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Don’t Take Your Eyes off VDI – We’re Certainly Not!

This blog post promises to avoid telling you about all the fantabulous (I know that’s not a woUCSrd) growth expected in the number of hosted virtual desktops to be deployed by 2016.  What I do want to share, is how Cisco is ramping up our investments in accelerating your path to virtual desktop success, and how we’re tapping into the fundamentals of our Unified Computing System (UCS) to deliver new VDI efficiencies; the same efficiencies that have made Cisco the 2nd most preferred x86  blade server vendor* worldwide, in just 4 years!  So why are so many organizations moving away from their legacy compute solution, and choosing UCS for VDI workloads and more?

Differentiated capabilities that address VDI pain points: TCO and Manageability

It’s no secret to anyone that VDI is not simple to deploy.  You essentially have to bring together multiple seemingly disparate solution elements (server, storage, virtualization, broker, network, security, etc.) and make them work in a cohesive manner, and then be certain that your implementation will scale from a small pilot of 50 users to hundreds, thousands, or more!  Clearly with such complexity, the last thing you need is a complex compute infrastructure underneath it all.  There are 3 key things at the heart of this, that speak to why UCS is better for VDI:on-board

1.)    Server-resident flash.  Our “On-Board” Architecture for VDI intercepts the rapidly proliferating use of flash based storage solutions that offer expansive IOPS capacity and huge performance.  UCS takes it a step further by offering an integrated solution leveraging our partner Fusion-io.  We’ve additionally delivered reference architectures that extend the use cases and attractiveness of flash-based solutions with appliance approaches (that direct-connect the storage array to our fabric interconnect) as well as more traditional multi-tiered architectures.  More on that in a moment…

service profile2.)    We’ve made it easier to provision and manage the hosts for your virtual desktop deployments.  UCS Service Profile Templates enable rapid deployment from bare metal, creating a zero-touch, mistake-proof, stateless operations model.  Now, when you add the On-Board, server-resident flash to the configuration, you extend the reach of this management model to include high-performance, economical storage, completely provisioned and managed as part of the blade configuration/profile!  No SAN or associated expertise required!  Perfect for floating, non-persistent desktops.VIC

3.)    Granular visibility across the virtualized infrastructure.  With user desktops now running amidst other mission-critical workloads in the data center, there’s more reason than ever to ensure that you can impart QoS, security and manageability across the multitude of virtual machine traffic flows traversing the data center.  Cisco Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) and Cisco Nexus 1000v provide the visibility and controls that make this possible, extending physical world policy and administration to virtual.

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Wristwatches, Bicycle Helmets, and VDI…

A long time ago, it used to be comforting, to hear the words “One Size Fits All”.  As though our interests were surely represented within that catch-all, assuring us that we weren’t going to get left out in the rain.  You could safely make that impulse-driven purchase, bring it home (or have it delivered), and know with certainty, that you wouldn’t be disappointed.  It’s almost laughable to think that we subscribed to this way of thinking for about 50 years.  But thankfully, we live, work and play in a world where it’s not about one-size-fits-all, and the only things we’ll accept as such, are wristwatches, and bicycle helmets! (unless you have a gargantuan sized cranium)

And so it is with your IT environment – “One-Size-Fits-All” feels too much like hand-cuffs (which coincidentally are also one-size-fits-all).  We’ve done away with the notion that a solution that’s optimized for a Fortune 500, is going to be at all suitable for a medium-sized business with almost 1,000 employees.  While both organizations might have a strategic imperative around workspace mobility, and have set out to virtualize the desktops of say, 5% of their workforce, they’ll approach this problem in two completely different ways.

  • One of these organizations will have an extensive , multi-tiered networking and security infrastructure, optimized for virtual machine traffic, the other may not.
  • One of these organizations will have a mature SAN infrastructure in place, with embedded resources and expertise, and lots of existing mission-critical data already housed there.  The other may not.
  • One of these organizations will have a high percentage of virtualized workloads and a highly automated/orchestrated environment for rapidly spinning up new infrastructure.  The other may not.

Carchpicertainly these two environments are not going to take the same solution approach to deploying virtual desktops?  They will however, share many of the same key objectives/demands: future proof scalability, resiliency, streamlined provisioning and operations, consistent user experience for the 1st user as well as the 1000th.  And they’ll want all of this with the lowest possible TCO.

 

Last month, Cisco introduced our expanwebcastded suite of solution architectures for desktop virtualization.  This portfolio was struck with the objective of ensuring our customers would never have to settle for a One-Size-Fits-All approach to deploying VDI, recognizing that they’re deploying this solution from a multitude of possible starting points in their IT maturity.  With four new solution architectures, each built on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), and each backed by design guides and reference configurations co-developed with industry-leading partners in storage and storage-optimization technologies, we’ve taken the risk and guesswork out of choosing the deployment methodology that’s right-sized for your organization.  Check out my friend Ashok’s more detailed post on the new reference architecture portfolio.

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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]:

DrivingResults

Here is just some of what we are hearing from our customers:
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Services – the Missing “S” in the SDN Debate

June 7, 2013 at 8:49 am PST

While I’ve been writing about Cisco Domain TenSM, I’ve been watching the SDN debate evolve in our industry, and I have to say, I’ve had my concerns.  Don’t get me wrong – I personally see SDN as an important and very much required evolution (and note: ‘evolution’ – not ‘revolution’) of the networking industry.  Being able to extract more value from the network – through, for example, a consistent and broad network API – I mean, who wouldn’t be excited about that!  And especially for us in Cisco, with the largest by far networking installed base, the ability to uncover and exploit additional value for our customers from the network can only be a good thing!

As I say, over the past year or two, I’ve been perturbed about lack of discussion across the industry about the adoption and deployment challenges associated with SDN.  There is – bluntly – too much “nirvana” or “marketing promises” out there,  too much focus on the end result (e.g. “look at our use case, wow isn’t it great”) without discussion of steps required for a success, and too little discussion on the costs and challenges of the design and implementation of SDN solutions (e.g. “took us X man years + $M of investment”).  It’s now time to change the discussion.

I was therefore delighted to see Jim Meltzer’s discussion of the issues he was seeing with his clients regarding SDN.

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The Programmable Network: Advanced Flow Control

The increasing diversity and complexity of traffic traversing the Internet of Everything­ today can be imagined as a three-dimensional collection of intersecting highways of different kinds (e.g., corporate WAN, Internet, mobile, Wi-Fi, cellular, cable, cloud), with a wide array of vehicles (e.g., PCs, tablets, smartphones) carrying various types of passengers (e.g., data, voice, video, email, SMS, Web).   Emerging traffic from the new category of machine-to-machine communications is scaling exponentially and introducing new policy triggers.

In this new environment network operators must become master traffic controllers to deal with all of the volume, diversity, and complexity. The most innovative and forward-looking experts are aggressively looking into providing more open programmatic access to their network functions and services. The goal is easier and faster control, in order to make them more agile, flexible and application interactive while at the same time optimally aligning costs with potential new revenues.

Cisco ONE Building Blocks: Controllers and Agents

Software Defined Networking (SDN) plays a key role within Read More »

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