Organizational Dexterity with Private Cloud Automation

atelier-digital-transformationThe world is experiencing a digital revolution that is rapidly changing your business landscape.  This revolution is not only connecting people with digital technology; but it has made this technology ubiquitous in all of our lives.  The result is tech-savvy employees and customers with new expectations how to interact with your business.

Meeting these expectations requires a transformation into a consumer technology company by utilizing digital technology to streamline operational processes and improve customer experiences.  Industry data indicates those organizations begin this transformation process experience increased profitability, market value and revenue.

Cisco’s private cloud automation facilitates the transformation of your business from manual to automated standardized service delivery.  Converting manual processes into automated workflows increases data center productivity which fuels faster time-to-market by business and application teams of new products or services.

Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite has reduced complexity and delivered significant value to LightEdge Solutions, Inc.

What you heard in this video are the benefits of Enterprise Cloud Suite’s modular automation.    LightEdge deployed infrastructure automation first and then scaled out their automation to include network automation and a self-service portal.
Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite has allowed LightEdge to provide industry-leading services to their clients allowing them to manage their cloud environment through the self-service portal which reduces troubleshooting complexity for all involved.

digitalThe infrastructure automation included with Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite enabled LightEdge to provision computing resources in 30 minutes rather than the full week required previously.  The hybrid cloud capabilities provides a “secure and realiable way to transition customers to the cloud, reassuring companies that their mission-critical workloads are in good hands,” Mike McHenry, Vice President of Product Cloud Architecture.

To learn more, read the complete story located here.

Stay ahead of the digital revolution with Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite and join the customers that are successfully transforming their business landscape.

 

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Composable Infrastructure: Cutting Through the Noise

Its seems that lately, there is a lot of noise in the industry about composable infrastructure.  Some of others in the industry seem to be busy churning out a bunch of noise around their vision of the future as though just talking about it repeatedly will somehow capture mindshare.   Most of what is out there amounts to a whole lot of talk and hand-waving, but it has been pretty light on real products that customers can buy.  Back in September of 2014 when we launched the UCS M-Series and C3000 families of products.  At that time, we introduced not only the new server products, but also SystemLink Technology.  We set out to lay the foundation for our composable infrastructure vision.  A vision that is being noticed by many in the industry.  Check out what Moor Insights and Strategies is advising customers about Composable Infrastructure.  Also, take a few minutes to hear more about the attributes of a composable infrastructure with the video below.

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The revolutionary capabilities of SystemLink really lay the groundwork for the first element that is a requirement for a truly composable infrastructure.  The Cisco SystemLink ASIC, the first of it’s kind in the x86 Server space, has several key capabilities.

First, it enables server subsystem disaggregation.  This is critical to be able to break down the traditional server, which is traditionally defined primarily by convention and sheet metal, into its basic elemental resources.  By separating the physical components of the server, those resources can then be pooled and programmatically composed into a logical server, and subsequently decomposed, returning the elements back to the pools allowing reuse.  This breaking down of the server means that not only can the most efficient and optimal use of resources be made, but also the lifecycle management of those resources is also decoupled.  So, in the case of M-Series, the next CPU generation that would drive a complete replacement of the server with a traditional rack-mounted server would only require the replacement of the CPU and possibly DIMMs to achieve an upgrade.  Subsystems like the local storage, RAID controller, network adapter, power supplies, fans, and cabling are preserved until upgrades of those respective elements would yield benefit to the business.  As you can see illustrated below, this adds up to a significant savings of both capex and opex, while at the same time offering a more agile IT environment.

 

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Another key capability afforded by Cisco SystemLink Technology is the extension of the control plane into the hardware.  After all, simply sawing a woman in half on stage is not a real magic trick unless you put her safely back together at the end.  So too is the case with server disaggregation.  It’s why we chose the term Composable Infrastructure.  The reconstitution of the elements (in a more efficient and flexible form) is where the real benefit comes in.  To accomplish this, without undue complexity or multiple layers of software, you must have a control plane within the server that can arbitrate the connection of the subsystems as prescribed by the policies that are defined by the user / application.

