PacketPushers @ CiscoLive

So, if you are a networking geek of any sort, you should be listening to PacketPushers–for both the education and the sheer entertainment value.  This year, we tried something a little different with the PacketPushers team and had them join us onsite at CiscoLive.  Below are six of the podcasts they produced for us:

  • PQ Show 002 – Cisco Cloud Services Router With Prashant Shenoy
  • PQ Show 003 – Cisco onePK With Richard Pruss
  • PQ Show 004 – Catalyst 4500X and 4500E
  • PQ Show 005 – Cisco Nexus Updates With Ron Fuller
  • PQ Show 006 – Nexus 1000V Update With Han Yang
  • Show 107 – Cisco Software Defined Networking Strategy With Omar Sultan

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How Agile is your Cloud? (Part 2 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Is your organization moving to a cloud model through a well thought out RFP with at least 40 requirements?  May I suggest that you rethink this model.   The RFP approach with a committee generated wish list may work in some situations, or even be required, but in general the IT shops that really differentiate themselves go Agile for the cloud.  What does that mean?

In our business unit we have turned the development of our Cloud Automation platform:  Intelligent Automation for Cloud to an Agile development methodology and process.   This means when I ask if we will have a certain feature in our 3.1 version, I get an unexpected answer:  we won’t know until close to the ship date.  Going agile means we work off a backlog of user stories versus a hard and fast set of features that MUST be in the release.  We can ship at anytime with the right methodologies in place.

This approach also works for our customers in building their clouds with our software stack.  Agile cloud builders have a set of cloud user stories that they are implementing and may release the updated version of the cloud functionality every quarter, or even every 2-3 weeks.   When relaying this approach that one of our customers is taking to another customer considering our solution, I could see a twinkle in his eye as he said:  I bet that could really help differentiate the value the IT organization provides.  He got that right.

We sell to customers who have RFPs and those who look for capabilities, roadmaps, and more importantly an alignment of vision and approach to cloud automation.   Many cloud builders look for vendors who will grow with their agile cloud and one that has an open and extensible model to build new use cases with.   Why is that of paramount importance?  If you think you know what your cloud needs six months from now, good luck.  If you bet on the fact that your business and technology requirements will change before you get to your next release of your cloud you will need an agile cloud builder methodology.

Back to responding to, SIGH, another RFP.

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Light-as-a-Service: Why IT and Lighting Will Converge

After witnessing a live demo of the PoE-powered, iphone-controlled LED lights in the EnergyWise pavilion at Cisco Live, the IT manager for a well-known auto maker approached Chris Isaacson, CEO of NuLEDs. He asked one question: “How many colors does the fixture support?” Chris’s reply echoed Henry Ford’s famous quote in his 1927 autobiography, “You can have any color as long as it’s in the visible spectrum.”

The marriage of microprocessors with legacy products will create new products, solutions and markets. The work of partners in the Cisco EnergyWise pavilion at CiscoLive San Diego highlights this well. Though not all 17,000 Cisco Live attendees visited the EnergyWise Pavilion, those who did witnessed a world in transition. What they saw were possibilities for light-as-a-service and many other network services currently in market incubation. They also observed a number of solutions that are fully baked and ready for prime time deployment.

New Mashups Drive New Solutions

The EnergyWise Pavilion (and EnergyWise Techncial Solutions Clinic) was created to show what’s possible when network software is combined with the creativity of Cisco technology partners. Using the EnergyWise protocol to connect, collect and control devices, nearly 20 companies demonstrated how their products can create richer services when they work together. The pavilion included Cisco switches, routers, IP phones, access points, digital signage, and other Cisco gear as well as EnergyWise-enabled devices like laptops, printers, LED multicolor fixtures, BMS gateways, PDUs, power meters, and more. Companies with products and demos in the booths included, CA, Commscope, CyberSwitching, Eaton, Field Server, Joulex, Industry Weapon, iSockets, Lenovo, NuLEDs, Raritan, Schneider Electric, Servertech, Verdiem, WTI, and Xerox. Though not all the solutions captured the attendees’ imagination the same way as the multicolor LEDs, they are all built to make it possible for IT and facilities to do their jobs better, faster and cheaper; they will drive change.

