Webinar: Eliminating the Guesswork with Optimized Architectures for VDI

4-19 Figure 1I’m excited to mention that next week I’m hosting a webinar on BrightTalk, with my guest Ashok Rajagopalan, from Cisco’s UCS Product Management Team.  You guessed it, we’ll be talking VDI, but more specifically, we’ll be exploring a new portfolio of architectures that are expanding the breadth of use cases and IT environments into which we can deliver cost-effective, easy-to-manage, high-performance virtualized desktops and apps.

I’ll be asking Ashok about some of the trends we’ve been seeing over the last year including the proliferation of flash memory based storage solutions and more importantly how Cisco is eliminating performance bottlenecks and delivering tier-0 (on-server) storage solutions for VDI, ideal for floating / stateless desktop environments. 4-19 Figure 2

Many customers we’ve met with are resonating with the ability to leverage server-installed storage footprint that offers expansive IOPS capacity, coupled with the simpler manageability through UCS Manager and Service Profile Templates.

4-19 Figure 3Additionally we’ll discuss how Cisco is delivering a full spectrum or portfolio approach to offering reference architectures that map more closely to the specific VDI use cases.  This expanded flexibility and choice is breaking down the CAPEX and operations hurdles many IT organizations face when implementing VDI.  We’ll also discuss the best-of-breed technologies we’ve integrated from our solution ecosystem, and how you can take advantage of new reference architectures that help eliminate the guesswork from VDI.

Join us on Thursday April 25th, to learn more, and ask us your questions about how these new reference architectures and help you deliver desktop virtualization with reduced cost, increased flexibility and greater simplicity.  Click here to register!

Cisco UCS – Quintessential Fabric-based computing – Part 3

In Part 1 of this blog series, we looked at Gartner’s definition of Fabric based infrastructure (FBI). In part 2, we explored the benefits of service profiles and automation of server management. In this last installment, we will look into the benefits of fabric extension to virtual machines.

According to an IDC report (New Economic Model for the Data Center), the rate of growth of virtual machines is much higher than physical machines.  The life cycle of virtual machines is more dynamic than physical servers. Virtual machines may need to be moved from one network to another for data access.  Additionally, typical deployments of virtual machines have an extra layer of switching in the hypervisor.  The software switches in the hypervisor emulate hardware at the expense of application performance. Cisco UCS solves these problems with the Cisco Virtual Interface cards (VICs) acting as adapter fabric extenders (fig 1) and bringing the network to virtual machines (VMs).


Another problem is that network administrators have no control on the soft switches in the hypervisor, which makes monitoring of network traffic to individual VMs very cumbersome. Cisco VICs use the VN-Tag standard in IEEE 802.1 BR standard to manage each link from the VM as if it were a physical link. The VICs can provide dynamic interfaces to virtual machines allowing the network to bypass the hypervisor and directly connect to the VM. This VM fabric extender (VM-FEX) technology (fig 2 above) allows VMs to connect to networks like physical servers.  Network administrators can now monitor the ports easily. Additionally, the VMs can move from one Cisco UCS server host to another with the same security policies and no compromises on the overall network security to allow the move. For a more detailed discussion refer to the white paper – Delivering on the promise of Virtualization.

In all data center deployments, performance and monitoring of applications (services) is the ultimate test.   As a software practitioner I found that several problems and issues showed up when we scaled applications by adding more users.  The defects generally ended up in the “application performance” bucket.  In order to solve these problems, the first order of business is monitoring.  Once the initial performance problems have been resolved and the application is in production, the monitoring must continue.  Service level agreements (SLA) capture application performance requirements in a contract between the service provider and consumer.  There are many Service Assurance tools to help IT ensure that services meet SLAs.  CA Technologies has tools to monitor and manage applications running on the Cisco UCS (physical or virtual).  I am looking forward to CA World 2013 in Las Vegas next week, where we will feature the Cisco UCS in CA’s Service Assurance Pavilion.

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Keeping up with Demand

How time flies: Cisco and Intel are celebrating their one-year partnership anniversary of Unleashing IT with the launch of the all new, Spring 2013 edition. Available online and in print, this latest installment is once again packed with thought-leadership content and company profiles.

Over the past year, Unleashing IT has uncovered and shared many IT best practices. The industries represented through the company profiles featured are extremely diverse, as are their solutions and deployment strategies.

But there is a common thread — they are all are leveraging data center technology to advance, accelerate and streamline their business, enter new markets, all while achieving substantial cost savings. From education to healthcare to utility companies, innovation in the data center is driving their success — and allowing them to keep up with demands of the business.

Perhaps you will find inspiration from these profiles, sparking new ideas — and allowing you unleash the full potential of IT for your business.

To get full access to Unleashing IT, subscribe or log in here.