If you would like a more in-depth understanding of how SystemLink works, check out a very informative blog that Steve McQuerry posted back in October of 2014.

Thus, SystemLink’s unique capabilities expose some truly revolutionary capabilities within the underlying infrastructure, but the more evolutionary (read: consistent) part of Cisco’s Composable Infrastructure architecture is the management framework which allows for the policy-based programmatic control of the disaggregated elements.  The UCS Management environment along with a highly extensible set of APIs provides the customer the ability to control this composable infrastructure while at the same time abstracting the added complexity of the larger and more granular pools of resources.

 

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The UCS Management architecture is capable of providing not only the capabilities to orchestrate the Composable Infrastructure, but do so with the common set of interfaces and user experience that customers employing a more traditional model, one that is transitioning between a traditional and a DevOps style, and ultimately the organization that requires ultimate agility.  That means that UCS is uniquely positioned to offer both traditional server elements and composable elements in whatever combination that best meets the needs of the business without siloed tools and processes.  Additionally, consistent UCS Management tools and interfaces means that IT staff need not re-learn new tools to manage an infrastructure even as it evolves from traditional to agile. This allows the IT staff to be treated as the ultimate resource in the infrastructure and be utilized as efficiently as the hardware.

So while the talk about Composable infrastructure continues in the market, at Cisco, we believe that with products like UCS M-Series and the UCS C3260, we are not just defining Composable Infrastructure, but we are walking the walk with shipping products that customers can buy today to begin the journey to the next generation of agility and efficiency.


CCIE : ITD and RISE in CCIE Data Center

ITD and RISE are now part of CCIE Data Center:

https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/community/certifications/ccie_data_center/written-exam-v2/exam-topics

 

 

To learn about RISE (Remote Integrated Services Engine), please see: http://www.cisco.com/go/rise

To learn about ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director), please see: http://www.cisco.com/go/itd

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/itd-load-balancing-traffic-steering-clustering-using-nexus-5k6k7k9k

 


Cisco UCS Delivers Industry’s Best 4-Socket Server SPECjbb2015 MultiJVM Performance

Cisco UCS C460 M4 Rack Server continues its tradition of Industry leadership with the latest announcement of two benchmark results capturing the best 4-socket server SPECjbb®2015 MultiJVM benchmark performance for max-jOPS and critical-jOPS.

The SPECjbb2015 benchmark allows vendors to demonstrate Java-based business software performance so you can evaluate the way that your software will run in real-world environments. The SPECjbb2015 benchmark provides two measures of performance: the max-jOPS metric provides a measure of overall transactional throughput, and the critical-jOPS metric provides a measure of interactive responsiveness. In two different benchmark reports, Cisco demonstrated that the Cisco UCS C460 M4 Rack Server has the flexibility to be tuned for world-record-setting performance on either the throughput or responsiveness metric.

 Some of the key highlights of Cisco’s new SPECjbb2015 benchmark results are:

  • When tuned for max-jOPS, the Cisco UCS C460 M4 delivered a score of 171,642, more than 18 percent higher than HP’s best score for the 4-socket HP ProLiant DL580 Gen9 server
  • When tuned for critical-jOPS, the Cisco UCS C460 M4 delivered a score of 99,646, or almost 96 percent higher than HP’s best posted result.
  • Your real-world workloads may require maximum interactive responsiveness or maximum throughput, and these results demonstrate that you can tune your Cisco UCS® C460 M4 Rack Server to achieve world-record-setting performance by either measure.

SPECjbb2015 Results for the Cisco UCS C460 M4 Rack Server:

 

The benchmark configuration included the benchmark controller, back-end, and transaction injector components, each running in its own JVM. The JVM instances ran on a Cisco UCS C460 M4 Rack Server running a single instance of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12 and 64-bit Oracle Java HotSpot Server Virtual Machine (VM) 1.8.0_60.Check out the Performance Brief for additional information on the benchmark configuration. The detailed official benchmark disclosure report is available at the SPECjbb2015 Website.

