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#EngineersUnplugged S4|Ep3: Inside FlexPod Edition

November 5, 2013 at 8:27 am PST

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, the crossover edition. That’s right, this week, as we answer the question “I’m an Engineer, Why Would I Do That?” with TechWise TV’s very own Jimmy Ray Purser (@jimmyray_purser). He’s taking up the question of why FlexPod instead of of DIY architecture with NetApp’s Joel McKelvey (@joelmckelvey). This episode is lively and informative as our experts explore the solution from a tech and business point of view.

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Three Years On, FlexPod is Smarter, Faster, and Better.

This month marks the three year anniversary of Cisco’s partnership with NetApp and our development of FlexPod.  Over the years, we’ve experienced some tremendous growth, more than doubling new installations year-over-year, and now we have more than 3,000 customers globally.

Following the success of FlexPod Datacenter, FlexPod Express and FlexPod Select the solution is capping off the year with several technology enhancements. These include the automation of integrated infrastructure, business continuity solutions, and validation of new products and reference architectures.

Together, Cisco and NetApp are introducing four new FlexPod components that enable our customers’ continuing journey to the cloud:

  1. UCS Director 4.1 deeply integrated with clustered Data ONTAP.
  2. The addition of Citrix to the FlexPod Cooperative Support program.
  3. FlexPod Datacenter with NetApp MetroCluster
  4. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 2.3

I encourage you to take a look at the short video we’ve created that gives more details of all the new components we’re announcing today.

Our friends at NetApp have written a great  blog post outlining the last two offerings, but I’d like to focus on the first two components – UCS Director and the addition of Citrix capabilities.

UCS Director Integration

New integrations with UCS Director and Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) provide automation and service catalogues, which help customers move toward delivering cloud services. Corporate IT maximizes benefits when its infrastructure can be commissioned within minutes in response to changes in demand. Cisco UCS Director views FlexPod as a single system and allows customers to rapidly deploy FlexPod by leveraging single element managers. UCS Director, in turn, will soon be natively integrated into Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud for a more comprehensive FlexPod cloud management solution.

With the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) cloud accelerator, UCS Director and FlexPod are integrated as a “node” in the cloud that can be used by cloud administrators to provision NetApp storage into virtual data centers.

Faster with Intel

Rapid deployment will be used to harness tremendous increases in FlexPod computing power. The newest FlexPod deployments will feature Cisco UCS built on Intel’s Ivy Bridge chipset.  We’ve introduced the Intel Xeon Process E5-2600 v2 product family on several servers.

“We like to say that Cisco and Intel are “Joined at the Chip,” because the innovation each company brings is incredibly complimentary. Cisco’s innovation in the data center is an extension of the company’s historic focus: connecting things. Cisco Unified Data Center and products like UCS are the outcomes of our drive to connect the pieces. When we join forces with Intel’s leadership at the computing core, customers see an unbeatable combination.”  -  Todd Brannon, Tick Tock Goes the Server Clock

Coupled with other UCS innovations, the solution has demonstrated great performance versatility and has set record-breaking industry benchmarks.

For enterprises that want to scale out this capacity, Cisco delivers UCS Central. UCS Central software manages multiple, globally distributed Cisco UCS domains with thousands of servers from a single pane.

Adding CItrix

Agile deployment and scale-out performance need the backing of a best-in-class support model. The FlexPod Cooperative Support program brings together the technology expertise of Cisco, NetApp and now Citrix. Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix XenServer and Citrix CloudPlatform are frequently deployed workloads in enterprises today. Customers will have direct access to Cisco, NetApp and Citrix engineers trained to rapidly address any operational issues.  By adding Citrix, FlexPod has the broadest IT and cloud management support, including Citrix CloudPlatform, Microsoft System Center, VMWare vCenter Orchestrator, CA Automation Suite for Clouds, and BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager.

Combined, these advances in FlexPod technology will enable the platform to exceed the needs of the most demanding private and public cloud deployments.

We’re incredibly proud of the work that Cisco and NetApp have done over the past three years.  We are looking forward to an exciting future together as we use the FlexPod platform to continue delivering significant technology innovations to our customers.

