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VDI Roundup: Cisco and VMware – Better Together

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.59.59 PMIt’s a beautiful thing when you can hijack four not-quite random people off the VMworld show floor and get them to tackle a discussion on desktop virtualization.  And that’s exactly what we did a couple weeks back, when the opportunity presented itself.  With Courtney Burry (VMware), Mike Brennan (Cisco), Dave Kinsman (WWT) and myself on hand, we did a sort of VDI blogger “round-up”.  You should check out the video below, but a quick recap as follows:

  • Courtney discussed some of the latest improvements in Horizon View that improve desktop TCO by optimizing storage footprint through technologies like SE sparse (or Space Efficient Sparse) which provides the ability to reclaim blocks of storage that are unused or deleted by the guest file system.
  • I also shared some thoughts on our joint solution with VMware that’s expanding the number of use cases addressable by VDI, through our support of hardware-accelerated 3D Graphics with nVidia as part of our C-Series rack server solution, as well as the improving economics of 1:1 persistent desktop images using the latest generation of flash-based partner technologies we support through our VDI storage ecosystem.
  • Mike discussed how we’re offering a more consolidated management approach with VMware through things like integration within vCenter which includes a snap-in for UCS, allowing administrators to see our UCS infrastructure inside the vCenter web client as well as open API’s that introduce more opportunities for automation, which combined with combine with UCS Manager and our automation tools, can help our customers provision desktops from bare metal, much faster.
  • And to help round-out the round-up, we snagged Dave Kinsman from WWT, to give us his feedback on how he sees all of this coming together, both for channel partners like WWT, and they customers they serve.

 

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Your VDI Checklist for VMworld 2013

With just a week ahead of VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, there’s a lot of planning to do.  For example:

  1. Saying “thank goodness it’s not Vegas”
  2. Finding a suitable bacon-themed party to attend (I’ll explain)
  3. Checking out some useful VDI content at VMworld

So if you’re earning your trip to SF by doing some VDI fact-finding footwork whilst there, you’ve come to the right place.  I’m going to save you a ton of wasted time trekking across the Moscone center, and spell everything out right here.  But before we go there, some backdrop…

This has been an incredibly busy year for Cisco, and its VDI technology ecosystem, and certainly VMware.  Yes, I know it’s only August.  With the help of our ecosystem and channel partners, we took aim at the most important VDI hurdles that prevent IT from embracing this technology, including:

  • The cost and performance bottleneck associated with VDI storage
  • Expanding the addressable use cases into which VDI nicely fits
  • The complexity of putting a cost-effective yet scalable solution together

Now you may be saying “Pretend like I’ve been asleep for 8 months, and remind me what you’re talking about, and make it quick or I’ll find another blog to read”.  Ok then testy reader, here goes:

  • We’ve raised the bar on VDI storage performance, while reducing the overall TCO.  With the help of our expanding, best-of-breed ecosystem including solutions from Nimble Storage, Fusion-io, Nexenta, Tegile, and Atlantis Computing, we offer prescriptive design guidance on how to build solutions based on these technologies, combined with Cisco Unified Computing.  These solutions are available as a complete suite of reference architectures and validated designs, here.  These solutions are making the reality of doing floating or PERSISTENT desktops in an affordable way, a reality.
  • When you think of VDI, it’s traditionally been around the low-hanging fruit that’s easily addressable, ie: task workers, such as call center ops and those who have a minimal set of apps they need to use at any given time.  But what about graphics-intensive workstations that aren’t adequately addressed by VDI display protocols?  Employing Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server with the NVIDIA GRID™ solution, we can do virtualized GPU, offloading CPU resources while delivering higher quality graphics rendering at distance.
  • We’re de-risked getting into VDI, especially for pilot / proof-of-concept environments where your organization wants to get their feet wet, quickly, and affordably.  How?  The UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View, that’s how.  These promo bundles begin with a starter for 30, 100 or 300 users, and offer expansion options, as well as storage upgrades like UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io).  We call this the “Accelerated Path to ROI with VDI”.

In case you missed it, I cover some of this in my previous post, here.  Now back to VMworld… coincidentally, the stuff I mentioned above, are BIG focus areas for Cisco and its partners at the show, ie: if you want to see these solutions in action, read further.

Also coincidentally, these are the very same technology trends that Brian Madden recently wrote about, associated with the increasing feasibility of doing VDI for “persistent 1-to-1 desktop images” as he puts it, leveraging the storage technologies we’ve incorporated in our reference architectures.   He also makes reference to the importance of virtualized GPU solutions that are making VDI an increasingly good option for CAD, photo/video editing and similar environments.

So if you’re putting your VDI at VMworld SF checklist together, here are some things you MUST add:

1.) Cisco VDI Demos! (akawho doesn’t like hardware, software, and blinky lights?”)

  • Come by Booth 1005 for starters.  Our VDI demos will include:
  • UCS C240 M3 running VMware Horizon View with…
    • UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io) delivering low-latency, high-IOPS capacity for non-persistent View desktops
    • NVIDIA GRID™ cards installed so you can see virtualized GPU delivering accelerated graphics in action!
    • We’ll also have a single-wire managed (aka “Single Connect”) cluster of C220 M3’s running VMware Horizon View with EMC VNX5300 storage.  This environment will show 500 desktops running (live) Login VSI 3.7 Medium workloads

2.) Our featured breakout session “#VAPP6408 -- The Next Wave of Virtualization & Fabric Computing with Cisco’s Unified Computing System will share the latest innovations in Unified Computing with a special focus on VDI.

