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Cisco Data Center Automation and Cloud Management Software at #VMworld

We’re excited to be back at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for VMworld this week and our theme is Bring IT: Unleash the Possibilities. You’ll see this theme unfold throughout the Cisco activities at VMworld – where we’ll be featuring our data center automation and cloud management software this week.

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In particular, we’re bringing Cisco UCS Director to VMworld and it will be featured in our demos, theater presentations, and breakout sessions at the show. If you’re not already familiar with UCS Director, it’s our flagship infrastructure automation software – for provisioning not only VMs but also bare metal servers, storage, networking, and layer 4-7 services.  It’s a key component of many of our solutions that you’ll see at VMworld.

For example, check out the video below of application-centric cloud management and infrastructure automation, powered by Cisco UCS Director, Cisco Prime Service Catalog, and the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC):

This past week, we also announced our new Cisco UCS Performance Manager software for performance monitoring of UCS and UCS-based integrated infrastructure – leveraging technology from our partner Zenoss. Stop by the Cisco or Zenoss booths at VMworld and be one of the first to see a live demonstration!

We’re also showcasing our software solutions for hybrid cloud, virtual network services automation, integrated infrastructure management, cloud automation, and more.

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Cisco and Citrix: Delivering the Unified Platform for Desktop and Application Virtualization

Today Citrix announced the latest advancements for XenApp and XenDesktop, built on the fourth release of their FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA).  With this evolution come significant improvements in Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix Receiver, FIPS compliance, single console manageability across hybrid cloud environments, Workspace Suite, user experience, and much more.

Cisco UCS: The Optimal Foundation for XenDesktop and XenApp

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.52.47 PMCisco is pleased to be a leading technology and infrastructure partner to Citrix, providing the optimal foundation of this unified platform for desktop and app virtualization, benefitting organizations everywhere that seek to evolve their traditional desktop environments into mobile, virtualized workspaces.  At the core of this foundation is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  Check out this animated whiteboard if you’re not already familiar with how UCS has rapidly become the preferred x86 compute platform for XenDesktop and XenApp deployments.

Proof Points!

We believe that the latest features of XenDesktop and XenApp will continue to drive exceptional end user experience and accelerate the pace at which organizations embrace desktop transformation initiatives.  The benefits of this best of breed joint solution are evident in the customer success stories exposed in the following infographic.

Citrix Infographic_06 (final)

In addition to our joint integrated solutions supporting desktop and app virtualization, we also share a common vision of cloud architectures and services.  As demonstrated in today’s announcement we see the end user computing landscape evolving to embrace customer choice and flexibility as organizations seek a “portfolio approach” in how workspaces are delivered, whether that be via on-premise solutions, public cloud or a hybridized approach.  This is a key benefit of the FMA platform combined with Cisco Intercloud, enabling customers to derive the maximum benefit from cloud economics.  And don’t forget, as part of Cisco’s Cloud Network Services portfolio we offer the Citrix NetScaler 1000V application delivery controller, integrating virtual applications to Cisco Unified Fabric, delivering scalable, reliable application services to users.

Transforming Desktops into Mobile Workspaces

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our joint workspace mobility solution.  With this announcement comes Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 providing enhanced support for Citrix Workspace Suite.  You may recall that back on May 6th, we announced the Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- bringing together the technologies of two mobility leaders as a complete and validated business to employee (B2E) mobility solution.  This groundbreaking solution allows organizations to deploy mobility at their own pace with a modular approach that builds on the Cisco Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Desktop Virtualization Solutions.  It combines all the essential hardware and software technologies, services, and support needed to embark on mobility projects with confidence, speed, and reduced risk.  Together, Cisco and Citrix are delivering a complete, unified solution for mobile, Windows, web and SaaS-based apps.