 

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Get on the Fast Track to Data Warehouse Nirvana

October 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm PST

Guest post by Dennis Clark, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager -- Microsoft Applications, NetApp

We are here in Charlotte this week with our Cisco friends, with the opportunity to talk with all sorts of like-minded Microsoft SQL Server individuals at the 2013 SQL PASS Summit. The conversations vary in range from things like database performance, developer issues, to private cloud and data management concerns. We’ve also had some good chats with a few data warehouse folks, which prompted me to share some thoughts on this topic.

BI Blues

We know that the data warehouse (DW) is central to a comprehensive business intelligence (BI) solution. So clearly, if our DW isn’t up to snuff, as they say, then we can forget about delivering critical analytics to a growing number of LOB managers and execs. This, in turn, negatively affects the bottom line of the business, which isn’t good for anyone. And it isn’t getting any easier. Data is growing exponentially and the problem of integrating data from multiple sources isn’t going away any time soon. These issues, along with the complex interaction of the different components of a BI solution, continue to make the design, deployment and management of data warehouses a challenge. Now you can continue to throw money at it by over-provisioning and burning up valuable data center space and power to try to keep up, or you can strive to achieve a higher level of DW nirvana with Cisco and NetApp.

Data Warehouse Nirvana

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Why Risk Organizational Concussion?

We have to propel new use cases for cloud because customers want more than IaaS. And they don’t want to be tied to vendors’ annual product release cycles to get it. But, as they extend cloud-based service delivery beyond IaaS and aim higher in the sky, their heads smack into the ceiling of cloud management. Naturally, they want to prevent the ensuing organizational concussion—the confusion, the fuzziness, the regrouping. So they are turning to Cisco for more flexible and extensible cloud management capabilities. Ask and you shall receive.

In a previous blog I explained how Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) can scale from single to multi-cloud deployments in addition to expanding into the richer application sets. Our support for the why wait if you don’t have to philosophy has created the cloud accelerator program for Cisco IAC. Cloud accelerators prevent those concussions. They are content modules, or cartridges, that insert into the IAC framework. Developers use them to test new application capabilities and deploy them into production, all without costly architectural revisions.

Cisco now gives you two new cloud accelerators: Application Stack Accelerator and Cisco UCS Director Accelerator.

Application Stack Accelerator
This module provides a blueprint designer onto which stack designers create whole application stacks or platforms to their precise specification, allowing consumption through Cisco IAC. This accelerator mirrors the software development process, allowing:

o Blueprint creation
o Blueprint testing
o Blueprint revision based on test results
o Review and approval
o Publication for consumption

An edit-and-copy function is available when hypervisor-specific blueprints are required or new blueprints need to be created with servers in the same network zone.

Cisco UCS Director Accelerator
Managing infrastructure within the whole cloud context is a success factor for cloud. Therefore, this accelerator lets Cisco IAC discover Cisco UCS Director as a node in the cloud and then provision physical NAS storage into an existing virtual data center—specifically NetApp storage. When applications need additional capacity, cloud administrators can add it using the IAC management portal. You will hear about the integration between Cisco IAC and UCS Director and our unified management approach over the next 60 days.

Cisco has transformed cloud management and the new-release waiting game for the better.

Cisco IAC is proving that organizations no longer need to hit their head on the cloud management ceiling and risk concussion.

To learn about Cisco IAC, go here
Click here to learn more about cloud accelerators. First time visitors will need to register.

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#EngineersUnplugged S3|Ep13: Software Defined Storage Continued!

September 18, 2013 at 10:42 am PST

Welcome back to the final episode of Engineers Unplugged, Season 3! It’s been quite a ride. This week, we take another viewpoint on the hot topic of software defined storage with Mike Slisinger (@slisinger) and Vaughn Stewart (@vstewed). Starting from the application owner’s perspective, this is a great 101 on the choices made on the road to the data center of the future. Let’s listen in:

Better stick to storage, not unicorns! Art by Mike Slisinger and Vaughn Stewart.

Better stick to storage, not unicorns! Art by Mike Slisinger and Vaughn Stewart.

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

How far up the unicorn scale is your data center in regard to software defined storage? Post a comment below!

Thanks for your viewership and support of Engineers Unplugged. We’ll be on site at VMworld Barcelona, camera and whiteboard markers in hand. If you’ve got show ideas or questions, tweet me @CommsNinja.

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