Thinking back to how much the data center has transformed in the past ten, five, or even two years is enough to make your head spin. Keeping pace with these changes has been nearly impossible for IT departments, and it’s not getting any easier. When looking ahead, consider what changes the Internet of Everything (IoE), application-centric architectures, software-defined networking (SDN), and everything-as-a-service (XaaS) will bring. Confused? It’s no wonder.
My recent blog post described what every IT leader already knows: Running a data center is hard. Making matters worse are high-tech vendors who aren’t focused on addressing near-term customer needs. I feel that our industry, including Cisco on occasion, confuses customers with too much hyperbole around vision and strategy.
I spend a lot of time with customers all over the world, and there’s been a reoccurring theme: What customers tell me they need are solutions that will work for them today. Balancing innovation and evolution is important, but that burden needs to be carried by us—the tech vendors—not by our customers. It’s rare that customers have the time to slow down to sort it all out. Even as their IT operations are evolving, they need to “keep the planes in the air.”
First and foremost, demand for Cisco ACI is terrific and global already. We already have more than 300 customers in our pipeline spanning every geography and every customer segment. Just as with the ramp-up of the world-beating Cisco Unified Computing System, we’re seeing the greatest early adoption in nimble mid-sized businesses. About 30% of our pipeline is in what we call the ‘commercial’ segment here in the US. Another 15% is with the largest US enterprises. 19% of orders are in Asia Pacific and a healthy 13% in EMEAR. In short…EVERYONE wants a piece of ACI!
That type of customer demand will be music to our reseller partners’ ears. Obviously partners are crucial to our success, in the data center (and in everything Cisco does) and we’re making sure the Cisco partner ecosystem is able to accelerate ACI momentum too. In just one month since launch, we have trained 125 partners, and we will train an additional 350 with 1500 engineers in the next six weeks.
It was suggested in some quarters of the media this week that it will take years for the power of ACI to be felt in the market. Knowing the passion and commitment of our partner ecosystem, we’re betting that ACI, both in terms of the building blocks available today, and the full system availability a few months from now, we will make a huge impact much faster than that!
In his address to more than 100 financial analysts in New York, John Chambers also touched on the importance of Cisco ACI’s open ecosystems approach, and the progress we’re making there. Let me re-cap:
Since early November we have established an OpenStack working group which includes Cisco, IBM, Juniper, Intel, Plexxi, Big Switch, and Midokura to develop application-centric Neutron APIs. We also founded an Open Daylight working group with IBM and Plexxi to develop an application-centric API layer, and we’ve created an OpenSource Community Repository here.
Of course, we’re just at the beginning of the journey and there is so much more to come. In the next quarter we plan to release an ACI Python SDK built on the ACI Restful API, an ACI southbound device API, and we’ll release the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) simulator to give customers and developers early access to the APIC environment ahead of its full availability in Q2 calendar 2014.
As you can see, we’re off to a good start with Cisco ACI. What customers are telling me is that they are not satisfied with the limitations on network performance at scale, and security that the overlay model of SDN forces upon them. Tightly coupling hardware to software overcomes those limitations.
From the outset, Cisco Unified Fabric has been ahead of the curve and ahead of the market in its innovation and the value that it brings to Cisco customers. Its introduction brought about a profound shift to data center fabric: unification of the IP and storage networks. Today it is foundational – a primary building block for cloud-based, virtualized data centers, providing architectural flexibility and consistent networking across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.
Customers know this too, as evidenced by Cisco’s continuous leadership in this market maintaining the #1 market share for Data Center Ethernet Switching with over 70% of the market*, and #1 in FCoE SAN Switching with 77% of the market**.
Cisco also announced the vision for our revolutionary networking architecture with Application Centric Infrastructure. Yet again, we are evolving our infrastructure to help IT departments dramatically simplify how they provision their data center resources (networking, servers, storage and services) that are critical to the performance of their applications. As we heard from Padmasree Warrior, “the Application Centric Infrastructure will give our customers the agility to deliver applications to end-users where they want, when they want, and to any device they want -- securely, rapidly, and at a lower cost.”
