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With Cisco Cloud Management, FASTWEB Delivers New Value-Added Cloud Services

Imagine that you head the leading telecommunications provider in Italy and you are watching traditional service and revenue streams struggle under intense competitive pressure. Customer retention is a major issue because the types of services required by your residential and business clients are changing. Clearly, you need to retain customers and do so by offering new services. It is a generally known business fact that often it is more cost effective to invest in retaining customers than trying to get new ones in such competitive industries.

So, how would you do it?

FASTWEB, a Swisscom company, asked Cisco exactly that question. FASTWEB’s analysis indicated that offering cloud-based service delivery would be an excellent opportunity to retain existing business while capturing new revenue streams from Italian businesses looking for new IT solutions. But FASTWEB struggled with execution due to insufficient resources to develop and deliver these new services.

So, FASTWEB adopted Cisco’s Unified Data Center architecture which includes Cisco UCS Blade Servers and Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC). Cisco UCS servers were selected for performance, reliability, and the ability to integrate smoothly with other heterogeneous elements in their solution stack. They thoroughly analyzed cloud management solutions, and Cisco IAC scored the highest in their evaluation for:

• Openness and flexibility
• Ease of use by users and administrators
• Single management console access to the entire cloud service lifecycle
• Ability to build services without deep technical skills

FASTWEB

Teaming with Cisco Services, FASTWEB implemented cloud service delivery across six distinct use cases. Because of UCS they did so with minimum server hardware, gaining a complete cloud infrastructure that consumes only a few racks. With this Cisco Unified Data Center strategy and solution, FASTWEB estimates their customers can save around 50 percent over three years utilizing FASTWEB services compared to on-premises infrastructure.

FASTWEB2

What’s more FASTWEB relies on Cisco IAC to offer customers a portal that is intuitive with fast delivery thanks to strong automation and orchestration of all cloud elements, including network. None of their competitors in the Italian marketplace has an offering equal to this unified solution from Cisco.

Now FASTWEB’s cloud services are growing smoothly thanks to technology that scales as quickly as their business does. FASTWEB plans to expand its use of Cisco IAC to offer new services as such PaaS and SaaS for their customers.

Read more about FASTWEB’s implementation in this case study and this recent CiscoLive Milan presentation.

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Automated Fabric Provisioning Using Cisco Prime DCNM

Do you have a need for automated provisioning of your data center? Cisco Prime Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) might just provide that solution.

DCNM is designed to help you efficiently implement, visualize, and manage the Cisco Unified Fabric. The need today in the datacenter is for a comprehensive management platform that delivers visibility as well as control of all elements within the Unified Fabric which in turn significantly simplifies troubleshooting, maintenance and provisioning of the entire fabric in a fast and efficient way.Watch the video below to find out more.

Read More »

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Cloud Service Provider deploys End-to-End FCoE

In one of my earlier blogs, -- “How to get more SAN mileage….” -- I had highlighted how one can deploy End-to-End FCoE using a converged Director-class platform, like Nexus 7000, connected directly from the converged access switch, like UCS FI, in order to get the utmost agility. Well, this is how ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC), a Cloud Service provider, deployed its network to get significantly higher mileage.

CTCCTC provides a wide range of IT services for business customers in Japan. The company’s Cloud Platform Group recently launched its innovative ElasticCUVIC shared private cloud service, which helps customers reduce infrastructure cost and management complexity. With large numbers of VMs, CTC wanted to simplify its data center architecture and IT management while optimizing scalability.  The challenge was to deliver high-performance, easy-to-manage cloud services at scale.

The company evaluated several storage networking solutions and turned to Cisco for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) solutions, which greatly simplify the infrastructure and management. CTC built its two newest data centers in Yokohama and Kobe with ultra-high performance and flexibility in mind. CTC implemented an End-to-End FCoE architecture using Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches, Cisco UCS servers, and FCoE connections between the switches, servers, and FCoE storage arrays.

