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Expanded Cisco and Nimble SmartStack Portfolio Helps Provide Customers with Faster Time to Business Value

Business is changing faster than ever, placing new and dynamic demands on server, storage and networking infrastructure. Traditionally, infrastructure was pulled together by engineering to solve a specific problem and then thrown over the wall to operations for ‘care and feeding’. Configuring and testing hardware configurations is often not core to our customers business and absorbs precious IT resources that could be directed towards revenue-producing projects.

Once the infrastructure is deployed, it sits there. It is often too complex to change or reconfigure, even scaling the infrastructure can present risk and unexpected downtime.  All too often IT is trying to orchestrate itself to align to the business versus the business being enabled to orchestrate IT. You can deploy IT Infrastructure in a better way, which allows the business to reduce the time-to-value while improving agility to achieve more with each dollar spent on IT.

These business challenges are also placing even greater demands to plan, procure, deploy, test and roll out new workloads in a faster, more efficient, manner than the traditional approach of purchasing compute, network and storage and then combining these pieces together. Third-party data also confirms this premise. For example, a leading market research organization says: “IT organizations spend 23.3% of staff time and resources on pre-system deployment”*.  Once deployed, infrastructure must also be dynamic and granular responding to future needs like cloud and IoT.  These trends combined with declining data center budgets are forcing closer cooperation among vendors to put together entire systems.

In order to address these challenges, last week Nimble Storage announced expanding the SmartStack portfolio which combines Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure with the Nimble Adaptive Flash platform and various software workloads.

SmartStack

From a customer standpoint, there are many benefits to this expanded SmartStack portfolio which can be grouped into three main areas:

  1. Faster time to business value using SmartStack initial deployment through Cisco Validated Designs and Nimble reference architectures
  • Cisco Validated Designs are precise blueprints that significantly speed infrastructure deployment and assurance that Cisco Validated Designs and Nimble reference architectures are rigorously tested and validated by both Cisco and Nimble
  • Faster time to solution deployment and fewer errors as pre-testing, configuring, sizing are expedited using these extensive engineering documents as exact guides
  • Quicker, more agile infrastructure redeployment through industry-leading, UCS management (UCS Director, UCS Central and UCS Manager)
  1. More SmartStack workloads with a growing set of Cisco Validated Designs and an increasing library of Nimble reference architectures addressing nearly all major use cases
  • Finally, SmartStack provides customers with a platform to bring our unique capabilities together. Cisco and Nimble both bring more to the table than network, compute and storage technologies.
  • For instance, Cisco will provide innovative technologies such as UCS Director and UCS Manager. The Nimble Adaptive Flash platform is built upon CASL™ architecture, which scales performance and capacity seamlessly and independently.
  • The goal of the SmartStack solution is to deliver these and future technologies to customers as more Cisco and Nimble technologies are collectively added to the joint solution through Cisco Validated Designs and Nimble reference architectures.
  1. Highly secure future foundation for innovation between Cisco and Nimble
  • The growth of cloud, mobility, and Internet of Things is accelerating change in the data center and placing more demands and challenges on the underlying infrastructure.
  • The challenge is to have IT infrastructure that can keep pace with this change. SmartStack brings the “industrial revolution” to the traditional “piece work” of infrastructure deployment. SmartStack delivers on this challenge both today and tomorrow, leaving yesterday’s IT legacy behind.

* Villars, Richard L. and Jed Scaramella, IDC, Converging the Datacenter Infrastructure: Why, How, So What? May 2012

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Cisco UCS Mini and Citrix Desktop Virtualization

This week, Cisco is at three industry tradeshows (Microsoft Ignite booth #122, SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference booth #330, and EMC World booth #221).

Next week is Citrix Synergy in Orlando.

