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How to Build a Happier and More Efficient Team

For those of us in large enterprises, it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of employees. With the rise of mobility, virtualization, and BYOD, many of us in the tech industry work from home, other offices, or even other countries. Because of this, many of us miss the chance to build good relationships with other team members. People with good work relationships are more productive, and tend to stay around longer.

Recently, my team had a major re-org, and helping new team members feel at home has been on the forefront of my mind. Here are some tips I am following to build a happier, healthier, and even more efficient team:  Read More »

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Trends in the Oracle User Community

In April the largest conference for Oracle users, outside of Oracle OpenWorld, occurred in Denver.  With 6000 attendees “Collaborate”, the annual Oracle user conference sponsored by IOUG (Independent Oracle User Group), OAUG (Oracle Application User Group) and Quest International, is one of the best events For Oracle users, whether it is Oracle Database or any of the other Oracle software products, to learn, network, share and teach. Oh, and have some fun too.

But for companies like Cisco who exhibit and sponsor Collaborate, it is also a great chance to informally “take the pulse” of the Oracle user community. The questions they ask and the sessions they attend provide a clear indicator of where Oracle users are headed, what the trends are and and where they are putting their efforts in the future. Here is what I discovered at this year’s Collaborate.

 

Oracle Trends from Collaborate 13

So unlike past conferences, the Oracle community is actively looking at

a) Virtualization for their Oracle infrastructure, including Databases  and

b) Preconfigured/prevalidated hardware solutions (sometimes called converged infrastructure solutions) instead of just the old DIY custom system approach for hardware.

To me these are both major changes in the mindset of those using Oracle Database and applications. And the implications are significant.  As virtualization permeates the large Oracle install-base (largest business software vendor),  the hypervisor vendors will see significant growth and many operational aspects of Oracle infrastructures will change and improve. That virtualization push includes Oracle who is making inroads with their dramatically updated Oracle VM (virtual machine) product.

The move towards pretested hardware solutions is also a major directional shift which should drive an increased focus on reducing software and database upgrade/version cycle times and downplay the need to do extensive hardware testing.  In today’s environment of “do more with less”, pretested hardware solutions may be a great way to help the Oracle IT team address that conundrum.

Can Cisco help with these trends towards more Oracle virtualization and pretested hardware configurations? The answer is a resounding YES!  With our storage partners EMC and NetApp, and our software partners Oracle and VMware, we have developed an extensive array of pretested/prevalidated solutions with hypervisors (Oracle VM and vSphere), storage (EMC and NetApp) and software (Oracle Database and applications) all running on Cisco UCS servers and Cisco networking.  For more information on Cisco’s Oracle solutions and to see the available Cisco Validated Designs (CVD) for Oracle, go to  Cisco.com/go/oracle

Coming up in my next blog, more on the move to virtualize Oracle database and applications.

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Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

I recently had the opportunity to host several customers in a roundtable discussion, exploring their experiences in deploying desktop and application virtualization, the challenges encountered, and the benefits they’ve reaped.  It was an engaging dialog with organizations spanning mid-market, enterprise to large service prVirt_during Webinar w_Jim Mchughovider environments deploying either Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View desktop virtualization software.  In case you missed it, you can check out the event here.  I mention this because it provides a valuable backdrop to some important news Cisco is sharing today, centered on helping IT organizations (like those I met with) more quickly achieve success in VDI.

Over the last few years, Cisco UCS has rapidly established itself as a leader among competitors with a much longer history in the server marketplace.  Why is that?  If you talk with anyone who’s implemented UCS in their data center, they’ll instantly tell you about the operational streamlining and simplification that UCS Service Profile Templates offer, the value of a unified data center fabric for LAN and SAN, and the performance derived from a platform that was purpose built for highly scalable, virtualized environments.

It shouldVirt_info graphic_UDC to End User be no surprise then, that when organizations evaluate their options for server infrastructure to host virtual desktop workloads, the same UCS core value proposition extends nicely to desktop virtualization – the benefits of which are multiplied, in fact, given that virtual desktops can consume infrastructure resources and capacity in unique ways compared to other mission critical enterprise applications.  We’ve therefore seen great response from our customers (as demonstrated in our webinar/panel discussion) when it comes to the fitness of UCS in hosting virtual desktops.

What we’ve come to find through our customer’s experiences, is that the vendor marketplace has traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all mentality around VDI architectures that either forces organizations to overspend CAPEX on approaches that are tuned for much larger environments, or wrestle with an economized approach that results in poor desktop user experience.  Clearly, there’s a spectrum of IT implementation use cases that apply, when we’re talking VDI.  Persistent desktops vs. floating, SAN in place vs. greenfield, one-hundred seats vs. tens of thousands, etc. so one size will never adequately fit all!

