Interop Las Vegas 2012: Two Big Things To Know about Cisco Switching

Interop Las Vegas is next week. Over 100 sessions will take place, covering a wide range of IT challenges led by cloud, mobility and security. Padmasree Warrior, CTO, SVP Engineering & GM Enterprise Business  of Cisco, will deliver the first conference keynote speech titled “Cisco Innovation: In It to Win It” on Tuesday May 8. What else can you expect from Cisco, specifically from Cisco switching?

Before I get to that, I’ll share with you a recent conversation that I had with a Cisco customer.

Steven Song: We are collecting customer feedback on Cisco switching.
Cisco customer: Sure.
Steven Song: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, how do you rank Cisco switching?
Cisco customer: 6.
Steven Song: Can you please explain?
Cisco customer: Cisco switches are extremely stable. I put them in and they just run and run. They perform way beyond my expectations. I can do a lot of things with them, like segmenting the  networks for different user groups and controlling which business applications get higher priorities.

As this customer described, Cisco has built  the switches to last and to perform with the highest level of engineering excellence. When you deploy Cisco switches, you get two big things that you won’t find elsewhere:
– Rock solid network foundation
– Rich and intelligent network services

The Cisco network foundation gives you the scale, performance and resiliency that you need as cloud and mobility move more and more workloads and data traffic around your network. For example, are you thinking about Gigabit Wi-Fi or 802.11ac yet? All that traffic will come to your network for you to manage and support. Cisco switching can help you prepare for the exponential growth ahead of you.

The Cisco network services include security, application optimization and smart operations. These services provide you with tools and capabilities such as Cisco TrustSec, Medianet and Flexible Netflow. With them you get more information and visibility about what’s happening on your network. You can better support critical business applications and achieve much improved operational efficiency.

Drop by our Interop Cisco booth (#1127) to see the following switching technologies and to test drive the live demos:
– Campus Access: Catalyst 3750-X and 4500E Series Switches
– Campus Backbone: Catalyst 6500 and 4500-X Series Switches
– Network Virtualization: Multiple logical networks on a single physical infrastructure with Easy Virtual Networks (EVN)
– Cisco Universal Power Over Ethernet (Cisco UPOETM): 60 Watt power
– Medianet: Simplified video deployments

Cisco is executing on a bold plan to help you succeed as mobility, cloud and collaborations are changing the IT landscape. Your network enables you to meet your user expectations and to keep your business moving forward.

 See you at the show!

Final Thoughts on the Open Networking Summit

So, some closing thoughts on ONS.  I know its a bit late, but hey, when you’re out of the office for a few days, things pile up a bit–overall, I think the ONF folks did a fine job with the event.

As I look back at ONS, I am reminded of one of my favorite IT quotes, courtesy of Bill Gates:

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten

Long-term, I think SDN or the concepts it represents will certainly have a hand in shaping how we do networking a decade for now–how we get there and what that destination really looks like is a bit less certain.

First, I think we are early enough in the game that the technology is far from unsettled:

  • Most folks are shipping 1.0 code, either literally or figuratively, and I am betting there are unseen technologies in the wings that will help shape things and I am sure folks will find interesting ways to also repurpose existing technology
  • We can pretty much expect some wave of M&A to help shape the vendor and technology landscape
  • As I have noted before, there is a lot of dogma about what SDN is right now that is not helpful, but I also believe it will eventually fall by the wayside

Eventually the market will sort this stuff out, and a handful of organizations are in a position to drive their own solutions, but for regular folks, I think there is enough near-term uncertainty here that it will give people pause–both in terms of customer adoption as well as ecosystem investment.