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Cisco Voted Top Platinum Sponsor – JDE Summit 2015

The JD Edwards Summit brings together over 700 business partners from around the world for a week of product updates, industry discussions and intense training.  A number of vendors were asked to present solutions that are specific to this customer base.  Cisco and Nimble Storage presented the UCS Mini based SmartStack solution where the entry configuration is street priced at $79,500 and supports up to 1400 concurrent users. Read More »

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Nimble Storage extends Adaptive Flash Platform with 16G FC, more deployment options

As customers continue to look for points of differentiation in their markets, the Storage Area Network (SAN) continues to play a vital role in enabling businesses to adopt new technologies and applications to help them grow.  To provide the highest reliability, scalability, and performance, organizations have traditionally deployed Fibre Channel (FC) storage networks and many will continue to do so.   FC is still a  preferred choice for enterprises (large and small), and the market transition from 4/8 G to 16 G is the best proof that the FC market is still strong.   Ethernet-based Storage solutions are also gaining mindshare and some of our customers desiring a unified data center fabric use Ethernet-based Storage protocols to reap the benefit of convergence.

We are sometimes asked about how Cisco MDS products will support the latest generation of storage technology on the market, namely flash.   Industry influencers have asked us if SAN technology will continue to be relevant as these newer memory technologies gain market share.  Can SAN technology cope with the increased performance and workload consolidation enabled by flash-based arrays?

Our answer is a resounding “Yes”: SAN solutions are here to stay.  No matter the underlying storage components, it is still very important for customers to be able to manage enterprise-level storage requirements centrally, and to optimize storage delivery.   Cisco is committed to working with third-parties to ensure that our MDS SAN technology interoperates with leading edge storage technology, and we have certification programs in place to ensure smooth deployments for customers.

The most recent example of this industry collaboration is with Nimble. To support varying storage requirements, Nimble on Nov 18th announced its support for FC SAN on their Adaptive Flash platform; now customers have the choice of  iSCSI Ethernet-based storage or FC. Unique application requirements lead to application specific infrastructure needs and Cisco, along with Nimble, provide over 450 joint customers with differentiated solutions tailored to address customer needs.

Highlights of  announcement

  1. Nimble CS300, CS500 and CS700 series arrays offer both iSCSI and FC protocol support
  2. Nimble completed a beta program with more than 40 enterprises; Customers have purchased and deployed FC arrays in production environments.
  3. Introduced  expanded capacity providing ability to scale non-disruptively up to 1.5 PB of raw capacity and up to 128TB of flash per cluster

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Changing the Economics of Desktop and App Virtualization at the Enterprise Edge

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 3.21.53 PMIn my last post I discussed how Cisco UCS Mini is helping us expand beyond the traditional confines of the data center, to deliver desktop and app virtualization with exceptional user experience, manageability and TCO savings – at the enterprise edge.

We’re only going to see more investment and focus in this space, thanks to the general trend towards making VDI and app virtualization more tenable in a wider array of use cases across the enterprise, pushing from data center to enterprise edge.  This week, I want to offer a proof point I alluded to in my last post, enabled by our partners Nimble Storage and VMware.

Let’s take a look at the Nimble Storage SmartStack for ROBO (Remote Office / Branch Office) Desktop Virtualization.  As you know, we’ve seen incredible traction with our friends at Nimble.  Their CS array has seen wide market acceptance, and is now offered as an Integrated Infrastructure solution in the form of SmartStack, delivering the modularity, scale and manageability that IT demands.

I’m pleased to highlight that SmartStack now offers a solution optimized for ROBO.  In case you missed it, check out Nimble Storage’s announcement.   Bringing together best-of-breed components including VMware Horizon 6, Nimble’s CS300 array, and UCS Mini, this offering delivers on the key attributes critical to the enterprise edge:

  •  ­­Greater Consolidation: dense storage, compute and expansive I/O capacity of the Nimble + Cisco UCS solution, allows for hundreds of users in a small footprint, 50% of what traditional solutions might occupy.
  • Simplified Management: anchored on UCS Manager, this platform enables centralized IT to remotely spin up desktop and application virtualization capacity at remote/branch offices, without the error-prone, manual intervention required by traditional compute platforms.
  • High Performance: the combination of Nimble’s large IOPS footprint, low latency and Cisco UCS processing power delivers adaptive, exceptional performance in a compact form factor. This, along with VMware Horizon, allows IT to maintain an exceptional user experience through heavy application use and periods such as boot/login storms, patch operations and upgrades.

For more information on the Nimble SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization, please check out Sheldon D’Paiva’s blog on SmartStack ROBO.

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