Preparing Your Organization to Meet IoT Data and Analytics Challenges

– May 25, 2016 – 0 Comments

This is a guest blog by Tejas Vashi, Senior Director, Product Strategy & Marketing, Cisco ServicesTejas Vashi_final

Data rules the IT world right now – there is just so much of it.  Yet, there are often many missed opportunities when it comes to utilizing this data to extract insights and leveraging them to drive business outcomes

Organizations aren’t executing as well as they can, but the problem may not be what you might think.

In the whitepaper, “Big Data Doesn’t Make Decisions, Leaders Do,” Florian Zettelmeyer and Matthias Bolling propose the theory that Big Data is not so much a data science problem per se. Rather, it’s more of a leadership problem.

Organizations today want to extract insights to obtain value, but the thing is – as McKinsey & Company point out – most of the available IoT data currently isn’t used. Not only is there too much data coming from structured and unstructured sources, but also leveraging the data where it resides and preparing it for analytics is a huge challenge.

For example, on an oil rig that has 30,000 sensors, only one percent of the data points are typically examined. That’s because data is used today mostly to detect and control anomalies.  However, analyzing data — and using it to optimize operations and predicting issues before they happen — can provide great value and drive utilization, productivity, profitability and reliability outcomes.

Businesses must find ways to extract insights from all their data in order to succeed and drive better outcomes. One way to approach this change is to match organizational change with technology adoption.

It’s not enough to just capture and integrate this data though. Organizations must also get the data to the right place at the right time (and to the right people) so it can be analyzed. Accomplishing this includes automatic and consistent access to the data and a determination as to when it can best be utilized – whether it needs to be moved to the “center” (a data center or cloud) or analyzed where it is – at the “edge” of the network. Maximum value comes from employing a combination of this edge and the center – not one or the other.

So what does this mean for IT professionals?

2015-Big-Data-Survey_Current-Implementation-Challenges_Cover1Therein lies the rub. The data market is growing, but businesses are struggling to find people with the skills to design, install, operate and manage these intelligent networks as well as expertise to understand how to analyze and use the huge amounts of data being captured across the network. In fact, in a survey conducted by IDC and Computerworld, respondents said that their top business challenge was a lack of enough staff with appropriate analytics skills. And a recent Knowledgent survey revealed that the top business challenge regarding infrastructure is getting the appropriate hardware and software installed and operational, largely due to a lack of skills.

We now see the issues of organization and technology coming to the forefront. From an organizational point of view, businesses need to take steps to identify, address and resolve the issues pointed out by Zettelmeyer and Bolling, including:

  • Analytics should start with business problems.
  • Analytics needs translators.
  • Analytics requires data scientists of different flavors.
  • The analytics team should help get the job done.
  • All leaders need a working knowledge of data science.

IT pros who gain the skills needed to work with data will have a huge leg up as they look to get ahead. Fortunately, there are certifications and training available to help you prepare. At Cisco, we have created the following:

  • Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data: Providing beginning and advanced training for designing, installing and trouble-shooting data solutions using Cisco UCS Big Data infrastructure products.
  • Data Virtualization CIS: Basic and advanced training addresses solution architects, solution Integrators and administrators who are familiar with data warehouse, ETL and data management solutions and want to learn how to design, deploy and operate a virtual data warehouse.

I can’t emphasize it enough  – when it comes to digital transformation, data is the true competitive advantage. For an organization to stay competitive analytics must be a front-and-center focus – and you must empower your staff with the skills and technology needed to implement and maintain the needed data infrastructure, as well as understand how this data can be best leveraged.

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Bare metal XenApp on UCS M-Series with Iris Pro

– May 24, 2016 – 0 Comments

Bare metal XenApp on M-Series with Iris Pro = Bigfoot riding a Unicorn shooting Silver Bullets!

Why is Batman smacking Robin?  Read more to find out

Citrix Synergy 2016 lands in Las Vegas May 24th through the 26th!  The theme this year: This time, it’s personal.

Definitely a bold theme (kind of like the title of this blog) – but then again, you must be bold if you are going to succeed in the technology business!  (Hat tip to Citrix for making the statement.)

Cisco has been a sponsor at Synergy for a number of years and this year is no different.  What will be different is the focus areas that feed into Citrix solutions.  Cisco and Citrix have been working together on the networking and QoS side of the business and Cisco UCS has been a smashing success for the many of the end user desktop solutions that Citrix provides.  Those of you who have heard me speak before will know that I generally speak about technology evolution and how we must adapt and change to continue to be relevant.