Although all vendors have access to same Intel processors, only Cisco UCS unleashes their power to deliver high performance to applications through the power of unification. The unique, fabric-centric architecture of Cisco UCS integrates the Intel Xeon processors into a system with a better balance of resources that brings processor power to life. . For additional information on Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure solutions please visit Cisco Unified Computing & Servers web page.

Disclosure

SPEC and SPECjbb are registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. The performance record described in this document was valid based on results posted at http:// www.spec.org as of November 12, 2015.

 

 

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Big Data Partner Commentary: Speed, Efficiency and Disruption through Insight

Often it is said that ‘partnering’ is part of the Cisco DNA and its true: Cisco’s Partner ecosystem for years has brought together an ecosystem of trusted partners which deliver solutions, software and services that provide needed business solutions and outcomes.

Cisco has a strong ‘bench’ of technology partners, too. These partners allow us to combine Cisco solutions with their technology platforms resulting in integrated architectures focused on specific industries or use cases. Frequently these are delivered in the form of a Cisco Validated Design (CVD) and are available freely on the Cisco Design Zone.

For Cisco Big Data and Analytics solutions, where our Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data is the foundation, partners are key. We partner with industry leading Big Data firms to deliver flexible architectures and solutions which help to make your data the foundation of your digital business. Below, in alphabetical order, are new videos from some of our Big Data partners. Each is a Big Data leader in their own right and each has worked closely with Cisco to bring solution(s) to market. These are short and sweet videos – so carve out a few moments in your day and view a few:

Cloudera: Children’s Hospital of Atlanta Customer Success Story

Hortonworks: Commitment to Open Source Delivers Continuous Innovation

MapR: Cisco UCS + MapR = Speed. Scale. Flexibility.

Platfora: Cisco WebEx Case Study.

Splunk: Splunk CEO “Splunk Scales Horizontally. UCS Scales Linearly. An Excellent Fit.”

To learn more about Cisco UCS and our Big Data and Analytics architectures and solutions please visit www.cisco.com/go/bigdata

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Your Right to Choose Your WAN Connectivity and Your Right to Security

Still too often, nowadays, I look at my phone and my stomach drops.

I see: “3G”…

Even worse, I see: “1x”…

I think to myself: It’s the year 2015 and the world is becoming increasingly digitized. IDC’s Internet of Things Forecast states that there will be 4 billion people using 50 billion devices all in one hyper-connected world. I (along with 3,999,999,999 other people) believe it is my right to always have a consistent and high-performing 4G-LTE connection.

For the enterprise, Cisco’s SD-WAN Bill of Rights talks about what customers should expect and demand as they prepare their WAN for tomorrow. Among these rights are two that are very important to branch security in particular:

1) Your Right to Choose Your WAN Connectivity

You have the right to choose the WAN transport that best suits your ever-changing needs for bandwidth, security, and performance. With the increased reliability of the Internet for WAN transport and limited WAN budgets, organizations have turned to opening up their branches to Direct Internet Access (DIA).

Direct Internet Access

(Direct Internet Access)

As a result, organizations can reduce bandwidth costs and improve the user application experience. However, it may also expose the organization to increased security risks.

2) Your Right to Secure Your Applications and Infrastructure

You have a right to the same security on public Internet and 4G LTE connections as on your private WAN through a consistent, layered security approach at all points of the network infrastructure. Comprehensive security should be integrated and provide protection across the attack continuum – before, during, and after an attack. This would include next-generation firewall protection, signature-based intrusion detection and prevention, cloud web security, and more.

If you would like to learn more about exercising these rights and how Cisco’s branch security portfolio will help secure your business for digital transformation and extend enterprise-level security everywhere, we invite you to join us to get more details at the below webinar on December 8, 2015, from 10 – 11 a.m. PST.

