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Network Operations Automation for Any Location, Any Application, Any Scale

With this week’s announcement, Cisco continues its innovation and leadership by bringing unmatched architectural flexibility and revolutionary scale to meet diverse requirements of massively scalable data centers, big data environments, cloud-based architectures or bare-metal deployments – with one evolutionary network: Unified Fabric.

These next-generation solutions lay to rest the myth of  “the good enough network”.  When a modest five-year  TCO is calculated (including CAPEX plus the cost of maintenance, labor, bandwidth and energy consumption), the Cisco advantage is clear. And when the value of Cisco’s unique Intelligent Automation capabilities are added, like implementing the newly launched Network Operations Automation Service, Cisco has a very compelling economic argument indeed.

To drive the point home, the real economics of networking reveal that for many organizations approximately 70% of network TCO is incurred after the initial equipment purchase. So why is this important?

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Partner Update: Fresh Batch of Cisco News in Less than Five Minutes

October 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm PST

As Andrew learned the hard way, doing your research before you make an investment pays off, whether you’re buying a car or equipment for your network.

In this episode of Partner Update, we explore total cost of ownership and why it’s the only true way to measure network costs. We also cover storytelling tips and methods learned from esteemed author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte (she created the presentation you see in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth), our October 18 TweetChat with Nancy, our October 20 broadcast covering LinkedIn for B2B, virtualization technology news, Cisco’s own Edison Peres’ travels to speak with partners in South America, LEAP centers to help partners test out data centers, tips for solution providers, and much more. Whew!

Tune in for the latest partner news:

Keep reading for a text summary and list of links mentioned during Partner Update. Read More »

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

October 10, 2011 at 9:52 am PST

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

October 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm PST

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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