Second, the use cases are not always compelling. Most of the folks you saw at ONS this year were either service providers or acted as service providers (i.e. university IT).  This is only natural, since, for these two groups, SDN is helping them do things they a) cannot currently do or b) do markedly better.  On the enterprise front, I still don’t see the killer app.  There are certainly some things on the horizon with potential that are related to security and on the campus edge, but, so far, I have only seen SDN as a way to do things differently, not necessarily better (at least for now).  To some degree, I think this ends up being a function of the maturity of your networking operating system.  For a fresh new switch vendor with limited R&D, the interesting dynamic is that the SDN movement allows you to outsource R&D back to you customers–which could become a bit of a double-edge sword for both vendor and customer.  Our perspective is a bit different.  While there is certainly the opportunity for our customers to customize their infrastructure, its also about making things easier to access and use. For example, one speaker referenced using OpenFlow to diagnose problems with video transmission, which I thought was a great example, but I also thought–hey, our customers can already use MediaTrace, so why re-invent the wheel?

Finally, I do not think the economic case is settled. The thing to bear in mind is that service providers operate their DCs as profit centers (its what they do), which is different from most enterprises, which operate their data centers as costs centers (support what they do).  This is an important distinction, because the it guides how organizations fund and invest in their IT infrastructure–for the former you optimize you data center to maximize revenue generation capability, for the latter, you optimize to minimize expense. If you are looking to drive revenue, the only hurdle is to show you can effectively monetize the investment–give me $1.00 and I will give you a $1.50 back in a meaningful period of time.  If you are looking to optimize for expenses, its a bit more challenging–while there is no inherent limit to how much revenue you can generate, this is a natural limit to how much money you can save (you cannot drive costs below 0).  Often, if you have sunk cost in infrastructure that is otherwise up and running well, the best course of action is to do nothing–I find that  if you are going to make an “invest-to-save” argument to a customer, you better have some solid, empirical data to back it up.  The reality is that all this SDN stuff might end up being amazingly cool and useful but not really do anything meaningful for TCO.  In recent history, both cloud and server virtualization were introduced with much heralded costs savings.  As we have gained experience with these technologies, we have found them quite useful, but the economic angle has not always played out as expected.

All this being said, I am hugely optimistic about the future–I think there are some cool things in store–both expected and unexpected. The best advice I can offer is to stay plugged into developments, but beware the unicorn factor. Use the same critical eye you would use to evaluate any other new technology and be clear on how it can tangibly contribute to your IT exploits.

Return on Big Data – How Workload Automation Plays a Key Role

A few weeks ago I participated in on a webinar panel
around Big Data and the return on that data.  I was joined by Ivan Chong, EVP from Informatica and Van Baltz, VP and CIO of Station Casinos,, where we discussed Van’s aggressive project to roll out a realtime big data system.  This  deployment , using Informatica Powercenter and the Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler was an impressive project that drove both a new architecture and critical changes to the people, processes and technologies.   Ivan used a great analogy around the exhaust from applications.   Nowadays, IT shops deploy and run many applications that run the real-time business for their companies.  All these applications produce exhaust, namely the data after all that work is done.  This data is very valuable.  It can tell a lot about your business, your customers and your execution to meet the corporate financials.

Cisco’s Tidal Enterprise Scheduler is a master at moving this data around and processing it so that the business IT users have the data they need to run a real-time business.

All of those endpoints in your business, whether they be slot machines or data sources from your business partners need to be managed and integrated from a data perspective.  As Ivan said,  it is not the biggest data that wins but the best data.  Having the right data in the right place at the right time with the right data quality is critical in making the right decisions in an enterprise.

Van also mentioned best practices for deploying a large datawarehousing project and what Return on Data means.

It is not just about the technology.  His list of best practices to ensure change is successful is very relevant toward datawarehouseing projects and workload automation projects:

  • Have town hall meetings to align everyone in the company with the strategic direction, key IT initiatives and specifics about the particular project.  Make sure people transparently see how the project, with their support, aligns with the business objectives.
  • Directors and Managers are the workhorses of strategic change.  They go out and evangelize in their group meetings and whenever they get the chance to link the project details with the high order business bits.
  • The implementation teams have daily huddles.  I really like this “Agile” approach.  Too often I have seen projects get delayed days and weeks over email thread nightmares.  Getting the entire team together around a project and focus efforts on what is needed until the next huddle helps focus everyone toward success
  • Finally, a little competition helps drive teams in the same direction.   I often call this management by embarrassment.  When you deploy an automation project or data warehouse initiative, it is good to see a little competition between departments or groups as shown in a scorecard.  Which business unit or application team has the most automation in place, which group had the best data quality?   No one wants to be behind in a CIO level scorecard.

