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How Virtualization Is Changing Software Licensing for the Data Center

Erich Latchford

In the days before data centers were virtualized, the licensing model for operating systems and application software was simple: 1 server = 1 license. But this model doesn’t work in an environment where a single physical server can host multiple virtual servers.

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Cisco Evolved Programmable Network: The Beginning of a New Era in SP Networking

June 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm PST

ginaWritten By Gina Nienaber, Marketing Manager, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

This is the first blog out of a series of three covering  “What is the Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) Era and Why Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) Now?”

Those of us who have been around in the industry for a few decades will remember the first arrival of the “big bad wolf” that tried to blow down the service provider’s house. This wolf presented itself in the form of the commoditization of IP services and high traffic growth rates that limited service provider profitability options forcing them to move away from dedicated TDM-based networks that supported a single video, voice, data, or mobile service. Service Providers partnered with Cisco (and others) to build more scalable and lower costs converged IP Next Generation Networks (IP NGNs) and entered the IP NGN era. In doing so, a new wave of innovation and service revenues followed.

Until of course, “the big bad wolf” arrived on the scene again, also known as “exponential traffic growth, especially in mobile video, and this time he brought his friend along for the ride -- the Internet of Everything (IoE).  Cisco VNI predicts IP Traffic alone will grow 300 percent to 1.4 zettabytes annually by 2017. Most of you are already experiencing the pains of exponential traffic growth and some of you believe, as we do, the next wave of dramatic Internet growth will come through the confluence of people, process, data, and things — or the IoE! And IoE predictions are off the charts as well.  Cisco estimates that 99.4 percent of physical objects in the world are still unconnected. With only about 10 billion of the 1.5 trillion things currently connected globally, there is vast potential to connect the unconnected via the IoE.

When you combine exponential traffic growth with IoE impact on the horizon what do service providers get?  You guessed it -- cost and network complexity are rising at a faster rate than revenue. In order to deal with these challenges, (I would rather call them opportunities), network transformation is not optional, but essential for the next wave of growth and propriety.

This might also be a good time to mention the major innovations in cloud and virtualization technologies such as SDN and NFV are allowing for new agile competitors to enter into the market and are challenging traditional providers for their revenue streams by changing the service delivery game and giving the customer control over their service instantiation with consumption based business models.  If you would like to review a quick snapshot of the challenges providers are facing today see the Cisco EPN At-A-Glance.

Are you convinced we need to move from the IP NGN Era to the EPN Era Yet?  If not keep reading -- you will be.

Why Evolved Programmable Network? Read More »

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The 2014 Automation Conference – IoE and Beer

The 2014 Automation Conference (TAC) was held March 20-21, 2014 in sunny Chicago (Yes, sunny Chicago!! I made sure to pack some California sunshine for the Windy City) attracted a diverse group of automation and manufacturing thought leaders and subject matter experts from leading machine builders, system integrators, manufacturing end users, standards bodies and educational institutions. The focus and objective of the conference was to have peer to peer discussions and dialogue around the technologies and next generation automation strategies that are enabling and driving the Internet of Everything (IoE).

“This conference is designed not only to make you think about the application of automation, but also to help you take action” -- David Greenfield, Automation World, editor in chief and TAC event director

The conference achieved this goal and more.  The framework of the sessions encouraged audience collaboration and dialogue around the challenges and practical steps and strategies being designed and deployed to achieve an integrated and scalable IoE architecture that drives value across the entire manufacturing value chain, as depicted in the video below:

I can “wax poetic” around all the great individual sessions held at the conference around Big Data, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), mobility, virtualization, cloud computing, cyber-physical security, network switching, CPwE (Converged Plantwide Ethernet), safety systems, workforce retention and optimization, but I think its more fun and interesting to summarize the highlights of the conference through the  context of a use case that was shared at the conference.

What better way to meet that objective than to leverage a manufacturing use case around beer!!!!

Automating Brewing Operations from Two Different Perspectives

I attended this session where Highland Brewing, Sierra Nevada and Vicinity Manufacturing gave an interesting perspective around the challenges and strategies in deploying their next generation manufacturing operation.

