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Limitations of a Software-Only Approach to Data Center Networking

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I want to address some questions about VMware’s NSX virtual networking announcement that have been asked of us by the media and social Web commentators in the past few days. Specifically, they have asked  why Cisco did not announce support for NSX and whether the announcement changes the long-standing strategic relationship between our two companies.

First, let me be clear: VMware is an important partner to Cisco, and we expect to continue our close collaboration around private cloud and desktop virtualization.  As we outlined yesterday in a joint news release about Cisco and VMware’s mutual customers, thousands of organizations rely on our combined innovation in their businesses each and every day and I look forward to continued success in this area.

While we share a common vision for private cloud and desktop virtualization, there are significant differences in our visions over the future of networking.

Network virtualization is important. We both agree on that. In fact, over the past several years, we have delivered game-changing innovations in this area particularly with the Nexus 1000v and more recently with NFV solutions, both of which are key elements of the Cisco ONE portfolio. Today, more than 6,000 Nexus 1000v customers benefit from the flexibility delivered by our virtual networking technology.

However, a software-only approach to network virtualization places significant constraints on customers.  It doesn’t scale, and it fails to provide full real-time visibility of both physical and virtual infrastructure.  In addition this approach does not provide key capabilities such as multi-hypervisor support, integrated security, systems point-of-view or end-to-end telemetry for application placement and troubleshooting.  This loosely-coupled approach forces the user to tie multiple 3rd party components together adding cost and complexity in day-to-day operations as well as throughout the network lifecycle.  Users are forced to address multiple management points and maintain version control for each of the independent components.  Software network virtualization treats physical and virtual infrastructure as separate entities, and denies customers a common policy framework and common operational model for management, orchestration and monitoring.

Cisco has a different strategy and that is embodied in the Application Centric Infrastructure.  Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is an innovative secure architecture that delivers centralized application-driven policy automation, management and visibility of physical and virtual networks.  It’s built upon a fabric foundation that delivers best-in-class infrastructure by combining hardware, software and ASIC innovations into an integrated system.

The architecture provides a common management framework for network, application, security and virtualization teams — making IT more agile while reducing application deployment time.  It’s built for multi-tenancy ensuring proper isolation and detailed telemetry of SLAs across different consumers of the infrastructure while also providing a consistent security policy across both physical and virtual applications.  ACI allows IT teams to offer a public cloud experience and economics to their customers while maintaining the associated SLAs and performance requirements for the most demanding business applications.  It’s an open programmable architecture with a comprehensive set of APIs that enables the broadest ecosystem of datacenter management and L4-7 services.  Finally, ACI enables comprehensive investment protection by leveraging existing IT teams’ skillset and infrastructure to lower overall TCO.

I recently wrote a blog post about how Network Virtualization is a Different to Server Virtualization as we think about the next chapter of networking.  It’s key to remember that underutilized compute resources created the opportunity for server virtualization. Underutilization is not a problem in the network. In fact, server virtualization is pushing the limits of today’s network utilization and driving demand for higher port counts, application and policy-driven automation, and unified management of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures in a single system.  Businesses today are looking for more from their investments as they turn on new services and applications more quickly, in a way that is easier to manage and that can scale with applications needs.

We believe that delivering those benefits requires the flexibility of software coupled tightly with the performance and scalability of hardware and ASICs. That’s what we’re delivering with our Application-Centric Infrastructure vision and throughout the entire Unified Data Center portfolio.

Stay tuned for some exciting news from us in this area in the next few months.

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Learn about Cisco’s Data Center and Cloud Management Software at #VMworld

vmw

This has been an exciting year for the Cisco Data Center and Cloud Management team – and we’ll be featuring several recent data center software innovations at VMworld this week. You won’t want to miss our new demos of Cisco UCS Director (formerly Cloupia), Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC), and Cisco Prime Network Services Controller (formerly Virtual Network Management Center) in the Cisco booth!