How to Get Started…

Before I close, I want to share one more solution for your consideration.  The Citrix Pilot Accelerator is a great way to get one’s feet wet with desktop and app virtualization.  This 200 seat configuration provides all the infrastructure and software elements needed to deploy a pilot environment, or outfit a small office/branch.  It employs a UCS C240 rack server, equipped with on-board flash storage and SAS drives in an extremely economical bundle, with ample performance, and ability to scale.  If you’re wondering how to get started with Citrix and Cisco, this is a great solution that neatly fits in just 2 RU.  And, if you weren’t aware, Cisco offers XenDesktop 7.6 software and other new products as part of our resale program with Citrix.  A great way to build the perfect bundle!

Additional Resources:

Cisco Validated Design (CVD): Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix -- includes XenMobile, Unified App Store, WorxHome, Receiver, XenDesktop and ShareFile

www.cisco.com/go/citrix

www.cisco.com/go/vdi

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Analytics: A New Model for Creating Great, Personalized Customer Experiences

While certainly exciting, buying a new house, can also serve as a revealing exercise in understanding data science.

A couple of weeks ago I went to my bank to investigate my financial options for buying a new house. To my surprise, my account manager gave me a stack of paperwork to fill out—and I soon realized that my bank was already in possession of 90 percent of the information I was being asked to provide. So why was I having to take the time to fill in information the bank already had, or could easily acquire?  And more importantly, why couldn’t my account manager quickly access information about my client status and my personal preferences, and immediately provide a tailored offering, decreasing the chance that I would look elsewhere for this service?

Figure 1. Centralized, Decentralized, and Distributed Networks. A distributed, virtualized approach to database management enables quick combination and analysis of large volumes of data—where and when it is needed.

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Source: Paul Baran, Rand Corporation.

I wrote in one of my recent blogs about the issues and solutions related to quickly combining data that comes in large volumes by focusing on data virtualization and cloud. This can enable seamless customer interactions and decrease client churn, be it in financial services or in the telecom sector. But what is required at an organizational level so that people, process, data, and things come together to enable a superior customer experience and create entirely new revenue possibilities?

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IT Services Faster!

Most of us expect immediate delivery both as consumers and as employees. As employees, we are no longer willing to wait weeks for IT to deliver what we need. IT departments feel the pain that ensues from our urgency in the form of shadow IT.  Shadow IT results in the double trouble of higher risk and cost from a weaker ability to enforce compliance and best practices when users stray to acquire their own IT services.

What’s that? You believe if you add more staff to address this issue it goes away? You may provide more services but at the same slower pace while increasing operational costs and decreasing operating profits. The key to maintaining IT discipline and delivering services faster is simply a judicious use of integrated automation and management.  It dramatically increases your staff’s ability to execute quickly -- to IT standards.

Cisco UCS Director is that missing piece that your staff needs to deliver services faster.  It helps your staff deliver more services in minutes--not days or weeks.  It lets your staff spend time to align IT with the business, instead of manually spinning up systems--and that’s what we all want. Read More »

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Cisco MDS for Small to Cloud-Scale Data Centers

Superior Platforms, Scale, and Operational Simplicity

 Data Center trends like  Virtualization, Solid State Drives, DC consolidation and Data Explosion are putting a tremendous amount of strain on the infrastructure. These challenges need targeted and multifaceted approach. It has to be holistic solution to the problems rather than point products for each unique problem. Data Centers require improvements in performance, flexibility, scalability, and reliability and ease of management. To address that Cisco revamped the MDS product line, the journey we started last year when we introduced 9710 and 9250i.

9710 – Director Class Switch with 3x the performance of any director, 384 ports of line rate 16G FC, highest reliability and flexibility.

9250i – Services Appliance supporting 10G FCIP, 16G FC and 10G FCoE in addition to IO Acceleration, Data Mobility Migration in compact 2 RU form factor.

We had a great success with the product line with steepest ramp and amazing customer feedback. Building on the success we have added new members to the product family and extended the innovation to allow for simpler management and scalable deployments.