CTC-Deploy

With the converged FCoE architecture, ElasticCUVIC is enabling CTC customers to gain Read More »

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How to get more SAN mileage out of UCS FI?

 

Image Credit: Wikispeed.org

Mileage (miles per gallon) is one of the important criteria while buying any automobile and once bought, it is highly desirable to hit the maximum advertised mileage without significantly changing the driving habits or the routes (highway vs city mpg). Well, I have not been able to achieve that yet, so being a geek, I focused my attention on a different form of mileage (throughput per switch-port) that interests me at work. So in this blog, I would explore a way to get more SAN mileage from the Cisco UCS FI (Fabric Interconnect) without significantly affecting the SAN admin’s day-to-day operations.

Context:

Just a bit of background before we delve into the details -- The I/O fabric between the UCS FI and the UCS Blade Server Chassis is a converged fabric, running FCoE. The usage of FCoE within the UCS fabric is completely transparent to the host operating system, and any Fibre Channel block storage traffic traverses this fabric as the FCoE traffic. So, a large number of over 20,000+ UCS customers, using Block Storage, are already using FCoE at the access layer of the network.

Choices:

Now, the key question is what technology, FC or FCoE, to use northbound on the FI uplink ports to connect to an upstream Core switch for the SAN connectivity. So, what are the uplink options? Well, the FI has Unified ports and the choice is using the same uplink port as either 8G FC -or- 10G FCoE. [Note that when using the FCoE uplink, it is not a requirement to use a converged link and one can still use a dedicated FCoE link for carrying pure SAN traffic].

Observations:

1)    Bandwidth for Core Links: This is a very important aspect for the core part of the network. It is interesting to note that 10G FCoE provides almost 50% more throughput than the 8G FC. This is because FC has a different bit encoding and clock-rate than Ethernet, and so 8G FC yields 6.8G throughput while 10G FCoE yields close to 10G throughput (post 1-2% Ethernet frame overhead)

10G-FCoE-Uplink

FCoE-is-FC

2)   Consistent Management ModelFCoE is FC technology with same management and security model, so it will be a seamless transition for a SAN admin to move from FC to FCoE with very minimal change in the day-to-day operations. Moreover, this FCoE link is carrying dedicated SAN traffic without requiring any convergence of LAN traffic. To add to that, if the UCS FI is running in the NPV mode, then technically the FCoE link between the UCS FI and the upstream SAN switch does not constitute a Multi-Hop FCoE design, as the UCS FI is not consuming a Domain-ID, and the bulk of SAN configurations like zoning etc. need to happen on only the Core SAN switch, thus maintaining the same consistent SAN operational model as with just the FC.

3)    Investment Protection with Multi-protocol flexibility: By choosing FCoE uplink from the converged access layer, one can still continue to use the upstream MDS core SAN Director switch as-is, providing the connectivity to existing FC Storage arrays. Note that Cisco MDS 9000 SAN Director offers Multi-protocol flexibility so that one can Interconnect FCoE SANs on the Server-side with the FC SANs on the Storage-side.

And, we have a winner… Read More »

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Empowering Cisco and Microsoft Partners in the Data Center

Both Cisco and Microsoft are committed to helping partners be the trusted advisors to customers embracing virtualization and cloud computing. Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, we made a series of announcements with Microsoft to not only accelerate the deployment of private cloud infrastructure worldwide, but also invest in our mutual channel partners to bring these data center solutions to customers.

Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) is a foundational element of our Unified Data Center architecture, and has continued to gain growth and acceptance in the industry. We’re now recognized as No. 2 in x86 blade servers by researcher IDC and leading this segment of the server market in some parts of the world. Cisco partners, especially, have helped broaden our reach and increase our influencer recognition.

Our most important task now is to provide joint Cisco and Microsoft channel partners with the air cover needed to help customers simplify their IT operations, create more effective cloud deployments and realize the significant cost savings and efficiency benefits of optimized data centers.  Read More »

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