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Hai Bo Ma (Product Manager) and Robb Boyd (host of Cisco’s TechWise TV), are the speakers. An overview of the agenda and link to register for both the live as well as on-demand sessions are available here.

I look forward to your attendance!

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Shadow IT: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See

Shadow IT is nothing new as employees and lines of business bypass IT departments to get the cloud services they need to complete their jobs.   Rogue IT has resulted in a conversation around the unintended and potentially dangerous consequences of increased security risks, compliance concerns and hidden costs.

We all know that private and public clouds are here to stay, but in a recent study it was proven that the average enterprise organization is unaware of just how much shadow IT exists.

shadow-it-100467238-primary.idgeCisco recently completed a study with large enterprise customers across the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia.   This study was conducted from January 2014 through July of this year.  Actual usage data was collected from customer’s networks representing millions of users.

Ask your CIO today and they will probably respond that on average their organization is utilizing 51 cloud services.   Cisco’s survey indicates that in reality, over 730 cloud services are being used.

That is 15 times what was believed and the survey statistics provide a trend that by the end of the year that will increase to 20 times more than was authorized.   That’s more than 1,000 external cloud services per company.

To learn more about this study, read this thought leadership piece on CIO.com.

What’s the answer?    Public cloud is a reality as well as private cloud.   The answer is: provide your business with choice and flexibility.   An effective hybrid cloud strategy that embraces both worlds in a way that drives efficiency and speed necessary for your business to maintain the three C’s of your strategy:   choice, control and compliance.

developersCisco delivers a choice of private cloud solutions tailored to the way you want to consume the technology.   Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite delivers a hybrid ready private cloud that securely extends into hybrid environments with your policies and compliance built into the automated workflows.   Think of this as adult supervision built-in without line of business or developers knowing about it.   Cisco Metapod delivers a public cloud experience in a private environment designed for agile development activities.

Lastly, Cisco Cloud Consumption Services can discover what cloud services you’re currently using and protect your organization by reducing cloud risks and costs.   You’ll gain a broad view of your organization’s cloud usage and predict future cloud needs.    If you like, you can even try the service out for free for 30 days.

You can’t control what you don’t see.   Start with a cloud assessment analysis and provide senior leadership with the data to choose which applications should run in private or public clouds.   Evaluate Cisco’s private cloud solutions that will provide secure connectivity into hybrid cloud environments without restricting line of business or developer efforts but keeping your organization safe and in control.

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Must-Knows About DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible

You may wonder what the terms “DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible” have to do with each other. If you plan to visit AnsibleFest 2015 in San Francisco, stop by the Cisco table to learn more.

AnsibleGoldSponsorNov2015

The DevOps approach has been embraced and pioneered by Web 2.0 customers for some time, and now we’re seeing the trickle of that coming to an Enterprise customer near you. The simple reason is the ability to bring operations and development closer together, enabling faster deployments of applications without breaking the infrastructure. Cisco colleague Luca Relandini expands on DevOps here.

The Cisco Open NX-OS is designed to support the DevOps approach. Shane Corban shares Six Key Points What OPEN means for NX-OS. The concept behind Open NX-OS is to enable operators to make changes in a more programmatic way that drives automation and efficiency in the infrastructure without compromise on security. Visit the developer community to learn and find more scripts using the capabilities of Open NX-OS.

OpenNXOS Nov2015

As part of the NX-OS openness, agentless tools like Ansible leverage NX-API to gather real-time state data and to make configuration changes on Cisco Nexus switches. To stay up to date on Ansible solutions, visit the Cisco marketplace.

In this Oct 9thSDxCentral DemoFriday webinar, we showed how Day 0, 1, 2 operations can be accelerated with Ansible. And to stay up to date on the latest Cisco NX-OS Ansible Module Docs, visit the GitHub repository.