One particular area of growth and opportunity is the ever expanding need for graphics and multimedia in virtual desktop solutions.  It’s really quite simple if you think about it – desktop operating systems and applications are being built for PCs and workstations.  They are not necessarily being designed for virtual PCs and virtual workstations.  What does this mean?  It means that for roughly the last 2 decades, applications and code is being developed for a device with a GPU (Graphical Processing Unit).  When we take these operating systems and applications and run them in an oversubscribed server environment that doesn’t have a GPU, we can definitely run into problems.

You take that into consideration with how users today are leveraging their devices – they are surrounded by multimedia and they are quite literally surrounded by GPUs.  One example I usually reference is that of Best Buy.  If you walk into Best Buy today, the cheapest tablet, the cheapest smart phone, the cheapest laptop or PC has one thing in common…  They all have GPUs.

NVIDIA has had GRID vGPU for a couple of years now and that is definitely one way to incorporate GPU into virtual desktop environments, but it’s not the only way.  Recently Intel introduced the E3-12XX v4 series processors that have an Iris Pro integrated server graphics built into the chip.  If you’re not familiar with integrated server graphics, just think of them as an integrated GPU that is in the CPU itself.  At first glance you might be thinking that CPU sounds nice, but it’s not a “server” CPU, what does it have to do with VDI?  Enter Cisco UCS M-Series.IrisPro

I am not going into great detail on M-Series here as this blog is supposed to describe the graphics components of VDI on M-Series, but if you want to learn more, click here.  M-Series is a cool product with many use cases. My favorite use case is leveraging M-Series for bare metal XenApp deployment.

A little bit of history:  Back in the day we used to see expansive Citrix Metaframe farms in our datacenters.  Citrix did a good job of building in load balancing, redundancy and scale out performance with hosted shared desktops.  The limiting factor of scaling XenApp isn’t the quantity of CPU’s or memory you throw at it, it’s the Windows Server Operating System itself.  This is why you had large farms of servers.  Fast forward to a few years ago and hardware started getting too “big” for traditional bare metal Metaframe/XenApp deployments.  It became too costly to deploy on these larger servers, so many took advantage of Hypervisors to run multiple XenApp instances on that same piece of hardware.  That helped with our cost model a little, but it also introduced another layer into the mix.  By running XenApp on a hypervisor, it’s technically virtualizing a virtualized platform.  This meant that little if any over subscription of CPU/Memory could be done on the virtualized XenApp instances.  As a result we saw reduced user per XenApp instance counts and user experience needed to be watched closely.

Here is a great example of the layers and allocations that are in a typical virtualized XenApp deployment:

VirtualizedXenApp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For comparison purposes, here is what your XenApp looks like on M-Series:

 

BaremetalXenApp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing you will notice is NO HYPERVISOR!  It just so happens that the E3-12XX v4 CPU’s have the perfect core count and memory quantity as what normally we would carve up as a virtualized XenApp instance.  But wait – there’s more!

Reduced Cost

  • M Series can be ~40% cheaper compared to traditional Rack/Blades.
  • Hypervisor licensing isn’t needed; this can save you a significant amount per socket.

Reduced complexity and risk

  • Points of management – If you have 15 traditional servers running 90 XenApp VM’s, that equals 105 management points.  Since M-Series can host more XenApp users per bare metal instance, the equivalent 30 M142 dual server cartridges will result in only 60 total management points.  This is a significant reduction in objects to manage.
  • Citrix XenApp and Provisioning Server are common and very mature solutions for managing distributed XenApp farms, the tools and mechanisms for redundancy, load balancing, and provisioning are already built into XenApp at the application level and function better than a hypervisor VM level can.
  • Hypervisor for what?  Hypervisor sole purpose in XenApp is to make better use of large hardware – M-Series is the goldilocks of hardware size and XenApp negates any “value” the hypervisor stack typically brings.
  • No complex capacity designs – XenApp on a hypervisor is a known problem that requires strict policies and capacity management.  A single VM migration can unbalance and potentially bring a whole server with multiple users to a slow grind – load balancing/maintenance/availability are mature in XenApp and handled best at that level.
  • Solution support and maintenance – no need to schedule your XenApp environment for an outage to update or patch a hypervisor.