You can also stop by the VCE booth to learn about unified infrastructure and cloud management for Vblock, with UCS Director and Cisco IAC – we’ll have presentations in both the Cisco and VCE theaters. And in either the Cisco booth or the NetApp booth, you can learn about UCS Director for managing your FlexPod.

As you’ll see below, Cisco Prime Network Services Controller is a key component in several demos in the Cisco booth, including the new Nexus 1000V InterCloud and Dynamic Fabric Automation. You can read more about Prime Network Services Controller at VMworld in this blog post.

Schedule 1:1 meetings with Cisco executives or ping @CiscoUM (Cisco Unified Management) on twitter for an informal meet up. We’d be happy to connect you with one of our management software experts.

DEMOS:

  • Cisco UCS Director for Converged Infrastructure Management. See the latest version of the powerful Cisco UCS Director solution for managing both physical and virtual infrastructure in your FlexPod, Vblock, or VSPEX environments.  You can also see a demo of UCS Director integrated with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC).  Showcasing: UCS Director and IAC. New demo!
  • Cloud Management for Multi-Cloud and DevOps Solutions.  Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud now provides solution accelerator kits that enable you to integrate with multiple cloud environments (e.g. VMware vCloud, OpenStack, Amazon Web Services), and with Puppet and Chef for configuration management. Showcasing: Intelligent Automation for Cloud. New demo!
  • Cloud Networking Services with the Nexus 1000V. Demonstrates vPath integration with Citrix VPX and Imperva WAF, with Prime Network Services Controller. Showcasing: Nexus 1000V and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!
  • Hybrid Cloud Networking with Nexus 1000V InterCloud. See how to build a highly secure hybrid cloud environment, providing Layer 2 networking connectivity from your  enterprise data center to a public cloud environment, with Nexus 1000V InterCloud. Showcasing: Nexus 1000V InterCloud and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!
  • Simplify, Optimize and Automate with Dynamic Fabric Automation. Find out how Dynamic Fabric Automation simplifies both physical server and virtual machine deployments in your data center, with automated network provisioning. Showcasing: Prime Data Center Network Manager and Prime Network Services Controller. New demo!

And make sure you join us for our theater presentations to learn from the Cisco Unified Management product experts -- every day this week at VMworld. See below for the schedule.

THEATER PRESENTATIONS:

SUNDAY

Go Beyond IaaS with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

5:00 – 5:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation: Simplified DC Network Operations

6:00 – 6:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

MONDAY

Cisco IAC Provides Cloud Management on Vblock Systems

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

Transform Cloud Automation with VCE, Cisco, and EMC

4:00 -- 4:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Unified Cloud Management

4:40 – 5:10pm, Location: VMworld Solutions Theater

Go Beyond IaaS with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

5:30 – 5:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

TUESDAY

UCS Director for Vblock Systems Management

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

FlexPod Infrastructure Management and UCS Director

3:30 – 3:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

Enabling ITaaS through Cisco Domain Ten

4:30 – 4:50pm Location: Cisco booth

Prime Network Services Controller: Deploying Cloud Network Services

5:00 – 5:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Transform Cloud Automation with VCE, Cisco and EMC

4:00 – 4:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

WEDNESDAY

Unified Infrastructure Management with Cisco UCS Director

11:30 – 11:50pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation: Simplified DC Network Operations

12:00 – 12:20pm, Location: Cisco booth

Cisco IAC and UCS Director Provide Unified Management for Vblock 

1:45 – 2:05pm, Location: VCE booth

Make sure you follow us on twitter at @CiscoUM – and feel free to reach me at @Carolinamfdz if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you at the show!

