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Is IT Automation the Key to Operational Excellence? Industry Analysts Think So

Businesses move quickly until they have to cross rough roads paved with technical challenges. That’s because even though data centers are sophisticated, the components that support most businesses still include far too many 20th century manual processes, silo based resources and administrators pressured to keep up.

Although automation can speed up IT, and your business,  many companies are wrestling with it. Please watch this video from Cisco and Forrester to understand why organizations are struggling with automation – see if it sounds familiar (I bet it will).

After you watch it, if you want send me a brief email about your experience with these issues. Read More »

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SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

December 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm PST
London's Big Ben at Night

London’s Big Ben at Night

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data Center conference in London.   I attended 3 different sessions on SDN-related topics.  Here are some of my observations from what was a very good conference.  Also, since the Gartner Data Center conference runs this week (w/c 1 December 2014) in the US, if you are going, here are some questions to think about when you attend the SDN sessions.

(1)    What does “lack of visibility” in Virtual Overlays really mean?

(2)    In multi-layer SDN, will SDN be cheaper than our current networking approach?

(3)    Are Vendors Guilty of Using NFV for SDN “Washing”?

(4)    If OpenStack is part of your SDN solution, can you help us on OpenStack?

(5)    What is the best hardware server platform for NFV/virtualised workloads?

(6)    How exactly does SDN deliver better network management?

I’ll cover a few questions today and some tomorrow.

Read More »

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Changing the Economics of Desktop and App Virtualization at the Enterprise Edge

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 3.21.53 PMIn my last post I discussed how Cisco UCS Mini is helping us expand beyond the traditional confines of the data center, to deliver desktop and app virtualization with exceptional user experience, manageability and TCO savings – at the enterprise edge.

We’re only going to see more investment and focus in this space, thanks to the general trend towards making VDI and app virtualization more tenable in a wider array of use cases across the enterprise, pushing from data center to enterprise edge.  This week, I want to offer a proof point I alluded to in my last post, enabled by our partners Nimble Storage and VMware.

Let’s take a look at the Nimble Storage SmartStack for ROBO (Remote Office / Branch Office) Desktop Virtualization.  As you know, we’ve seen incredible traction with our friends at Nimble.  Their CS array has seen wide market acceptance, and is now offered as an Integrated Infrastructure solution in the form of SmartStack, delivering the modularity, scale and manageability that IT demands.

I’m pleased to highlight that SmartStack now offers a solution optimized for ROBO.  In case you missed it, check out Nimble Storage’s announcement.   Bringing together best-of-breed components including VMware Horizon 6, Nimble’s CS300 array, and UCS Mini, this offering delivers on the key attributes critical to the enterprise edge:

  •  ­­Greater Consolidation: dense storage, compute and expansive I/O capacity of the Nimble + Cisco UCS solution, allows for hundreds of users in a small footprint, 50% of what traditional solutions might occupy.
  • Simplified Management: anchored on UCS Manager, this platform enables centralized IT to remotely spin up desktop and application virtualization capacity at remote/branch offices, without the error-prone, manual intervention required by traditional compute platforms.
  • High Performance: the combination of Nimble’s large IOPS footprint, low latency and Cisco UCS processing power delivers adaptive, exceptional performance in a compact form factor. This, along with VMware Horizon, allows IT to maintain an exceptional user experience through heavy application use and periods such as boot/login storms, patch operations and upgrades.

For more information on the Nimble SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization, please check out Sheldon D’Paiva’s blog on SmartStack ROBO.

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Taking Desktop Virtualization Beyond the Data Center – with the Next Wave of Unified Computing

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.46.26 PM If you look back at the Cisco UCS launch on September 4th, and VMworld SF just prior, the last 4 weeks have been a tsunami of solution innovation milestones in unified computing, ie: where the next wave of Unified Computing is taking us.  If you haven’t already seen the launch event “Powering Applications at Every Scale – the Next Wave of Unified Computing Innovation”, please check it out!

Desktop Virtualization Beyond the Data CenterScreen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.48.07 PM

A much anticipated part of this launch was the introduction of UCS Mini.  This is all about expanding our presence / penetration of where we can offer the unified computing value proposition.  With the economic disruption UCS has brought to the data center, it’s now time to extend that value beyond the traditional limits of the data center – check out this presentation to get an idea of the TCO impact alone, when considered next to HP DL360p Gen8 ’s.

With this economic advantage, comes the opportunity to address a growing array of desktop virtualization use cases that depend on footprint-friendly form factor without sacrificing performance or simplified, stateless, centralized manageability.  Think of use cases that include:

  • the enterprise-edge where you likely don’t have IT resources in place
  • retail/point-of-sale environments, or
  • small/medium-sized businesses that need fewer servers

In these scenarios, traditional centralized VDI implementation is hampered by WAN latency, security and business continuity concerns.  Being able to deploy a local solution that integrates compute, software and storage, that’s still centrally managed, could be just the solution for your branch office.  Look for new solutions from Cisco and our ecosystem partners that address these scenarios with compelling new offers, which brings us to VMworld Barcelona.

