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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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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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