Workload automation in the Cisco methodology:   Tidal Enterprise Scheduler value to Station Casinos’ business:

Who knew slots could be this high tech…

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So what do we *not* do in Cisco Data Center Services?

Recently I blogged on the rise of UCS and my own perspectives joining Cisco Data Center Services around the launch of Cisco UCS back in March 2009.  I then posed a quick poll on the Cisco Data Center Facebook page, with a number of options, asking which of these options did we in Cisco Data Center Services *not* offer to our customers today. Thanks to all who took the time to answer the poll.  So let’s look at the summary of our services I presented in my previous blog (diagram below), and let’s discuss what you said via the poll.

Cisco Data Center Services Portfolio Evolution 2008-2012

Cisco Data Center Services Portfolio Evolution 2008-2012

Looking at the Facebook Poll question – which for the record I captured in the following diagram …..

What do We *Not Do*? - Facebook poll results

What do We *Not Do*? – Facebook poll results

…. from this I created the pie chart below to show the distribution of answers — a larger spread than I expected to be honest.

Poll Results Spread

Poll Results Spread – only one is the correct answer!!!!!

Anyway, I hear you ask, “What is the answer”? I’ve used the following diagram to illustrate this.  In Cisco Data Center Services, we are not an outsourcer.  By this, I mean we do not offer to run your full data center, and take ownership for your assets as part of a long term contract.  So “Fully Outsourced Managed Data Center” is the one area of data center services in this poll question that we do not offer today.

The Answer!

The Answer!

Why not perhaps you ask?  Well, there are some companies out there — such as Accenture and CSC — who do this already very well.  They are major customers and partners of Cisco’s.  And many of our service provider customers also offer such services, very well, and are also Cisco customers too — huge customers of ours in many cases.  And unlike some of our equipment vendor competitors, such as our friends in Palo Alto, purveyors of the mythical “good enough” network, who do offer such services, we at Cisco don’t compete with our service provider customers!

This poll illustrates a challenge we have in Cisco Data Center Services, if I am honest — we have grown so fast, that some of you won’t realise what a breadth of data center services we offer.  Some areas are very specialist.  For example in Facilities Design, unlike our competitors who have made (small) acquisitions in this area, we chose to partner (as we often do in Cisco) with industry leaders CH2M HILL across EMEA for example.  And some areas — such as Data Center Operations Enhancement Services — are a relatively recent addition.  So I hope this article sheds some light on the wide breadth of expertise we can bring to bear to help our customers transform their data center — expertise that at least parallels and in areas most definitely exceeds that of competitors who have been in this marketplace for longer than we have.

To summarise then, thanks once again for reading my blog, and if you would like to know more about how we help customers transform their data centers, please have a read at my previous blogs and our Data Center Services site on

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Insiders Guide to Optimization at Interop

This weekend my little sis and I re-watched Best in Show. This 2000 gem from Christopher Guest is a gentle mocumentary of the personalities you’d find at a dog show. We got some laughs as we watched the dialog between the commentators – one who was supposed to be quite knowledgeable on dogs, and one who was clueless and said things like:

Now tell me, which one of these dogs would you want to have as your wide receiver on your football team? 

I especially liked the above because it is pretty random and the response from the other commentator was great. I thought about it this morning since the NFL draft is tonight (go Niners!) and was thinking about Best In Show overall since we have our own competition coming up in a few weeks.

If you heard the buzz from Cisco Partner Central last week you know that in the next few weeks we’re launching [REDACTED]. Part of that launch will be Cisco AppNav, a cool feature that I’m excited to say is a finalist for the Best of Interop: Performance Optimization award.

While I can’t tell you too much about it here, we can say that Cisco AppNav is a virtualization technology that enables customers to deliver high performance applications at scale from the cloud or enterprise data center. IT can use AppNav to address performance challenges created by BYOD, Cloud, and Virtual Desktops. In the next several weeks, Cisco will announce additional details about AppNav.

