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Keeping Your Eyes on the Skies – A Partner’s View on SQL Server and UCS

November 6, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

A Guest Blog by Partner Rick Heiges of Scalability Experts: Rick is a SQL Server Microsoft MVP and Senior Solutions Architect.  He primarily works with Enterprise customers on their Data Platform strategies. Rick is also very involved in the SQL Server Community primarily through PASS and events such as the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, and 24 Hours of PASS.  His tenure on the PASS Board of Directors saw the annual Summit triple in size from 2003 to 2011.  You can find his blog at www.sqlblog.com.

So far, it has been another great week here at the PASS Summit 2014, SQL Server’s largest annual user and partner conference.  With yesterday’s keynote address, there is still very much a focus on getting to the cloud and new investments in cloud technology in general. Microsoft seems to be extending its data collection and storage technologies in the cloud and also on-prem.  One of the coolest features talked about was the concept of a “stretch tables” where a table that lives on your on-prem SQL Server can be “stretched” on to tables in SQL Azure Databases.  The data may be shared so that the “hot” data can stay local and the “cold” data would live in the cloud.  There were some other great demos around using the Kinect device to create a heat map of customer activity in a physical store (similar to what people linger and search for when shopping online).  You can watch the PASS Summit 2014 Keynote here on PASStv.

As a Senior Solutions Architect with Scalability Experts, I work with large enterprise customers (Fortune 500 type) on a regular basis.  There is more and more interest about leveraging the Public Cloud for some workloads and taking advantage of “on-prem” resources in a cloud-like way.  This means deploying your internal resources in a similar way – for example via Cisco’s Microsoft Fast Track certified FlexPod or VSPEX integrated infrastructure solutions --  that public cloud resources are deployed with a similar chargeback (or ‘show back’) model and automating the self-service deployment of infrastructure, and the monitoring of the entire stack.

One of the things that I really like about Microsoft’s products is a focus on ease of use, tight integration, and low TCO.  This is important to a lot of the customers that I interact with.  This is why I have seen a surge in Cisco UCS products in my customer base of the past few years.  Cisco has a similar goal to keep things simple and TCO low – read this Total Economic Impact report from Forrester on UCS ROI/TCO.  Cisco also provides Management Pack plug-ins to Microsoft’s System Center suite for tight integration so that you can manage the entire stack (Hardware, Hypervisor, Application, and even Public Cloud) with a single tool.  It is great to see how this partnership between Microsoft and Cisco can be beneficial to the customers that I work with.

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 also brings “In-Memory” Technology to OLTP in a cost-effective manner by not forcing a complete rewrite of the application.  In a recent Cisco UCS  on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 case study, Progressive Insurance was able to take advantage of this technology to further its strategy of its competitive advantage -- ease of use.

Eventually, I see the Public Cloud taking on a more “primary” role in the future.  Similar to the “Everything on a VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra, I see an “Everything on a Public Cloud VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra on the long-term horizon.  Until then, the Hybrid Cloud will be the default stance for many large enterprises.

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Power of Open Choice in Hypervisor Virtual Switching

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

Customers gain great value from server virtualization in the form of virtual machines (VM) and more recently Linux Containers /Dockers in data centers, clouds and branches.  By some estimates, more than 60 % of the workloads are virtualized although less than 16% of the physical servers (IDC) are virtualized (running a hypervisor).  From a networking perspective, the hypervisor virtual switch on these virtualized servers plays a critical component in all current and future data center, cloud, and branch designs and solutions

As we count down to the annual VMworld conference and reflect on the introduction of the Cisco Nexus 1000V in vSphere 4.0 six years ago, we can feel proud of what we have achieved. We have to congratulate VMware for their partnership and success in opening vSphere networking to third party vendors. It was beneficial for our joint customers, and for both companies. VMware and Cisco could be considered visionaries in this sense. Recognizing this success, the industry has followed.

Similarly we praise Microsoft as well, for having also provided an open environment for third-party virtual switches within Hyper-V, which has continued gaining market share recently.  Cisco and Microsoft (along with other industry players) are leading the industry with the latest collaboration on submitting the OpFlex control protocol to the IETF. Microsoft’s intention to enable OpFlex support in their native Hyper-V virtual switch enables standards-based interaction with the virtual switches.  Another win for customers and the industry.

In KVM and Xen environments, many organizations have looked at Open vSwitch (OVS) as an open source alternative. There is an interest in having richer networking than the standard Linux Bridge provides, or using OVS as a component for implementing SDN-based solutions like network virtualization. We think that there is an appetite for OVS on other hypervisors as well.  Cisco is also committed to contributing and improving these open source efforts.  We are active contributors in the Open Virtual Switch project and diligently working to open source our OpFlex control protocol implementation for OVS in the OpenDaylight consortium.