 

GitHubAnsibleNov2015

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Composable Infrastructure Part 4: Infrastructure as Code

How do you treat hardware like software? That question sounds like a contradiction, but we’ve been helping customers answer this question for the past six years with Cisco UCS. When you abstract all configuration and identity of hardware and transform it into software defined infrastructure (SDI), or better yet, policy driven infrastructure, you’re moving down the path of managing the “infrastructure as code.”

An essential aspect of this automated management is encapsulating the best practices of your server, storage and network experts as policies and templates. Cisco describes these as Service Profiles. The Service Profiles combined with the open Application Program Interface (API) in UCS provide a common “language’ for provisioning and configuring the infrastructure across the different types of devices. As we examined in a previous blog in this series, the combination of true SDI plus best practices defined in Service Profiles makes sure routine tasks are implemented consistently and correctly to reduce risk. Our customers are receiving tremendous benefits using Service-Profiles today with their existing UCS blade and rack systems, and we have extended this same management framework to our composable infrastructure.

Here’s where it gets fun:  DevOps and Infrastructure as Code

DevOps is a growing movement toward processes and methods for communication and collaboration between development, QA, and IT operations. It requires establishment of standard ways of provisioning and configuring infrastructure in a programmatic manner.  Infrastructure as code implies that the infrastructure resources can be composed in a consistent fashion based on the demands of the application. Cisco UCS offers Service Profiles and a fully open and documented API to accomplish this.

Composable Templates Video ImageIn our recent discussion with IDC analyst, Jed Scaramella, we asked Jed to describe the role of policies and templates and the benefits for customers. Jed explained in this video that the disaggregation of servers with composable infrastructure adds complexity by creating more elements that must be managed. Achieving greater efficiency and speed requires more simplicity. Service Profiles provide this simplicity by defining a consistent way of managing infrastructure resources through software. They optimize the resources by allowing  applications and infrastructure to be deployed consistently at a faster rate while reducing risks. That’s why Service Profiles are essential to effectively implementing composable infrastructure.

Precursors to Composable Infrastructure

Composable infrastructure is predicated on two key capabilities:  (1) disaggregation to decompose systems (primarily servers) into subsystem elements and (2) a control plane complete with an open API to reassemble the pieces.   This allows the physical and logical infrastructure to be made available to orchestration tools as granular pools of resources.   An important aside:  traditional blade and rack servers are out of the equation…they’re still monolithic, fixed servers that you can only right-size at the factory or carve up with a hypervisor or containers in order to optimize.  Or said another way, you can’t compose a system out of HW that is already fixed as a system. If someone tries to sell you yet another blade server as composable infrastructure they’re “composable washing.” Brace yourself, because it’s going to happen a lot now that everyone is casting around for the next big buzzword to follow “hyperconverged.”   It’s an ugly business, marketing.

UCS: Composable Infrastructure, AKA Infrastructure as Code, AKA Bad to the Bone if you like to automate

Cisco System Link Technology achieves server disaggregation and provides the control plane functionality to combine server subsystems together (processor/memory, local or network storage and I/O.)    UCS Service Profiles provide the templates that define the servers you want to create out of these resources.    This is a pretty stunning advancement:  physical servers that can be dynamically composed and optimized for the unique requirements of workload.

By managing the infrastructure as code, you can deploy applications faster by rapidly composing the infrastructure you need in a consistent and predictable way. Figure 2 below illustrates how templates allocate the resources from the pool, then they are provisioned and configured (composed) to uniquely support each application and workload. This is composable infrastructure in action and gives your data center infrastructure powerful public cloud-like capabilities.

Fig. 2: Templates in UCS Management Allocate and Compose Infrastructure Resources on Demand

As Jim described in a blog when we announced our first composable product, the UCS M-Series,  “With the policy-based provisioning, deployment and management of UCS, the application can be presented the exact amount of resources from each subsystem for truly a software-defined server.”