It has taken nearly 130 years for Thomas Edison’s light bulb to join forces with Morse and Vail’s telegraph to create intelligent lighting. The next few years will mark an exciting chapter in the convergence of disparate systems within commercial buildings. Network powered and controlled lights enable building operators to use lights only when they’re needed. Individual light control allows users to create scenes that match their personal preferences and mood. Network powered LEDs can be added, moved, and changed like other network devices—that is to say—simply. Network attached LEDs can be used to create pathway lighting to help guide building, hospital, and school visitors to their meeting location.

Imagine a physician walking into a hospital lobby and having a lighting app tell him or her to follow the orange light (or any color for that matter—maybe the physician has a personal light avatar). The LEDs contain a multicolor fixture that turns orange and might flash at a preferred rate. Using the physician’s location from the smart phone, nearby lights on the path to the patient also light with an orange glow.

Imagine a similar app for a grocery store.  Maybe it’s called the “slow husband helper” (I could definitely use this).  My wife could enter a shopping list on my electronic cart.  When I reach the store, the store recognizes my iPhone phone  app and tells me to follow the blue lights.  At each grocery item location, the light blinks and the app tells me where to look on the shelf and provides a photo of the product package.   I shake the phone to tell the store light controller that I have the product and can move to the next item.  The app might also tell me that shoppers who purchased similar products also bought “X”.  The possibilities for cross selling are endless.  But the app would get me through the store more quickly while helping the store operator upsell and cross sell while rapidly turning parking spaces.

In a police station, network-attached lights can be easily backed up with a UPS.

In a large mining operation, LED lights can be used to provide light, but they can also change color to provide coded information to miners. Red means “get out now!” The color is generated by a policy engine connected to a “canary” sensor. When multiple exits exist, the lights can flash like airport landing lights to show the preferred and quickest way to safety.

The use cases for light-as-a-service are limitless—that’s why lighting and IT will converge. Though many of these solutions may appear unconventional, remember that all mainstream products and solutions started life as unconventional thinking. For those IT professionals paying attention, this transition will provide them with a chance to create new user services, save money, grow skills and generally increase their value and contributions to their organizations. This continues to be an exciting time to work in IT.

Over the next several months I’ll share more details about these solutions and explain how you can implement them to save money. For now, if you didn’t have a chance to see the Cisco EnergyWise Pavilion at Cisco Live, check out these videos by NuLEDs and Joulex.

To our partners and team, Thank You! for making the show a success.  We couldn’t have done it alone.  Luis Suau, thank you again for making the vision real.


Visit Google books for the original Ford quote.

The telegraph was created through work of many inventors around the globe.  The first commercial success is attributed to Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail.  You can read more about the electrical telegraph on wikipedia.

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What Comes Next with Cisco and the ONF?

So, goings on with OpenFlow and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) are always lively topics for discussion.  Since our announcement of Cisco ONE at CiscoLive, a number of folks have asked me if the announcement of our strategy changes our view of the ONF or the role of OpenFlow—the short answer is, simply, no.

We continue to strongly support ONF and its efforts related to SDN and our support has and will continue to been demonstrated in tangible ways.  One of the elements of the Cisco ONE announcement is onePK, which is an enabling technology and one of the things it has enabled is the development of our OpenFlow agents.  Similarly, we have introducing controllers and working with our customers to develop the technology.

What seems to surprise a lot of folks is that our contributions to ONF go beyond our own internal development efforts:

Technology Advisory Group – Chartered to provide high-level guidance on any technical issues faced by the ONF Board in which feedback is requested.

Hybrid Working Group – Document the requirements for a hybrid programmable forwarding plane (HPFP).

  • Chaired by Jan Medved
  • Hybrid Use-cases document: Co-author: Bhushan Kanekar
  • Hybrid Switch Architecture — Integrated: Co-author Bhushan Kanekar
  • Hybrid Switch Architecture — Ships in the night: Co-author Dave Meyer
  • Terminology document: Co-authors: Dave Meyer, Bhushan Kanekar

Beyond these two working groups, the Cisco folks, including Jan Medved, David Meyer, Josh Littlefield, Andrew Thurber, Alex Clemm and Bhushan Kanekar have been active in other workgroups including the Configuration & Management Working Group and the Extensibility Working Group.

Beyond these efforts, David Meyer has been a rock star across the board including contributions to the “OF futures” discussions and recently received an award from the ONF for his contributions.

To net things out, Cisco expects to be a pacesetter with regards to network programmability and SDN and our efforts with ONF will continue to be part of that strategy.

