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It’s A Great Time for Open Source and Cisco UCS Customers

Witnessing the advent and momentum of Open Source into the broader enterprise, and “the mainstream” Data Center, has been incredible.  Many will look back and recall a time when Open Source was met first with a look of confusion, and following not too far behind, a reaction of fear.  With that, consider how far we’ve evolved.

Taking a snapshot over the past few months, I reflect on some of the highlights from a Data Center and Cisco UCS perspective.

The Open Source Business Conference held not too long ago, centered the conversation around previously uncommon mates.  “Open Source” and “Business” used in the same sentence once stirred some emotion, though not today.  The notion now fuels curiosity and enablement, and both were alive and well in San Francisco with OSBC.  Leaders in the space, spanning established household Data Center vendors were well represented in breakout sessions and thought provoking topics on the show floor, alongside the “up and coming” vendors in Open Source.  Linux granddaddies Red Hat and SUSE also offered the Enterprise Linux perspective, with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst taking the stage on the conference’s opening morning.  Whitehurst acknowledged the event’s commendable 10th anniversary, and touted the innovation and collaborative successes of Open Source, while reflecting on Red Hat’s significance and market leadership.  SUSE kept the Enterprise Linux subject current, presenting SUSE’s role in Big Data workloads, where attendees may have pondered “What would Big Data look like, and be today, without the success and progress of the Open Source movement?”

An “open cloud” panel featuring several notable figures in Open Source leadership for cloud infrastructure, including Marten Mickos of Eucalyptus Systems and Joshua McKenty of Piston Cloud, shared insight on how today’s generation of Open Source leaders are shaping the future of cloud software stacks, infrastructure, and API (read: interoperability).  This proved to be a fascinating discussion on project governance, expectations of Open Source, and how customers leverage Open Source to deliver the applications of tomorrow.

Open Source @Cisco

Cisco Open Source Days provide an opportunity to share, learn and grow.  Cisco engineers and product teams descend on the San Jose campus packed with an agenda to share knowledge and best practices, new developments in the community, exchange ideas and share successes, and inspire new ways of delivering software and products.  This year featured a cornucopia of topics that would make any card-carrying Open Source geek blush.  Typically there are multiple tracks and this year included Big Data and Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Everything and a few select topics in the Networking and Data Center interest areas.  Cisco teams have an incredible opportunity to learn and collaborate, which ultimately benefit the Open Source community and our customers.  Attendees enjoyed thought provoking and engaging presentations, including appearances by Chris Wright from Red Hat, and Troy Toman from Rackspace within the Cloud track, as well, our very own OpenStack leaders within Cisco.  Overall there were great takeaways on collaboration and innovation, project participation and furthering common goals through upstream contribution, and solving market problems through emphasis on differentiation rather than upstream code nomination.  Another memorable moment, I personally enjoyed Chris Wright’s comical reference to the IFC television comedy, “Portlandia”, referring to the popularity of API’s with “Put an API on it”.  :-)

Open Source in the Cisco UCS powered Data Center

One of the most exciting aspects in my role revolves around connecting Open Source innovations with Cisco’s UCS x86 based platforms.  Software and API enable many integration use cases most people are not used to expect from server and infrastructure platforms.  “Software Defined” is used quite liberally these days, with ” Software Defined __Fill_In_The_Blank__ ” found where it probably shouldn’t be.  I digress, Open Source is at the core of these “Software Defined” possibilities, enabling vendor agnostic API structures and interfaces as an alternative to traditionally proprietary closed-configuration products.

The conversation with customers today is less “Oh, Cisco makes servers?” and more about, “Help me learn more about your software integration capability in my Data Center infrastructure.”  Once customers deploy UCS, they quickly realize the efficiencies and power derived by the Cisco UCS Service Profile, and the level of control and manageability not available with other solutions.  For Data Center management requiring a view into their systems’ availability, the UCS XML API provides that ability, where the customer’s software may retrieve, configure and automate infrastructure that previously required manual intervention.  We truly feel this enables a unique “Software Defined Infrastructure” way of managing applications, availability and user workloads through software, previously not seen without custom hardware and software integration.

It’s an exciting time for Open Source, and for computing platforms like Cisco UCS which provide an open and extensible ability to deliver on business demands of tomorrow.  Exciting times are definitely ahead as customers increasingly adopt Open Source, its flexibility, advances, and innovations, into the broader enterprise and mainstream computing spaces.

How far have we come?  Further reading: “From subversive to mainstream: Looking back on 18 years with Linux

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Red Hat Summit, Nexus 1000V and All Things Open

June 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm PST

Red Hat SummitThis week kicked off with a trip to Boston and Red Hat Summit where Cisco is talking about our partnership with Red Hat on open source projects including OpenStack, and the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor. I’m here to highlight some of our Nexus 1000V virtual networking innovations that involve Red Hat open source distributions of red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), KVM and OpenStack.

Best of Tech Ed AwardAs you probably know, Cisco started shipping the Nexus 1000V virtual switch for Microsoft Hyper-V this month (and it won a Best of TechEd Show award at Microsoft’s TechEd conference). But open source virtualization and cloud infrastructure platforms continue to be an important strategy for our entire data center portfolio here at Cisco. KVM will be the next hypervisor that we’ll ship our Nexus 1000V virtual switch on, and the rest of the Red Hat open source cloud infrastructure will be an important part of our open strategy, and that includes Red Hat Linux and their Red Hat OpenStack distribution.

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Botnets Riding Rails to your Data Center

May 29, 2013 at 10:57 am PST

Cisco Security Intelligence Operations is tracking reports of ongoing exploitation of a vulnerability in the popular web application framework Ruby on Rails that creates a Linux-based botnet. The vulnerability dates back to January 2013 and affects Ruby on Rails versions prior to 3.2.11, 3.1.10, 3.0.19, and 2.3.15.  Cisco Security Intelligence Operations’ has previously published an analysis of CVE-2013-0156. Cisco is receiving reports of attempted infection from Cisco IPS customers participating in Global Correlation.

Botnet C2 Code Read More »

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Cisco’s Philosophy on Open Source

May 27, 2013 at 4:00 am PST

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Midwest Open Source Software Conference (MOSSCon 2013).  I met some fascinating people, listened to some great talks, and learned a bunch of new things.

All in all, a win.

I also presented a talk on two things:

  1. The general open source philosophy at Cisco
  2. My specific open source work at Cisco

The slides that I presented are below (slightly edited from their original form; I used a few animations in my original slides, which don’t work on Slideshare):
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Securing Linux Based Products With CSDL

The theme for this year’s SecCon was “Building on a Foundation of Security.” The breadth of topics discussed that are relevant to being a trusted vendor and producing trustworthy products is quite significant. Naturally many of the discussions revolved around the Cisco Secure Development Lifecycle (CSDL), Cisco’s approach to building secure products and solutions. As Graham Holmes mentioned in a recent blog post, CSDL takes a layered approach, with one of the key components being the security of the underlying operating system. As a standard part of the development process, Cisco’s product teams implement a comprehensive set of CSDL requirements to harden the base OS. These requirements were created not only by leveraging Cisco’s significant in-house security expertise, but also drawing from best practices available in the industry.

In keeping with the theme of SecCon 2012, we have decided to publish these foundational OS security requirements to enhance the knowledge of our partner ecosystem, and advance the industry as a whole. As of today, Cisco is releasing two documents that have been an integral part of CSDL: “Linux Hardening Recommendations For Cisco Products” and “Product Security Baseline Linux Distribution Requirements.” Read More »

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