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Your VDI Checklist for VMworld 2013

With just a week ahead of VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, there’s a lot of planning to do.  For example:

  1. Saying “thank goodness it’s not Vegas”
  2. Finding a suitable bacon-themed party to attend (I’ll explain)
  3. Checking out some useful VDI content at VMworld

So if you’re earning your trip to SF by doing some VDI fact-finding footwork whilst there, you’ve come to the right place.  I’m going to save you a ton of wasted time trekking across the Moscone center, and spell everything out right here.  But before we go there, some backdrop…

This has been an incredibly busy year for Cisco, and its VDI technology ecosystem, and certainly VMware.  Yes, I know it’s only August.  With the help of our ecosystem and channel partners, we took aim at the most important VDI hurdles that prevent IT from embracing this technology, including:

  • The cost and performance bottleneck associated with VDI storage
  • Expanding the addressable use cases into which VDI nicely fits
  • The complexity of putting a cost-effective yet scalable solution together

Now you may be saying “Pretend like I’ve been asleep for 8 months, and remind me what you’re talking about, and make it quick or I’ll find another blog to read”.  Ok then testy reader, here goes:

  • We’ve raised the bar on VDI storage performance, while reducing the overall TCO.  With the help of our expanding, best-of-breed ecosystem including solutions from Nimble Storage, Fusion-io, Nexenta, Tegile, and Atlantis Computing, we offer prescriptive design guidance on how to build solutions based on these technologies, combined with Cisco Unified Computing.  These solutions are available as a complete suite of reference architectures and validated designs, here.  These solutions are making the reality of doing floating or PERSISTENT desktops in an affordable way, a reality.
  • When you think of VDI, it’s traditionally been around the low-hanging fruit that’s easily addressable, ie: task workers, such as call center ops and those who have a minimal set of apps they need to use at any given time.  But what about graphics-intensive workstations that aren’t adequately addressed by VDI display protocols?  Employing Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server with the NVIDIA GRID™ solution, we can do virtualized GPU, offloading CPU resources while delivering higher quality graphics rendering at distance.
  • We’re de-risked getting into VDI, especially for pilot / proof-of-concept environments where your organization wants to get their feet wet, quickly, and affordably.  How?  The UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View, that’s how.  These promo bundles begin with a starter for 30, 100 or 300 users, and offer expansion options, as well as storage upgrades like UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io).  We call this the “Accelerated Path to ROI with VDI”.

In case you missed it, I cover some of this in my previous post, here.  Now back to VMworld… coincidentally, the stuff I mentioned above, are BIG focus areas for Cisco and its partners at the show, ie: if you want to see these solutions in action, read further.

Also coincidentally, these are the very same technology trends that Brian Madden recently wrote about, associated with the increasing feasibility of doing VDI for “persistent 1-to-1 desktop images” as he puts it, leveraging the storage technologies we’ve incorporated in our reference architectures.   He also makes reference to the importance of virtualized GPU solutions that are making VDI an increasingly good option for CAD, photo/video editing and similar environments.

So if you’re putting your VDI at VMworld SF checklist together, here are some things you MUST add:

1.) Cisco VDI Demos! (akawho doesn’t like hardware, software, and blinky lights?”)

  • Come by Booth 1005 for starters.  Our VDI demos will include:
  • UCS C240 M3 running VMware Horizon View with…
    • UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io) delivering low-latency, high-IOPS capacity for non-persistent View desktops
    • NVIDIA GRID™ cards installed so you can see virtualized GPU delivering accelerated graphics in action!
    • We’ll also have a single-wire managed (aka “Single Connect”) cluster of C220 M3’s running VMware Horizon View with EMC VNX5300 storage.  This environment will show 500 desktops running (live) Login VSI 3.7 Medium workloads

2.) Our featured breakout session “#VAPP6408 -- The Next Wave of Virtualization & Fabric Computing with Cisco’s Unified Computing System will share the latest innovations in Unified Computing with a special focus on VDI.

