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Ready, Set…Cloud! Vblock, VxBlock and Cisco ACI usher in operational simplicity and software defined innovation for the cloud era

Complexity is easy. Simplicity is hard. Solving operational complexity has been one of the hardest challenges in data center and cloud build-outs. For customers, the challenge of interfacing with different infrastructure vendors and driving integration has been a significant hurdle in the past, slowing application rollouts. The success of the integrated Infrastructure approach has largely been due to focused efforts on behalf of multiple vendors to come together to solve this challenge, resulting in a new hyper-growth market category being created. According to IDC’s Q3CY2014 integrated infrastructure tracker, the integrated infrastructure market has grown to ~$5.5B annually and most analysts have this market growing at 30+ percent YoY.

A shining example of solving this huge challenge has been VCE’s Vblock offerings that have been on a stellar growth path. Nothing speaks better of this than customer success and market traction it enjoys –

  • VCE surpassed a $2 billion annualized demand run-rate for Vblock and Vblock-related products and services exiting Q3 2014.
  • Its sixth consecutive quarter of greater than 50% year-over-year demand growth.
  • Clear leader in integrated infrastructure systems according to Gartner and IDC
  • A leader in the Gartner, Inc. Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems, based on an evaluation of VCE’s completeness of vision and ability to execute.

With its UCS Integrated Infrastructure solution approach Cisco has been literally in the midst of all of this action. Cisco UCS, Nexus and MDS switches have been key components of the integrated offering along with innovations from the other companies.  Customers have loved the operational benefits as they scale their cloud build outs. Last October next-generation “ACI-ready” Vblocks were introduced allowing customers to further accelerate their journey to SDN and cloud.

And now it is time to raise the bar even further. As VCE introduces VxBlocks in addition to the flagship Vblock offering, as well as vScale architectures and VCE Vision 3.0, Cisco and VCE are together committed to build on the past success as we align our sights to the future –

  • VCE and Cisco are committed to drive open, future proof converged infrastructure solutions through the GA shipments of ACI-Ready Nexus 9K enabled Vblocks and Cisco UCS. We already have 100+ joint customers in production.
  • VxBlocks will be featuring Nexus 9K as their default networking platform to support all their different flavors of SDN within their integrated infrastructure, even as Cisco UCS will continue to be their default compute platform. As of Cisco’s last fiscal quarter, there were over 1700+ Nexus 9000 and Cisco ACI customers, making the Nexus 9000 one of the highest growth products within the company even as new Cisco APIC customers shot up to over 300+ within two quarters. Cisco UCS has been on a tear in terms of market share worldwide and has continued to set world record benchmarks.
  • The Vscale Fabric is ACI enabled and includes the Nexus 9000s as the networking component of the fabric.  This  allows customers to choose ACI and get the added benefits of such.  If a customer chooses to deploy ACI in the fabric then the APIC would be a deployed as an add-on.   The Vscale architecture also uses MDS as the SAN fabric enhancing the convergence capabilities.

 What Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Brings to Vblocks and VxBlocks:

Cisco ACI is all about operational flexibility and choice. For example, customers can enjoy the  benefits of the Nexus 9396 in a standalone mode, or deploy it as an ACI leaf configuration. This is called “ACI-ready”. They can also be “ACI-enabled”, which means the Nexus 9396s are ACI leafs connected to spines and APIC clusters all part (provisioned and supported) of a Vblock or VxBlock.

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Cisco UCS is now Hortonworks “Operations Ready”

Cisco has been working closely with Hortonworks in delivering turnkey Big Data solutions that expedites the time to market for our joint Big Data Hadoop customers. Cisco’s industry leading UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data, is designed to deliver performance at scale for a wide variety of Big Data workloads. We are working with Hortonworks to integrate Cisco UCS Director Express for Big Data with Apache Ambari, to provide a fully automated solution to deploy and manage Hadoop hardware, networking and the Hortonworks Data Platform. It is built on the solid foundation of the highly successful UCS management platform and the award winning UCS Director orchestration engine.

Today, we are excited that Cisco UCS is HDP certified and Operations Ready. The integration with Apache Ambari allows customers to now deploy and manage their Hadoop clusters in a reliable and consistent manner. The Operations Ready designation is a new certification introduced by Hortonworks to provide the additional assurance that the tool has been integrated with Apache Ambari APIs. Cisco UCS with Hortonworks delivers a fully validated solution and reduces the complexity of managing Hadoop clusters. Cisco is committed to bringing industry leading solutions for Big Data to market, in partnership with Hortonworks and other ecosystem partners.

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Integrated Infrastructure in the Data Center: a Chat with Cisco IT

Coming from the enterprise data center product side of the house, I’m always curious to hear from real-world IT practitioners what problems they wrestle with, how they think about their goals, and what keeps them up a night. At Cisco, we’re lucky to have one of the leading enterprise IT shops on the planet. And they’re not shy about sharing their opinions on what we’re doing with our products and solutions both good and bad.  Read More »

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Cisco and Red Hat – All In with OpenStack for the Enterprise

When it comes to driving innovation in next generation data center architectures, open source is clearly at the forefront. A perfect example is OpenStack, which is defining the future of cloud computing across private, public and hybrid clouds. This innovation is being driven by a strong and vibrant community that is taking place in Paris this week for the OpenStack Summit. I’m looking forwarding to reconnecting with friends in the OpenStack community and discussing the recently announced Cisco and Red Hat solution for OpenStack.

Interest in OpenStack as a cloud platform is clearly on the rise. At the recent Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) launch event in New York City, Cisco and Red Hat introduced the UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (UCSO).  The pre-integrated and validated solution is a major step forward in providing an enterprise ready private cloud solution based on OpenStack.

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My Favorite Demo at Microsoft TechEd Europe: Data Center Modernization


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After the SQL Saturday event this week I will be staying in Barcelona for a few more days to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe from Tuesday Oct 28th to Friday Oct 31st! As Gary Serda laid out in his blog, Cisco has a lot of great demos to share with you. See details:

  • Cisco UCS and Integrated Infrastructures for Microsoft Private Cloud
  • Windows Server 2003 Migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Cisco UCS
  • UCS Management with Microsoft System Center
  • UCS for Microsoft SQL Server
  • Nexus 1000V Network Virtualization with Microsoft Hyper-V

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, “Cisco is Here to Help!—Microsoft Windows Server 2003 End-of-Life Support,”  Windows Server 2003 (WS2003) Migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 on Cisco UCS is, as we like to say the social media world, trending.  I am really excited about the demo covering this topic because it brings together all the value props of Microsoft and Cisco working together to help customers solve one of their most important data center challenges.

In that blog, I touched on what Cisco and Microsoft are saying, but what are our customers saying?

Head of ICT management and maintenance, Elektroprivreda, Haris Brkanic mentioned in the case study that moving to Windows Server 2012, they were able to migrate from 42 physical servers and 90 virtual servers on seven hosts to just 12 Cisco UCS servers.  They are realized significant cost saving and performance gains in this upgrade. They also love that they can manage everything from a single pane of glass. Our customer definitely experienced the simplified IT, better virtualization, and licensing and support benefits they were hoping to get.

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