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Cisco Achieves #2 Worldwide in the x86 Blade Server Market

Nobody thought the ‘plumbers’ could succeed in compute …

The numbers are in – across the board Cisco is posting strong results and tracking unprecedented momentum in the server market.  With Cisco’s Q3 financial earnings announcement reporting 77% Y/Y growth in Data Center and now the latest IDC Server Tracker results [view UCS Advantage], Cisco is proving to be a formidable force in the compute space. In less than four years after entering a market with very well-established competitors, Cisco has captured the #2 worldwide share position in x86 blade servers*.

The industry has seen businesses shift over 19% of the global x86 blade market to Cisco UCS, and over 28% in the US.  In the recent earnings announcement, Cisco reported more than 23,000 unique UCS customers worldwide, representing a customer growth number of 89% Y/Y.

This is not luck …

This is about the value that Cisco is providing our customers.  Although we develop products using the same industry standard hardware & software as our competitors, Cisco continues to grow market share.  This is attributed Cisco’s unique & innovative approach to providing an open, standards-based data center network architecture and ecosystem that maintains customer choice. We are increasing business value while substantially decreasing the total cost of ownership (TCO).  With Cisco Unified Computing System, we are truly evolving the way customers approach the data center, focused on consolidating resources, accelerating server deployment, and simplifying management – flexible and scalable for any workload.  It’s that simple.

You hear a lot of buzz words around the industry. But when it comes down to the numbers, Cisco is driving real results for real customers [click to enlarge]:

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Here is just some of what we are hearing from our customers:
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Cisco and Red Hat Explore Partnership for Red Hat Distribution of OpenStack (RDO)

At the OpenStack Summit 2013, Red Hat announced RDO, a freely available, community-supported distribution of OpenStack. OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter.

In addition to the new release, Red Hat also announced today the launch of an official Cloud Infrastructure Partner Program, “a multi-tiered program designed for third-party commercial companies that offer hardware, software and services for customers to implement cloud infrastructure solutions powered by Red Hat OpenStack.” I’m excited about the  solution opportunities that are possible by combining UCS and Nexus offerings  with Red Hat on the OpenStack cloud infrastructure.

Read the announcement here:

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Red Hat OpenStack Announcement

Why is this a good fit for Cisco’s Customers?

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Case Study: Cisco’s Private Cloud and Lessons Learned

This is my talk I gave last week at Cloud Connect in Santa Clara. One slide that did not make the deck are the top reasons why people struggle with building private clouds

  1. Management and operations process.
  2. Culture
  3. Funding Model
  4. Service description and self-service interface

As my deck says, “I got 99 problems, but the tech ain’t one”

Building a “real” cloud involves the following success factors

  1. Well articulated corporate strategy with phases (crawl, walk, run)
  2. Engage existing automation teams for skills
  3. Well-defined, achievable service definitions that are automatable, volume
  4. Platform that does not lock into a specific hypervisor or cloud API
  5. A team that is trained (with specific roles) on the solution so that they can extend it in combination with the vendor’s services organization
  6. Get into production ASAP to drive value and organizational learning
  7. Union of OOB features and specific configurations for your environment.
  8. Articulated strategy for integrating with certain existing/deployed IT assets, and using the new “Cloud” as a way to shed IT baggage
  9. Recognition that your Cloud Management Platform is extensible to other areas in the IT strategy and that partner products may be necessary as well
  10. Have a suite / framework so you can maintain in the long term. And use external resources
  11. Need clear articulation of career paths once you start removing “button pushers.” design, operations, not implementation
  12. Focus on process outcomes, not process activities. Or end up with innefficient processes

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Financial Management for the Enterprise Cloud

One of the most exciting things about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) is its ability to deliver the self-service agility and flexibility that a business requires to drive its success.  Capacity is instantly available when needed, enabling creative innovation to bear fruit much faster (think research institutions executing millions of computations, software engineers developing new applications, or retailers launching holiday marketing campaigns.)

The benefits of cloud computing are obvious but what about the costs? For example, how do you know which resources a particular project is tied to and whether it makes good business sense?  How do you make sure your users shut down services when they’re no longer needed?  And how do you implement a cost model to charge back IT costs to the proper business unit or project?

These are questions that are bubbling to the surface of many enterprise cloud discussions, which is why I’m particularly excited to announce our new partner, Cloud Cruiser.  Cloud Cruiser has integrated their financial management system with Intelligent Automation for Cloud, enabling enterprises to take control of their IT spending and use the granular cost information it gathers to drive better business decisions.

