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The Critical Role of the Network in Supporting Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud Services
The Cloud-based service model offers the Enterprise access to a rich range of services and applications without the overhead of having to deploy and manage the underlying infrastructure. This results in much lower costs for access to services and applications. This is especially true for one time or periodic workloads where resources may sit idle for months until required. As a result Enterprises are increasingly embracing cloud services and benefiting from on-demand availability.

Delivery Models
Demand for cloud services is being met in a number of ways. Independent software vendors offer services from their data center over the Internet, such as Salesforce.com’s CRM application. Some ISVs leverage an IaaS provider such as Amazon to host their application on the Internet such as Adobe’s LiveCycle Enterprise Suite. However, since these approaches rely on the Internet it is not possible to provide end-to-end quality of service (QoS), so neither approach supports providing an SLA for network performance. This is increasingly a concern for Enterprise customers.

The Need for SLA’s
The need for SLA’s for cloud services opens up an opportunity for communications service providers (CSPs) to offer a wide range of network centric solutions that are supported by an SLA. CSPs are in a unique position to offer these solutions because, unlike the Internet, the Next Generation Networks (NGNs) that CSPs have deployed, based on IP and MPLS, are capable of providing contracted levels of availability, delay, jitter and packet loss. As a result CSPs can provide cloud-based solutions with SLAs by providing these solutions to customers from their own data center and over their NGN.

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Unified Network Services for Cloud Service Providers

Services from the Cloud
Services from the cloud offer cost and efficiency benefits to businesses, but until now many customers have been hesitant to buy cloud services, especially for mission-critical business applications, because of concerns about security, performance, and availability. Cloud service providers need to address these concerns by offering network services for applications hosted in the cloud. Cloud service providers can use their data center and IP NGN assets to deliver these services, however, they need a new service delivery model offering the scalability, flexibility, and multi-tenant capabilities needed for cloud service delivery. Delivering cloud services requires efficiency and agility in the data center where applications are hosted. To support on-demand delivery of cloud services, network and computing infrastructures need to be virtualization aware, especially for services that increase the availability and performance of applications.

The Cisco Solution
To meet this need Cisco is delivering virtualized versions of network services appliances as a part of our network services solution. The Cisco® Unified Network Services (UNS) solution presents a new opportunity for cloud service providers to offer security and performance services as well as reporting and monitoring for virtualized applications and other infrastructure services such as BC/DR, VDI or Hosted Communications. Cisco UNS uses a platform based on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco Nexus® 1000V Series Switch to increase the scale and flexibility of cloud-based services and to help ensure availability and workload mobility. The Cisco UNS solution lowers the cost of deployment and enables rapid provisioning by removing the need for physical versions of these products and the requirement for racking and stacking, and power and cooling.

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2010: A Year in Review for Cisco Eos

Year end is a natural time to sit back and take stock of what you’ve achieved throughout the year.  As we jotted down some accomplishments for Cisco Eos in preparation for this year’s annual pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show, I realized  how busy 2010 was for the Cisco Media Solutions Group and the Cisco Eos social entertainment platform.

  • Over the last 12 months, the number of Eos-powered websites has grown to nearly 100 sites including some big names like Wenlock and Mandeville — the mascots for the London 2012 Olympics delivered by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic GamesKid Rock and Cisco’s own Do You Flip? site for all those user-generated videos coming in from the advertising campaign.  With 4-5 new sites come online per month we had to give up posting images of new sites on the wall when we ran out of room…
  • Traffic across the Eos-powered sites continues to grow and we’re now averaging 3.6+ M unique visitors and 15 M Page Views per month.  We saw a 20+% spike in November as a couple of sites made big content pushes going into the holiday shopping season.  Good news is that our Unified Computing System (UCS) based data centers continue to handle both the growing and dynamic traffic with minimal downtime.
  • The product and engineering teams continued to crank out features with 10 software releases taking place in 2010 that represented more than 300 individual features and enhancements.  Some of the big accomplishments include:
  1. Internationalization —  a big development focus for Eos in 2010, customers can now localize the  content and language for a site and manage it from the common Eos administrative application.
  2. Mobile applications -- in addition to delivering content to homegrown mobile apps, Eos customers can now launch and manage iPhone and Android mobile apps built on an Eos framework.  Here’s an example of an Android app built for the Variety Screening Series 2010.
  3. Audience and media analytics -- to help customers optimize the value of their sites, we now delivered detailed Audience and Media consumption analytics in the platform.  This is a first step in adding value through the interactions data available in Eos.
  4. Bulk management tools -- most homegrown media platforms don’t effectively scale beyond 15-20 sites because of the difficulty of maintaining and upgrading all of those sites.  The common administrative interface for Eos helps with some of those issues, but we also know we need to make it easier for customers to manage and grow all these great sites they’re launching.  To that end, we’ve delivered some of the bulk management capabilities customers need, but we’ve got a lot more we’ll be looking to build in the future.

The list of what happened in 2010 could go on, but we’re going to save some of that to share with you at CES and in the coming weeks.  Thanks to all of our customers, partners and readers of this blog for a great year.

If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out this video of CMSG SVP and General Manager Dan Scheinman for his perspective on trends in the media industry through 2010, and the increasing importance of social entertainment solutions like Cisco Eos in helping media companies grow the value of their online brands.

Cheers, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with you in 2011.

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Holiday Gifts from the UCS Elves

December 21, 2010 at 9:05 am PST

So the UCS elves have been busy and just released version 1.4 of our UCS firmware.  Instead of summarizing the elements of 1.4 here, I’ll refer you to a most excellent post by my cohort M. Sean McGee (@mseanmcgee) which you can read here.  A couple of my favorite new features include integration of the C-Series rack servers into UCS Manager, chassis and multi-chassis power capping on the B-Series, and a number of networking enhancements.  You can find the full release notes here, but I’d suggest you start with the blog post first--kinda the Cliff Notes version.

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How do I keep iPads off of my factory floor?

This question was posed by the Manufacturing IT Director for a major Pharma producer, as part of an annual customer advisory board hosted jointly by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. One answer:  Good luck! …And why would you want to?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diHUhLh5VH4

Chet Namboodri talks about how consumer products are entering production and maintenance workflows and how “Rockwell and Cisco are in the forefront of enabling those solutions” during a recent customer innovation council session.

The migration of technology and applications from Consumer to Business to Industrial has become a well worn path, and the use of Smart Phones, Tablets, Mobile Video and other Operator Interfaces powering work flows and industrial intelligence has become a mainstay for Manufacturers.  Read More »

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