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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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Introducing Cisco Domain Ten(SM) – Cisco Services’ Blueprint for Simplifying Data Center and Cloud Transformation

December 5, 2012 at 10:07 am PST

This week at the Gartner Data  Center Conference in Las Vegas, Cisco Services is unveiling Cisco Domain Ten(SM) – Cisco’s Framework for Simplifying Data Center and Cloud Transformation.

Cisco Domain Ten can be applied to a diverse range of data center projects -- from cloud and desktop virtualization to application migration and is equally applicable whether your data center is in enterprise businesses, public sector organizations or service providers.  The video here describes how we apply the Cisco Domain Ten to the private cloud use case, as one example.  We’ll discuss additional use cases in future blogs and associated collateral that I’ll point you to.

Born from our extensive experience over the past years in helping customers transform their data centers, based upon the many cloud deployments -- private and public, enterprise, public sector and service provider -- that we’ve enabled over the past few years, we’ve formulated this comprehensive framework to help you transform your data center and guide new initiatives including cloud, virtual desktop, application migration, and data center consolidation.  The Cisco Domain Ten framework covers ten key areas -- domains -- that -- based upon our experience -- are critical to consider, plan for and address as part of your data center and cloud transformational journey, and is illustrated in the diagram below.  Relating this framework to other key components of Cisco’s data center strategy, you can  think of the Cisco Unified Data Center as the what of the data center, whereas Cisco Domain Ten complements this by guiding you on the how (to transform).

Cisco Domain Ten - Simplifying Data Center Transformation

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What Is Cisco UNIFIED FABRIC? Why Should You Care?

Is your network ready to help you transform and be the strategic partner that you can be? Let’s face it… Today’s data centers are challenged with siloed resources and facilities… Limited scalability… Poor resource utilization… Growing complexity…Perhaps the biggest challenge is time.  When 80% of your resources are dedicated to “keeping the lights on” and managing all what you have, there is very little time left for innovation that benefits the business.

And the reality is that the role of IT has to change – from a cost center to a business strategic partner!  Why? Because there are increasing demands on IT to help your business differentiate in order to survive and grow in these rough economic conditions. And let’s not forget that the increasing cost pressures, technology changes, and the advent of game-changers like cloud are forcing IT executives to look at how to deliver IT differently. 

These growing demands put even more pressure on the shoulders of IT especially given the current state of your Data Centers. The data center network sits at the core of IT and is key to how IT can deliver services and provide value back to the business.

So what do you do?  The good news is that …

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Algo Boost Series: Part 3 Commitment to Innovation with Nexus 3548

On November 5th I posted part 2 of the Algo Boost series with a fantastic discussion around Customer proof points on the Nexus 3548.  In our third and final segment in the series I interviewed Chih-Tsung Huang, Director of Engineering in the Server, Switching, & Virtualization Product Group to shed some light on Cisco’s continued commitment to innovate with Algo Boost technology.

GD: What is the primary difference between existing Nexus 3000 switches and the new Nexus 3548?  And how do we differentiate from the competition?

CH: As we all know, the current generation Nexus 3000 uses merchant silicon while the new Nexus 3548 uses a full layer 2 bridging and layer 3 routing Cisco ASIC – designed and built from ground up to optimize switch latency. Prior to the Nexus 3548 announcement, industry best was greater than 500 nanoseconds.

One of the stated elements of our corporate culture is “No Technology Religion”.  The underlying concept is that we have the freedom to choose the solution that allows us to best meet our customer’s needs and not get locked into ideological silos.

Cisco continues to invest and drive innovations and standardization efforts with the development of our own ASICs because this allows us to deliver a complete value add solution to our customers.  However, we do take advantage of merchant silicon in specific use cases where features and innovation are not needed.

GD: Does the introduction of Algo Boost indicate a complete shift away from merchant silicon?

CH: Absolutely not.  Cisco has and will continue to adopt a flexible silicon strategy, meaning we will buy off-the-shelf ASICs when they can immediately fill a market need, and we continue to add value through silicon innovation by designing our own ASICs. The Nexus 3548 is an example of a highly integrated Software, Hardware and ASIC solution that cannot be achieved with off the shelf components.

GD: It sounds like we are very much committed to developing our own ASICs. How many ASICS are used in Cisco Solutions today, and how much do we invest in R&D?

CH: Cisco has developed hundreds of ASICs to perform various forwarding functions in switches and routers.  Cisco has developed over 20 ASICs to power the Nexus portfolio alone. We have an annual R&D budget of $5.8 billion which is greater than Juniper’s entire revenues and roughly equal to the R&D budgets of HP and Huawei combined.

GD: Algo Boost clearly addresses needs in the financial sector. Are there any other segments that will benefit from these groundbreaking features?

CH: Since mid-2011, the Nexus 3000 family has had a significant presence in massively scalable data centers.  We believe these environments will see further benefits with the performance visibility tools we’re building into our portfolio, as well as the programmability and automation features in the Cisco ONE offering.

We also believe that there is an important role for custom silicon in the software-defined networking world. We feel that customers will continue to be willing to pay for advanced hardware innovation because of the value they derive from tightly integrating advanced software and hardware engineering.  Customers derive the greatest value from emerging software approaches, such as SDN, when they effectively leverage the underlying infrastructure which Cisco silicon innovation enables them to do.

Additionally, the 190 nanosecond ultra low latency of the Nexus 3548 switch enables applications to innovate not only to High Performance Trading Fabrics but also into Massively Scalable Data Center,   Software Defined Network, and beyond.

 

I’d like to thank Chih-Tsung for this valuable information. To see an actual Algo Boost powered ASIC, view the TechWiseTV segment below..

 

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