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Deep Thoughts with Dr. Ken: Virtualization & Videoscape

Dr. Ken MorseContributed By Ken Morse, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group

It’s probably not all that surprising, given the state of the video marketplace these days, that what’s top of mind for me is the migration of video to IP (Internet Protocol) everything.

At this point, I think we’re all fairly clear on what the end game looks like – pick any definition you favor about “TV Everywhere” and “the four Anys” (anytime, anywhere, any thing, any device). I think we can all agree that that’s where we’re headed.

The challenge now is that so many different paths exist to get there. As usual!, right? Differences between service providers exist for understandable reasons: Starting position (which options were selected for bandwidth creation/preservation?), plant configuration (switched or not?), and economics (what’s the budget?)

As a vendor, one of the bigger challenges in building products for the IP video migration is identifying which elements to put in the toolbox, to support all of the different ways service providers are considering. There’s the QAM termination approach, there’s the “run high-speed data to the hilt” approach, and several other options in the middle.

My view is, serve them all by gradually “virtualizing” the elements in the toolbox.  Encapsulate the functionalities of a particular component - whatever it is - and then instantiate those same functionalities on another device.

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Transforming Seattle Children’s Hospital with UCS and Desktop Virtualization

June 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm PST

One of the key takeaways I heard consistently at the recent Citrix Synergy conference was the fact that you shouldn’t just do IT for IT’s sake: Your top consideration should be the end user experience. That’s one of the key lessons Seattle Children’s Hospital learned when it recently deployed Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) blade to support a 3000-plus deployment of virtual desktops and zero clients. This deployment and Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) as a whole was the topic of a panel discussion at the conference.

The panelists included Aaron Cockerill, Senior Director of Product Management at Citrix; Doug Dooley, Director of Product Management for Desktop Virtualization at Cisco; Jake Hughes, the Chief Technical Architect at Seattle Children’s Hospital; and Harry Labana, VP and CTO of AppSense. Aaron and Doug offered up their thoughts on the Cisco-Citrix partnership, and how Cisco is leading virtualization charge with its end-to-end solution. Harry provided insights around desktop virtualization and AppSense’s role in creating flexibility and a rich user experience. Jake, as a customer who has implemented virtual solution, discussed the nuts of bolts of implementation, and talked about key points to take into consideration when contemplating a deployment.

I chatted with the panelists after the session, and they each offered up their top takeaways from the discussion.

Want to learn more about the details of the panel discussion? Read on for tips and lessons learned around implementing a virtual desktop solution. Read More »

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3 Best Practices for Protecting Virtual Environments

Virtual servers and storage environments need regular backups to protect them from downtime, data loss.

Smaller companies are adopting virtualization technologies more than ever, according to AMI-Partner’s “2010 SMB Virtualization Market Analysis and Assessment”. Small businesses are applying virtualization to their servers and storage infrastructure, which can drastically change how and where employees store data and access applications, quickly making virtual environments as important to a company’s day-to-day operations as its physical equipment.

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The Role of Layer 4-7 Services in Scaling Applications for the Cloud-Computing Data Center

The Cloud Challenge
Cloud computing is increasing demands on applications and the application-delivery infrastructure must change to meet the challenge. Virtualization does not solve the problems with applications scaling, in fact it adds complexity. Infrastructure alone does not solve the challenge either. You don’t want to oversubscribe or just add capacity on demand. The infrastructure needs to respond to user demand based on business value and maintain a favorable cost structure. This means that you need intelligent load processing to manage scale, especially given the evolution of applications, which now make numerous backend function calls, which create more traffic than at the front end.

The Need for Scale
Cloud-computing applications are characterized by stateful access, with differentiated service levels, charged to the end user using the pay-per-use pricing model. Implicit in this model is the assumption that a cloud application is always on. Scaling the cloud delivery model to an Internet scale (millions of users) is a challenge that next-generation Layer 4–7 infrastructure needs to overcome.

Scaling a cloud application involves scaling three mechanisms: location (mobility), replication, and load balancing. Virtualization was an early catalyst for cloud computing because it substantially lowered the cost of replication and mobility of a prepackaged application. It does not, however, solve the load-balancing problem. Load balancing involves scaling the address, name space, transport, session, identity, and business logic of the application. Clustering enables scaling of application business logic but leaves the rest of the problem to a proxy infrastructure.
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Cisco UCS & Cisco Nexus – Making M&Ms and VMs Awesome!

Based on the positive feedback I received from my Cisco UCS videos, I decided it was time to tackle a slightly more complicated set of topics. While it’s fairly easy to come up with a set of keywords that spell out C-I-S-C-O, sometimes it’s valuable to take off the training wheels and go a little broader. So in today’s video, we combine the simplicity of M&Ms with the complexity of VMs. How do we take technology that provides tremendous value to customers and explain it in a way that’s fun and easy to replicate? Well, let’s see what happens… Read More »

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