VMworld Barcelona and Integrated Infrastructure solutions for Desktop and App Virtualization

In just a few weeks, we’ll be at VMworld Barcelona, and I’m pleased to once again have the opportunity to kick off the week with a breakout session co-delivered with VMware’s Bhumik Patel, covering “Best in Class Desktop Virtualization with Horizon 6 and Cisco UCS”.  If you didn’t join us in the room in San Francisco, and you’ll be in Barcelona, please attend this second offering of TEX2516

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.55.00 PMI love opening these things up with a simple poll of i) how many folks in the room have implemented UCS, and ii) how many have done so in support of VDI or app virtualization.  In San Francisco, from the show of hands, it was obvious that over 90% of the room (of 200+ session attendees) had deployed VMware Horizon on UCS.  It was also telling that many attendees expressed interest in solutions for graphics/NVIDIA, flash storage, and our new VDI Pilot Accelerator configurations that are optimal for getting one’s feet wet in desktop as well as app virtualization.Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.59.02 PM

Another hot topic was Integrated Infrastructure solutions for VDI.  If you’re already familiar with FlexPod or Vblock, you already know how rapidly this IT consumption model is growing (to the tune of $3B in FlexPod alone) and how Cisco and its ecosystem partners are enabling organizations of all sizes to

  • dramatically reduce the time to deploy new services,
  • using modularized infrastructure approaches that integrated compute, network and storage,
  • supported with unified, single pane of glass management
  • backed by validated performance testing / documented results

The Nimble Storage SmartStack is another great example in this space, offering pre-validated solutions for organizations of all sizes, wanting to take the guesswork out of getting into desktop or server virtualization.  Imagine the possibilities with a SmartStack built on UCS-Mini…  Speaking of which, check out this article about VCPro, a service provider in the Asia Pacific region, offering DaaS on SmartStack built on UCS Mini.

Look for more news in the coming weeks regarding these and other new solutions that expand the use cases for desktop and app virtualization -- see you at VMworld Barcelona!

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New Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch Release 3.1 Now Available

There has been some seismic activity happening in Bay Area and the epicenter for all Virtual Networking shifts is right here at Cisco HQ in San Jose. (Our sympathies go to all those affected by the real earthquake further to the north.)  At Cisco, it’s all about the applications and the shift to dynamic network virtualization. Cisco pioneered virtual networking with Nexus 1000V virtual switch and recently incorporated it in the application aware Application Virtual Switch (AVS), for Cisco ACI-enabled networks. Cisco is excited to announce the availability of  Nexus 1000 Release 3.1 of Nexus1000V for vSphere (available for download here). We are showing the upcoming generation of the virtual switch at VMworld in San Francisco this week.

Nexus1000V is the edge switch for virtual environments, bringing the network edge right up to the virtual machine, and connecting virtual ports to the physical network and beyond. The Nexus 1000V is the foundation for our virtual network overlay portfolio, including all of our virtual L4-7 application and security services, our cloud orchestration software, VXLANs and more. It is also at the heart of AVS, a purpose-built, hypervisor-resident virtual network edge switch designed for the Application Centric Infrastructure.

Release 3.1 is a new major release enabling enterprise and cloud provider customers running the vSphere hypervisor to leverage the distributed virtual firewall VSG, expand VXLAN footprint in the datacenter, improve secure isolation thru Cisco TrustSec and dramatically simplify updates through Cisco VSUM (Virtual Switch Update Manager).  Most of the new features are value add to the Advanced Edition.  New customers will need a Ver 3 specific license to use the full functionality of Ver 3.  Existing customers with support contract are automatically entitled to free upgrade to Ver 3. AVS incorporates Nexus 1000V capabilities with consistent application policy enforcement for virtual workloads and unprecedented end-to-end visibility for applications in your data center.

Features of the new Nexus 1000V Release 3.1:

  • Scale
    • Increased Scalability (Advanced Edition) – More than doubles the scale from the previous release. The virtual switch now supports 250 hosts/servers per switch with 10,000 ports per switch. In addition it supports 4094 active VLANs and  16 million VXLAN (6144 active VXLANs) per switch across 6144 port profiles.
    • VXLAN control plane: BGP based control plane across multiple virtual switches provide expanded Layer 2 domain footprint that can potentially support nearly 40,000 VMs in a single domain
    • Increased Resiliency – Supports headless Port bring up where Virtual Machines can be bought up on the host even if VEM is offline i.e. the VSM is not reachable by VEM. Both VSM headful and headless VM vMotion is supported.
  • Security
    • Cisco TrustSec 2.0 (Advanced Edition) – Continues to extended Cisco TrustSec solutions for network based segmentation of users and physical workloads, leveraging Security Group Tags (SGT) for defining security segments and SGACL support  (Enforcement) and Native(in-line) SGT tagging.
    • BPDU Guard -- Keeps virtual network safe from misconfigured VLANs and strictly enforces VLAN boundries.  It prevents Misconfigured VLAN Rogue devices from flooding the network
    • Storm Control -- Prevent network disruptions from a broadcast, multicast, or unknown-unicast traffic storm.
  • Simplification
    • Simplified Deployment, upgrade and visibility with Cisco VSUM – Cisco VSUM is a FREE virtual appliance that enables Server and Network administrators to Deploy, Upgrade and Monitor Nexus1000V and to Deploy and Upgrade Cisco AVS from within their vCenter web interface.
    • Customer Experience - Here’s what one of our Beta customers, Josh Coen says about Cisco VSUM. Josh is a Principal Cloud Architect with Varrow and has been working in the IT industry since 1999, with a heavy focus on virtualization and storage since 2008.

Nexus 1000V has already reached the 10,000 customer milestone with some customers purchasing 1000+ CPU licenses.  Nexus 1000V continues to provide the foundation for the most advanced virtual networks by supporting, 1) multiple hypervisor environments, such as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Openstack KVM 2) the most extensive set of virtual network services, including ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall, distributed zone-based virtual firewall, vWAAS WAN optimization, the Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000V, Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) and advanced service insertion and chaining technology, vPath and 3) a true management control plane that provides greater policy and control features for richer networking functionality.

We’ll be showing a lot of these features this week. Come by our booth and check it out. If you are around #VMworld this week, give us a shout out on twitter using Cisco hash tag #ciscovmw. For those of you that can’t make it out to VMworld, listen to the review of these new features in Ver 3.1 in this webcast.

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