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IT Automation Eases the Cost of Doing Business

The increasing pace of business is creating high demand for IT efficiency and speed.

IT directly affects your ability to respond correctly and quickly to new opportunities.  Slow IT equates to slow business.

The latest release of Cisco UCS Director allows IT to automate the deployment of infrastructure delivering the speed and efficiency IT needs in order to support business demands.

Not familiar with Cisco UCS Director?  Briefly, this solution reduces data center complexity by replacing manual provisioning tasks with unified automated workflows that span compute, network, storage and virtualization.  But this solution doesn’t manage just Cisco products.  It unites Cisco UCS-based integrated infrastructures and third-party hardware solutions into a single management view to ensure maximum IT efficiency.  Heterogeneous management is just one of the features that makes Cisco UCS Director different.  You can learn more by going here. Read More »

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Capture New Business Opportunity with Effective Automation

The connections between your business success and data center efficiency have never been clearer or stronger. Delivering data center resources quickly to capitalize on new business opportunities or projects is a major factor for business success. The only way to expedite resource delivery is by replacing manual processes with repeatable, best-practice-based automated service consumption and delivery.

So what is getting in the way?

The first problem is inconsistent delivery of standardized infrastructure instances. Many solutions on the market today only manage virtual resources while others just support their proprietary hardware stack. Automation needs to be across all layers – and that includes networks. I believe the only way to achieve the speed and efficiency businesses desire is to manage your entire heterogeneous data center as a unified whole — holistically. Read More »

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#EngineersUnplugged S7|Ep2: FlexPod 101

December 17, 2014 at 11:24 am PST

In this episode, Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) and Melissa Palmer (@vmiss33) give us the highlights of the FlexPod solution, from the parts to the implementation, with plenty of real world examples.

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

Quick programming note: This is the last episode I’ll be blogging about, but never fear! There are many great episodes to come, brought to you by my friend, co-host, and colleague Lauren Friedman (@Lauren). Be sure to enjoy a marathon of episodes over the holiday break, and prepare your unicorns!

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Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) Case Study features Cisco, NetApp and SAP along with Benefits

December 9, 2014 at 9:04 am PST

Many parts of the world are undergoing structural reform in terms of their utilities and services, and Electrical Utilities are no exception. Privatization was opening up both opportunities and challenges for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC). “With greater competition on the horizon, the company needed to push its efficiency to the next level”, says a new Cisco case study that talks about the business challenges and how Cisco is helping EAC address them.

As the case study mentions, EAC uses SAP applications for almost every area of business, from materials and warehouse management to enterprise resource planning, finances, and human resources. By improving performance of these SAP applications, EAC realized that it could boost productivity and help departments run smoother across the organization. So that’s what it’s doing.

EAC Quote

 

So  EAC turned to Cisco and our partners to provide a solution that could help EAC take cycles out of the business whilst still maintaining agility and resilience and allowing them to scale for the future. That solution has, at the heart of it, the Cisco FlexPod environment, built around Cisco® Unified Data Center solutions and NetApp storage (supported via the FlexPod Cooperative Support Model), and helps get gets the most out of SAP applications.

Some pretty compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) numbers are expected, along with other valuable business benefits as outlined in the case study:

EAC TCO Graphic

  • Reports that used to take 24 hours to complete take far less time -- great for managers to get visibility into the business sooner
  • Faster closing of monthly financial periods -- faster visibility into the Utility’s performance
  • Faster migration of user applications down from two to three months to just one month so users can be up-and-running with less delay.
  • Backups that used to take 40 hours can now be completed in only 45 minutes, getting systems up to speed faster than ever.

All-in-all an impressive improvement. I’ll leave the last word to Phanos Kolokotronis, IT manager and CIO, Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) as he states in the case study:

EAC IT Quote

To read more about EAC, the business, and the solution offered with product lists from Cisco and the Cisco Partners (which includes Oracle for the database along with the Oracle Customer Care and Billing application; SAP ECC6; Esri GIS and the Aspect Contact Centre software) click here.

Let us know if you have a similar story you’d like to share and, as always, please engage us with comments telling us  your views.

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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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