A Guest Blog by Partner Rick Heiges of Scalability Experts: Rick is a SQL Server Microsoft MVP and Senior Solutions Architect. He primarily works with Enterprise customers on their Data Platform strategies. Rick is also very involved in the SQL Server Community primarily through PASS and events such as the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, and 24 Hours of PASS. His tenure on the PASS Board of Directors saw the annual Summit triple in size from 2003 to 2011. You can find his blog at www.sqlblog.com.
So far, it has been another great week here at the PASS Summit 2014, SQL Server’s largest annual user and partner conference. With yesterday’s keynote address, there is still very much a focus on getting to the cloud and new investments in cloud technology in general. Microsoft seems to be extending its data collection and storage technologies in the cloud and also on-prem. One of the coolest features talked about was the concept of a “stretch tables” where a table that lives on your on-prem SQL Server can be “stretched” on to tables in SQL Azure Databases. The data may be shared so that the “hot” data can stay local and the “cold” data would live in the cloud. There were some other great demos around using the Kinect device to create a heat map of customer activity in a physical store (similar to what people linger and search for when shopping online). You can watch the PASS Summit 2014 Keynote here on PASStv.
As a Senior Solutions Architect with Scalability Experts, I work with large enterprise customers (Fortune 500 type) on a regular basis. There is more and more interest about leveraging the Public Cloud for some workloads and taking advantage of “on-prem” resources in a cloud-like way. This means deploying your internal resources in a similar way – for example via Cisco’s Microsoft Fast Track certified FlexPod or VSPEX integrated infrastructure solutions -- that public cloud resources are deployed with a similar chargeback (or ‘show back’) model and automating the self-service deployment of infrastructure, and the monitoring of the entire stack.
One of the things that I really like about Microsoft’s products is a focus on ease of use, tight integration, and low TCO. This is important to a lot of the customers that I interact with. This is why I have seen a surge in Cisco UCS products in my customer base of the past few years. Cisco has a similar goal to keep things simple and TCO low – read this Total Economic Impact report from Forrester on UCS ROI/TCO. Cisco also provides Management Pack plug-ins to Microsoft’s System Center suite for tight integration so that you can manage the entire stack (Hardware, Hypervisor, Application, and even Public Cloud) with a single tool. It is great to see how this partnership between Microsoft and Cisco can be beneficial to the customers that I work with.
Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 also brings “In-Memory” Technology to OLTP in a cost-effective manner by not forcing a complete rewrite of the application. In a recent Cisco UCS on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 case study, Progressive Insurance was able to take advantage of this technology to further its strategy of its competitive advantage -- ease of use.
Eventually, I see the Public Cloud taking on a more “primary” role in the future. Similar to the “Everything on a VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra, I see an “Everything on a Public Cloud VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra on the long-term horizon. Until then, the Hybrid Cloud will be the default stance for many large enterprises.
Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in Washington D.C. we entered into a new phase of our Microsoft relationship. Together Cisco and Microsoft announced a multi-year, worldwide sales and channel program focused on driving infrastructure solutions for Server Migration, Private Cloud, and SQL Server engagements. Based on key technologies such as UCS, Nexus, Hyper-V, and Windows Server 2012 R2 these solutions help to enable I.T. organizations to radically improve their I.T. effectiveness while improving their business outcomes.
At Cisco we believe our foundational technologies -- with UCS as the compute platform, Nexus as the switching platform, and with UCS Manager and System Center management integration – provide customers an optimal infrastructure for their Microsoft Windows Server workloads of SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, and Cloud. Our industry leading UCS integrated infrastructure solutions combined with storage from EMC or NetApp, delivers an even more robust end-to-end value proposition via our FlexPod or VSPEX offerings to our customers. These solutions position our customers well on their respective journeys to the cloud. You’ve read my thoughts here; but let’s hear from Microsoft and their comments on Cisco, Microsoft, our partnership, and value to our joint customers:
We have focused heavily on infrastructure solutions for the Microsoft ecosystem over the past ~2 years and now that our UCS integrated infrastructure architectures are proven we will be putting more emphasis on discrete Microsoft workload solutions. Our initial focus will be on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and how UCS and its differentiated features, such as Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect, deliver improved performance, availability, and scalability. Satinder Sethi, Vice President of UCS Engineering, details out the benefits of UCS and SQL Server 2014 in this video:
The solutions we deliver to our customers, whether they be private or hybrid cloud, workload or infrastructure focused, are architected and engineered by Cisco, and certified for the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program as well as certified for the Microsoft Fast Track program. This delivers more value for customers as the prescriptive guidance in each solution offering enables customers to accelerate their deployments with lower risk.