Increased performance for XenApp

  • NON oversubscribed VM’s on top bin E5 CPU’s are 20% slower core vs core than E3 CPU’s.  Add in hypervisor co-scheduling, VM overhead and E3 bare metal XenApp is up to 30% faster.
  • Consistent performance – Bare metal Windows/XenApp delivers a closer to hardware experience with zero resource competition or contention.
  • Hypervisor becomes a “grey area” of trying to pinpoint possible performance problems.

Designed for scale

  • Bare metal XenApp means more servers to manage – no problem for Cisco and UCS Manager as it was built to be managed at scale.
  • 960 users per chassis, 20 chassis per domain, unlimited domains = managed scale. Read the CVD!

Bare metal XenApp is now a reality once again and it has never been better.  This is your Bigfoot riding the Unicorn packing Silver Bullets – there has never been a more perfect solution for XenApp.

13n6iv

The Intel E3-12XX v4 with IRIS Pro are very affordable CPU’s that bring GPU to your bare metal XenApp deployment.  With simple applications like Microsoft Word being GPU accelerated – there has never been a greater need for general purpose GPU in virtual desktop solutions.  UCS M-Series coupled with the new Intel IRIS Pro enabled CPU’s and Citrix XenApp bring a new level of cost, performance and functionality to your hosted shared desktop.

Stop by the Cisco or Intel Booth at Citrix Synergy to learn more about how M-Series and IRIS Pro can help you.

 

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Flexible Backup and Restore with PoAP Personality Profile

– May 24, 2016 – 1 Comment

This is a guest blog written by Sunil Gudurvalmiki, Product Manager, Insieme Business Unit.SunilGudurvalmiki

 

 

Data center operations teams are increasingly looking at tools to automate and simplify the manual tasks. In addition, they are driving towards using the same tools across compute, storage and network. Cisco announced the availability of Cisco Open NXOS to enable customers reach this goal by installing Open Source and custom developed DevOps tools on Nexus switches.

Two interesting challenges arise that require changes to adapt to new tools and software on the switch:

  1. Revert the switch back to a known working state if any recent changes made the device unusable or unauthorized changes were done.
  2. RMA scenario where a faulty switch is replaced with a new device and the new device needs to inherit the entire personality from the previous device.

Today, we are happy to introduce a powerful new capability “POAP Personality Profile” as part of Open NXOS in Cisco NX-OS Release 7.0(3)I4(1) to address the above challenges. Using POAP Personality Profile capability, customers can snapshot the personality of the switch at a given time and restore to that snapshot when needed.

 

PersonalityProfile

The personality of the switch is customizable and it includes the following:

  1. Image version
  2. Running configuration
  3. Startup configuration
  4. Patches installed
  5. Packages installed
  6. Scripts
  7. User data

Multiple script directories and user data directories can be included in the personality at run time.

While taking a snap shot, the switch does not backup the binaries for packages and patches; instead, it just records the meta data to save space. While restoring the switch, repositories can be used to download the binaries and install the packages and patches.

Taking personality backups can be automated using the scheduler and the whole process can be automated using NX-API. This capability is integrated into the POAP workflow to make the RMA scenario completely zero touch.

We hope you’re as excited about this capability as we are. As always, please let us know what you’d like to see in future versions.

POAP Personality profile is supported on Cisco Nexus 9000 and Nexus 3000/3100/3200 series switches in 7.0(3)I4(1) release.

 

Key Resources

  • Release notes:

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/switches/datacenter/nexus9000/sw/7-x/release/notes/70341_nxos_rn.html

  • Configuration guide:

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/switches/datacenter/nexus9000/sw/7-x/fundamentals/configuration/guide/b_Cisco_Nexus_9000_Series_NX-OS_Fundamentals_Configuration_Guide_7x/b_Cisco_Nexus_9000_Series_NX-OS_Fundamentals_Configuration_Guide_7x_chapter_0100.html#id_23531

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1 Comments

  1. Thank you Rami Rammaha for bringing this to my attention. I have added this to my portfolio for Infrastructure break, fix, recovery tools.

Expanding Meraki Simplicity into Communications

– May 24, 2016 – 0 Comments

Meraki has always focused on simplifying powerful technology so our users can focus on their own mission. Originally, cloud managed wireless allowed users to deploy large, sophisticated wireless networks and reach more people. The results speak for themselves. From our humble beginnings with our first wireless access point back in 2006, our global customer base has grown to over 120,000 worldwide.