To recap on the thoughts from above, Table 1 provides a quick glance at the options for virtual networking from multiple vendors as of today:

Table 1:  Hypervisors and Choices in Virtual Switches

Hypervisor

Native vSwitch

3-party or OpenSource  vSwitch

vSphere

•Standard vSwitch
•Distributed Virtual Switch
•Cisco Application Virtual Switch
•IBM DVS 5000V
•HP Virtual Switch 5900V

Hyper-V

Native Hyper-v Switching
•NEC
•Broadcom

KVM

Linux Bridge(some distributions include OVS natively)
•OVS

XEN

OVS -- open source project with multiple contributions from different vendors and individuals
•OVS

 

As an IT Professional, whether you are running workloads on Red Hat KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere, it is difficult to imagine not having a choice of virtual networking. For many customers, this choice still means using the hypervisor’s native vSwitch.  For others, it is about having an open source alternative, like OVS. And in many other cases, having the option of selecting an Enterprise-grade virtual switch has been key to increasing deployments of virtualization, since it enables consistent policies and network operations between virtual machines and bare metal workloads.

As can be seen in the table above, Cisco Nexus 1000V continues to be the industry’s only multi-hypervisor virtual switching solution that delivers enterprise class functionality and features across vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM. Currently, over 10,000 customers have selected this option with Cisco Nexus 1000V in either vSphere, Hyper-V, or KVM (or a combination of them).

Cisco is fully committed to the Nexus 1000V for vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM and also the Application Virtual Switch (AVS) for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), in addition to our open source contributions to OVS.  Cisco has a large R&D investment in virtual switching, with a lot of talented engineers dedicated to this area, inclusive of those working on open-source contributions.

Nexus 1000V 3.0 release for vSphere is slated for August 2014 (general availability). This release addresses scale requirements of our increasing customer base, as well as an easy installation tool in the form of Cisco Virtual Switch Update Manager.   The Cisco AVS for vSphere will bring the ACI policy framework to virtual servers.  With ACI, customers will for the first time benefit from a true end-to-end virtual + physical infrastructure being managed holistically to provide visibility and optimal performance for heterogeneous hypervisors and workloads (virtual or physical).  These innovations and choices are enabled by the availability of open choices in virtual switching within hypervisors.

As we look forward to VMworld next month, we are excited to continue the collaborative work with platform vendors VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Canonical, and the open source community to maintain and continue development of openness and choice for our customers.  We are fully committed to this vision at Cisco.

Acknowledgement:  Juan Lage (@juanlage) contributed to this blog.

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Get On With It! Your Cloud is Waiting

Sound familiar? We hear that term all the time. We hear it at home, we hear it at work, we keeping saying it to our elected officials. It’s a term often used when we are frustrated with progress. It doesn’t matter what the task is, we just want it done!

At Cisco we do a lot of research. We talk to customers to understand their needs, we survey customers to predict what their needs may be and we engage with the analyst community to understand how our industry is changing. Working from this feedback we aim to make an impact on the market with great products.

Moving to the Cloud has been a hot topic for the past few years and it has been amazing to watch the progress. Just two years ago, our Cloud Connected Survey highlighted the challenges Enterprises were facing as they tried to migrate to the Cloud, with Security being one of the top concerns. The Cisco product team responded to those concerns with the Cloud Services Router 1000V aiming to help Enterprises to ‘get on with it’ and accelerate their migration to the Cloud. Read More »

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Cisco live Redux: Nexus 1000V InterCloud, Now Available, is a Hit to Enable Hybrid Cloud

July 8, 2013 at 9:00 am PST
Cisco live party

Who doesn’t love a Cisco Live! party?

If you live in the US, I hope you had a good 4th of July holiday last week. It’s already been over a week since a very exciting Cisco live! If you were there in person, or you caught much of it on video, I’m sure you know about the enthusiasm and excitement from an unexpectedly large number of attendees. Crowds in the World of Solutions were amazing, especially trying to learn about our new Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) technology, as well as the new enhancements in our Nexus 1000V virtual networking portfolio, like Citrix NetScaler 1000V.

While on the Nexus 1000V topic, I would like to point out a great blog write-up by the always insightful Jason Edelman, a Solution Architect at a national solution provider, on our Nexus 1000V InterCloud hybrid cloud solution. Nexus 1000V InterCloud received a great deal of interest and attention at Cisco live and may have been the busiest pod in our virtual networking area in the World of Solutions. The concept of hybrid cloud is really gaining traction and organizations appreciate the importance of now seamlessly extending virtual overlays from the on-premises data center to public cloud providers as Nexus 1000V InterCloud now enables. Nexus 1000V InterCloud began shipping last week, as well (with vPath and the Virtual Services Gateway coming soon), so the timing of all this interest couldn’t be better. To download the Nexus 1000V InterCloud GA image for evaluation, go here.

One of the aspects of InterCloud that we were talking about in more detail at Cisco live! was the internal security. The architecture supports complete encryption of all traffic not only between the enterprise or on-premises data center and the service provider cloud, but encrypts all data-in-motion within the provider cloud, to protect traffic from exposure to the service provider and other tenants. This encrypted tunnel includes all traffic going to the virtual services residing in the cloud. And this is on top of the security provided by the virtual services (when supported in InterCloud in Q4 CY 13), such as the virtual firewalls, VSG and ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall.

InterCloud Security Architecture

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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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