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Cisco data center fabric – vision, evolution, benefits

Among all the IT domains, perhaps the most action is in the data center, and by extension, in the cloud. Virtualization has taken root, and delivered a lot of operational efficiency. It has provided some interesting challenges as well. Virtual Machine (VM) mobility is one.  Tracking workloads as they move between servers, within and across data centers is more fun than most people imagined. So, how does one take this dynamic environment, and leverage it to fulfill requirements such as:

  • Delivering anything as a service – handling heterogeneous workloads for any application
  • Dealing with VM mobility – optimizing resource allocation across any location
  • Offering dynamic response – responding to real-time requirements at any scale

How does one solve these emerging challenges to achieve the next levels of productivity and efficiency?

For quite some time, Cisco has believed in the promise of “going beyond silos” (Yeah, that’s the campaign we launched as well, for those of you who saw the recent ads). But awareness campaigns apart, the concept is pretty simple – how do we take some of the traditional silos in the data center like the network, compute, storage and application services and bring them together – holistically – to deliver better efficiency, resource utilization, simplicity and cost benefits.

Fundamentally, this is the promise of Cisco’s data center fabric approach – it delivers on the vision of a high-performance, shared infrastructure, that brings together the network, compute, storage access elements, and L4-7 application services into a tightly integrated resource. It is open, integrated, flexible, scalable, resilient and secure.  And it is built off a vision that Cisco has been executing for 3+ years now on the foundation of Unified Fabric, Unified Network Services and Unified Computing. This foundation will form the bedrock for customers looking to move towards cloud-based models exploring application independence, location freedom and massive scale.

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Extend flexibility in Your Data Center Architecture with the Data Center Fabric.

March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am PST

“Fabric computing is a fixture on the radar screen of many IT groups, driven by the increased penetration of virtualization and prospects for cloud computing.As virtualization penetration increases, IT organizations will deploy virtual machine (VM) mobility, which will demand more attention to a fabric-based infrastructure that better integrates server, storage and networking for greater agility and faster time to deploy.”  Based on this observation, Gartner George J Reiss and Andrew Butler organized recently a survey to evaluate which vendors are the most credible and ready to address the challenges of virtualization and cloud computing.

Cisco pioneered the vision of Ethernet-based “Unified Fabric” for the data center and has been shipping products to support that vision for over three years. Subsequently it introduced Unified Computing and Unified Network Services, all of which have formed the building blocks for Cisco’s Data Center Fabric.  Competitors have validated Cisco’s vision by scrambling to deliver their own versions of the Fabric.

On March 30th starting at 9:00 am PST, Cisco executives and experts , partners and customers  will supplement this Fabric vision and showcase its evolution, while bringing multiple proof points to bear. And in a pure Cisco spirit, to enrich a very open conversation, we invited the Senior Analyst Andre Kindnesss from Forrester Research who wrote recently about “The Dark Horse In The Datacenter Fabric Race?” and the Program VP Data Center Network Services Cindy Borovick from IDC to share their vision.

If you want to be among (or amongst) the first to know what’s cooking at Cisco, this is your chance ! This event will be live and we hope to hear from you.

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Getting More From a Legacy Data Center

March 9, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Have you ever tried to fit 10 lbs. of flour into an 8 lb. bag?

If you have a legacy Data Center and a growing business, that answer is probably yes.  Maybe you’re figuring to force more hardware onto your already-full floor space.  Maybe you’re wanting to wring every last watt from the circuits supporting your racks.  Perhaps you’re seeking to slip in just a few more servers without overtaxing your cooling system.

Whatever flour you have, the obvious fix is to buy a bigger bag:  add cooling infrastructure, add power systems, knock down a wall and add floor space.  Unfortunately, those are expensive solutions – even a relatively small server environment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars when you include both Facilities and IT costs.

Perhaps there’s another way, though – a way that 8 lbs. of flour can meet your 10 lbs. of need and you don’t need more flour or a bigger bag after all.

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Digging into Cisco Data Center Business Advantage

About a month ago, Cisco announced our Data Center Business Advantage architecture. Within the architecture, we highlighted several areas:

  • Business Value which can be derived from IT investments in the Data Center
  • The breadth of our Open Ecosystem that helps us deliver solutions to customers today
  • Solution Architecture that brings together Unified Fabric, Unified Computing and Unified Network Services
  • Cisco Technology Innovation across multiple Data Center domains
  • A complete set of Data Center Services that can rapidly drive customer success

Now that the fall trade show season is complete and people are done watching headlines and back to running their businesses, we thought it would be useful to take a deeper dive into Data Center Business Advantage. Read More »

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Cisco & BMC enable breakthrough efficiency yields at Monsanto

Having just returned from VMWorld in Copenhagen, I stopped for a few minutes over a cup of hot tea to reflect on how dramatically the issues and priorities have changed from just a few years ago.  From just a few years ago, the focus has changed from “getting to virtualization” to “managing virtualization”.

With each Data Center event I’ve participated in this year, I’ve heard the cry from CIOs and IT Leaders everywhere for help in simplifying the management of their increasingly complex, virtualized environments.    IT systems management has emerged as the foremost area of concern (and top spending priority) among enterprise and mid-market businesses.

Increasingly, customers are asking for a single unified and integrated systems management solutions, that would simplify operations and provide agility. This is not surprising given that IT spend on server operations management (OpEx) now exceeds that of server purchases (CapEx). To compound the situation, rapid growth in virtual servers, has made this scenario even more complex.

My conversations with several impacted customers at VMWorld, Europe, yielded a consistent response; The solutions proffered by most incumbent server vendors were not meeting their needs.   Most incumbent vendors add software management layers for every piece of component added to the server infrastructure. This has led to a house of cards situation, difficult to scale, sustain and make changes. Many customers have benefited from the Unified Management capability offered by the UCS platform and are looking for a similar unified management solution that would extend to full stack server provisioning and configuration automation

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