If you happen to be at WPC 2014, please stop by the Cisco booth #801 to speak with our Experts; see things hands on; and simply learn a bit more. You can also read more about Cisco’s channel programs for the Microsoft ecosystem in Cisco VP Denny Trevett’s blog. Finally, please feel free to visit www.cisco.com/go/microsoft.
Recently at our Cisco Live user event, I had the opportunity to talk to many IT organizations about managing and maintaining their data center environment, and the common theme I heard time and again was “how do I get the most value for my existing data center investments?”
It became evident that many IT organizations didn’t build out their data center strategy with an end-to-end hardware and software strategy, but rather purchased numerous point products along the way and are trying to manage their environments as efficiently as possible on top of heterogeneous hardware and multiple element managers.
The good news is that Cisco’s UCS Director can manage their end-to-end infrastructure including multiple element managers and heterogeneous systems – across compute, storage, network, and hypervisor – from a single pane of glass. And if they’re deploying integrated infrastructure systems like Vblock Systems, FlexPod, or VSPEX, the out-of-the-box support provided by Cisco UCS Director ensures faster provisioning processes, greater operational efficiency, and lower costs.
As evidenced in some of our recent case studies below – UCS Director is providing massive financial and time savings through unified infrastructure automation. Here are some of the things these three customers are saying about the benefits they’ve experienced with UCS Director:
“The effects of Cisco UCS Director have been enormous. Teams spend half as much time deploying environments. NESIC looked at other options for automated management tools for virtual environments, but only Cisco UCS Director could manage both virtual and physical environments.”
Head of the cloud architecture department
NEC Networks & System
What is integrated infrastructure? Major analysts firms differ slightly on the taxonomy and makeup of the various integrated systems that comprise this market segment. However, they do agree that these systems include a combination of servers, networking, storage systems, and management. Cisco realized that bringing together industry and market leading technologies would help accelerate IT infrastructure deployment, lower design costs, simplify management, and enable high levels of utilization. Integrated infrastructures offer the foundation for private cloud deployments, virtual desktop solutions, and enterprise applications.
Everyone agrees that the integrated infrastructure market is booming and that Cisco is a core vendor in this market segment with leading integrated infrastructures built on top of Cisco UCS and Cisco Nexus. IDC believes this market is going to grow at greater than 30% for the next few years to more than $14B in 2017. Today, Cisco UCS and Cisco Nexus participate in the top three Integrated Infrastructures –FlexPod Solutions with NetApp, Vblock Systems with VCE, and EMC VSPEX. FlexPod and Vblock have captured more than 42% of the market and utilize Cisco UCS and Nexus exclusively.
In addition, Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Select and Nimble Storage SmartStack also chose to build integrated infrastructure solutions with Cisco UCS servers and Cisco Nexus switches. If you add up the numbers from IDC, Cisco participates in integrated infrastructures that account for roughly 69% of the market from a revenue perspective. Very impressive!
It is also impressive that just five years ago we announced Cisco UCS and it is now the #1 provider of x86 Blade Servers in the Americas and #2 World Wide (according to the most recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker -- May 2014). Cisco UCS has delivered some ground breaking technology. The policy-based Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect technology changed how we connected, managed, and provisioned servers. Cisco continues to drive this strategy forward with Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), offering comprehensive control of a much broader set of data center infrastructure that is oriented to the application environment. FlexPod, Vblock Systems, and Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX plan to integrate Cisco ACI with Cisco UCS Director to accelerate application delivery and streamline operations. Both NetApp and VCE recently announced they will also integrate Cisco’s Intercloud Fabric with FlexPod and Vblock Systems, enabling the management of cloud-enabled workloads across heterogeneous environments.
This rapid rate of customer adoption for Cisco UCS and integrated infrastructures enabled by Cisco is evidence that real innovation can deliver IT infrastructure that transforms the data center. For more information on integrated infrastructures enabled by Cisco please check out this new white paper.