Step Away From the Forklift

Most organizations currently use VMware vCenter, Microsoft System Center and other tools in their daily operation. They don’t plan to implement new tools just to support composable infrastructure or adopt DevOps. They shouldn’t have to. UCS management includes a broad, mature partner ecosystem that includes deep integrations with these tools and many others. This reduces risk by allowing IT teams to use existing management tools and processes as they incorporate new technologies, like composable infrastructure, or implement new methodologies like DevOps.

Figure 2, below, shows one example of how Cisco enables the implementation of DevOps and composable infrastructure in a way that works best for your organization. UCS management supports the entire UCS product portfolio, including Cisco Composable Infrastructure such as M-Series and the UCS C3260. Cisco offers a vSphere plug-in that we recently updated; it enables users to work from their familiar VMware tools. Just as VMware has worked with Cisco and other vendors to develop plug-ins, they also have also worked with Chef to develop a Chef knife vSphere integration. The Chef integration enables users to provision, list, clone, and delete VMs managed with vCenter along with other common tasks from their familiar vSphere client. These are capabilities that support advanced automation and DevOps workflows in a simple and flexible manner.

Figure 2: Example of Chef knife and UCS Management integrations with vSphere

You don’t have to wait for the future. You can start on the path to DevOps and composable infrastructure today using Cisco UCS and industry standard tools. Cisco has nearly 50,000 customers that use the advanced automation of UCS to achieve greater efficiencies in their organizations every day. Our management software is mature and proven, and it is supported by a robust partner ecosystem. Cisco Composable Infrastructure is simply another advancement that allows for automation at a much more granular level, all the way to server subsystems.

Cisco is offering more than a vision. We’re offering products and real business benefits today and a path to the future built on a solid foundation.

More to come,

Todd

For additional information:

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IT Innovation Transforms Education at Qatar University

Last week while trapped in the confines of seat 22A, I re-read “Digital Vortex: How Digital Disruption Is Redefining Industries”.  This paper is full of interesting insights on how digital technology is changing the competitive landscape for every industry.  If you haven’t read it – grab a copy and keep it handy for for your next commute.

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The paper reminded me that any industry can quickly shift in or out of the “digital center” of the vortex – a place where digital change can rapidly disrupt, or cause disruption for a company or an entire industry.  It offers a key insight on digital transformation:  To disrupt oneself in an industry, “organizations must change themselves – including operations, culture, revenue model, and more – in fundamental ways, and perpetually.”  Many IT leaders feel the impact of this reality every day.

Trevor Moore, the CIO of Qatar University, is using IT as a platform to transform higher education as part of a country-wide initiative to transform Qatar into a knowledge-based economy.  In a recent interview with Trevor, he explained, “Providing services to students and researchers anytime and anywhere is a key component of our ongoing growth.”   Trevor’s story is a powerful reminder of how IT organizations around the globe are using technology to drive digital transformation.  Organizations like Qatar University are not just seeing the impact of digital transformation in education… they are causing transformation, for their industry, and for their country.  They’ve moved themselves to the center of the vortex.

Far beyond delivering “courseware” through a web browser, Qatar University must deliver application suites that give faculty and students the tools they need to learn, invent, and discover.  Of course, Qatar also wants to deliver a customized and personal experience to every student.  To deliver on this vision, students must be able to access material when and where it is most convenient for them.

Digital learning is a key part of the country’s vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy – and as Moore points out, IT is at the heart of it all.  Qatar University chose Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure as the foundation for their new data center and digital strategy.  Working closely with Cisco and F5 Networks, Qatar was able to build an automated data center that greatly simplified their operations and delivered on their vision of automatically and securely provisioning applications to students, faculty, and research staff.

Choosing a new or different way to deliver IT isn’t always the easy or popular choice – but when done right, the results deliver exceptional efficiencies.  As early adopters of Cisco ACI, Moore and his IT team are leading the way, and reaping the benefits of an open, automated, application-centric approach to the data center.  If you’d like to know more about how Qatar University used Cisco ACI and the ACI ecosystem to solve its challenges, the Qatar ACI case study will tell you more.

You can download a copy of the PDF case study here