3.) Cisco Booth Theater Presentation (and maybe win free stuff)

  • swing by Booth 1005, at 5:30pm on the Tuesday (Aug. 27th) to catch Mike Brennan’s presentation “Delivering VMware Horizon View Desktops with Uncompromised Performance and Scalability

4.) Colorado University at Boulder – Featured Breakout Session “#EUC5610 -- Virtualized Inception: Mobility Dream within a VDI Dream; Realized!

  • CU Boulder deployed Nimble Storage for supporting VDI with Horizon View, built on Cisco UCS.  This is a great case study in supporting hundreds of users, supporting BYOD and mobile users in a fully virtualized end-user computing environment.  Check out the written version here.
  • We have a reference architecture (R/A) with Nimble you can review here.
  • and… because Inception is one of my favorite movies ever, you know this session with CU Boulder simply can’t miss!

5.) Nexenta VSA for View (NV4V) Demo Featuring Cisco UCS

  • check out this innovative storage appliance demo, built on Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Server.  You can review our joint R/A here.

6.) Tegile VDI Passport Program

  • Tegile will be running a passport program that provides the opportunity to win an iPad mini by visiting: Tegile, Cisco, and other VDI ecosystem partners
  • We have a joint R/A featuring Tegile Zebi available here.

6.) Atlantis Computing ILIO with Cisco UCS

  • If you’re not familiar with it, the ILIO appliance built on Cisco UCS, provides scalable IOPS capacity without disks,  leveraging UCS’s expansive memory footprint.  Check this Glasshouse Whitepaper for more.

7.) #vBacon !

Ok, so what about the bacon thing?  If you want to get in on probably the best bacon-themed party in SF, you need to be at the Cable Car City Pub by 10pm on Tuesday August 27th.   You won’t be disappointed.  Find out about this and other goodies @CommNinja and the Cisco Social Media Team are putting together, but checking this out.

Well for now, that’s it.  I’ll have more to share next week at VMworld.  Stop by, say hi, and let us help you knock some items off that VDI checklist.  For more information on literally everything I mentioned above, see my handy bookshelf below:

VMware Horizon View Promotion: Cisco UCS SmartPlay Bundle Offer

VMware Horizon View Promotion: Cisco UCS SmartPlay Bundle Offer

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.22.41 AM

Video Whiteboard: Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon View

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.19.27 AM

VDI Reference Arch. with VMware Horizon View, Cisco UCS and NetApp FlexPod

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.11.44 AM

Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon View at Cisco Live

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.06.38 AM

VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and EMC VSPEX

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.04.17 AM

Solution Overview: VDI with VMware Horizon View, Cisco UCS and Fusion-io

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 9.01.41 AM

VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Nimble Storage

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 8.59.11 AM

VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Nexenta

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 8.55.37 AM

VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Tegile Zebi Storage

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 8.46.16 AM

VDI Reference Arch. for VMware Horizon View with Cisco UCS and Atlantis ILIO

 

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The Golden Key to Any Cloud

As cloud technology and organizations mature, customers are shifting their focus from the provisioning of individual servers to richer cloud-based application platform stacks. Why? Servers usually do not exist as standalone entities but are designed to run something tangible for the business. For example, multi-tier application platform stacks have in their design multi-server elements such as database, application and web servers.

In this era of the cloud, creating golden templates for each of the elements required to configure these multi-tier stacks and the servers they reside on, is not only unwieldy for IT to maintain and manage but they are monolithic. This means if one single element changes, the whole golden image needs to be revised. Golden images are not configurable and frequently require additional manual configuration to complete installation.

What’s the solution? It begins with the concept of DevOps.

DevOps is a software development method that permits better collaboration between software development and IT operations in a way that these multi-tier application servers can be consumed in the cloud without human intervention. There are a number of disciplines included under the DevOps category, but this blog will be focusing on configuration management.

