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Does Virtualization Improve Security?

We all know that the virtualization and cloud megatrend is a game changer for data centers, leading to profound shifts in everything from IT services and business models to architectures. Business benefits include reduced capital investments, new revenue growth opportunities, and the greater efficiency, agility and scalability demanded by globalization.

Enterprises have held back from making the transition to virtual and cloud environments primarily because of the inherent security risks and concerns.

Targeted attacks and security breaches are getting more sophisticated. The Verizon Security Threat Report for 2011 showed that 3.8 million records were stolen in 2010, and 94% of this data came from servers (an increase of 18%).

As security concerns are the primary barrier to making this transition from virtualized data center to cloud, we must rethink how security fits in to these new architectures and develop new security tools to ensure the secure transfer of information.

For enterprises to confidently seize the business benefits offered by data center virtualization and the cloud, security must be seen as the art of the possible, not as a hindrance.

Watch below as I explore the challenges and leading practices for securing virtualized environments today, and into the future.

Please join me also for  a special webcast  ”Defending the Data Center “ today at 10:00 am PDT /1:00 pm EDT /17:00 GMT -- To watch register here 

 

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VMworld and… Customer Experiences with the Business Value of VXI

Are you making last minute plans for VMworld?  Filling out your agenda, and realizing there just isn’t enough time to take it all in?  This year like last, will be packed with valuable sessions, labs, keynotes, and the like, but before we get to the shenanigans taking place there, let me share something hot off the presses.

Just this week, we posted a brand new study, conducted by Cisco’s Customer Business Transformation Team, sharing their analyses of two customers who’ve deployed the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) Smart Solution.  More specifically, they looked at the savings associated with the migration of user workspace (traditional desktop along with a traditional TDM phone) to a fully virtualized workspace delivered via Cisco VXC endpoints (phone replaced with VXC 6215 delivering unified voice, video and virtual desktop), underpinned by Cisco Unified Data Center.

The tangible impacts are progressively revealed in incremental stages of implementation as customers go from:

Incremental Savings Derived from Implementing VXI at Various Stages

 A big contributor to the cost savings is not just the evolution of the telephony and video solution, but also the underlying data center infrastructure leveraging Cisco Unified Data Center, built on Cisco Unified Computing System.

I was going to paste a nice graphic from the analysis here, but that would be a spoiler, and I’m so not about spoiling stuff, so download the full document >> here <<

Now onto the shenanigans, I mean, VMworld…

If you’re exploring desktop virtualization, and more closely thinking about specific use cases you’re trying to address, like mobile power users, or business process outsourcing, this year’s event will be especially valuable to your organization.

Cisco and VMware have teamed up to deliver an holistic solution approach for organizations seeking to better empower mobile users to become truly untethered from the confines of their brick and mortar office.  These users are not solely defined by the need to access apps and data on a myriad of device options, but on the ability to collaborate with peers, partners, and customers, using enterprise-grade real-time communications media.  I blogged about it here.  Similarly we’ve plowed considerable focus into the use case of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), one which bears increasing relevancy as businesses seek to leverage a global talent pool to handle functions like customer service, tech support, payroll, etc.  These environments depend on an extensive WAN infrastructure and uncompromised collaboration and communications, delivered securely.

So, what’s being served up at VMworld this year, from VMware and Cisco that will help you navigate these opportunities?  Here’s what:

Monday! 

2:30pm -- SPO3336, “A Healthcare Provider’s Perspectives on Going Beyond VDI with Unified Workspaces, Moscone West, Level 3, Room 3007 – check this session out to hear from a major regional healthcare provider who’s implemented Virtual Workspaces, reducing IT OPEX, while improving clinician workflow

Tuesday!

Are you going to the Steve Herrod keynote?  I can’t reveal details here, but if you’re not familiar with the Cisco UCS Express Solution for virtual desktops and simplified branch office infrastructure, you don’t want to miss this!  Not only that, but our own TechWise TV Guys (Jimmy Ray Purser and Robb Boyd) will be there, and to call it entertaining would be an understatement!  FYI – there’s a specially prepared music video involved, way better than Carly Rae Jepsen, so please vote for them!

All week long!

Visit Cisco at Booth 1213 – why you ask?  Well like last year I’m sure we’ll be in excellent proximity to the afternoon drinks/food reception, but besides that:

  • See the Business Process Desktop and Mobile Secure Desktop with VMware View, built on Cisco VXI, in action!
  • Learn about how Cisco Unified Data Center delivers a simplified, more scalable solution with consistent performance, for virtual desktop workloads
  • Attend our theater presentations on Cisco VXI, as well as our Ask-the-Experts whiteboarding area where you can fire-off your questions (of course with drinks and food from the reception in hand).

