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How a Traffic Jam in Hong Kong Gave Me Hope

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to China and South Korea to meet with Cisco customers and partners. The meetings went well, but it was clear that these countries share what seems like a universal condition afflicting so many cities all over the world: traffic.

I know what you’re thinking, “Traffic? Really?” Fair enough, but bear with me on this one.

Admittedly, the traffic may have been top of mind for me because of a recent advertising campaign Cisco unveiled foreshadowing the last traffic jam. The irony is that sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Hong Kong gave me time to think about this in a more critical way.

Why, in today’s modern, technology-advanced era, have we not yet discovered a way to avoid traffic or at least control it? Sitting idle in traffic for many is an accepted daily annoyance, but it can also present serious consequences to the welfare and economy of many people and organizations. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that traffic costs $124B in lost productivity, fuel waste and higher prices for goods as a result of higher transportation costs. Multiply this by a global factor, and you begin to get the enormity of this so called “annoyance.”

At Cisco, we’re focused on creating solutions that deliver business outcomes for our customers: faster decision-making, lowering costs, increasing productivity, etc. Being close to Cisco’s data center solutions and the company’s Internet of Everything vision, I got to thinking how we’re not that far off from leaving the traffic jam in the dust.

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Balancing Innovation and Evolution: Cutting Through the Noise

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.”

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Cisco ACI: In the market, building momentum. Full suite on schedule for Q2 2014

If you’re a West Coaster who couldn’t quite make it out of bed at 5am last Thursday, or you just didn’t catch the Cisco Financial Analyst Conference in New York, then you might have missed Cisco CEO John Chambers sharing some exciting news about the progress we’re making with the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure portfolio.

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.

We invite you to join us on the journey!

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Next wave of data center innovation …

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**.

Continuing to innovate …
During Cisco Live Orlando last week, Cisco unveiled a two additions to its Unified Fabric portfolio: Dynamic Fabric Automation, which automates network provisioning and simplifies fabric management, and new Nexus 7700 Series switches, providing 40G/100G scalability and comprehensive feature set with new F3 modules.

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

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Cisco Achieves #2 Worldwide in the x86 Blade Server Market

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]:

DrivingResults

Here is just some of what we are hearing from our customers:
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