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Application Experience at CA World 2013 Las Vegas

Ciscos Approach One Network with Unified ServicesLast month, Cisco announced ISR-AX. This new application delivery platform provides granular application visibility, control and optimization, integrated in a single box.  ISR-AX helps customers enhance end-user productivity, lower WAN bandwidth costs and simplify IT.

In discussing this new role of the router, application performance management becomes a key component.  ISR-AX and AVC (Application Visibility and Control) offers an open platform where we share the network intelligence gathered by Cisco routers with third party tools.  CA Technologies and Cisco have been working together towards supporting our mutual customers’ needs for Application and Network Performance Management (APM and NPM) and ensure that users get the highest quality of application experience from anywhere.

Next week at CA World in Las Vegas, Liad Ofek, Technical Marketing Engineering Manager and Bob Krentler, Business Development Manager, will be presenting ‘Delivering Optimal Application Experience with Cisco ISR-AX’.  They will cover:

  • Application Trends and IT Transitions
  • IT Complexity and Challenges
  • Cisco’s New Approach: Application-centric Networking with ISR-AX
  • Details of ISR-AX
    • WAN Optimization (WAAS)
    • AVC (NBAR2, Netflow, Application Response Time, Intelligent Path Selection, Medianet, Application-aware QoS)

Also join us at the Cisco booth demo at the CA Assurance tent 557A/B where we showcase the ISR-AX.  Talk to our experts about how Cisco and CA can help your organization scale and be agile to the growing demand of new applications and user expectations.

Also, check out this video on our strategic partnership:

For more information about CA World ’13, visit: http://www.ca.com/us/caworld.aspx.


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Cisco continues to invest in SAP providing amazing results

Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) server platform continues to make significant strides in becoming a major player in the mission-critical application space, in this case SAP. UCS just claimed a fantastic benchmark using the UCS B200 on SAP Sybase ASE.

Since UCS was built from the ground up for virtualization, not only will its virtues lend itself to speed as evidenced by the SAP SD benchmark , UCS will also significantly lower operating costs in the process as evidenced by an external case study with TUI Travel or HotelsBeds  out of Spain. Read and downlaod here the case study 

Cisco has also been running a comprehensive set of world-wide SAP HANA Roadshows. They have consisted of 11 road shows in the US, 6 road shows in EMEAR, 3 road shows in Canada, and 1 in APJC. As a result, the demand for SAP HANA on the Cisco UCS Server Platform has dramatically increased.

Cisco now has over 50 customers running SAP HANA on Cisco UCS Servers. Some of these customers vary from very large service provider companies, medical device firms, large international food companies, and world wide travel companies. The size of the server used for these customers vary from small rack mount servers (Cisco UCS C260), to medium configurations (Cisco C460) to larger installs that take advantage of the Cisco Blade Server Technology (Cisco B440). All of these servers are certified for SAP HANA and are currently available on the SAP Product Availability Matrix (PAM).

You can see this investment in the Cisco booth #1412 at SAP Sapphire from May 14-16 in Orlando, Florida. Look forward to seeing you there

For more information on the Cisco SAP partnership , visit also our website .

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Cisco’s Next Generation Workplace in Singapore

Yesterday, Cisco opened its new regional headquarters in Singapore, one of the first in the world that was designed from the ground up on the principles of the Cisco Connected Workplace, which integrates technology seamlessly into the workplace to foster collaboration. The new office is a living, breathing example of what Cisco feels is the next generation workplace.

Earlier this year, Cisco brought together several thought leaders in the industry to discuss the next generation workplace and what it meant to them. The one common thread which they all agreed on was that the next generation workplace is becoming essential to attract and retain the best employees and that it is as much of a cultural shift as it is a technological shift.

This video captures the essence of that discussion which features Dinesh Malkani, then managing director of Cisco’s Collaboration business in Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China; Simon Kahn, chief marketing officer, Asia Pacific, GoogleCraig Gledhill, vice president, Regional Enterprise Business, Samsung Electronics; Han Kwee Juan, chief executive officer, Citibank SingaporeGarluck Lai, assistant director, Technology & Resource Management, Temasek Polytechnic; and Manoj Menon, partner and managing director, Asia Pacific, Frost and Sullivan.


“The next generation workplace is visual, collaborative, social, mobile and instantaneous. It is the de-centred centre. The desk that doesn’t need a chair,” said Malkani. “When we talk about the next generation workplace, we are talking about the point when we embrace what technology can do and use this to improve our work environment. It is when a computer is no longer just a word processing machine but a TelePresence hub. When our tablets and mobile phones connect to the server and allow us to work anywhere, anytime. It is when we embrace collaboration to bring the best out of all of us.”

Cisco’s perspective of the next generation workplace may not be the only one in the industry but our employees are really responding well to it and often cite it as one of the reasons why they love working for Cisco.

