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Part 2 – SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

December 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm PST
The London Eye

The London Eye

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, last week I attended the Gartner Data Center Conference in London.   I came out of the conference with some questions I asked and some questions I wish I had asked! So if you are attending the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, USA, this week, here are some suggested questions you can ask in the SDN-related seminars!  And if you are not at the conference, don’t worry -- feel free to ask these questions of your candidate SDN vendors (including Cisco!)

Today I’ll cover :

(4)    If OpenStack is part of your SDN/NFV solution, can you help us on OpenStack?

(5)    What is the best hardware server platform for NFV/virtualised workloads?

I’ll leave question (6) on SDN and management until tomorrow -- I feel a rant coming on and I’ll need more space :-)  Again, for questions (1) -- (3), please refer to my part 1 blog.

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SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

December 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm PST
London's Big Ben at Night

London’s Big Ben at Night

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data Center conference in London.   I attended 3 different sessions on SDN-related topics.  Here are some of my observations from what was a very good conference.  Also, since the Gartner Data Center conference runs this week (w/c 1 December 2014) in the US, if you are going, here are some questions to think about when you attend the SDN sessions.

(1)    What does “lack of visibility” in Virtual Overlays really mean?

(2)    In multi-layer SDN, will SDN be cheaper than our current networking approach?

(3)    Are Vendors Guilty of Using NFV for SDN “Washing”?

(4)    If OpenStack is part of your SDN solution, can you help us on OpenStack?

(5)    What is the best hardware server platform for NFV/virtualised workloads?

(6)    How exactly does SDN deliver better network management?

I’ll cover a few questions today and some tomorrow.

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The path to mature Infrastructure and Operations is through culture?

As the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas, NV closes, I can’t help feeling a bit of irony in bearing witness to the contrast in culture and atmosphere that this city encompasses relative to the experience many of us have interacting with Information Technology organizations today.

Moving any taboos about Vegas aside, the experience here is about an immersion into a culture of service. From the moment you step into a hotel to the moment you sit down to test your gaming fortunes, your experience is facilitated by professionals whose job it is to ensure you have a good time. Whether greeting you at the door, serving that fine cocktail or dealing your next hand of blackjack, an excellent experience is made possible by people who know how to be of service.

In contrast, many IT organizations today struggle in providing such a positive service experience to those who are seeking to use IT resources for their own productivity. Having some experience of my own in the world of hospitality, I was delighted but not surprised in observing the conference lunch staff have a plan to insure everyone who finished a session around lunch time, was fully accommodated. Each attendee was guided to the next available seat and immediately greeted with a fresh salad, ice tea and warm roll. Careful attention was paid to whether or not I want more or less of something, and if I’m ready for what’s next. Throughout lunch, I experienced a pleasant positive attitude by the attentive wait staff that satisfied my expectations.

What would it take to bring this culture of service excellence to users and organizations? Users of IT resources need the assistance and care of IT professionals so that they can be fully enabled for productivity.

Thankfully, while attending presentations around Infrastructure and Operations, I noticed an ominous theme around what it will take to mature the IT services in organizations today, the message pointed directly to a problem of culture.

In an example of how a change in culture really can transform productivity, Jarrod Green describes in his session, “Kill the IT Service Desk: Create a Business Productivity Team to Transform IT From the Grassroots”, the concept of the Business Productivity Team(BPT). Jarrod discusses business productivity teams having a singular focus on enabling business outcomes through:

1. Extending the capabilities of current and new IT resources
2. Proactive Identification to the solution to a problem
3. Understanding of and alignment with Business Challenges
4. Enabling user self sufficiency and digital literacy
5. Establishing the relationship with the business as a trusted advisor

This savvy service team sounds really excellent! But what does it look like?

consult
It starts with someone who has knowledge of both technical and business processes. Instead of being an expert up the Ivy tower, they meet the user face to face where they are, leading them in solving their technical problems and teaching them about a new feature or way to do their work faster and smarter. Because a Business Productivity team is customer oriented, they earn the ability to influence by building partnerships and driving the consumption of features in current and new technologies that add value.

