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Optimize the Data Center

March 3, 2011 at 11:30 am PST

CiscoLive London was an incredible trip and gosh it was only 30 days ago – our first little project out of that voyage is TechWiseTV85 our latest episode on Data Center technologies.  Data Center Optimization: The Next Stage is now available for your viewing pleasure in our ‘still has that new website smell’ environment we affectionately call the CVC (Cisco Virtual Connection).

This show was another exercise in self-restraint as the DC team had brought out an amazing selection – if we were hoping that a global show would mean a smaller show…we were out of luck.

So how to narrow it down?

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Virtualize Microsoft Enterprise Applications (Exchange, Sharepoint and SQL Server) on FlexPod for VMware

Few days back I blogged about how FlexPod for VMware is a great solution that can accelerate your cloud journey and help move beyond 30% virtualized datacenter (Test & Dev workloads, infrastructure servers, web servers etc.) to virtualizing enterprise applications (e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP etc.), and finally -- implement a fully automated IT as a Service solution.

In lot of customer environments, Microsoft applications (e.g. Exchange, Sharepoint, and SQL Server) support a good portion of mission critical business operations. These Microsoft applications have traditionally been hosted on siloed, underutilized IT infrastructure and operational processes that were built based on the requirements of individual applications and processes. The end result is increased total cost of ownership and inability to help business be more agile, introduce new services, and achieve operational efficiency.

Here are some of the key operational benefits to virtualizing Microsoft Apps on FlexPod for VMware:

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The SAN Boot, soon will be making another LUN.

As part of some current SharePoint 2010 on FlexPod work, I have been setting up some VMware ESX servers to boot from SAN. After a few quick searchs I found a few very good posts online.

BootFromSAN101 with Cisco UCS
UCS Boot Whitepaper

I thought the BootFromSAN 101  post had a good outline. So I decided to take it a few steps futher and create a video on NetApp storage provisioning, Cisco Nexus 5000 zoning and Cisco UCS boot from SAN for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.1.

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Cisco’s Unified Fabric in the Data Center

Our industry certainly loves its buzzwords.  For a while, everything was about “virtualized this” and “virtualized that” in the data center.  Then there is a current love affair with “cloud”.  It seems the next hot buzzword might turn out to be fabric.

For Cisco, “fabric” in the data center has defined our data center strategy and vision for the last three years.  With the introduction of the Cisco Nexus family in January 2008, we also announced the concept of Unified Fabric as a fundamental building block for the data center.  We offered the simple vision of a single fabric to link all the network, compute and storage resources in a data center as a mechanism to not only reduce TCO but also improve agility and flexibility.  Since then, we have released a steady flow of products and technologies to deliver on the promise of Cisco Unified Fabric by simplifying the infrastructure with convergence, improving its ability to handle virtual and physical scale and increasing the intelligence of the fabric to increase agility and lower operating costs.

While initially hesitant, customers and industry experts are beginning to see the merits of Cisco’s vision, especially in the age of virtualization and cloud.  Meanwhile, other vendors in the marketplace are left to play catch-up.  In a November 4, 2010 independent report titled “Q&A: Networking Landscape, Q4 2010” Forrester Research, Inc. commented that:

“To Cisco’s credit, it saw the data center evolution way before any other networking vendor and started to build a set of products and solutions directed at a converged and virtual world.”- Forrester Research, Inc.

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VM Networking 101

February 21, 2011 at 1:15 am PST

As server virtualization continues its takeover, increasing attention is being paid to how we connect all those virtual machines as they zoom around the data center. Because server virtualization breaks the one application/one server model, new tools are necessary to facilitate operations and management. Additionally, the fact that workloads are now mobile introduces new challenges.

Over the years, we have released a number of industry firsts for virtual machine networking, including the Nexus 1000V virtual switch for VMware vSphere, OTV to support inter-DC workload mobility, and FabricPath to better support VM-networking in the data center.

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there regarding the technologies and standards related to access layer technologies, so, for this post, I wanted to dig into the VM-networking and where the related IEEE standards are going. Specifically, I am going to look at our old friend 802.1Q and two emerging standards: 802.1Qbg Edge Virtual Bridging and 802.1Qbh Bridge Port Extension.
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