Meraki users have guided our expansion from wireless to networking to infrastructure including security, routing, switching and mobile device management. Simplifying infrastructure has been incredibly compelling, allowing them to focus on educational initiatives, shopper experience, hotel guest services and operational efficiencies around the globe.

Once again, Meraki users have spoken passionately. They need enterprise communications to be simpler. We’re extremely excited about entering this market with our first cloud-managed voice platform. This completes our transition from Cloud-Managed Wireless through Cloud-Managed Networking to Cloud-Managed IT.Simplifying IT with Cloud Management

Meraki Formula

Why has Meraki’s model been so much simpler than anything else available? A cloud-based dashboard that provides IT managers with a “single-pane-of-glass” to manage Meraki devices across the enterprise. But the Meraki dashboard isn’t just an overlay. The true magic of the Meraki formula comes from a seamless blending of hardware, software and cloud technologies. We design Meraki devices from the ground up to work seamlessly with our cloud, providing users with a single simple dashboard to manage their entire site.

All of this technology is really just a means to an end, and that’s where simplicity comes in. Instead of sending someone to a branch office to configure a network or change a security setting, an IT manager can simply log in to the Meraki dashboard and make the changes remotely. Need to troubleshoot a network remotely? No problem. Need to set up a new branch office? Easy. Trouble with remote security posture? Piece of cake.

Introducing Cloud-Managed Communications

A rapidly growing number of IT teams depend on the Meraki Dashboard to manage their infrastructure. More and more of them have been asking if we could do the same thing to simplify their voice networks. Meraki users can be incredibly persuasive.

The result is the new phone, the Meraki MC. As you’d expect, it’s designed to deliver the same simplicity and ease-of-management Meraki customers have come to expect. Here are four things you need to know about the Meraki phone:Meraki Communications

  • Single-Pane-of-Glass: It’s managed from the same “single-pane-of-glass” dashboard as the rest of the Meraki portfolio, including wireless, security, switching and mobile device management.
  • Three Elements: The platform is built on a SIP-based architecture and the solution is comprised of the endpoint, cloud license and SIP service from designated service providers.
  • Availability: It’s available immediately in the United States, with other countries coming on board over time. (We’re in the process of partnering with service providers around the world to deliver the SIP capabilities that underpin the solution. Once that happens we’ll announce local availability.)
  • Integration: The Cisco Meraki team is working on integrating with Cisco Collaboration solutions like Cisco Spark to enable a complete mobile collaboration solution. Cisco Meraki is also working on integration with other leading IT tools and platforms.

Focus on Users

In this industry, it’s easy to focus on the newest technology, or aggressive competitors, analysts or the media. We believe that a maniacal focus on users is our true north. What do we hear?

  • Simplicity – less is better: Functionality no one can turn-on might as well not exist. Every IT dollar spent on complexity that can’t be leveraged is wasted.
  • Do more with less: IT groups have fewer resources and need to do more with less. Specifically, they need fewer systems that do more, less hardware on-site, and just enough complexity to get the job done.
  • Technology for the future: Technology teams are investing in cloud systems, modern collaboration and high performing connectivity to make their infrastructure simple. This simplicity frees them to focus on the digitization of their businesses, schools and organizations.

We think Meraki’s MC is by far the easiest to manage voice system on the market. We believe by providing users a voice system managed on the same platform as networking and security we’ve changed the game.

Expanding the Stack

This phone release is so special because these devices are managed exactly the same way and in the same Dashboard as the rest of the Meraki IT stack. This converges networking, security, enterprise mobility management and now voice onto one IT platform.Mobility Continues to Explode

With that in mind, we’re also adding new wireless access points and Ethernet switches to our product lines. Our two new indoor access points will be the highest-end, highest density APs we’ve every built. They provide higher capacity, connect more devices and support more voice and video streams than ever before…So much, they won’t be able to reach their full potential on a single gigabit link, so we’re also releasing a new Multigigabit Ethernet switch and two new 10Gbps fiber switches.

Managing more with fewer systems will free IT groups to focus on what really matters to them instead of another cumbersome management platform. We know this is what users around the world have been asking for. I can’t wait to see what they do with it.

