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VMworld Europe – Cloudy with a Cisco Lining

VMworld Europe is just around the corner and the final preparations are being completed.  The Bella Center, in beautiful Copenhagen Denmark, is undergoing a cloudy transformation that will tickle the technical fancy of geeks and provide answers and directions for the business minded.  The cloud has come to the Bella Center and it has a Cisco lining.

Cloud is changing the way we do IT and Cisco is leading the charge.  We have the products, innovation and partnerships to help you on your journey to the cloud.  Cisco can help you own the cloud.  Stop by our booth in the Bella Center to hear about some of these great Cisco solutions:

  • Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud: Cisco powered orchestration and automation tools, which are key component to a successful cloud initiative.  We will demo the software in action as it powers the internal Cisco private cloud CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services).
  • Cisco Nexus 1000v:  Cisco’s award winning virtualized switch providing networking and security solutions for the data center.  Learn how the Nexus 1000v compliments VMware vCloud Director and delivers highly secure, multitenant data center networks

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The New Bronze Age: SLA’s too high and they prevent innovation, too low and they prevent operation

Where I grew up, you could buy individual cigarettes. While I played ball at the park, I’d see the young men approach the paper kiosk to get a cigarette. Not a pack, just one lonely stick. The customers overpaid on per-cigarette basis but it helped them manage their budget I’d watch them and think nothing of it. It was normal.

People also could buy shampoo in ketchup-sized packages. Unilever still sells them in India. I grew up in the third world, it was the bronze age, but only only on good days.  We’re back to bronze with cloud computing, and I’m hyper ready.

For me, the biggest invention cloud computing brings about is unreliable level services. And how important it is to have low quality service levels available on a metered basis. A metered basis the customer can manage.  Hear me out.

Today, Amazon’s block storage is unpredictable for databases. The latency in the network is funky. Machines fail to start. Machines don’t fail to fail. Service levels in the cloud don’t exist.

This is not your typical datacenter. It’s a bronze age datacenter. No great expectations, but diminished expectations.  And for a young segment of the market, it’s just right and couldn’t be be better.

I sat down with a young start up and asked them why do they use cloud computing if it’s so unreliable, if it requires so much more coding.

Answer: They have more time than money. And the money they have, they have to be parsimonious, avaricious and cautious. They are ok coding more to deal with the cloud’s weirdness. But running out of cash would kil them. The bronze age suits them just fine.

So all the cool kids in Silicon Valley are super excited about writing software for “Designed-to-Fail’ infrastructure. We can’t wait for a chaos monkey to spank us. Well…  that’s a San Francisco thing.

So what’s the lesson of this meditation? It’s that service levels are important. Too high and they prevent innovation, too low and they prevent operation.

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Complete the Cloud Journey – Handing the Keys to the Users

Every year, the IT industry makes some bold claims about “This is the Year of < insert technology>”. Buzz, hype, conferences, webinars and whitepapers ensue!! Sometimes they come true and sometimes they fall short of expectations. But once all the smoke clears, IT organizations tend to dust themselves off and ask, “So what actually works and what can I use TODAY?”

Amidst all the Cloud Computing technology hype that has been happening over the past couple years, Cisco’s IT organization was faced with a very real (and very common) business challenge – how to deliver Better IT, Faster IT and More Flexible IT? All of those challenges were faced against the background of exponentially growing user-demands and almost no IT budget growth. Then throw in all those nagging side challenges of securing information, regulatory compliance, and facilities that were running out of space.

Do these problems sound familiar? We suspect that many IT organizations are reaching similar levels of stress from their business and are looking for answers.

If you’re interested in learning how Cisco is solving this problem internally, we highly recommend that you attend this webinar, hosted by Cisco IT. Ken Schroeder (Data Center Architect) will explain how Cisco evolved from a fragmented IT organization to one that is now able to deliver greater empowerment and flexibility back to the business.

Register and Attendent the Webinar:

Date: October 11, 2pm EST (11am PST)

Title: CITEIS – A Cisco on Cisco Private Cloud Case Study

Speaker: Ken Schroeder, Cisco IT

Background (overview):

Abstract: Join us to learn about Cisco’s CITEIS – Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services – project. Find out firsthand how Cisco deployed an agile, cost effective, flexible and secure private cloud using Cisco Intelligent Automation, Cisco UCS, and VMware technologies. Gain insights from Cisco IT for the planning and development of your own private cloud.

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Re-Thinking Pork Bellies. Why There are No Commodity Clouds, Only Commodity Thinkers.

For a while now,  I’ve been bothered with the word commodity. Like legacy, greenfield, there are value judgements implicit in the words. When we apply them to technology adoption, they serve as marketing oars to rock the new tech boat, but are not useful when you need a fish for dinner.

And this article on the NYSE community cloud is a great example of why there are no commodity clouds.

The NYSE’s community cloud platform is design to ensure that its customers are treated fairly, and it ensures them that the maximum latency that any user will experience in this data center is 70 microseconds (one millionth of a second) round-trip for any message, O’Sullivan said.

“We guarantee that nobody will have an advantage on the network,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s designed to be a level playing field for trading.

Basically, this compute service comes with a latency service level and a promise that no one gets better latency, thus ensuring a level playing field for traders.

So it’s “level-playing-field-as-a-service;” which is right and ridiculous. Right because that’s the differentiators; ridiculous that I have to pull the *aaS to describe what before I would have simply called “service.”

There was a time when coffee was called a commodity, then Howard Schultz of Starbucks came along, and Peet’s came along, and next, we are all paying $5 for coffee.

Even frozen pork bellies are not commodities anymore. You might remember this quote:

“Pork bellies! I have a hunch something exciting is going to happen”

from Trading Places with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy

But as you see from the link, even pork bellies are not commodities anymore in the trading markets.

And then again, pork bellies are not commodities according to chef Michael Mina–it’s now branded, locally-grown, organic and … sexy. Pork bellies. Sexy.

So you can see why I might think clouds are far, far from being commodities like pork bellies. Which are not commodities anymore.

As for x86 being a commodity? I don’t see Intel suffering. Don’t confuse platform with commodity.

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Conversations about Cloud – “What is Self-Service IT?”

Every once in a while (here, here), I have the same conversation enough times with customers that I find it useful to bring it to the blog community. Last week at VMworld 2011, I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time speaking with customers and partners about Intelligent Automation and what it means for IT to deliver self-service capabilities to their customers (internal, contractors, etc.). During the conversations, a number of questions came up over and over again: Read More »

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