Going to Interop? Here Is Your Guide!

If you plan to attend Interop, visit the Cisco booth #1127 and ask about AppNav for a sneak preview!  You’ll also want to check out the panel session “Breakthroughs in Network and Application Optimization” hosted by Dr. Jim Metzler with Cisco’s own Kumar Ramachandran, Director of Product Management.  If you’ve seen Jim give talks before, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.  He is quite smart, funny, and engaging.  And luckily, Kumar is equally smart, funny, and engaging, with the added bonus that he might preview AppNav during the session.  The session is near the beginning of Interop on Tuesday, May 8 at 3:45pm in Lagoon J.

If you’re planning your schedule for Interop, may I suggest you attend the following highlights of Interop:


May 8

Keynote with Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTO: In It To Win It!
    • 8:30 AM
The Guide to Holistic BYOD Avoid turning “Bring Your Own Device” into “Bring Your Own Disaster.” Learn about the critical steps for planning a successful BYOD design and implementation
    • 10:15 AM
Three Ways to Make Your Enterprise Branch-WAN Network Cloud Intelligent  Join Cisco to hear how a Cloud Intelligent Network can extend your Data Center to deliver optimized, reliable, and secure cloud solutions
Get Your Network Cloud-Ready (One of two)  A new approach is needed. Join Cisco to hear how a Cloud Intelligent Network can extend your Data Center to deliver optimized, reliable, and secure cloud solutions. [Short Session]
    • 1 PM
    • Booth #1127
Breakthroughs in Network and Application Optimization Discusses some of the most promising new developments relative to optimizing network & application performance.
    • 3:45 PM
    • Lagoon J
    • With Jim Metzler & Kumar Ramachandran


May 9

Carrier Cloud Forum ½ day workshop will provide high-quality education and peer-to-peer interaction on building a cloud infrastructure that is manageable and billable, ensuring high-performance security and service quality to meet SLA demands, recognizing best practices for packaging and monetizing XaaS services and applications, and learning what works and what does not for vertical industry customization.
    • 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM 
    • Lagoon D
    • Incl. Speaker Pat Adamiak, Sr. Director, Cloud Solutions Marketing, Cisco
Get Your Network Cloud-Ready
    • 12:30 PM
    • Booth #1127
What Does it Take in the Network to Support the Creation and Migration of VMs? It can take days to manually configure parameters such as QoS settings and ACLs in order to support the dynamic movement of VMs. The panelists in this session will identify the techniques such as VXLAN that you can implement to seamlessly move VMs between servers.
    • 3:15 PM
    • Lagoon J
    • Jim Metzler
    • Prashant Gandhi, Senior Director, Service Access Virtualization Technical Group, Cisco


May 10

How BYOD is Driving Change in the Campus Network The drivers of change in the campus network include the requirement to support a significant increase in video traffic, the need to support the movement of virtual machines within the campus data center and the burgeoning movement to bring your own device (BYOD). The panelists in this session will discuss technologies and design options that you can use to redesign your campus LANs.
    • 11:30 AM
    • Lagoon J
    • Jim Metzler
    • Joel Connover

Not Going?

Of course, if you aren’t attending Interop you can still hear Jim’s engaging style by watching a recording of a webinar he did with us recently, All Systems Optimized: Preparing Your Network for Virtualization and BYOD or register for his next webinar on May 15, All Systems Optimized II: How IT Can Respond To Rapidly Changing Application Needs.

Finally, given the quote at the top, I’ve been thinking of the Networks / Football analogy.  Of course, the ISR G2 routers would be the star Quarterback.  For our WAN Optimization solution, WAAS, we have a choice between three of the traditionally fastest positions on the team who support the QB:

Your browser does not support JavaScript, therefore the poll can not be rendered.

