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Mega Trends are Reshaping Storage Area Networks. But Are You Ready?

The data center landscape has changed dramatically in several dimensions. Server virtualization is almost a defacto in our customers’ data centers with a big increase in VM density. They are also moving towards world of many clouds.  And then there is the massive data growth. Some studies show that data is doubling in every 2 years while there is an increase in the adoption of solid-state drives (SSD). Several of our customers are also either consolidating their data centers or forming mega data centers. All of these mega trends certainly come with increasing challenges for the Storage Administrator as the storage network is becoming more critical as it is the strategic asset in the Data Centers. 

Take a look at this short video with Richard Darnielle (Director of Product Management for MDS Product lines) and me. Richard shares his insights on the mega trends that will shape the next-generation storage networks.

Guess what? Once again Cisco is here to help you on your journey to addressing these mega trends by raising the bar for storage networks. How you ask?

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Vive la Nexus 1000V on Microsoft Hyper-V!

April 9, 2013 at 4:00 am PST

MMS logoAt Microsoft Management Summit 2013 in Las Vegas this week, Cisco is showing a host of new technology innovations and integrated solutions for the virtualized data center. By bringing Cisco virtual networking and UCS solutions together with Microsoft cloud solutions, we are expanding the market for our technology, while providing more technology options and flexibility for our customers.

Critical to our Microsoft infrastructure strategy is the Nexus 1000V virtual switch for the Hyper-V hypervisor in Windows Server 2012 and integrated with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Cisco’s Microsoft-oriented data center architectures, rooted by UCS and Nexus 1000V are proven to save customers’ OpEx and CapEx.

Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V

Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V

Our new version of Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V has been in wide use for the last several weeks since we opened up the public beta to all volunteers. The availability of Nexus 1000V and these go to market initiatives with Microsoft are the culmination of 3 years of joint effort between the companies, including developing the ecosystem for completely integrated solutions. These fully integrated solutions include VSPEX, FlexPod (with EMC and NetApp) that enable channel partners to deliver value to end customers.

The feedback we’ve been getting from the beta users of the new Nexus 1000V has been really positive. If you missed the insights from Microsoft MVP, Damian Flynn, when he presented at one of our online webinars, you can hear him talk about his experiences here.

What we consistently hear from customers is the Cisco Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V:

  • Offers consistent operational experience across physical, virtual, and mixed hypervisor environments
  • Reduces operational complexity through dynamic policy provisioning and mobility aware network policies
  • Improves security through integrated virtual services and advanced Cisco NX-OS features

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Scaling the next frontier: Hybrid Clouds, Fabric Innovations and the Cisco Open Network Environment

First, the Internet of Things:

Consider these impressive stats shared in a keynote from Cisco’s CTO and CSO Padmasree Warrior last week at Cisco Live, London:   

  • 50 Billion “things” including trees, vehicles, traffic signals, devices and what not will be connected together by 2020 (vs. 1000 devices connected in 1984)
  • 2012 created more information than the past 5000 years combined!
  • 2/3rd of the world’s mobile data will be video by 2015.  

These statistics may seem a bit surprising, but the fact is, they cannot be ignored by CIOs and others chartered with the responsibility of managing IT infrastructure.

Impact on Enterprise and SP Infrastructure strategies

Further, these trends are not silo’d and are certainly not happening in a vacuum. For example, Bring-your-Own Device (BYOD) and the exponential growth of video endpoints, may be happening in the “access”, but they are causing a ripple effect upstream in the data center and cloud environments, and coupled with new application requirements, are triggering CIOs across larger Enterprise and Service Providers to rapidly evolve their IT infrastructure strategies.   

It is much the same with cloud infrastructure strategies. Even as Enterprises have aggressively adopted the journey to Private Cloud, their preference for hybrid clouds, where they can enjoy the “best of both worlds” – public and private have grown as well. However, the move to hybrid clouds has been somewhat hampered by challenges as outlined in my previous blog: Lowering barriers to hybrid cloud adoption – challenges and opportunities.

The Fabric approach

To address many of these issues, Cisco has long advocated the concept of a holistic data center fabric, heart of its Unified Data Center philosophy. The fundamental premise of breaking silos, and bringing together disparate technology silos across network, compute and storage is what makes this so compelling. At the heart of it, is the Cisco Unified Fabric, serving as the glue.

As we continue to evolve this fabric, we’re making three industry-leading announcements today that help make the fabric more scalable, extensible and open.

