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Keeping Your Eyes on the Skies – A Partner’s View on SQL Server and UCS

November 6, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

A Guest Blog by Partner Rick Heiges of Scalability Experts: Rick is a SQL Server Microsoft MVP and Senior Solutions Architect.  He primarily works with Enterprise customers on their Data Platform strategies. Rick is also very involved in the SQL Server Community primarily through PASS and events such as the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, and 24 Hours of PASS.  His tenure on the PASS Board of Directors saw the annual Summit triple in size from 2003 to 2011.  You can find his blog at www.sqlblog.com.

So far, it has been another great week here at the PASS Summit 2014, SQL Server’s largest annual user and partner conference.  With yesterday’s keynote address, there is still very much a focus on getting to the cloud and new investments in cloud technology in general. Microsoft seems to be extending its data collection and storage technologies in the cloud and also on-prem.  One of the coolest features talked about was the concept of a “stretch tables” where a table that lives on your on-prem SQL Server can be “stretched” on to tables in SQL Azure Databases.  The data may be shared so that the “hot” data can stay local and the “cold” data would live in the cloud.  There were some other great demos around using the Kinect device to create a heat map of customer activity in a physical store (similar to what people linger and search for when shopping online).  You can watch the PASS Summit 2014 Keynote here on PASStv.

As a Senior Solutions Architect with Scalability Experts, I work with large enterprise customers (Fortune 500 type) on a regular basis.  There is more and more interest about leveraging the Public Cloud for some workloads and taking advantage of “on-prem” resources in a cloud-like way.  This means deploying your internal resources in a similar way – for example via Cisco’s Microsoft Fast Track certified FlexPod or VSPEX integrated infrastructure solutions --  that public cloud resources are deployed with a similar chargeback (or ‘show back’) model and automating the self-service deployment of infrastructure, and the monitoring of the entire stack.

One of the things that I really like about Microsoft’s products is a focus on ease of use, tight integration, and low TCO.  This is important to a lot of the customers that I interact with.  This is why I have seen a surge in Cisco UCS products in my customer base of the past few years.  Cisco has a similar goal to keep things simple and TCO low – read this Total Economic Impact report from Forrester on UCS ROI/TCO.  Cisco also provides Management Pack plug-ins to Microsoft’s System Center suite for tight integration so that you can manage the entire stack (Hardware, Hypervisor, Application, and even Public Cloud) with a single tool.  It is great to see how this partnership between Microsoft and Cisco can be beneficial to the customers that I work with.

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 also brings “In-Memory” Technology to OLTP in a cost-effective manner by not forcing a complete rewrite of the application.  In a recent Cisco UCS  on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 case study, Progressive Insurance was able to take advantage of this technology to further its strategy of its competitive advantage -- ease of use.

Eventually, I see the Public Cloud taking on a more “primary” role in the future.  Similar to the “Everything on a VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra, I see an “Everything on a Public Cloud VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra on the long-term horizon.  Until then, the Hybrid Cloud will be the default stance for many large enterprises.

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Cisco and NetApp – Partnering for the Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is finally here.  Since cloud came on the scene a few years back, companies have had the choice of building a private cloud, which they managed on premises, or buying services from a public cloud provider.  Typically, companies had to pick one or the other for a given application.  With the Intercloud, IT departments can take advantage of the world of many clouds with all the associated benefits:  application mobility between the clouds, mapping the application to the best delivery model, and taking advantage of the cost benefits of cloud overall.

Cisco and NetApp began working together three years ago to deliver FlexPod, a portfolio of integrated infrastructure solutions optimized for private cloud deployments.  With the new capabilities NetApp is delivering today, customers can realize significant benefits in how NetApp storage, particularly as part of a FlexPod, can extend into the hybrid cloud.  These capabilities include the extension of data management into a cloud environment and the ability to move data between cloud models and providers.

Cisco’s UCS Integrated Infrastructures when paired with NetApp’s technology in the FlexPod portfolio delivers an important on-ramp to the Intercloud.  Through our partnerships with cloud providers and our delivery of industry-leading solutions, IT departments will get even more flexibility in how they choose to map the application to the best cloud model.

NetApp’s new hybrid cloud solutions complement Cisco’s cloud strategy, provide businesses with the flexibility to manage changing environments, and give customers a smooth on-ramp to the Intercloud.

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Connected Graphics on display at SEG 2014 by NetApp, Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA

October 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm PST

The coming week sees the SEG International Exposition and 84th Annual Meeting take place in Denver, Colorado. SEG is the Society of Exploration Geophysicists -- those  scientists that are at the sharp end of finding oil and gas around the world. Despite the current boom in non-conventional drilling methods (fracking and horizontal drilling), these natural resources are becoming harder to find. That’s where the partnership between NetApp, Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA comes in.