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Begin your Journey to the Cloud with Cisco’s Cloud Starter Edition

As Jason Schroedl  announced, Cisco’s Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit, in conjunction with the Unified Computing System has just announced a solution for customers of UCS and vCenter that want a Cloud Automation system that can perform both Physical and Virtual server provisioning.  It is called the starter edition for a reason.  We find that many customers are not sure what they want from their cloud and are looking for a great place to start.   This is not what I call the “starship enterprise” of clouds.  It is the first step that a company will take on their cloud journey.

See my previous blog for some key concepts of success cloud deployments: and on my cloud owner manifesto for successful cloud builders: .

Let’s look at typical cloud deployments.  I observe that just about every cloud deployment should go through a phase like Cisco’s Starter Edition to ensure their success.  Generally it is a good idea to delay as many bells and whistles to the second phase of their deployment.   This way the IT shop and organization can acclimate to the new operating model.  This cuts across people, processes and technology.  For smaller IT shops the Starter Edition and some future integration points are all they need to run their private cloud.  For larger IT shops they will need larger and more comprehensive “edition” as their second and follow on phase.  Cisco’s Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit has exactly that model.

We call this the crawl, walk, run, sprint model for cloud deployments.  Why is the Journey so important?  Interestingly, another vendor has recently come out with a similar style product.  Many think that deploying a cloud is a simple project.  It is anything but that.  Self service, physical and virtual catalogs, automated provisioning, lifecycle management, and administration are difficult things to get correct.  This is why the Starter Edition is so key to get adoption of private clouds within the enterprise.  There are 27 pre-built services and close to 90 pre-built orchestration workflows.  You can deploy an unlimited number of server templates, and UCS Service Profiles for Physical Provisioning.  Cisco UCS is indeed a better platform for provisioning!

Administration is a key breakthrough for the Intelligent Automation Solution.  With the Starter Edition we have added two new roles to the Cisco Cloud Portal solution that cover both cloud and organizational administrators.   The solution not only has the end user services but ALSO administrator screens and console.  This makes it lower cost to own, manage, and run.  Exactly what you want when you start.  Something that will last.

Start your enterprise private cloud with the Cisco Intelligent Automaton for Cloud Starter Edition and get into production on UCS and show the value of the cloud to your customers quickly.

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My First Cloud: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – Starter Edition

Introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud — Starter Edition. Or as I like to call it, My First Cloud.

I’ve written in the past of cloud being journey to a new operational model and thus makes demand on the technology, process and organizational model.  It changes the relationship between the provider and the consumer of a service.

This operational model is one with resource pools available on demand, metered, pay as you use.  The reality for many enterprises is this is aspirational and not a realistic first step.

Today, he resource pools are funded by department, there’s no automation or self-service to meet the on-demand self-service aspect of cloud.

And there’s lots of fears beyond security; like the fear of rampant waste and capacity outages.

There’s also the issue of complexity and where will the skills to do service design and automation will come from? Global 2000 companies can easily afford big ticket consulting engagements, but smaller ones can’t.

The channel is key to serve the rest of the market but where are the channel partners for cloud?

So complexity and lack of expertise, in our view, were seriously hindering the adoption of cloud operations.

Our response is the first in a series of products to bring cloud operations capabilities to different market segments.  For example, the needs of a mid-size organization are very different than the needs of global enterprise and different again from a service provider.

Even in service provider, there are huge differences in operations and scale between traditional managed hosting provider, an outsourcer, a webscale company and a national telco or network provider.

So the way to simplify delivery for midsize business,  enterprise departments or smaller managed hosting provider is to embed an operational model, pre-packaged automation and a set of competent channel partners that can quickly and inexpensively turn on your first cloud at a reasonable price.

This is what Intelligent Automation Starter Edition represents: a simple, inexpensive way to get to a customer’s first cloud.

Customer’s can use it to learn how to operate the first basic offering; also, it’s upgradeable to Cisco’s Intelligent Automation — Standard Edition when the customer  needs additional, more sophisticated service offering

I recommend start with a video demo.  Information page is here.