Highland Brewing is a regional brewer of craft beers based in the Southeast and Sierra Nevada is a larger brewer with more of national brand.  The interesting contrast between the two is that Highland Brewing is designing more automation into their operational facility and Sierra Nevada is scaling their automation and IoE strategies across all their facilities.   Both perspectives and approaches have the same objective.  How do I effectively integrate all the various technologies into an intelligent, flexible and scalable system/architecture to meet the following business outcomes:

  1. Increase Customer Loyalty
  2. Supply Chain Optimization
  3. Operational Excellence
  4. Energy Sustainability
  5. Disruptive Innovation

To paraphase Kevin Wheeler, Director of Operations, Highland Brewing Co,“Our core competency is crafting great beer. We have an opportunity to drive efficiency into our operation by an integrating IoT/IoE platform … the challenge is figuring out the best approach.”

Like Highland Brewing, manufacturers must begin to transform existing business processes and fundamentally rethink how they create, operate, and service smart, connected products in the IoE. For those that get it right, the future represents a huge opportunity to create product and service advantages.

Are you having challenges putting together the “IoE technology puzzle?”  Is security the main barrier to IoE adoption?

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The Evolution of the Mobile Service Provider – A Five-Stage Strategy

dan-kurschnerWritten By Dan Kurschner, Senior Manager SP Mobility Marketing

Over the past decades, Mobility has advanced from a mere curiosity (remember those “brick” phones?), to a convenience and today being an indispensable part of our everyday lives.  Businesses are leveraging the internet and the cloud to deliver new services and capabilities – via the mobile network.   While we can access the internet and cloud-based services from almost anywhere, most people do so with barely a thought of the complexities it takes to deliver this ubiquitously connected experience.

Mobile service providers have long been building and upgrading their networks to meet growing demand for capacity and capabilities to stay competitive.   Recently, a new type of competitor has emerged to threaten Read More »

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Next Generation Data Center Design With MDS 9710 – Part II

EMC World was wonderful. It was gratifying to meet industry professionals,  listen in on great presentations and watch the demos for key business enabling technologies that Cisco, EMC and others have brought to fruition.  Its fascinating to see the transition of DC from cost center to a strategic business driver . The same repeated all over again at Cisco Live. More than 25000 attendees, hundreds of demos and sessions. Lot of  interesting customer meetings and MDS continues to resonate. We are excited about the MDS hardware that was on the display on show floor and interesting Multiprotocol demo and a lot of interesting SAN sessions.

Outside these we recently did a webinar on how Cisco MDS 9710 is enabling High Performance DC design with customer case studies. You can listen to that here.

Three Pillars of ReliabilitySo let’s continue our discussion. There is no doubt when it comes to High Performance SAN switches there is no comparable to Cisco MDS 9710. Another component that is paramount to a good data center design is high availability. Massive virtualization, DC consolidation and ability to deploy more and more applications on powerful multi core CPUs has increased the risk profile within DC. These DC trends requires renewed focus on availability. MDS 9710 is leading the innovation there again. Hardware design and architecture has to guarantee high availability. At the same time, it’s not just about hardware but it’s a holistic approach with hardware, software, management and right architecture. Let me give you some just few examples of the first three pillars for high reliability and availability.

 

Reliability examples in MDS

 

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MDS 9710 is the only director in the industry that provides Hardware Redundancy on all critical components of the switch, including fabric cards. Cisco Director Switches provide not only CRC checks but ability to drop corrupted frames. Without that ability network infrastructure exposes the end devices to the corrupted frames. Having ability to drop the CRC frames and quickly isolate the failing links outside as well as inside of the director provides Data Integrity and fault resiliency. VSAN allows fault isolation, Port Channel provides smaller failure domains, DCNM provides rich feature set for higher availability and redundancy. All of these are but a subset of examples which provides high resiliency and reliability.

 

Weakest link

 

We are proud of the 9500 family and strong foundation for reliability and availability that we stand on. We have taken that to a completely new level with 9710. For any design within Data center high availability  has to go hand in hand with consistent performance. One without the other doesn’t make sense. Right design and architecture with DC as is important as components that power the connectivity. As an example Cisco recommend customers to distribute the ISL ports of an Port Channel across multiple line cards and multiple ASICs. This spreads the failure domain such that any ASIC  or even line card failures will not impact the port channel connectivity between switches and no need to reinitiate all the hosts logins. You can see white paper on Next generation Cisco MDS here. At part of writing this white paper ESG tested the Fabric Card redundancy (Page 9) in addition to other features of the platform. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

 

Geschäftsmann hat Wut, Frust und Ärger im Büro

 

The most important aspect for all of this is for customer is to be educated.

Ask the right questions. Have in depth discussions to achieve higher availability and consistent performance. Most importantly selecting the right equipment, right architecture and best practices means no surprises.

We will continue our discussion for the Flexibility aspect of MDS 9710.

 

 

-We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristotle)

 

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