Let’s talk about SCALING the fabric first:

  1. Industry’s highest density L2/L3 10G/40G switch: Building upon our previous announcement of redefining fabric scale, this time we introduces a New Nexus 6000 family with two form factors – 6004 and 6001. We expect these switches to be positioned to meet increasing bandwidth demands, for spine/leaf architectures, and for 40G aggregation in fixed switching deployments. We expect the Nexus 6000 to be complementary to the Nexus 5500  and Nexus 7000 series deployments, and is not to be confused with the Catalyst 6500 or Nexus fabric interconnects.

Nexus 6000

The Nexus 6000 is built with Cisco’s custom silicon, and 1 micro-second port to port latency. It has forward propagated some of the architectural successes of the Nexus 3548, the industry’s lowest latency switch that we introduced last year. Clearly, as in the past, Cisco’s ASICs have differentiated themselves against the lowest common denominator approach of the merchant silicon, by delivering both better performance as well as greater value due to the tight integration with the software stack.

The Nexus 5500 incidentally gets 40G expansion modules, and is accompanied by a brand new Fabric Extender – the 2248PQ, which comes with 40G uplinks as well. All of these, along with the 10G server interfaces, help pair the 10G server access with 40G server aggregation.

Also as part of the first step in making the physical Nexus switches services ready in the data center, a new Network Analysis Module (NAM) on the Nexus 7000 also brings in performance analytics, application visibility and network intelligence. This is the first services module with others to follow, and brings in parity with the new vNAM functionality as well.

Next, EXTENSIBILITY:

  1. Industry’s simplest hybrid cloud solution: Over the last few years, we have introduced several technologies that help build fabric extensibility -- the Fabric Extender or FEX solution is very popular extending the fabric to the server/VM,  as are some of the Data Center Interconnect technologies like Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) or Location ID Separation Protocol (LISP), among others. Obviously each have their benefits.

The Nexus 1000V Intercloud takes these to the next level by allowing the data center fabric to be extended to provider cloud environments in a secure, transparent manner, while preserving L4-7 services and policies. This is meant to help lower the barriers for hybrid cloud deployments and is designed to be a multi-hypervisor, multi-cloud solution. It is expected to ship in the summer timeframe, by 1H CY13.

This video does a good job of explaining the concepts of the Intercloud solution:

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The Evolving Data Center : Perspectives from the Gartner DC Conferences

I have just come back from the Gartner Data Center conferences in London and Las Vegas where I got to witness the increasing relevance of Cisco in the data center. The critical role of the network to enable the world of many clouds has becomes evident, and Cisco continues to establish itself as an innovator in the server market.  Our vision and solutions really grabbed the attention of the analysts and customers at a level that I certainly didn’t see last year.
Data center consolidation, server virtualization, and converged infrastructure continue to be chief concerns among decision makers.  Emerging topics such as fabric –based infrastructure, hybrid cloud, and network programmability were definitely the focus of numerous presentations and endless conversations.

Cisco continues to innovate on all these fronts, and we had a lot of progress to present to the audiences in London and Vegas.

Three Insightful Conversations 

I’d like to share with you three conversations I had at the Gartner DC Conference in Las Vegas. Two are with the sales and engineering leaders for Cisco Data Center, Frank Palumbo (@fpalumbo) and David Yen, and the third is with one of our partners, Siki Giunta from CSC, who participated on a panel on Cloud that I moderated.

Frank Palumbo on convergence, virtualization, network programmability, and SDN

In the first conversation, Frank Palumbo, VP Global Sales, reports some of the major concerns of the IT organization.  Our conversation covers:

  • The new role of the “cylinders of excellence” — servers, network, storage and security teams — when the goal is to implement a convergence infrastructure;
  • The benefits of deploying unified computing in environments where virtualization coexists with “bare-metal” workloads; and
  • Network programmability and SDN.

David Yen on the evolving data center

My second conversation was with David Yen, Cisco SVP & GM, Data Center Group, who gave a great presentation to more than 600 attendees called “The Evolving Data Center:  Past, Present, and Future.”

David — who brings in-depth knowledge of IT technologies from his years working with Sun Microsystems, Juniper, and Cisco – provides new perspective on the evolution of the data center.
In his presentation David explains how the convergence infrastructure, on the one hand, and network programmability, on the other hand, reshapes the data center landscape to make the world of many clouds possible.
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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 1: Facilities and Infrastructure

December 6, 2012 at 11:22 am PST

Yesterday I introduced you to the Cisco Domain TenSM, Cisco Services’ framework for simplifying data center transformation.  This model is applicable to both business  (enterprise), public sector (e.g. government, federal) and service provider (incl telco) organizations.

Today I will summarize some key challenges that you should consider when planning a transition to cloud (as one example of data center transformation), for Domain #1 -- Facilities and Infrastructure.

Cisco Domain Ten -- Simplifying Data Center Transformation

 

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