Puppet and Chef are two of the leading configuration management vendors in the DevOps segment delivering the following benefits:

• Elastic and continuous configurations
• Increased productivity to handle hundreds to thousands of nodes
• Improve IT responsiveness by reducing time to deploy changes
• Eliminate configuration drift and reduce outages

There is a lot of buzz about this capability. How much buzz? Watch this video from CiscoLive Orlando.

Within the next month, Cisco will be releasing a cloud accelerator that delivers configuration management of multi-tier application stacks. Based on the TOSCA-modeled graphical user interface, customers utilize a canvas that simplifies the design of these stacks into templates. Each element: server, network device and storage; is represented on the canvas with a graphical icon. Behind each icon are configuration details for each component. For example, network device configuration may include firewall rules and load balancing algorithms. For servers, Cisco is leveraging Puppet and Chef or home-grown scripts. The result is a blueprint that allows for consumption of the complete application stack by end users, on demand, delivered by the cloud.

So now we have blueprints. Where’s the real advantage?

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) is the golden key that gives you the advantage because it unlocks this new approach to cloud efficiency. Providing blueprints for multi-tier application stacks on their own do nothing if they cannot be ordered by customers from a standardized menu of services and acted upon by an orchestrator to automatically deploy the entire configuration. Extending functionality for DevOps is just another example of Cisco IAC’s ability to go beyond IaaS without requiring a solution rip and replace or major push-ups by customers.

Why just provision servers and continue to increase IT costs with manual “last mile” provisioning?
Cisco IAC and the configuration management accelerator simplify the delivery of multi-tier application stacks through self-service ordering and repeatable delivery. Cloud accelerators are designed to follow the vision and strategy of Cisco IAC eliminating code islands that become problematic when you upgrade to the next generation Cisco IAC edition.

To browse through the current cloud accelerators, go here. First time visitors will need to sign the register.

If you would like to learn more or comment, tweet us at: http://twitter.com/ciscoum

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Virtualization Comes to the Oracle user Community

Virtualizing Oracle Databases – The Time Has Come!

Overall, virtualization of IT applications and databases is quite pervasive.  Estimates from industry analysts show that some applications and databases have virtualization penetration rates of 80 to 90%.  Overall the estimates for datacenter virtualization range from 60 to 70%.  One curious exception is the rate of virtualization for Oracle Databases.  Some estimates put the Oracle Database virtualization rate below 20%.  The big question is why so low for Oracle Database?

While I have never seen any formal research documenting the reasons, ad-hoc discussions with many DBAs and Architects and other Oracle users indicates that some of the major reasons for their reluctance to virtualize include:

  • Fear of performance degradation
  • Concern over availability and stability
  • And an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” view

And for mission critical Oracle Databases those are valid concerns.  Any outage or performance degradation is costly.  Status quo is the safest approach.  But what I am hearing from customers and the Oracle community at large is that the time has come for virtualization.  The improvements in configuration flexibility, reduced deployment times, dramatically improved disaster recovery and cost savings are great motivators for virtualization by themselves. One of the early adopters for virtualizing and Oracle infrastructure was EMC. lets hear what EMC’s Chief Database Architect, Darryl Smith, has to say about the benefits of EMC’s virtualization efforts with EMC’s Oracle Infrastructure.

So EMC found great performance, improved availability and a reduction in database licenses all because of their move to virtualize their Oracle infrastructure. Here is more of Darryl talking about Oracle virtualization and the cloud.

EMC took the next logical step from initial virtualization and moved their Oracle infrastructure to a full cloud implementation with even more benefits thanks to the improved Oracle workload mobility.

EMC is a great example of why there appears to be a growing tide of Oracle users who are ready to ride the wave of virtaulization.  To learn more about EMC’s virtualization efforts and results, these two whitepapers on Cisco.com will provide a more complete overview of their journey:

EMC Transforms Their Oracle Infrastructure

EMC’s Journey to the Cloud

For more information on Cisco’s Oracle Solutions and how Cisco Unified Computing can accelerate your virtualization plans, please click here.

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