Wow, I must have stepped into an imaginary organization whose culture expects nothing less and rewards its professionals well! A pretty serious culture change is necessary in order to facilitate this unique capability.

In working with customers during services engagements, I am often asked by CIOs and IT Management how they can facilitate maturing their organization into   becoming a strategic differentiator in the business they support.  When focused on the evolution of customer service, support and the improvement of end-user experience I often refer to the “Fanatical” Customer Support that differentiates Rackspace in being a market leader of data center and cloud services.   Rackspace’s support model encompasses the spirit of enabling productivity and success as the outcome for its customers.

We can speak endlessly about novel technologies that create all kinds of efficiencies and time saved for users. In order to get the most out of the investment in technology, an evolved IT Service desk that drives productivity and end user satisfaction is needed for that next step toward an extraordinary IT organization.  Within the Operate Practice in Cisco’s Advanced Services,  we strive to help customers achieve the goal of operational excellence in the planning, building and management of their IT Investments.

In my coming posts I will share more about what I think the IT organization of the future, enabled by new cloud tools and processes, will look like. More importantly, I want to bring forward what I think a proactive, inspiring and value-creating culture looks like for both IT teams and the organizations who depend on them.

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Are You at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Vegas? Don’t Miss These Sessions

You’re probably double-checking your agenda to make sure you’ve booked the most interesting sessions at the Gartner Data Center Conference this week.  Let me help you by sharing a few sessions that you don’t want to miss.  And if you attend one of these sessions and fill out the questionnaire, you’ll be entered in a raffle for a $500 American Express gift card.

The Evolving Data Center: Past, Present, and Future
Innovation is crucial for IT infrastructure to take advantage of new technology trends, including cloud computing and “big data,” while supporting current and emerging applications. Customers will derive the greatest value from the tight integration of emerging software approaches with the underlying hardware infrastructure. This session explores the newest developments in the Cisco Unified Data Center platform, which unifies computing, networking, security, and management to deliver business agility, IT simplicity, and financial efficiency.

This is a must-see presentation from one of the Cisco’s top senior executives in engineering – mark your calendar now and add it to your agenda.

Speaker: David Yen
Location: Venetian Ballroom F
Session Type: Solution Provider Session
Monday, December 3.
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
ADD to your agenda

 

The Programmable Cloud
Trends such as social apps, cloud, and BYOD offer the opportunity to significantly improve customer experiences and increase worker productivity. Making the most of these trends, however, is going to require some new thinking about infrastructure. This session will explore how to build on your existing investments and create a programmable data center that will give you the agility and flexibility to keep up with today’s on-demand world.

In this session, you’ll hear from Cisco IT’s senior vice president of infrastructure – featuring “Cisco on Cisco” initiatives using our Unified Data Center solutions.  See a demo of Cisco IT’s internal private cloud and learn about our ‘enterprise store’ service catalog initiative for BYOD – powered by Cisco Intelligent Automation software.

Speaker: John Manville
Location: Titian Ballroom 2301A
Tuesday, December 4.
1:45 to 2:45 PM
ADD to your agenda

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Are you ready? – Convergence and Cloud calls for changes to how IT operates

I was at Gartner Summit in Las Vegas last week after missing the prior year.  One thing that struck me this year was the increased dialogue around changes IT organizations need to make in their people and processes in order to prepare for both the convergence of IT infrastructure and the move to cloud.  Now I know that analysts have talked about the area of IT operations management for some time but what was different was that customers were talking about it too.

At Cisco Services, we’ve had an increasing number of customers asking us to help them better align their people and process to take full advantage of Cisco’s innovative data center technologies.  This growing interest in change was on full display at Gartner Summit, as both analysts and customers were discussing what change would mean to them.

So what are some of the things you should consider to get your IT organization best prepared for change?  First, you need a leader committed to changing the way your IT runs.  The CIO at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Drex DeFord, says he started by re-setting his organizational purpose, identifying patients as their customers, not employees.  He then focused his strategy on removing complexity from his IT organization, not just on the technology side but in his people and processes as well, to allow IT better flexibility to understand and deliver against their customers’ expectations.

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