Jason wrote about it, so head there as well

With the starter edition, we’re changing the game in cloud management with new innovations:

  • More out-of-the-box functionality: With the starter edition, we offer new product capabilities and deeper integration with UCS for even greater IT agility – for example, leveraging service profiles to provision and repurpose physical server blades as quickly as virtual machines. We also provide new administrative console functionality and other features to improve capacity management.
  • Roadmap for cloud: Customers can deploy simple IaaS use cases as a starting point – and then leverage this foundation to configure new cloud services, integrate with third-party systems, and support a heterogeneous infrastructure environment. We provide an upgrade path to take advantage of the full breadth of our Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution, ensuring our customers’ success as they grow their private cloud and move to hybrid cloud over time.
  • New channel program for partners: We introduced starter edition to our partners at the annual Cisco Partner Summit last week, along with a new Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) program. From Australia to South Africa, our partners are building clouds with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – and they are seeing the results as they grow their cloud business. With the new ATP program for the starter edition, we’re helping our partners to accelerate their customers’ journey to the cloud.

  • Announcing the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition

    Let’s face it, we live in an on-demand economy. As consumers, we expect instant gratification – whether booking a plane ticket online or downloading an app. And now that need for speed applies to IT infrastructure.

    It’s what makes public cloud computing so compelling: users want self-service and IT resources delivered within minutes. But the legacy infrastructure and management systems in most internal IT departments weren’t designed for this new on-demand operating model.

    If you’ve ever played Jenga, you know what happens when you remove the wrong block too quickly; it falls apart. That same complexity and fragility slows down most IT teams and their existing infrastructure: they have dozens of systems that don’t necessarily work all that well together. And when users request IT infrastructure resources, the end-to-end cycle time often takes several weeks.

    At Cisco, we’re focused on helping our customers transition to a new IT-as-a-Service model with our Unified Data Center solutions while preserving their investment in existing systems. And that’s why I’m excited to announce a new product in our Unified Management software portfolio: Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition.

    When I talk to IT executives, their first priority is to meet their users’ need for speed. Most plan to include public cloud services in a hybrid cloud model over time – but they want to start with the security, governance, and control of a private cloud. With the new starter edition of our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution, we’re making it easier for IT organizations to take the first steps on this journey to cloud computing.

    The starter edition is a cloud management and automation software solution designed for accelerated deployment on our Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). We provide a self-service portal with orchestration and lifecycle management for virtual or physical servers – packaged with pre-built portal content, automation workflows, and integrations for Cisco UCS and VMware environments in a deployment-ready solution.

    Ultimately, we’re helping our customers address the need for speed:

    • On-demand IT. Our simple and unified portal interface makes it easy to request IT services, while our orchestration engine automates provisioning of both virtual machines and bare metal physical servers. The end-to-end cycle time for IT infrastructure is reduced from weeks to minutes.
    • Faster time to cloud. The simplicity of starter edition, together with pre-built content, enables accelerated cloud deployments on UCS. But it’s also configurable and extensible. Customers can get up and running quickly with infrastructure-as-a-service for basic use cases like development and testing, with an upgrade path and roadmap to support their longer-term cloud journey.

    To see how it works, watch this brief product demo:

    You may notice that the solution looks similar to the internal deployment of Cisco’s own internal private cloud, CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services). And it is.

    That’s because it’s the same self-service portal and orchestration software that Cisco IT deployed in its initial CITEIS ‘Express’ deployment – now you can quickly deploy that capability and more. We’ve taken the learnings from Cisco IT as well as our other Intelligent Automation for Cloud customers and packaged it into the new starter edition.

    With the starter edition, we’re changing the game in cloud management with new innovations:

    • More out-of-the-box functionality: With the starter edition, we offer new product capabilities and deeper integration with UCS for even greater IT agility – for example, leveraging service profiles to provision and repurpose physical server blades as quickly as virtual machines. We also provide new administrative console functionality and other features to improve capacity management.
    • Roadmap for cloud: Customers can deploy simple IaaS use cases as a starting point – and then leverage this foundation to configure new cloud services, integrate with third-party systems, and support a heterogeneous infrastructure environment. We provide an upgrade path to take advantage of the full breadth of our Intelligent Automation for Cloud solution, ensuring our customers’ success as they grow their private cloud and move to hybrid cloud over time.
    • New channel program for partners: We introduced starter edition to our partners at the annual Cisco Partner Summit last week, along with a new Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) program. From Australia to South Africa, our partners are building clouds with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud – and they are seeing the results as they grow their cloud business. With the new ATP program for the starter edition, we’re helping our partners to accelerate their customers’ journey to the cloud.