Portfolio

 

a) Three New Products

  1. MDS 9148S – Industries’  most versatile affordable 1RU switch with High-Performance, Easy of Deployment,  Enterprise-class features
  2. MDS 9706 -- Unprecedented investment protection with high performance, reliability and multi-protocol flexibility
  3. High Density line rate 10G FCoE Card -- For customers to adopt high density FCoE in incremental non-disruptive fashion on the existing FC footprint without forklift upgrades.

b)     New Scalable Deployment Options

  1. Much Higher Scalability for SAN Infrastructures.
  2. Dynamic FCoE over Fabric Path
  3. Data migration enhancements for speed, scale and resiliency

c)     New Management Features

  1. Hardware based FC Congestion Detection and Recovery
  2. Integration with Industry leading Platforms
  3. End to End Visibility
  4. Switch Health Score

With the addition of new members Cisco not only has best of the breed products but also broadest product portfolio. This allows customers to design the SAN precisely to their needs from small departmental SANs to the largest enterprises, from traditional LAN, SAN networks to fully converged fabric and everything in between.

Product Portfolio

Attend the Webinar on August 12th 8:00 PST to learn more :  Register Now

 

Lets look at the capabilities of each product in little more detail

  Cisco MDS 9148S: High-Performance, Easy to Deploy, Enterprise-class Fabric Switch

Cisco MDS 9148S Fixed Fabric Switch

Versatile: 9148S pay as you grow model allows customers to start from small base and grow . It allows customers to grow from 12 Ports to 24, 36 and finally 48 without any rip and replace. It allows customers to go from 2/4/8G to 16G FC speeds. It is not only the most affordable switch shipping today across all the possible configurations but with 2x the range of ports it allows unparalleled scalability for future growth.

Ease of use: Power On Auto provisioning which allows   9148 and 9148S to automate switch setup. From getting DHCP, to downloading and applying the software to the final configuration is done automatically. Quick configuration wizard allows the box to be configured in an easy way. It shares the same NxOS as rest of the MDS and Nexus products. Power on Auto Provisioning (POAP) is important for large scale data centers where 9148S will be used as Top of the Rack (ToR) switch and distributed throughout the data center. This saves customer to go from box to box with the serial cable and program them individually. It allows for  rapid, error free and consistent provisioning.

9148S ToR Architecture

MDS 9148 Pay As You Grow

Enterprise Class switch: It offers the rich Enterprise features like non-disruptive software upgrade,32 Virtual SANs (VSANs), Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR), QOS, PortChannels, N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), N-Port Virtualization (NPV), Comprehensive Security in addition to redundant power supplies and fans. Its first of the kind switch in the industry to allow hardware based slow drain detection and recovery. It has back to front airflow.

Customer Use Case: Customer will use the 9148S to design small SAN environments like  departmental SANs.  Larger Enterprises will use 9148S as ToR Switch for ease of cabling and ease of Management. In addition to that 9148S will be used for BC/DR or remote locations. Pay as you go model is very attractive to customers as it allows them to grow the port count from 12 to 48 without any price penalty as their network demands grow.

 Cisco MDS 9706: Extending MDS 9710 Director Qualities to a Smaller Form Factor

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It is the highest performance director in the industry. It provides 3X the bandwidth compared to any compact director in the industry. Not only it provide 192 ports line rate performance at 16G but it is designed to provide line rate performance at 32G FC and 40G FCoE when those line cards are introduced without the forklift upgrades using the same type of fabric cards. With 6 fabric cards it provides 1.5Tbps of bandwidth per slot.

In addition to that this is industries first class of directors to offer Redundancy on all critical components including fabric cards. Smaller failure domain, Forward error correction, multi-point CRC checks, predictable and consistent performance for both latency and throughput.

Small to medium enterprises will use 9706 as Middle of the row and end of row switch in addition line rate 16G performance allows it to be used for connectivity to targets in addition to host connectivity. It will be used for both edge core and edge-core-edge designs.

In addition to the pod like deployments where 9RU form factor and 192 ports of line rate at 16G is very attractive.