Meraki Communications: https://meraki.cisco.com/products/communications 

Meraki Switches: https://www.meraki.com/products/switches

Meraki Wireless Products: https://www.meraki.com/products/wireless

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Advantage Series: Balance Under Load

– May 23, 2016 – 0 Comments

This is the third in the three part Advantage series on Cisco Cloud Scale technology. Cisco’s Cloud Scale ASIC innovations address the new requirements that distributed computing at scale across whole or partial data centers are going to require.  Many enterprises looking to deliver greater customer value are looking to cloud native platforms to develop customer applications or gain greater customer insights.  To provide a sound foundation for an applications centric business strategy, an IT architecture for the software applications and the supporting infrastructure will ensure service level agreements (SLAs) for performance and reliability can be met efficiently by the IT operations team.

Seven years ago, in the early days of server virtualization, the right processor architecture led the way for mission critical production server applications to run virtualized while meeting compute, I/O, and other performance targets.  If you remember the x86 virtualization technology from Intel, called VT-x and VT-d, these processor architectural innovations were needed to allow server virtualization of production workloads to happen without the overhead penalties in virtual memory and virtual I/O operations.  The Cloud Scale switching architectural innovations for addressing scale, smart buffers, dynamic load balancing,  and more (native VXLAN, real time telemetry at 100G, …) – are similar in importance to those processor innovations over 7 years ago but today they enable cloud scale computing with balanced I/O across the computing, storage, and network fabric.

This short video highlights the importance of Cloud Scale technology innovation using flowlets, dynamic load balancing, and dynamic packet prioritization to maintain balanced performance of application and data I/O across distributed cloud applications.

Balance Under Load

After listening, I hope you and your architects will be interested in taking a closer look at the detailed technical comparisons provided in the Advantage series Cloud Scale technology white papers.  I’ve provided reference links for further consideration in your data center architecture and IT roadmap planning.

References

 

 

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Scan. Analyze. Secure!

– May 23, 2016 – 0 Comments

Let me begin with some nostalgia.

Allow me to transport you back to the 1990s… when fashion got rid of shoulder pads, a new rock sound was coming out of Seattle, South Park and The Simpsons brought crude humor to the masses, and the Internet became more available.

Access became faster and cheaper, and email was at the center of our work and personal lives. It was a new and refreshing form of communication— quick and handy, and always at your fingertips.

But with that liberty came a threat – the threat of viruses in attachments.

Information was stored locally on your PC, and was the target of many hackers wanting access to your personal or work information.

Fast forward a decade, when the promise of cloud-based applications emerged. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and their likes introduced applications that basically brought your PC to the cloud. “No Software”, Salesforce.com claimed (and still do), pioneering the concept of Software-as-a-Service.

That promise of cloud, for compute and storage, is here now. And with broadband, mobility and Internet access becoming ubiquitous and affordable, content and information began migrating from the PC into the cloud. More and more sensitive information is now flowing on networks and is stored in data centers in virtual locations.

So, why am I telling you this? Because hackers now have a different target — your network! Information is everywhere, and the network is at the heart of it; it’s up to you to secure it!

The Global State of Information Security 2016, published recently by PWC*, showed 3 things:

  1. CIOs and CEOs are seeing an increased security threat across all markets and segments.
  2. The average financial loss due to security incidents in 2015 was $2.5M!
  3. To cope with this risk and financial liability, security budgets have increased by 24% in 2015.

Security incidents not only result in information theft and network compromise, but most importantly – downtime and disruption of services.

So, what can you do? Did you know that your existing Cisco infrastructure already has the ability to secure your network? And with a few simple configuration changes you can minimize the risk of a security incident?

Cisco has developed a set of Enterprise Security Baseline recommendations for LAN and Wireless LAN, that is based on leading practices and guidance compiled from customers’ feedback, TAC and escalation cases and in-depth knowledge of the technologies.

What’s more, Cisco has developed a free service to compare your existing network against the Enterprise Security Baseline. This service, Cisco Active Advisor, is simple to use and easy to understand.

Security BP Results-Closeup

With an easy-to-use network discovery via the built-in browser-based scanner, Cisco Active Advisor analyzes your network’s security settings and makes actionable recommendations based on the Baseline Best Practices recommendations.

It checks for baseline security settings in:

  • Device Management
  • Authentication Control
  • Device Audit
  • LAN Access Layer Security
  • Baseline Security for Layer-3 LAN and Routed WAN
  • Baseline Security for Campus Wireless LAN Controllers

In just a few clicks with minimal processing time, you can leverage Cisco’s expertise and experience to ensure your network is secure with the very basic needs – before increasing your security expenses.

Cisco Active Advisor saves you time and money, and allows you to utilize your resources better.