You may remember that the four partners got together last year at the same show to perform live in-booth demonstrations on virtualized delivery of industry professional 3D graphics applications (Citrix joins NetApp at SEG 2013 to demonstrate virtualized delivery of 3D professional graphics applications). This year we’ll be taking that further by talking about how we’ve performed additional testing and validation work on the joint solution with some key additions to the technology.

Visit us along with our partners NetApp, NVIDIA and Citrix at the NetApp  Booth 709. You’ll see how we can help oil and gas enterprises enhance collaboration and enable faster decision making without exposing sensitive data. Other NetApp and Cisco partners will join us for in-booth demos and events to highlight solutions that help you:

  • Scale your exploration environment rapidly without impacting performance
  • Enable your remote teams wherever they happen to be
  • Deliver secure 3D access to data and applications

The four partners have come together to provide an integrated solution that utilizes the power of Flexpod from Cisco and NetApp to virtualize the computing, networking and storage infrastructure, combined with graphics processing unit (GPU) capabilities from NVIDIA and desktop virtualization from Citrix. This enables the delivery of large-scale data sets for interactive and collaborative analysis in real-time, regardless of geographic site or worker location. Workers get a similar working environment as if they were local to the datacenter infrastructure, or using a powerful and costly local workstation.

Randal Kenworthy

Randal Kenworthy

Check out the NetApp blog tomorrow to find out what solutions will be demoed (Your Guide to NetApp at SEG -- the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Int’l Exposition in Colorado). Also, lookout for further Cisco Blogs on both the Manufacturing Blog and Energy Blog sites for more information about the industry offers, business solutions and customer insights in these industries. In particular there is an excellent blog by  called Improving R&D Through Remote Visualization that shows how different industries such as discrete and process manufacturing can make use of these technologies.

Contact Wally Beck to schedule a one-on-one or in-booth/demo meeting with a NetApp oil and gas technical expert. Make a note to him if you would also like to see a Cisco person at the booth if available.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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NetApp and Cisco Deliver Extreme Performance For Oracle Database

September 30, 2014 at 8:00 am PST

Guest post by Aaron Newcomb, Solutions Marketing Manager, NetApp

FlexPodNo one wants the 2:00 am distressed phone call disturbing a good night’s sleep. For IT Managers and Database Administrators that 2:00 am call is typically bad news regarding the systems they support. Users in another region are not able to access an application. Customers are not placing orders because the system is responding too slowly. Nightly reporting is taking too long and impacting performance during peak business hours. When your business critical applications running on Oracle Database are not performing at the speed of business that creates barriers to customer satisfaction and remaining competitive. NetApp wants to help break down those barriers and help our customers get a good night sleep instead of worrying about the performance of their Oracle Database.

NetApp today unveiled a solution designed to address the need for extreme performance for Oracle Databases with FlexPod Select for High Performance Oracle RAC. This integrated infrastructure solution offers a complete data center infrastructure including networking, servers, storage, and the management software you need to run your business 24x7 365 days a year. Since NetApp and Cisco validate the architecture you can deploy your Oracle Databases with confidence and in much less time than traditional approaches. Built with industry-leading NetApp EF-550 flash storage arrays and Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers this solution can deliver the highest levels of performance for the most demanding Oracle Database workloads on the planet.

The system will deliver more than one million IOPS of read performance for Oracle Database workloads at sub-millisecond latencies. This means faster response times for end users, improved database application performance, and more overhead to run additional workload or consolidate databases. Not only that, but this pre-validated and pre-tested solution is based on a balanced configuration so that the infrastructure components you need to run your business are working in harmony instead of competing for resources. The solution is built with redundancy in mind to eliminate risk and allow for flexibility in deployment options. The architecture scales linearly so that you can start with a smaller configuration and grow as your business needs change optimizing a return on investment. If something goes wrong the solution is backed by our collaborative support agreement so there is no finger pointing and only swift problem resolution.

So what would you do with one million IOPS? Build a new application that will respond to a competitive threat? Deliver faster results for your company? Increase the number of users and transactions your application can support without having to worry about missing critical service level agreements? If nothing else, imagine how great you will sleep knowing that your business is running with the performance needed for success.

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Punch the Data Center Accelerator and Maintain Full Control

Every organization needs more from their data centers, such as faster services and data analysis for real-time decision making.  The unprecedented expansion of data is a major driver of rapid data center transformation.  Consider these statistics:

  • 90% of all data in the world was created in the last three years
  • Data centers handled 214 exabytes of data per month in 2012 and that is expected to grow to 644 exabytes per month by 2017

Just trying to image 214 exabytes of data is like trying to imagine how much money a trillion is.  Bottom line:  it is a lot of data!

Given that upward of 70% of what data centers do today is still about processing data, and IT budgets are at best flat, organizations have to become more efficient.  They need newer, better ways to process data and deliver data center services, increase application performance and increase operational efficiency.

Cisco understands this problem.  The combination of Cisco UCS Director and UCS Invicta allows your organization to deliver services faster, increase application performance and deliver those operational efficiencies everyone is seeking.   We created a nice video illustration to explain:

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