Some of the specs of the switch are enumerated below

 

  • 1.5 Tbps per slot switching capability

 192 ports of 16G FC line rate today with 100% head room to grow to 32G FC) without forklift upgrade

  • Industries Highest ReliabilityMDS 9706 Details

N+1 Fabric redundancy, smaller failure domains, Forward Error Correction, CRC error checks at multiple points, In service software upgrades,  Crossbar design with central arbitration and Virtual Output Queuing ensure customers not only get highest availability but also predictable and consistent throughput independent of the traffic profile.

  • Unmatched Flexibility

With ability to support both FC and FCoE line cards. With capability to support 2/4/8/10/16G FC and 10G FCoE today and performance to support 32G FC and 40G FCoE on the same footprint.

Industry’s Highest-Density FCoE Module on a FC Director

With 48 ports this has the highest port density and greatest flexibility in the industry. Without any restrictions Cisco customers can now orchestrate FC, FCoE and mixed solutions. FCoE line card afford customers ability to design FC solutions and incrementally deploy FCoE without forklift upgrades and meeting the same features, reliability and availability as afforded by FC.

FCoE Line Card

In addition to hardware we added extensive capabilities to enable small size to cloud scale deployments.

Scalability Enhancements

To support large scale out and scale up deployment models we have increased the scalability limits for the SAN infrastructure. The industry leading scalability numbers allow Cisco customer’s unprecedented future proofing and scalability to Scale out or Scale-up. Finally the Data Mobility Migration has 2x the speed and 8x the scale and higher resiliency.

Simplifying SAN Management

In addition to enhanced capabilities in Cisco tools MDS family is integrated with industry standard tools to provide faster configurations like automated zoning. Some of the examples of the tools are UCS Director, EMC ViPR, Microsoft System Center VMM and IBM PpowerVC.

To address complexity in the data-centers Cisco is focused on SAN Management simplification. First and foremost that is top of mind for customers is slow drain. If there are slow draining devices in the network it chokes the entire fabric. These conditions are transient, extremely difficult to isolate, debug and fix. To detect and recover for these conditions Cisco introduced Slow Drain Detection and Recovery in software in previous generation of devices. Now with the new products we have provided the support for these devices to run the slow drain detection and recovery in the hardware rather than waiting for software to come around polling individual ports every 100 ms which is a life time in the data center. As the table below shows with hardware based slow drain the detection speed has increased 100 times and recovery is of the order of nano seconds rather than 100ms.

 

Platforms Detection Granularity Recovery Action Latency – Start   and Stop
Software-based MDS 9500MDS 9148 100ms 100ms
Hardware-based   NEW! MDS 9700,   MDS   9250i, MDS 9148S 1ms Immediate   (ns)

 

For more info read this whitepaper

 End to End Visibility

In addition to that Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) provides end to end visibility from hosts (virtual or Physical) through switches (MDS or Nexus) into the storage arrays independent of the protocol. DCNM is single pane of glass visibility into the Data Center for both SAN and LAN.

HPRA

Host Path Redundancy Analysis checks the network every 24 hours or customer designated interval if there is end to end dual paths from Host to the target. It checks against port down situations, VSAN mismatches, VSAN Segmentation, LUN mismatches as well as makes sure both the ports are not on the same line cards. Similar activity that used to take months is now completed on the fly every 24 hours reducing risk and time to repair. Further more administrators are not surprised by an outage as they have complete visibility for the dual paths. Furthermore having both the paths up allows to mitigate any silent failures as well as avoid outages if one of the SAN fails.

Switch health score is another unique capability of DCNM  to track switch health over time. It allows customer to quickly determine level of risk, isolate and fix the alerts resulting in low health score and track the health of the SAN over time.

 

Health Score

 As I started the discussion today Data Centers need a holistic approach to solving the challenges of the data center. Customers not only need higher performance, investment protection, lower opex and capex, reliability but also ease of management and tightly integrated end to end solution. The solutions and capabilities I described allows us to solve the challenges faced by data centers not only today for the years to come. We introduced MDS products in 2002 and since then we have introduced industries first innovation, just few examples out of that are enumerated below. We will continue to innovate in this space for the next decade.

 

Continued Innovation

 

Prashant Jain

Sr. Product Manager, DCBU

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”

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