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Cisco and EMC VSPEX …accelerating the journey to the cloud

It seems convergence is accelerating in our daily lives with new apps on our mobile devices, cars with Siri voice control, not to mention the way we consume video.  Converged infrastructure is all the rage in IT as well.  VCE, the joint venture between Cisco, VMware, and EMC, has a very successful converged infrastructure offering in Vblock.  Now customers have another choice, VSPEX, a set of solutions offered through our mutual Cisco and EMC channel partners.

Check out this brief video from Cisco Live in San Diego.  Cisco Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell) speaks with EMC Fred Nix (@Nixfred) and Nexus IS Colin McNamara (@colinmcnamara) about VSPEX.

The Solution: Proven Infrastructure

 As customers contemplate the transformation of IT, they realize that they need a complete and modular virtualization solution that is prevalidated. The EMC VSPEX platform provides such a solution. EMC VSPEX is designed to scale as your business grows with a simple, efficient, and flexible infrastructure. EMC VSPEX solutions come in a variety of modular configurations to meet the needs of your business whether you have just started or are already on your way toward virtualization of your infrastructure. EMC VSPEX solutions offer architecture choices and enable faster deployment, greater efficiency, and lower risk.

VSPEX Offerings from Cisco and EMC

Cisco and EMC are offering VSPEX solutions built on the Cisco Unified Data Center infrastructure architecture.  At the announcement in April we published 9 reference configurations that can easily scale, be optimized for various workloads, configure for virtual desktop applications, and server virtualized cloud environments.  The 9 reference configurations span end user computing and server virtualization with your choice of hypervisor. 

The reference configurations deliver on the promise of the cloud in a rack full of leading computing, networking, storage, and infrastructure components on a choice of hypervisors (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Sample VSPEX configuration







Accelerate your journey to the cloud…check out VSPEX now.   Contact your Cisco or EMC reseller to schedule a more detailed briefing of VSPEX. 

For more information about VSPEX and to read a solution overview click here.  

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The End of Big IT Architecture (Part 1 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Look around in your IT shop.  Do you have a single large  printout page denoting the graphic of the IT Enterprise Architecture in your company?  Does Zachman ring a bell?  Do you have Data, Process and Deployment views documented?  Do you have an Enterprise Architect?

If you answered YES to most if not all of these then you better take a seat and then throw this all out.  Get the biggest shredder you can or just light a match to those artifacts.  Big IT architecture is dead.  Some would say we the practitioners never really got there.  I agree with that.  Manag turnover and turnover again, ITIL deployments, imploding financial systems and reductions in funding, virtualization that sneaked in the back door, cloud that entered through the front door; this all worked against us in building the perfect system model to live out the decade, let along the most recent fiscal quarter.

If you answered MAYBE or NO to most of those questions, good for you, but be careful.   I will explain about that later.  Monolithic IT architectures are gone.  Do we really have a single version of the truth in that relational database?  Probably not.  Why is this important?  The pace of innovation in the deployment of IT systems to solve real life problems at speed and scale has increased.  In some ways we are willing to compromise on those desires for five nines of reliability to get the business results quickly.

Do you still need a well thought out architecture for your deployed systems?  Of course!  Do you need to design those deployment views for new models of application resiliency, ecosystems of federated data models,  and the conclusion that even the CIO’s office can’t really control what the end users do with technology?  Absolutely.

Why is this important to you?  No matter what part of IT or the business you are in, make a small subtle shift in your psyche.  Stop trying to control what you cannot.  Focus on the end outcomes, and strive to make your piece of IT process or technology listen to your customers.  If you are an architect, go broad, real broad, but focus on the micro-architectures.  If you are a technologist, don’t just dwell on the speeds and feeds.  Live a few days in the life of your users.  Manage the change that occurs through small impactful steps.

Back to building flexible automation for fast moving architectures.



Unleash your Automation for Cloud (Easier than you Think)

In about 2 weeks there will be a great webinar panel discussion on the business and technology architecture concerns in automating your cloud and how to measure the value.   Unleashing automation solutions to do what they do best may make or break a company’s IT strategy over the next few quarters as those cloud journeys begin.

The webinar, IT Automation Unplugged, a panel discussion moderated by Glenn O’Donnell of Forrester will indeed be a cool event to listen in to.  Not only has Glenn followed this space for many years but he also has some really insightful perspectives on the Journey to Cloud.  This webinar has the potential to highlight some really pointed dialog between myself and Brad Adams of rPath, Nand Mulchandani of ScaleXtreme, and Luke Kanies of Puppetlabs.  I bet the sparks might fly as we trade our perspectives on the huge demand for private and public clouds and need for enterprises to show value quickly.

