the room was two groups that had never spoken before except in rare cases, “The network is down!” or “Our hosts can’t see their storage!”  Yes my friends, it was the LAN and SAN folks in the room.  The topic of FCoE was in front of us and the question was around their soon to be deployed Nexus 5000 switching infrastructure.    The discussion between the two parties over who would manage the Nexus 5000 reminded me of a scene from Ghostbusters… Read More »

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Cisco SANs: Where do you begin?

February 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm PST

I spent two weeks over at the Ask the Expert forums, and I came to the realization that often our customers are bombarded with facts, figures, speeds, feeds, features, buzzwords, comparisons and functionalities for which they’re not sure which ones they must have while others they can live without or are a convenience.  So I figured I’d toss out what I think are the top features for building an MDS Storage Area Network.   Some may be obvious and others you might shake your head or light up the torches.  They’re not in any particular order as your mileage varies from mine.  I’ll probably skip those that are obvious like “hot swap power supplies” and other oh so exciting abilities…

The first set I usually refer to as the holy trinity of features as they constitute the foundation of the connectivity… VSANs, Port-Channels and TE Ports.  They’ve been around literally forever on the platform and for good reason, they’ve been part of the hardware’s DNA since it’s inception.  Additionally, if you walk down the hall to the folks that manage your LAN, you’ll find out that they’re using pretty much the same concepts and features as you (VLANs, Port/Ether-Channels and Trunking or 802.1q).  So, if those guys are managing hundreds or thousands of switches and routers, there’s probably something worthwhile here.   It’s also a pretty good chance that they are using them for the very same reasons that you are:

  • VSANs: Isolation of fault domains.
  • Port-Channels: High Availability and load-balancing of InterSwitch Links (ISL)
  • TE_Ports: The ability to run multiple VSANs over the same ISL leveraging frames tagged with the VSAN ID and enforced in hardware.

Next on my list is NPV Mode aka N_Port Virtualization.  I grew up in the era of 16 port SAN switches and like rabbits, they multiplied, and so did their domains, and don’t get me started on the upgrades…  You had top of rack designs that involved dozens of small switches and this tsunami of small switches was slowed down by the emergence of the high density directors with hundreds of ports, first 128 then 256 now over 500.  Lots of small switches met their demise..

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Network Convergence as an Enabler – Giving Customers a Choice!

February 1, 2012 at 11:32 am PST

Cisco and Gartner Research recently partnered on a newsletter on how to transform your IT to reap the full benefits of network convergence.  It includes the Gartner report on “Recommendations for SAN Fabric Dashboards” by analysts Valdis Filks and Bob Passmore.  Also there are additional resources, blog & recent news links, and make sure to check out the TCO calculator!

Please click here to read the Gartner newsletter: http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/newsletters/cisco_us/issue1/index.html

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