If you’re going to be at VMworld, definitely stop by and say hi.  (If not, it will likely be a very quiet, productive week at the office for you – so it’s a win-win either way I guess)

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It’s not just what we make It’s what we make possible – Cisco at VMworld US 2012

August 15, 2012 at 9:20 am PST

VMworld 2012 is around the corner, and like the past years , Cisco as a key player in the word of network, virtualization and now servers with the Unified Computing Systems, is a sponsor .
In the following days  you will read on this blogs a series of information on our participation . But I encourage you to check today the following website to have a good overview of what we will present in terms of demos on our booth (#1213) , but also what are the key sessions we are leading . Visit here
Amongst the numerous solutions, I know for a fact (based on the numbers of readers of our blogs), that VXLAN is a very compelling topic. So I invited Han Yang to introduce his session:

Best Practice for deploying VXLAN with Cisco Nexus 1000V and VMware Cloud Director
INF–NET2373, Tuesday August 28 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

If you want to know more about VXLAN, please check the recent blogs on this topic by Gary Kinghorn and Omar Sultan:

Read More »

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Transforming Clinical Workflows with Workspace Virtualization

August 14, 2012 at 10:56 am PST

In my previous blog, I talked about how virtualization is picking up momentum in the healthcare industry and how this is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need to support positive patient outcomes.  In this blog, I would like to touch on one of the key areas where virtualization has made a significant impact – desktop virtualization.  

Hospitals frequently use shared dictation terminals to host their clinical dictation applications. As doctors complete multiple patient rounds, they make their way to one of these dedicated workstations, plug their personal microphone into the workstation, and dictate their notes from their previous rounds.  The delay between completing rounds and dictating patient data is inefficient, but more importantly, it creates the potential for errors.  Access through shared and dedicated workstations also tethers the clinician to specific terminals that can only be used when the doctor is in the clinic. For example, there is no easy way to access clinical reference imaging applications when the doctor is away from the clinic and wants to quickly review images for a specific patient. Instead, the doctor must either call a peer at the hospital to review the images, or incur travel time to go to the hospital. 

Finally, although the shared workstations distributed across the clinics and hospitals are centrally managed, the software operating on each workstation can quickly drift away from its original configuration as users install specific applications not hosted by the data center or use the workstation in other ways that compromise the original “golden image.”  As a result, every workstation and application that a caregiver uses can behave differently. A hospital’s IT group can potentially spend most of its time chasing repetitive workstation issues and errors, as well as managing different instances of almost applications. IT administrators constantly face the challenge of unwanted installations, as well as the incompatibility between images from one shared workstation to the next. Upgrading desktops and applications can be a difficult task, requiring many hours of effort on each workstation. 

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Virtualization In Healthcare: To Be Or Not To Be?

August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm PST

Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in the healthcare industry with many industry pundits calling this technology a potential game-changer.  There seems to be a lot of excitement around how this technology can help the healthcare industry in terms of cost optimization and efficiencies. Some of the key virtualization drivers include the move towards electronic medical records (EMR) deployment, support for increasing number of mobile devices, and providing secure access to patient-sensitive data to authorized individuals (HIPAA compliance).  

I do believe that healthcare organizations have much to gain by embracing virtualization in their networks, data centers, and end-user workspaces, but they must have complete confidence that benefits can be achieved without compromising core requirements for clinicians, administrators, and IT.  In order to build this confidence, one must clearly articulate the “incremental” return on investment for adopting virtualization technology.  I have seen and heard several bold claims as to how virtualization is going to transform the healthcare industry but yet those very claims are light on how it’s truly going to help healthcare organizations be “incrementally” better.  I keep emphasizing “incremental” because that is the true value-add customers are looking for in order to justify their investments.  In today’s macro environment, everyone is being tasked to do more with less. 

In most healthcare environments, clinical and administrative applications are client-server based.  Often a nurse or a doctor who has to enter data into an application ―for instance, an EMR application― does so from a shared workstation. This task starts with the user identifying himself/herself through a secure login process that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. After entering the data, the user often immediately logs out, leaving the station available for the next user.  In an average healthcare setting, clinicians will repetitively access such workstations for data entry, sometimes as often as 50 to 70 times per shift.  The cumulative productivity loss can add up to about an hour (60 times, with a 1-minute login procedure each time). The nurse or the doctor could use this time more productively by meeting with patients or other clinicians and increasing the number of patients they can see.  This is just one example where virtualization could provide the “incremental” value-add by significantly cutting the productivity loss, which has a direct positive impact on patient experience. 

Healthcare industry is at an interesting cross-road due to the confluence of virtualization and cloud computing.  Several healthcare organizations are viewing virtualization as a stepping stone in their cloud journey. Increasing number of healthcare applications are being used in a virtualized environment – either at server level or desktop/mobile level.  This is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need, wherever they are, to support positive patient outcomes.  Over the subsequent blogs, I will articulate how Cisco virtualization platform is providing the “incremental” value-add that gives the healthcare organizations the complete confidence they need to embrace this capability.  Until then, stay tuned.

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