Here are some photos of Cisco’s regional headquarters in Singapore:




#EngineersUnplugged S2|Ep10: #BigData — The Human Face of and Why It Matters

Welcome back to Engineers Unplugged. Today, we talk Big Data with Matthew Brender (@mjbrender EMC) and Hans De Leenheer (@hansdeleenheer Veeam). It’s not just a lot of data, it’s what you can do with it. For real world examples, and thoughts on where this is all going, listen in:

Matthew Brender (EMC) and Hans De Leenheer (Veeam) Talk Big Data with a Rhinocorn.

Matthew Brender (EMC) and Hans De Leenheer (Veeam) Talk Big Data with a Rhinocorn.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got a second awesome episode this week. Do you live out in the middle of nowhere? Connectivity a problem? No more network blues, just build your own. This is geek ingenuity at its best, courtesy of Andy Sholomon (@asholomon Cisco) and Andy Banta (@andybanta), watch and see:

Andy Banta and Andy Sholomon and BYON!

Andy Banta and Andy Sholomon and BYON!

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Ideas for the show? Want to be a guest? Contact us above, or like on Facebook.com/engineersunplugged for the inside track. There are a few slots left for shoots at EMC World. Act now!

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Cisco and Red Hat Explore Partnership for Red Hat Distribution of OpenStack (RDO)

At the OpenStack Summit 2013, Red Hat announced Red Hat Distribution of OpenStack (RDO), a freely available, community-supported distribution of OpenStack. OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter.  RDO is an enterprise-ready version of OpenStack backed by Red Hat’s commercial support.

In addition to the new release, Red Hat also announced today the launch of an official Cloud Infrastructure Partner Program, “a multi-tiered program designed for third-party commercial companies that offer hardware, software and services for customers to implement cloud infrastructure solutions powered by Red Hat OpenStack.” I’m excited about the  solution opportunities that are possible by combining UCS and Nexus offerings  with Red Hat on the OpenStack cloud infrastructure.

Read the announcement here:







Red Hat OpenStack Announcement

Why is this a good fit for Cisco’s Customers?

Cisco Servers - Unified Computing
Cisco believes in a world of many clouds, and consistent with this basic tenant, continues to support open source cloud computing platforms such as OpenStack and CloudStack. Cisco’s open architecture, multi-vendor approach to Unified Data Center brings together best-of-breed technologies that change the economics of the data center, helps to reduce the cost of operations, and allows IT to easily deploy applications and be more responsive to the business.


According to Parvesh Sethi, Senior Vice President, Cisco Services, We have seen a tremendous interest in and pent-up demand for OpenStack from a broad range of Cisco’s most strategic customers, and we fully expect OpenStack to be widely adopted. Until now, there have been limited production-grade fully supported solutions available.  We are therefore excited to be exploring opportunities to expand our relationship to collaborate closely with Red Hat on the OpenStack cloud infrastructure.

How does Cisco’s Unified Data Center strategy support the RDO announcement?

The Cisco Unified Data Center brings together networking, computing, storage, management, and security resources into a unified platform that provides the core infrastructure for cloud computing.

Cisco Unified Data Center (UDC)


It is based on three pillars of innovation including Cisco Unified Fabric, Unified Computing, and Unified Management. Cisco’s Unified Data Center offers an ideal platform for OpenStack environments  including RDO and is fully qualified with specific Cisco reference architectures including Cisco UCS B-Series Blade and UCS C-Series Rack servers, Cisco Nexus as well as Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.



How does RDO play into the Cisco cloud strategy?

Cisco’s OpenStack strategy begins with ensuring that OpenStack networks support the sophisticated enterprise networking features most customers are looking for.  As part of that broader strategy its critical that OpenStack distributions like RDO support these networking functions as part of their offering.

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Increase Profits by Making it Easy to Follow the Money

Increase Profits by Making it Easy to Follow the Money

Hundreds of cloud service providers around the world are seeing businesses connect into their clouds in increasing numbers. You might think this goes into the category of a “good problem to have.” So growth that should be great news for the bottom line, isn’t yet because many service providers are simply unable to capitalize on this growth — their financial systems aren’t designed to support or scale for the cloud business model effectively.

The Need for Cloud-Enabled Financial Management
Cloud service providers are transitioning from a traditional datacenter hosting model, but their existing financial systems are built for more static IT environments, fixed pricing, and monthly billing cycles. Today’s cloud environment is 180o shift from that. Resources are now deployed on-demand, scale up and down dynamically, turn on and off at a moment’s notice, and span various platforms. And while this provides greater agility and flexibility to the customer, it also means they no longer have predictable costs. As a result, customers want real-time, self-service access to their bills and controls to keep their spending from skyrocketing.
Bottom line: traditional billing systems don’t hold up to the demands of today’s cloud.