In fact, many customers have reported a >15% increase in efficiency (a saving of multiple man-days or even weeks per quarter) when using Cisco Active Advisor! 

Additionally, Cisco Active Advisor measures Switching and Wireless Best Practices as defined in Cisco Enterprise Campus Infrastructure Best Practices Guide and Cisco Wireless LAN Controller Best Practices.

You can access your account on Cisco Active Advisor any time using your cisco.com credentials.

Securing your network couldn’t be easier, and it’s free!

So, before investing a large sum in security products, run Security Best Practices Assessment on Cisco Active Advisor.

And please let us know – have we found ways to make your network more secure, with Cisco’s Baseline Security Best Practices? And how much time did Cisco Active Advisor save you in analyzing these? What did you do with all that time and resources? Please tell us in the Comments below or tweet us @CiscoEnterprise, we’d love to know!

Oh, and in case you are still reminiscing about the 1990s, Cisco Active Advisor does not support Netscape Navigator v3 and is fully Y2K compliant.

*http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/cyber-security/information-security-survey/key-findings.html

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Industry Recognition for Cisco Hybrid Cloud Solutions

– May 23, 2016 – 0 Comments

It is nearly impossible to miss the business transformation taking place in every organization.  As consumers, our smart devices have trained us to expect delivery of information or services at near instant speed.  But when we move from our consumer to business roles, we find service delivery anything BUT instant.

Cisco has two solutions that deliver on demand consumption of IT and business services into hybrid environments.  Both of these solutions have been noticed by customers and have become established in the marketplace.  But it is especially pleasing when recognition comes from industry peers.

Since 1986, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has recognized software and digital content providers with CODiE awards.  The SIIA CODiE is the only peer-reviewed program that showcases technology products for business and education.  SIIA represents approximately 800 member companies worldwide that develop software and digital information content.

Recently, SIIA announced the winners of their CODiE awards:

CODiE
Winner Best Cloud Infrastructure:   Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite
Winner Best Cloud Management Solution:    CliQr CloudCenter (now Cisco CloudCenter)

Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite is a hybrid cloud solution that allows organizations to land and expand their cloud journey. Modular architecture enables companies’ to start with basic infrastructure automation and expands into IT and business-based service delivery.  This modular approach allows organizations to experience the benefits and ROI of self-service automation faster.

CliQr CloudCenter (now Cisco CloudCenter) abstracts the application from infrastructure allowing the application to be deployed across multiple data center, private and public environments. Cisco CloudCenter defines and configures the infrastructure as opposed to fitting the application to a preconfigured infrastructure-centric blueprint or template.

Cisco’s hybrid cloud duo provides any organization with a simple way to get started and grow as their expertise of cloud services evolves.  They manage heterogeneous hardware and deliver hybrid cloud capabilities that virtually eliminate cloud lock in while increasing organizational speed and flexibility.  Best of all, both solutions contain built-in guardrails that are hidden from developers or line-of-business yet silently protect business compliance and security.

Watch these videos to learn more about Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite and Cisco CloudCenter.

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There’s Never Been A Better Time To Make Cities Smarter

– May 20, 2016 – 0 Comments

The Wall Street Journal recently stated that one of our greatest frustrations is traffic and our daily commute. I live in a large city and travel often to big cities for work, and I can personally relate to this. Sitting in traffic makes me impatient and annoyed. But did you know that digital transformation can actually ease congestion and empower citizens like me and you? While the business side of me is excited about the potential for digital business, the personal side of me is thrilled about spending less time in traffic.

Cities all over the world are becoming digital – bringing people together to dream, create, and innovate in new ways. Digitization is forcing cities and businesses to reimagine their business models – and there’s never been a better time to make cities smarter. Here are a few examples:

Hamburg’s digital innovation spreads from the port to the city. A digital-ready network and IT strategy extend Wi-Fi access, and interactive kiosks provide real-time information about city attractions and businesses. This makes it easy and intuitive to plan a day of shopping or sightseeing anywhere around town. Hamburg’s intelligent parking space control helps you find parking quickly and eases traffic congestion. Future digitization plans include a smart street lighting program that can not only save money, but make citizens safer by lighting up dark streets whenever people walk by.

map

The City of Mississauga in Canada’s digital-ready network helps the city create a connected and engaged workforce. Mississauga built a private fiber network using Cisco routing, switching, and security solutions and launched a citywide wireless network using Cisco controllers and access points. City leaders and employees are now becoming more mobile. This network gives all city operations field staff mobile access to service work orders and real-time information to enable quick and accurate decisions from anywhere. The city now has a formal BYOD policy and paperless initiatives, supported by the wireless network, improving productivity for the city and requiring less office space.

