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It’s A Great Time for Open Source and Cisco UCS Customers

Witnessing the advent and momentum of Open Source into the broader enterprise, and “the mainstream” Data Center, has been incredible.  Many will look back and recall a time when Open Source was met first with a look of confusion, and following not too far behind, a reaction of fear.  With that, consider how far we’ve evolved.

Taking a snapshot over the past few months, I reflect on some of the highlights from a Data Center and Cisco UCS perspective.

The Open Source Business Conference held not too long ago, centered the conversation around previously uncommon mates.  “Open Source” and “Business” used in the same sentence once stirred some emotion, though not today.  The notion now fuels curiosity and enablement, and both were alive and well in San Francisco with OSBC.  Leaders in the space, spanning established household Data Center vendors were well represented in breakout sessions and thought provoking topics on the show floor, alongside the “up and coming” vendors in Open Source.  Linux granddaddies Red Hat and SUSE also offered the Enterprise Linux perspective, with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst taking the stage on the conference’s opening morning.  Whitehurst acknowledged the event’s commendable 10th anniversary, and touted the innovation and collaborative successes of Open Source, while reflecting on Red Hat’s significance and market leadership.  SUSE kept the Enterprise Linux subject current, presenting SUSE’s role in Big Data workloads, where attendees may have pondered “What would Big Data look like, and be today, without the success and progress of the Open Source movement?”

An “open cloud” panel featuring several notable figures in Open Source leadership for cloud infrastructure, including Marten Mickos of Eucalyptus Systems and Joshua McKenty of Piston Cloud, shared insight on how today’s generation of Open Source leaders are shaping the future of cloud software stacks, infrastructure, and API (read: interoperability).  This proved to be a fascinating discussion on project governance, expectations of Open Source, and how customers leverage Open Source to deliver the applications of tomorrow.

Open Source @Cisco

Cisco Open Source Days provide an opportunity to share, learn and grow.  Cisco engineers and product teams descend on the San Jose campus packed with an agenda to share knowledge and best practices, new developments in the community, exchange ideas and share successes, and inspire new ways of delivering software and products.  This year featured a cornucopia of topics that would make any card-carrying Open Source geek blush.  Typically there are multiple tracks and this year included Big Data and Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Everything and a few select topics in the Networking and Data Center interest areas.  Cisco teams have an incredible opportunity to learn and collaborate, which ultimately benefit the Open Source community and our customers.  Attendees enjoyed thought provoking and engaging presentations, including appearances by Chris Wright from Red Hat, and Troy Toman from Rackspace within the Cloud track, as well, our very own OpenStack leaders within Cisco.  Overall there were great takeaways on collaboration and innovation, project participation and furthering common goals through upstream contribution, and solving market problems through emphasis on differentiation rather than upstream code nomination.  Another memorable moment, I personally enjoyed Chris Wright’s comical reference to the IFC television comedy, “Portlandia”, referring to the popularity of API’s with “Put an API on it”.  :-)

Open Source in the Cisco UCS powered Data Center

One of the most exciting aspects in my role revolves around connecting Open Source innovations with Cisco’s UCS x86 based platforms.  Software and API enable many integration use cases most people are not used to expect from server and infrastructure platforms.  “Software Defined” is used quite liberally these days, with ” Software Defined __Fill_In_The_Blank__ ” found where it probably shouldn’t be.  I digress, Open Source is at the core of these “Software Defined” possibilities, enabling vendor agnostic API structures and interfaces as an alternative to traditionally proprietary closed-configuration products.

The conversation with customers today is less “Oh, Cisco makes servers?” and more about, “Help me learn more about your software integration capability in my Data Center infrastructure.”  Once customers deploy UCS, they quickly realize the efficiencies and power derived by the Cisco UCS Service Profile, and the level of control and manageability not available with other solutions.  For Data Center management requiring a view into their systems’ availability, the UCS XML API provides that ability, where the customer’s software may retrieve, configure and automate infrastructure that previously required manual intervention.  We truly feel this enables a unique “Software Defined Infrastructure” way of managing applications, availability and user workloads through software, previously not seen without custom hardware and software integration.

It’s an exciting time for Open Source, and for computing platforms like Cisco UCS which provide an open and extensible ability to deliver on business demands of tomorrow.  Exciting times are definitely ahead as customers increasingly adopt Open Source, its flexibility, advances, and innovations, into the broader enterprise and mainstream computing spaces.

How far have we come?  Further reading: “From subversive to mainstream: Looking back on 18 years with Linux

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Cisco Unified Computing XML API with Curl and xmlstarlet

February 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm PST

One of my favorite books is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, I’ve read it and reread it many times and each time I read it I get something new out of it.  With so many good books out there it seems silly to reread a book, especially a very long book. I think what it is, is that the story is so good, the characters so compelling that I don’t want to leave them and when I’m finished with the book I miss them.  Fortunately the book was made into a mini-series that I enjoyed and brought a nice visualization of the story.  I also think the mini-series may have attracted a new set of readers in the viewing audience.

New audiences come with new methods of distribution for the same, similar or different presentation of an already published work.  With the intent to reach a new audience I am republishing a UCS XML API focused blog from another blog site on Cisco Developer Network UCS Section.  I wrote this blog in April 2010, but the methods utilized seemed to flow from my prior entries on this site.The previously published blog has references to other blogs on the on the Cisco Developer Network site in the Cisco UCS section.

The previous blog…

Last time I wrote about using telnet to connect to the UCS Manager XML API as a way to introduce the API and show it’s lack of complexity. Now I don’t expect anyone to write an application that uses telnet to manage a UCS system, I just wanted to get across that if text, XML structured text, can be pushed across an open port to the listening API process on the UCS then it doesn’t matter how the push is done.

However telnet is not very practical, so I thought I would write about curl and xmlstarlet (xmlstarlet referred to as xml in this entry). curl is used to handle the request and response cycle with the UCS and xml is used to process the XML response. In some of my early scripts I used sed and awk to “parse” the output. I say parse but it was more pattern matching; by the way sed and awk are great tools, but maybe I’m partial to them because I’ve been around for a while. The reason I started with curl, sed and awk was not because I lacked XML experience but because I wanted to appeal to the administrators out there and show that XML experience, while beneficial, is not specifically needed.

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