The USS Cisco took off for the Gestalt IT Networking Tech Field Day 2 with Captain Omar Sultan (see picture below, courtesy of techfieldday.com), Data Center Solutions Sr. Marketing Manager, at the helm. Tech Field Day networking industry experts gathered on the bridge, cleverly disguised as the Cisco Cloud Innovation Center (CICC) Lab, for an informal, no-holds-barred conversation on recent Nexus portfolio announcements, the continued march towards automated provisioning of cloud services and ever-evolving VM networking technologies.
Captain Omar at Cisco Networking Tech Field Day 2
For those who weren’t at the event or haven’t seen the video recording yet, please excuse my unabashed geekiness, but you’ll have to watch the first minute of the video to get the above reference. As a new member of the Data Center Solutions Marketing team, this is also my first foray into the Cisco blog-o-sphere, so I hope to share some fresh viewpoints on the day’s events.
Several things were made very apparent during the Tech Field Day session:
Where I grew up, you could buy individual cigarettes. While I played ball at the park, I’d see the young men approach the paper kiosk to get a cigarette. Not a pack, just one lonely stick. The customers overpaid on per-cigarette basis but it helped them manage their budget I’d watch them and think nothing of it. It was normal.
People also could buy shampoo in ketchup-sized packages. Unilever still sells them in India. I grew up in the third world, it was the bronze age, but only only on good days. We’re back to bronze with cloud computing, and I’m hyper ready.
For me, the biggest invention cloud computing brings about is unreliable level services. And how important it is to have low quality service levels available on a metered basis. A metered basis the customer can manage. Hear me out.
Today, Amazon’s block storage is unpredictable for databases. The latency in the network is funky. Machines fail to start. Machines don’t fail to fail. Service levels in the cloud don’t exist.
This is not your typical datacenter. It’s a bronze age datacenter. No great expectations, but diminished expectations. And for a young segment of the market, it’s just right and couldn’t be be better.
I sat down with a young start up and asked them why do they use cloud computing if it’s so unreliable, if it requires so much more coding.
Answer: They have more time than money. And the money they have, they have to be parsimonious, avaricious and cautious. They are ok coding more to deal with the cloud’s weirdness. But running out of cash would kil them. The bronze age suits them just fine.
So all the cool kids in Silicon Valley are super excited about writing software for “Designed-to-Fail’ infrastructure. We can’t wait for a chaos monkey to spank us. Well… that’s a San Francisco thing.
So what’s the lesson of this meditation? It’s that service levels are important. Too high and they prevent innovation, too low and they prevent operation.
For a while now, I’ve been bothered with the word commodity. Like legacy, greenfield, there are value judgements implicit in the words. When we apply them to technology adoption, they serve as marketing oars to rock the new tech boat, but are not useful when you need a fish for dinner.
And this article on the NYSE community cloud is a great example of why there are no commodity clouds.
The NYSE’s community cloud platform is design to ensure that its customers are treated fairly, and it ensures them that the maximum latency that any user will experience in this data center is 70 microseconds (one millionth of a second) round-trip for any message, O’Sullivan said.
“We guarantee that nobody will have an advantage on the network,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s designed to be a level playing field for trading.
Basically, this compute service comes with a latency service level and a promise that no one gets better latency, thus ensuring a level playing field for traders.
So it’s “level-playing-field-as-a-service;” which is right and ridiculous. Right because that’s the differentiators; ridiculous that I have to pull the *aaS to describe what before I would have simply called “service.”
There was a time when coffee was called a commodity, then Howard Schultz of Starbucks came along, and Peet’s came along, and next, we are all paying $5 for coffee.
After just getting back from a great week at Cisco Live 2011, I wanted to highlight one of the demonstrations that garnered a huge amount of attention from attendees (customers & partners). This is from our CITEIS project, which is Cisco’s internal Private Cloud.
This demonstration highlights a number of unique Cisco Data Center technologies, along with partner technologies:
Innovation is inextricably linked with the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again!” Great entrepreneurs concur that in order to drive real innovation, corporations must cultivate originality by giving employees the freedom and resources to introduce new ideas, methods and processes.
So I began to wonder, what are some great ways that an enterprise can balance the hard costs and the opportunity costs of fostering innovation with the more practical demands of the balance sheet?
A few weeks ago, I heard James Urquhart talking to a customer about their cloud strategy and he said some things that I thought were very powerful. He was talking about the flexibility of Cisco UCS and how it allowed for inexpensive do-overs. You can buy the hardware and try something on it at small scale. If it shows promise, you can scale it up to meet the full market need. If it doesn’t work, the hardware can quickly be recaptured and repurposed for the next innovation. Repeat, redo, retry, redesign—cost effectively “try, and try again.”
As the conversation went on with the customer, we came to recognize the same benefit of a well-engineered orchestrator as the common point of interaction of all the pieces of IT.
New services in the cloud are more than just building a new VM template or vApp and then cloning it on demand. The move toward ITaaS means bringing in new purpose-built technologies (such as IT chargeback, application configuration management, network flow management, industry-specific compliance reporting, etc.), and integrating them with existing OSS/BSS products you already have (ticketing systems, network monitoring, email, etc.).