    As they embark on this cloud journey, our partners and customers learn how to crawl first – and then over time we help them to walk, run, and even sprint. But as the father of a 10-month-old boy, I know for a fact that you can crawl pretty darn fast. Our starter edition delivers on the need for speed.

    So if you want to learn more about the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition, you’ll find the data sheet and other info at

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    Why are you Using Legacy and Proprietary Networks for your Factory Floor?

    These days you hear a lot about convergence. Networking, compute, and storage technologies are converging in the data center. Wired and wireless networks are converging in campus networks. These converging technologies are being driven by a desire to make IT infrastructure more flexible and responsive to changing business and employee needs, and to use IT as a competitive advantage to deliver products and services faster to the marketplace.

    What has this got to do with industrial networks?

    Industrial networks have been held back from realizing the full promise of the network because they currently rely on a mix of legacy and proprietary protocols that make it difficult to connect industrial networks to corporate networks seamlessly. When you don’t have seamless connectivity between corporate and industrial networks, it becomes very hard to use enterprise applications running on corporate networks to drive the factory systems running on industrial networks, or to get real-time visibility of plant floor processes for corporate IT systems. You also end up dealing with all the complexity that comes from managing multiple networks.

    Cisco can help our customers in manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, transportation, and energy companies extend the benefits of standardized, Ethernet-based switching from their corporate networks to their industrial networks, and gain real-time visibility into plant floor operations. According to the Aberdeen Group, leading companies are already adopting these kinds of converged networking methodologies to help:

    • Improve industrial network uptime
    • Reduce total cost of ownership
    • Increase operating margin

    Therefore, to extend the range of products available for our customers to further enable implementation of this networking convergence, today Cisco announced the Industrial Ethernet 2000 Series Switches at Hannover Messe show in Germany. IE 2000 switches extend the benefits of Catalyst and IOS technologies that have been driving success for our enterprise customers to industrial networks. Customers can expect to see the same intelligent network services on their industrial networks that they are used to on their corporate networks. The video below summarizes how IE 2000 Series Switches deliver superior security, video and voice services to industrial networks

    IE 2000 Series Switches expand Cisco’s family of Industrial Ethernet switches – we now have a portfolio of fixed, modular and rack-mountable platforms that can address a wide range of deployment scenarios in industrial networks. All these switches run the proven Cisco IOS software. They deliver integrated security, deterministic resiliency, and support for industry-specific protocols to help you get started on the path of consolidating your industrial and corporate networks into one network. Here is a brief summary of Cisco’s Industrial Ethernet portfolio:

    Cisco’s broad portfolio of Industrial Ethernet switches, and partnerships with industry leaders such as Rockwell give you the tools you need to start realizing the benefits of converged industrial and corporate networks.

    What are some of the challenges you are facing in your industrial networks? Does Cisco’s Industrial Ethernet Switching portfolio help you address some of those challenges?

    Learn more:
    Cisco IE 2000 Series Switches:
    Cisco IE 3000 Series Switches: IE 3010 Series Switches:
    Ethernet-to-the-Factory Solution:

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    Build and they will come…

    “If you build it, they will come” is one of those cliches that have been proved wrong over and over again throughout history. Cities, railway systems, buildings, airports, luxury residents and other such structures have been built, but barely or ever used. There are many interesting reasons for such failures — cost, location, convenience, surrounding dependencies to name a few, but all of these boiled down to some aspects of planning or lack thereof.

