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Broadband ROI: Calculating the Payback in Sweden

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

When most of us were in school, our teachers instructed us to “show our work.” It wasn’t enough that we came to a conclusion; we had to demonstrate how we had arrived at that conclusion.

That’s why this October 2011 report on the socioeconomic effect of fiber to the home (FTTH), sponsored by the Swedish government’s broadband council, Bredbandsforum, is so interesting: the authors, Marco Forzati and Crister Mattsson, show exactly how they arrived at their numbers — achieving a positive payback of 1.5:1 in five years.

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Cisco UCS Business Advantage Delivered: Just the Facts!

There are a lot of competitive claims made that pit one vendor against another. Its important to make a claim and back it up with the facts. Today I would like to share a fact-based analysis which validates that Cisco UCS enables you to gain competitive advantage by making your data center infrastructure more flexible, agile, and cost effective.  As a result, the Cisco UCS truly transforms the business economics of today’s data centers.

The way we approach IT has been changing over the last few years. Executive management, employees, partners, and customers continue to demand more services. Waiting for applications and services to deliver information is not an option.

IT organizations are beginning to come around to taking a holistic perspective, one where they view their compute, network, and storage components as being part of a larger resource pool that has to be purchased, cabled, configured, powered, cooled, and maintained. When organizations look at their infrastructure holistically, they start to realize the cost of the traditional ways of doing business.

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Cisco UCS Servers, Blade Server Chassis and TCO, part 2

Cisco UCS Servers and Blade Server Evolution, part 1, as the title suggests, discussed blade server evolution and why Cisco UCS is a game changer.  Now let’s talk about what the implications are for blade server TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and how Cisco Unified Computing System scales vs. legacy blade architectures.

Blade Server TCO and Scale

Scale is the crux of the problem that has historically been the barrier for blade servers to deliver on their initial promise.  Scale for I/O.  Scale for Servers.  Scale for Management.  Cisco identified these shortfalls in the traditional legacy blade architecture and came to the marketplace with an innovative, game changing redefined architecture – Cisco UCS.

As discussed in “part 1”, to move the bar for blade chassis, we to better consolidate I/O, management and scale.  Enter Cisco UCS.  Deliver everything at scale: servers and I/O and blade chassis and management etc.  Deliver a new design, rather than retreading an old dead end chassis ‘building block’ design.

Efficiency and Scale by Design

The requisite new design is what Cisco delivered. Cisco UCS is a variable chassis count, variable server count, variable I/O capacity, smart scaling architecture.

Figure 1 is the Cisco design, a converged I/O (FCoE – lossless FC and Enet combined) that scales.  It provides easy, efficient infrastructure scaling across:  multiple chassis, multiple servers, racks, rows and yes, it even includes the integration of rack servers into the solution.

Figure 1: Cisco UCS architecture – 10 x 8 blade chassis = 80 blade servers, 20 cables (add more I/O by simply adding cables – easy scaling)

Figure 2 is a Non-Converged legacy blade chassis I/O architecture. More = more… of everything.  More chassis to hold more blades is OK, that makes sense.  But more Switches?  More cables?  More points of Management?  More complexity?  Not too good.

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Why TCO is the Only True Way to Measure Network Costs

Cost always plays a big part in purchase decisions. It’s certainly a factor as I consider buying  a new car. As you’re well aware, purchasing a new car isn’t just about the initial cost. In my case, I’m considering reliability, speed (not that I need to go that fast carpooling my kids to school), mileage, and looks to a certain extent. (I just can’t bring myself to drive a minivan.) But what does buying a car have to do with your customers, or IT spending for that matter?

To put it simply, customers often cite initial cost as a big factor in their network decision-making, too. But if they are looking only at CapEx when purchasing new equipment, it’s the same thing as only looking at the initial cost of a car: They’re not seeing the entire picture.

Total cost of ownership, or TCO, is a better metric to assess network cost, because it considers the full impact on IT spend, including CapEx, services, labor, bandwidth, and energy consumption. And TCO is not just a measure of the initial expense, but of how much equipment will cost over its lifetime.

In June 2011, Cisco commissioned a third-party business consulting firm to analyze the true TCO of the network, comparing the quantitative costs of acquisition, support, labor, bandwidth, energy, and product longevity. The firm also assessed qualitative business benefits like network uptime, user productivity, and security.

The quantitative results alone show that a network built on Cisco’s architectural approach can yield up to a 13% better TCO, building a powerful business case for you to take to your customers about why the choice of networking gear matters.

Here are some facts drawn from the findings, which support Cisco’s firm belief that a strategic next-generation Cisco network architecture delivers superior value and lower TCO: Read More »

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Cisco UCS Servers and Blade Server Evolution, part 1

Arguably the place to begin a Cisco UCS blade server journey would be with “Why Blade Servers”.  ‘Blades’ are cool.  There was “Blade Runner” (a cult classic) and the Wesley Snipes “Blade” movies, several TV series with ‘blade’ in the name, on and on; but for data centers and servers?  Why blades?  Where is the Blade Server TCO & ROI benefit that drives business decisions and therefore innovation and how do blade servers / chassis get there?

Before:

Blade servers have been around since about year 2000 and arguably came about as a way to make data center footprints smaller and reduce power consumption (reduced TCO).  Nothing new here for blade enthusiasts.  Rack servers were taking up more and more space and power in data centers.  The concept of blades was brilliant, insightful and simple. Take as many common rack delivered functionalities (services) as possible, and package them together for delivery to a fixed group of servers.  The easy targets for this were server power, cooling, and I/O (well, some I/O functions).  To look at it another way, a blade chassis takes a data center rack with servers, I/O cables and switches, then shrinks them into a ‘building block unit’.  Once you have the ‘unit’, put a single sheet metal wrapper around everything and voila, a blade chassis.  Overly simplistic I know, but a close enough visual.  If you want a step-by-step evolution, Sean McGee (a colleague of mine here at Cisco) did a darn good overview The “Mini-Rack” Approach To Blade Server Design.

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