By implementing a financial management solution designed for the cloud, enterprise IT becomes a partner to the lines of business, providing valuable insight into the IT costs associated with the projects and applications they deploy.  Chargeback gives business units the advantage of only paying for the resources that they use, resulting in both a reduction of waste (who wants to pay for those VMs that are no longer being used?) and more educated IT spending decisions, such as whether to use internal or external IT resources for a particular project. Self-service budgets and reports make users more fiscally responsible for the resources they deploy, driving costs down and productivity up.

In short, Cloud Cruiser and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud work together to help enterprises make the most of their enterprise private cloud by delivering better service at lower cost.

To see how Cloud Cruiser for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud works, view this short video:

Read the joint solution brief and web page to learn more about Cloud Cruiser for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.

 

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InterCloud Plus Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

Cisco continues to roll out innovations that will enable the next generations of multi-cloud computing.  I’m a product manager working on Cisco’s Cloud Management software, and we’re all about the high-level, self-service, automatic provisioning of services that the end-user cares about.  The network just moves ones and zeros, and all protocols of interest (HTTP, SSH, RDP, SQL, etc.) work fine over TCP/IP.  The hypervisor takes care of putting that pesky motherboard chipset and storage bus into a black box, right?  The end-user doesn’t care about that stuff, or at least doesn’t want to have to care about it.

A common perspective, except among the engineers who manage the network, is that network infrastructure is a bunch of mysterious plumbing that “just works” and how it does what it does doesn’t matter.  Indeed, many vendors in the “cloud” arena would like to perpetuate this perspective on the network.  They would like you to believe a bunch of dumb pipes can carry traffic and that determination of the traffic (content, flow, etc.) is determined at higher levels in the stack.

In some cases, this is true, but operating this way doesn’t unlock anything new.  The model they describe would be brilliant if all of your network requirements were defined in 1998.  Few companies can afford to operate technology today like they did in 1998 and remain competitive.

Cisco is announcing a new Nexus 1000V (N1KV), and this one changes the game.  In brief, the Nexus 1000V is the foundation of the networking services that Cisco brings to virtual computing.  The N1KV can be managed using the same NX-OS commands and practices used to manage the Nexus 5K and 7K switches, and extends network control down to the VM and virtual port into which a VM is “plugged in”, even across different vendors’ hypervisors.

The N1KV is also the platform for additional L2 and L3 network services such as those provided by the vASA Firewall, vNAM, and VSG.  The new Nexus 1000V InterCloud extends this ability to cloud service providers, such as Amazon, but is “cross-provider” (in fact, it doesn’t even depend on the Cloud Service Provider).  For me, in my role as a Cloud Product Manager, this is an important new addition to basic networking capabilities, and is exactly the kind of thing that Cisco can and should do in its role as “Networking Giant” to open up the promise of hybrid or multi-cloud.

I have a mental image of what this can do, and I tried to put this into images to the right. Animation would have been better, I just don’t have the Flash skills to put it together for a quick blog post. I envision a virtual machine as a ghostly “physical” server tower with network cables plugged into it. These network connections can come from end-users in a client-server model, or any of our web-and-mobile constructs. After all, we still are end-users connecting to machines. Of course, the “client” for a compute function could be another compute function, so there is a network cable coming from another nearby ghost server. These ghost servers can today float from blade to blade thanks to most mainstream virtual machine managers (VMM) and a virtual switch like the N1KV, and the cords stay connected throughout. With the new N1KV, that VM can float right out of that VMM and into another VMM (such as across VMware datacenters, or even from VMware to Hyper-V), or out to a public or hosted provider. The cord just magically uncoils to remain connected wherever that machine goes! I love magic.

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The N1KV provides that cable that can float after its ethereal virtual machine.  It also provides the platform to maintain monitoring by the vNAM, even as the machine moves.  You simply can’t economically achieve this using basic dumb pipes. Add to this the new Virtual Network Management Console (VNMC) InterCloud management capabilities.  In order for that cord to stay connected, there do have to be network switches or routers along the way that understand how to make that network cable follow the machine.  VNMC InterCloud manages these devices, but adds another particularly important capability: actually moving the workload.

VNMC InterCloud adds the ability to discover virtual machines, and convert them to a cloud-provider’s instance format, move what could possibly be a fairly large set of files, and get that machine started back up in a far-away environment, with seamless network consistency. VNMC InterCloud is like a puff of wind that pushes the ghostly VM from my corporate VMWare-based cloud to float over to my hosted private cloud. Remember, ghosts can float through walls.

This is groundbreaking.  Workload mobility is one of those hard-to-do core capabilities required for all of us to realize the promise of multi-cloud, and it requires a network that is both dynamic and very high performing.  I’ve been looking forward to this from Cisco for some time now.

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