Service providers need to let themselves and their customers follow the money in an efficient, quick way. Luckily, that’s now possible.

Help Customers Navigate their Financial Relationship with Your Business—No Matter How Complex or Dynamic their Needs Are
Cisco solves the unique financial needs of our cloud service providers by providing an integrated cost management solution for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) from partner, Cloud Cruiser. Cloud Cruiser for Cisco IAC is a financial management solution that contains a robust set of capabilities specifically designed for service providers implementing cloud solutions based on Cisco IAC.

Automated Multi-Tenant Invoicing
One of the benefits of Cisco IAC for service providers is the ability for customers to order and manage their cloud-based services from a self-service portal. Cloud Cruiser taps into Cisco IAC to capture granular usage data and apply the appropriate business rules and rates for each customer. Costs are rolled up accordingly by company, business unit, department, and user so that reports and invoices can be automatically created and distributed, providing powerful business analytics and drill-down capabilities to the people that need them.

Holistic Bill of IT
In addition to Cisco IAC, Cloud Cruiser’s cost management platform is extensible to Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and most industry-standard public and private cloud platforms, databases, and applications. For service providers that want to bill for multiple services, such as help desk, software licenses, or other public, or private cloud services, Cloud Cruiser gives services providers a single reporting and billing solution to meet their needs. No more spreadsheets or manual consolidation of bills –service providers can now put their billing on auto-pilot and focus on their cloud business.

Profit Management
To optimize profitability, service providers need to be able to manage both the revenue they are receiving from their services and the costs associated with providing those services. This is where Cloud Cruiser provides unique value in the industry with its Cloud P&L. With granular insight into the profitability of individual services and individual customers, service providers can make informed decisions that impact their bottom line. If changes to pricing are required, Cloud Cruiser offers a wide array of pricing models that can be used to attract new customers or shape user behavior to influence profitability, such as promotional pricing, tiered pricing, SLAs, or discounts, to name a few.

Controlling Costs in a Dynamic Cloud Environment
For customers moving from static pricing models to dynamic, pay-per-usage models, how do service providers offer assurances to their customers that they won’t have unexpected cost overages? Cloud Cruiser offers customer-enabled budgets, alerts, reporting, and BI so that customers can manage their own spending at any level in their organization. If an unexpected alert is generated, there is a full suite of reporting tools to help identify problems and take corrective action. Putting cost control and reporting in the hands of the customers enables service providers to grown their customer base, taking advantage of Cisco IAC’s industry-leading scalability, without incurring massive administrative overhead.

The cloud market is competitive and service providers need the right capabilities to differentiate their solution to attract and retain customers. Cisco IAC and Cloud Cruiser provide a tightly integrated, full-service solution to drive greater value to your customers and maximum profitability to your business. It helps everyone follow the money all the way to the bottom line.

Cisco SDN Controller Passes InCTRE Interoperability Lab OpenFlow Testing

InCNTRE_1280x720On the road to becoming a shipping product, our Cisco ONE Controller goes thorough a number of steps.  One such step is interoperability testing at InCTRE Interoperability Lab.  I recently caught up Phil Casini, Product Manager for the controller to see exactly what that entails and why our customers should care.

Phil, What exactly is InCTRE?

iNCTRE is the Indiana Center for Network Translational Research and Education hosted out of Indiana University.  Their goal is to increase understanding, development and adoption of OpenFlow and other SDN technologies.  We became a member in 2011 and utilized their Openflow testing services to provide us feedback on our Controllers interoperability with various network devices based on our Openflow 1.0 implementation.

How did they test our Controller?

The lab has a number of Openflow test suites that IU has developed over time  In our case, they installed the Cisco Controller in their lab network that at that time utilized  HP, IBM and NEC switches, then ran it through thier test plan.

How did our switch fare?

Our Controller was found to be interoperable with all three switches based on our Openflow 1.0 implementation.

What exactly does that mean for a customer?

INCTRE provides customers with independent validation of interoperability claims that are made by vendors.

So, should we take OF interoperability as table stakes? If so, what other things should customers be evaluating when they look at controller technology?

Like any other new technology, independent testing should be one of a list of evaluation criteria for evaluating vendor products. In the case of controllers for SDN, Openflow testing provides assurances that network devices can interoperate, but usually the end goal is to implement a solution. Openflow is important in that it is a means towards achieving the solution goals but it is not necessarily the end. Other criteria such as extensibility of the controller to adopt to the solution, functionality of the controller for operation in a production network environment, and the efficiency at which business applications can be adopted or created that will interact with the controller and complete the solution are other very important factors in determining a fit. On a weighted bases these may count more to reach the solution goals than the mechanism used to communicate between the controller and the network devices.

BTW, for those of you who will be at the Open Networking Summit next week, we will have both the Controller and onePK demos in out Cisco booth.