This brings me to a great phrase I heard this week from one of our customers.  It was used in the context of their employees using their company’s private cloud.   It was “High Governance”.  It was seriously lacking in their current solution which highly leveraged their virtualization vendor’s software.  I probed them on what they meant by “High Governance”.  It was mostly around ensuring that individuals that provision services would get  access to only the services, cloud data center locations, and specific providers that they are entitled to.   While this is not a new concept, the element that grabbed my attention was that IT shops have a strong need for different sourcing strategies based upon end user role, organization,  location, and any number of policy settings in their Active Directory or LDAP.

“High Governance” means ensuring that your cloud users get ONLY what they are entitled to in your IT policy.   No more generic UIs for generic users or uber UIs for unknown hypothetical users.  The cloud is now a strongly governed personal experience, what a novel concept.

I wonder what the panel will think about this.  Please attend if you get a chance.

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Save the Date: New Virtual Symposia Coming Soon

I am happy to announce we have a couple of new Virtual Symposia on the books.  We had a ton of positive feedback on the storage session, so I hope you can join us for the two new sessions:

  • July 10th, 8am PT — Software Defined Networking
  • July 24th, 8am PT — Virtual Machine Networking

As before, it will be Greg Ferro, Stephen Foskett and Ivan Pepelnjak along with some smart, cool panelists in a round table format, answering your questions. The one change we made was to shorten the session down to one hour so its a bit more friendly to your schedule. Save the dates for now and we’ll have registration pages up in a couple of days.

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Looking Back on Intelligent Automation at Cisco Live in San Diego

If you missed Cisco Live earlier this month or if you didn’t get a chance to see our Intelligent Automation demos and attend our sessions, you will want to read this blog!

It was the busiest event of the year for Cisco’s Unified Data Center and Unified Management team, with over a dozen breakout sessions and several theater presentations featuring our management software, as well as a call-out in the CTO keynote. Our experts, customers, and partners were actively talking about and demoing our software throughout Cisco Live.

One of our popular demos at the show used Hadoop and Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler to extract data from Twitter with social media activity at the event. This app runs a Hadoop MapReduce job every 5 minutes to track Cisco Live tweets, showcasing workload automation and big data. Check it out here.

The Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition was another hot demo at the event, with lots of interest from IT departments that want to get started quickly with a private cloud running on Cisco UCS.  Check out the recorded demo here and the theater presentation here.

For more Cisco Live highlights, here are some videos featuring some of the Intelligent Automation team, our partners, and customers:

  • In this interview, Trey Layton of VCE and Scott Hammond of Cisco discuss cloud computing, Vblock infrastructure platforms, and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.


  • An interview with Randy Arthur of CSC and Flint Brenton of Cisco covers trends in the cloud services market, including on-premise and off-premise cloud services.   


  • A brief panel session featuring experts talking about the journey to cloud, with Sidney Morgan of Cisco IT, David Kinsman of WWT, and Wayne Greene of Cisco.


  • Sidney Morgan talked about Cisco IT’s internal private cloud, using Cisco Intelligent Automation software together with Cisco UCS, in this presentation and video:



And last but not least, if you missed any of the breakout sessions, you can view several on–demand recordings here.  Here are a few of our favorites:


I hope this is useful!  Make sure you follow us on twitter at @CiscoIA for more updates.

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Executives Discuss Real-World Use Case for Cisco UPOE

Cisco UPOE doubles the power delivered per port over PoE+ to 60 Watts. Cisco UPOE can extend resilient network power to a broad range of devices including virtual desktop terminals, nurse call systems, IP turrets for financial trading, compact switches, building management gateways, LED lights, wireless access points, IP Phones, and more.

Watch Adam McMullin, Vice President and General Manager of Hill-Rom IT Solutions and Sachin Gupta, Senior Director of Product Management in Cisco’s Unified Access team discuss real-world use case of Cisco UPOE for medical networks.

Cisco UPOE can deliver both data and power to Hill-Rom NaviCare Nurse Call systems over a single Ethernet cable. You can now simplify your network infrastructure by extending the benefits of Catalyst switching from corporate networks to medical networks. The converged network can enable superior healthcare services and lower total cost of ownership.

Cisco UPOE is available on the industry’s most widely deployed modular access switching platform – Catalyst 4500E.

Learn more:

Cisco UPOE Healthcare Solution Brief:

Cisco UPOE:

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