We continue to innovate as no other IT company does, providing the vision and technology to transform the data center. Tomorrow starts here.
*Source: Infonetics, Q1CY2013 DC Network Equipment Report **Source: Dell’Oro, SAN Switching, Q2CY2013
Nobody thought the ‘plumbers’ could succeed in compute …
The numbers are in – across the board Cisco is posting strong results and tracking unprecedented momentum in the server market. With Cisco’s Q3 financial earnings announcement reporting 77% Y/Y growth in Data Center and now the latest IDC Server Tracker results [view UCS Advantage], Cisco is proving to be a formidable force in the compute space. In less than four years after entering a market with very well-established competitors, Cisco has captured the #2 worldwide share position in x86 blade servers*.
The industry has seen businesses shift over 19% of the global x86 blade market to Cisco UCS, and over 28% in the US. In the recent earnings announcement, Cisco reported more than 23,000 unique UCS customers worldwide, representing a customer growth number of 89% Y/Y.
This is not luck …
This is about the value that Cisco is providing our customers. Although we develop products using the same industry standard hardware & software as our competitors, Cisco continues to grow market share. This is attributed Cisco’s unique & innovative approach to providing an open, standards-based data center network architecture and ecosystem that maintains customer choice. We are increasing business value while substantially decreasing the total cost of ownership (TCO). With Cisco Unified Computing System, we are truly evolving the way customers approach the data center, focused on consolidating resources, accelerating server deployment, and simplifying management – flexible and scalable for any workload. It’s that simple.
You hear a lot of buzz words around the industry. But when it comes down to the numbers, Cisco is driving real results for real customers [click to enlarge]:
Here is just some of what we are hearing from our customers: Read More »
I have been with Cisco for more than 20 years and have seen incredible growth and change over these two decades – including hundreds of acquisitions that resulted in varying degrees of success for our business. With this recent Cloupia acquisition being strategic to data center management, I thought this would be an opportune time to lend my voice, create a blog, and join the conversation. The increasingly rapid rate of change for data center technology makes this ripe for many interesting blogs, and I hope will spur some commentary from readers. I may have to occasionally throw in some mention of the New York Yankees from time to time – which may also insight some colorful feedback as well.
As we have seen over the past decade, virtualization has transformed the data center as much as any other single technology. Virtualization has brought flexibility and agility to the data center, while reducing the capital expenses required to stand up and maintain the physical environments. This evolution has transformed the value associated with being able to manage complex data center environments through software.
Virtualization is not a free lunch
However, as is the case with many evolutions, these changes have introduced new challenges for IT. The single largest operational cost of managing data centers today is the cost of management and administration of virtual servers. So in many respects the benefits and capital cost savings of virtualization have placed even greater pressure on the ever shrinking IT operational budget.
Why is this happening if virtualization allows users to manage through flexible software? The cause is that virtual environments and assets need to be connected to the underlying physical devices. Often times as dynamic virtualization environments change rapidly, IT staffs are strained to update and reconfigure the underlying connections to the physical devices.
A single pane of glass to manage both worlds
A differentiated approach to help IT organizations more effectively manage the data center is essential to addressing their challenges, and key to that is how physical and virtual environments must be managed together while always aware of each other’s state.
Just as software controls the virtual environment, it should also be connected to the underlying physical devices and the connectivity to virtual environments. Cisco has transformed the way IT manages the relationship between virtual assets and their underlying physical devices. With software such as UCS Manager and Cloupia, IT can dynamically manage physical and virtual assets from a single pane of glass.
Cloupia is the most recent acquisition for Cisco’s Data Center business and is truly a game changer. As our customers look to migrate from standalone infrastructure to a virtual world, to private cloud and hybrid cloud , as well as public cloud, this easy-to-deploy infrastructure management provides provisioning for the physical AND the virtual, across the server, the network, and storage.
Listen to my recent conversation with Dominick Delfino, Sr. Director, leading our Global Data Center Architecture Technology team during Cisco Live Europe in London.