    It is always fun to build something, say for example, a new Cloud infrastructure. Ok, I am sure you saw this Cloud association coming ! With all the technology and tools available to us, building a Cloud environment to meet our business needs is a challenging but interesting venture. Once this infrastructure is built, now what ? It is one thing to have a kick-”donkey synonym” state-of-the-art Cloud Data Center, but a whole different ball game to actually put users on it ! This is what I want to focus on, the “..they will come” part.

    For most enterprise environments applications and data have evolved over time and it’s fair to state that they have a very complex dependency model. At the same time, the network, servers, storage and other Data Center elements have also evolved. Cloud service providers, regardless of what flavor of Cloud (Private/Public/XaaS), will have to think about how to interface the new Cloud environment with existing, often legacy environments.

    Migrating and on-boarding tenants and applications from an existing system to new Cloud environment is not an easy process. If this is not thought through and diligently planned, then you run the risk of a Cloud environment under-utilized or idle.

    The assumption here is you have a multi-tenant enabled Cloud infrastructure with well defined service offerings that map back to Cloud elements. There could be several on-boarding scenarios but the most common ones are:
    – new tenants with new workloads, fully sustained within the Cloud infrastructure
    – current consumers of IT services (apps & users) being migrated to the Cloud infrastructure

    In either case perimeter connectivity is going to be important — how are these consumers going to be accessing the Cloud resources. Figure 1 shows a foundation approach which takes into consideration inter and intra Data Center connectivity. There are many options here both for Layer 2 and Layer 3 depending on the requirements.

    Figure 1

    This interface into current or extended infrastructure provides the foundation for migration and on-boarding different types of workloads. Documenting all aspects of “what” and “how” and maintaining your attention in this blog is going to be impossible as the methodology varies between different environments. Figure 2 below shows some of the events that need to happen and the decision points on one of the three migration strategies — forklift, staged and parallel.

    Figure 2

    Application and data migration has a dependency on the underlying consumer model and the various service offerings. Infrastructure connectivity and resource planning has a critical impact to how the users of the Cloud resources will communicate with other systems:
    – Network connectivity across all application/user touch-points have to be established
    – Resource planning across all technology stacks to ensure scalability
    – Compute resources have to be meticulously allocated ensuring elasticity characteristics of Cloud
    – Data migration across storage networks have to be facilitated to ensure data integrity
    – All common elements driving traffic policies like the firewalls and load-balancers must have appropriate rules to allow traffic
    – Critical application common services like DNS, authentication, DHCP, license servers, etc. must be accounted for
    – Operations elements across new and current systems must be aligned both from process and management perspectives
    – and this list goes on and on into much more details of everything we talked about

    Obviously there is much more to this discussion than what I have covered. There are technical and non-technical aspects of project planning, establishing move groups, operations analysis, high availability — BC/DR, SLAs, service assurance, testing and validation, facilities readiness, scheduling, etc. that also needs to be considered.

    Cloud projects are very visible. Failed Cloud projects (and they do happen) are even more visible and most likely are resume generating events ! Enterprises build Private Cloud infrastructure with the hopes that it will drive IT service adoption across it’s business units, operating companies or departments — which in the short term, will shape into revenue streams and further business opportunities. The first issue in a production Cloud environment is visible enough to disrupt business, consumer confidence and pose a threat to future potential business. This is more visible in Public Cloud scenarios but it’s far more common than what we think in Private Cloud deployments. Bottom line, proper planning is not only critical in the Cloud build process, but also in how to move data into the Cloud planning.

    Ok, now for my shameless plug. If you are currently involved in a Cloud project and attending Cisco Live 2012, in San Diego, then please do check out two sessions my colleague Kannan and myself are doing. We hope to walk though designing/deploying a Cloud solutions and then what we need to think about to move workloads to this Cloud environment. The session IDs are:
    BRKDCT-2251: Designing and Deploying Enterprise Cloud Solutions
    BRKDCT-3252: An Infrastructure Approach to On-boarding and Migration to a Cloud Environment

    In summary, what I am trying to say here is, establish a solid migration and on-boarding methodology in parallel to building your Cloud solutions and they WILL come to the Cloud !

    By the way, would love to hear about your experiences on this topic, the good, bad and the ugly !

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