For this very reason, we’re expanding our portfolio of desktop virtualization solution architectures, along with the ecosystem of technology partners who are helping us accelerate the path to VDI success for environments of all sizes.  While Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with NetApp and EMC, we’re now  offering desktop virtualization solutions that also include technologies from partners such as Nimble Storage, Nexenta, Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, Tegile and others in process.

With these partners’ technologies come new capabilities that exploit key trends in the VDI and data center marketplace, including the proliferation of flash-based storage solutions, and appliance based approaches that mitigate the need for embedded SAN infrastructure and expertise (especially in smaller environments).  Additionally, unlike our competitors who are narrowly focused on their own storage portfolio, Cisco can offer our customers the flexibility and choice they desire in selecting the storage technology and solution for VDI, that best fits their environment.

I encourage you to learn more about this exciting new portfolio of architectures by checking out the assets below.

Please also check out the webinar “Customer Insights: Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms

Our featured guests include:

  • Mark Balch, Director UCS Product Management, Cisco
  • David Johnson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Charles Rosse, Baptist Memorial HealthCare
  • Udaya Kiran, WiPro Technologies
  • Robert Dixon, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • And myself (Jim McHugh) as your Host/Moderator

Check it out and let me know what you think in the Comments section!

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Architecture Options for Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions

Today Cisco is introducing an expanded architectural portfolio and partner ecosystem in support of our successful desktop virtualization solution built on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  Cisco UCS market traction has been phenomenal over the last 3 years. In fact, desktop virtualization has been one of the top workloads deployed on UCS as IT organizations apply the benefits of our stateless, simplified operations model, expansive I/O, and scalable performance to desktop workloads in the data center. Combined with unique product integration and the software eco-system partners such as VMware, Citrix and Microsoft, Cisco has delivered a number of reference designs with our strategic storage partners such as EMC and NetApp. Typically, these architectures were based on designs that easily scale from supporting a few hundred virtual desktops to thousands of desktops.

We have seen an inflection point with the perfect storm of the evolution of storage options, desktop software maturity, and data center architectures. One of the important changes in the storage market is the emergence of flash storage to address performance problems.

Taking advantage of enhanced UCS features and expanding the eco-system of storage partners including Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, LSI, Nexenta, Nimble Storage and Tegile, Cisco is defining a broader portfolio of data center architectures for delivering desktop virtualization solutions – on-board architecture, simplified architecture and scalable architecture. “Converged” or “Unified” infrastructure stacks such as FlexPod and vBlock have, and will continue to be another successful option for desktop delivery infrastructure.  Let me walk you through each of these architectural approaches.

Read More »

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Cisco UCS Delivers a World-Record VMware® VMmark™ 2.5 Benchmark Result

Cisco continues its cloud computing performance leadership with the announcement of VMware® VMmark™ 2.5 benchmark result published on May 9th 2013. The Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server’s score of 12.00@10 tiles on the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark represents the best cloud computing performance of any 2-socket server in a 2-node configuration as measured by the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark

The VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark uses a tiled design that incorporates six real-world workloads to calculate a virtualization score. Then it includes VMware vMotion, Storage vMotion, and virtual machine provisioning times to calculate an infrastructure score. The combination of these scores is the total benchmark score. 

The system used to achieve this performance included the Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server powered by Intel® Xeon® processors and an industry-leading approach to storage: a Cisco UCS server-based Fusion‑io ION Data Accelerator solution that turns the server into a storage system. The Fusion-io ION Data Accelerator turns Cisco UCS servers equipped with Fusion-io ioMemory into highly available, transparently scalable, shared storage appliances.

For additional insights on the benchmark configuration check the “Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server Delivers World-Record Cloud Computing Performance” Performance Brief. You can also download the official VMware® VMmark™ V 2.5   benchmark disclosure and configuration details at http://www.vmware.com/a/assets/vmmark/pdf/2013-05-09-Cisco-C240M3.pdf

 
VMmark 2.5
With this world-record-setting   VMmark 2.5 benchmark score of 12.00@10 tiles Cisco UCS has delivered the best cloud computing performance of any 2-socket server in a 2-node configuration as measured by the VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark outperforming solutions from AMD, Dell, Fujitsu, and HP. Whether a virtualized data center or a public or private cloud is needed, this VMware VMmark 2.5 benchmark result indicates the degree to which the Cisco UCS can accelerate applications while delivering virtualization and infrastructure performance and agility for cloud computing environments

Better infrastructure yields better performance. With innovations such as unified fabric, large memory capacity, expansion capabilities, and the low-latency performance of Fusion-io ioMemory and ION Data Accelerator software, Cisco’s results demonstrate the architectural advantages of a system built for virtualized environments.

VMware VMmark is a product of VMware, Inc. The comparative results cited in this document were available at http://www.vmmark.com and were valid as of May 9th, 2013..

Girish Kulkarni

Senior Marketing Manager

Unified Computing System 

gikulkar@cisco.com

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