From government to healthcare and every industry in between, anyone planning to digitize needs a network that delivers real-time insights, personalized experiences, automation, assurance, and security.

Cisco® Digital Network Architecture (DNA) provides an open, software-driven platform that integrates innovations in networking software, such as virtualization, automation, analytics, and cloud, into a single architecture. It helps enable business and IT to innovate faster, reduce costs, and lower risk with services that are easy to consume.

More than ever before, technology is giving us the ability to change the world. And for cities this means better serving citizens, improving safety, and addressing urban challenges like parking and traffic.

There’s never been a better time to accelerate digital transformation with a digital-ready network. Download this ZK Research white paper and learns the steps to begin. Tell us what changes and innovations you can envision if your city became a digital city.

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Advantage Series: Smarter Networks for Big Data and IP Storage

– May 20, 2016 – 0 Comments

This is the second in the three part series on Cisco Cloud Scale technology.  Here I want to touch on the impact of distributed storage, big data analytics and search algorithms that operate across hundreds or thousands of servers at a time.  Cloud based applications, especially the ones written natively with cloud scale operations in mind, operate across many servers concurrently to achieve speed during data mining or retrieval operations as illustrated in the figure below.

Smarter for Distributed Data

When lots of responses to the queries occur within a very short time interval, the convergence of TCP packets on the requester can create a spike of traffic or InCast event that can overrun the buffering resources at the data center switch connected to the requesting server workload.

(For a detailed explanation of the mechanics of these events and TCP protocol, please see Tom Edsall’s excellent videos here and here.) This consequence is due to the new application requirements associated with many new cloud applications and their impacts on data center network fabrics.

Listen to this short video about the need for more intelligent networks if you want to scale in production deployment with your new cloud applications and data.

Smarter for Distributed Data

Check back here on May 23rd for the third and last installment in the Advantage series on Cloud Scale technology.

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Cisco Open Source Project Contiv – Winner at ONUG Spring

– May 19, 2016 – 0 Comments

Cisco has been actively participating in open source and open standards for a long time and is now also founding member of the Open IT Framework at the most recently held Open Networking User Group (ONUG) earlier this month. As I wrote in my blog prior to the event our focus was going to be on Containers. And we are certainly pleased to announce the acknowlegement that Cisco’s Distinguished Engineer Vipin Jain (on left in picture above) received as the winner of the “Grand Challenge Hackathon”with his contribution with Project Contiv.

According to ONUG, the goal of the hackathon was to help move the industry forward “toward open, programmable, automated computer networks.” Vipin’s contribution through Project Contiv that is designed to define infrastructure operational policies for container-based applications definitely meets this goal and then some.  For a closer look at his code, you can visit the ONUG GitHub page.

Cisco introduced Contiv publicly less than a year ago but it is one of many open source projects that Cisco is sponsoring. For an overview on all the open source projects that Cisco is actively involved in, please visit http://opensource.cisco.com

OpenSource GitHub Live Feed

The attention Contiv is drawing is understandable, given that containers and the migration to microservice application architectures remain among the hottest enterprise trends in recent years. Contiv is aiming to solve the difficult task of scaling these technologies in mainstream enteprises by tackling both the operational and architectural aspects. For additional insights and use cases for Contiv  I encourage you to read Vipin’s  and Cisco’s Balaji Sivasubramanian recent interview with SDX central or check out the demo from Tech Field Day Extra at ONUG Spring.

Over the next coming weeks join Cisco experts in upcoming events focused on containers and application microservices.

For example, on June 20 at Dockercon16 in Seattle, Balaji Sivasubramanian, director of product management for Cisco Cloud Native Solutions, will discuss the requirements for building production-grade container apps.

That same week, on June 22 at Velocity in Santa Clara, Mike Dvorkin, founder of the Noiro Project, will be delivering a keynote address on the principles and benefits of controlled consumption model for application microservices, and its implications on devops processes and security.

Cisco will have staffers and subject matter experts on-hand at both events with all relevant topics being up for discussion. This includes all the great contributions Cisco has and will continue to make to the open source communities. We look forward to meeting you there.

For a complete list of the upcoming events that Cisco is taking part in around the world, please visit our global events calendar.

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