3.) Cisco Booth Theater Presentation (and maybe win free stuff)

  • swing by Booth 1005, at 5:30pm on the Tuesday (Aug. 27th) to catch Mike Brennan’s presentation “Delivering VMware Horizon View Desktops with Uncompromised Performance and Scalability

4.) Colorado University at Boulder – Featured Breakout Session “#EUC5610 -- Virtualized Inception: Mobility Dream within a VDI Dream; Realized!

  • CU Boulder deployed Nimble Storage for supporting VDI with Horizon View, built on Cisco UCS.  This is a great case study in supporting hundreds of users, supporting BYOD and mobile users in a fully virtualized end-user computing environment.  Check out the written version here.
  • We have a reference architecture (R/A) with Nimble you can review here.
  • and… because Inception is one of my favorite movies ever, you know this session with CU Boulder simply can’t miss!

5.) Nexenta VSA for View (NV4V) Demo Featuring Cisco UCS

  • check out this innovative storage appliance demo, built on Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Server.  You can review our joint R/A here.

6.) Tegile VDI Passport Program

  • Tegile will be running a passport program that provides the opportunity to win an iPad mini by visiting: Tegile, Cisco, and other VDI ecosystem partners
  • We have a joint R/A featuring Tegile Zebi available here.

6.) Atlantis Computing ILIO with Cisco UCS

  • If you’re not familiar with it, the ILIO appliance built on Cisco UCS, provides scalable IOPS capacity without disks,  leveraging UCS’s expansive memory footprint.  Check this Glasshouse Whitepaper for more.

7.) #vBacon !

Ok, so what about the bacon thing?  If you want to get in on probably the best bacon-themed party in SF, you need to be at the Cable Car City Pub by 10pm on Tuesday August 27th.   You won’t be disappointed.  Find out about this and other goodies @CommNinja and the Cisco Social Media Team are putting together, but checking this out.

Well for now, that’s it.  I’ll have more to share next week at VMworld.  Stop by, say hi, and let us help you knock some items off that VDI checklist.  For more information on literally everything I mentioned above, see my handy bookshelf below:

VMware Horizon View Promotion: Cisco UCS SmartPlay Bundle Offer

VMware Horizon View Promotion: Cisco UCS SmartPlay Bundle Offer

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Video Whiteboard: Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon View

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VDI Reference Arch. with VMware Horizon View, Cisco UCS and NetApp FlexPod

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Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon View at Cisco Live

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VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and EMC VSPEX

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Solution Overview: VDI with VMware Horizon View, Cisco UCS and Fusion-io

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VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Nimble Storage

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VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Nexenta

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VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Tegile Zebi Storage

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VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Atlantis ILIO

 

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Get Social with Cisco at VMworld 2013 (Your Ticket to Community Activity)

August 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm PST

Pack your bags, double up on shoes and leave room for swag, it’s time for VMworld 2013, and Team Cisco Data Center has a lot going on. For a full round up of our show presence, this: http://www.cisco.com/go/vmworld

Yes, that is a tower of real bacon at #vBacon.

Yes, that is a tower of real bacon at #vBacon.

Now for the the behind the scenes look. First, follow @CiscoDC and #ciscovmw for all Cisco-flavored information from the show. This year’s Roving Reporter duties will be most ably handled by Scott Hanson (@CiscoServerGeek). Follow Scott for up to the minute geek’s-eye views on what’s happening.

We are also welcoming Maish Saidel-Keesing (@maishsk), one of five Cisco vExperts, who will be leading a talk through our #vBrownBag sponsorship. Details pending--we’ll update you as we have the specifics.

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Step off that old, familiar path

Venturing off the beaten path may just be the only way to stay ahead of the competition.

And while IT-as-a-service and cloud computing concepts are not as precarious as once perceived, there are still a lot of unknowns as businesses and organizations set out to explore new possibilities.

Discover how industry thought leaders are paving new roads by enabling new business opportunities.

Subscribe to Unleashing IT today, or log in, for a fresh perspective and innovative approaches to business.  Hard copies of the Summer 2013 edition—produced in collaboration with Intel®—are now available in addition to the electronic PDF. And don’t hesitate to check out the newest event listings, offers, and resources on the website.

To get in touch with a Cisco representative regarding any solutions found in Unleashing IT, fill out this form or send a message to info@unleashingit.com.

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Introducing the Cisco IT eStore and a Service Catalog for BYOD

June 25, 2013 at 8:30 am PST

Cisco IT has always encouraged employees to use the tools that help them work most efficiently from anywhere on any device.

As the range of IT services we offered has increased, we noticed that the process of acquiring the various tools became complex and confusing. We had a number of different internal sites (aka “stores”) within Cisco, each offering different systems for employees to request services.  This complexity impacted the user experience and productivity of these employees.

In order to simplify the employee experience with Cisco IT, we made the decision to consolidate all these different systems into a single online service catalog – effectively a unified e-commerce storefront for our IT services – where our employees could find services they needed to do their jobs.

We thus created Cisco IT’s “eStore”.

Our goal was to improve employee satisfaction, decrease support costs, and increase employee productivity. We had to find a way to increase adoption and transparency of our existing IT services.

Cisco IT knew that a platform to consolidate these services into one unified service request system could be built on top of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, our own end-user portal and service catalog solution. This solution provides enterprise IT management capabilities that enable entitlement, approvals, service taxonomy control, and even chargeback.

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