Will Cloud Displace Partners Doing System Integration & Professional Services?

– June 2, 2016 – 0 Comments

“Enterprises won’t need systems integration and professional services if they shut down their IT Operations and move to the cloud.”

– Light Reading, May 31, 2016

Without any context, that quote could be wildly misinterpreted, and create some angst for you. Because if you’re reading this, you’re probably a Partner providing System Integration or Professional Services, or you do IT Ops for an Enterprise.

Let’s first acknowledge that there is obviously movement to the cloud, some to private, some to public. The reality is that workloads are moving to both. The quote above, however, is referencing public cloud specifically. I mean, if there’s no IT Ops, there’s probably no private cloud.

So what’s underneath the statement?  It was made in this excellent article from Mitch Wagner.  His objective was not to cast some gloom & doom story over Partners.  Quite to the contrary, it profiles how Hutchinson Networks, a Cisco Partner in the UK, is shifting its business and competing more effectively, in part, by leveraging automation with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Problem

Hutchinson anticipated that as its small/medium sized customers moved parts of their business to public cloud, need for their services would decrease, which would make growth challenging. Stephen Hampton, CTO for Hutchinson Networks said, “If this continues to accelerate, the need for in–house skills reduces further, and the need for our services starts to erode.”(1)

In this case study, Hampton added, “We see companies moving towards cloud connections and simple campus networks, which limits our ability to continue growing through consulting services.”

So what did they do? Hampton said, “We decided to turn this problem into an opportunity. We could use our deep networking expertise to deliver cloud hosting with advanced network services normally not seen in the cloud.”

Solution

Their new solution is called Fabrix and its based on ACI. It provides several differentiators (outlined in the resources below) including a heavy emphasis on automation.

“Many companies have managed data center services that they call a cloud, but the way we see it, a true cloud infrastructure should be completely automated,” says Hampton. “Cisco ACI and the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches are built from the ground up for automation in a way that traditional platforms aren’t. The result is automation that is relatively easy to implement for Fabrix.” (2)

Rationale

SDN, Orchestration and Why Fabrix Went Cisco ACI is a post that, as the title would imply, covers some of the criteria for selecting ACI as the platform on which to build Fabrix. It covers several areas including cost, programmability and flexibility. It says, There are of course very cost effective combinations of open source controllers and white box switches. However, in most cases a lot of in-house development work is required. The Cisco ACI starter kit is very competitively priced. Also, the APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) has the considerable force of the Cisco development team behind it rather than just our own in-house DevOps. As a result, we expect to lower the total cost of ownership with Cisco ACI.”  The post continues with “Cisco APIC and the Nexus 9000 have been built from the ground up for automation…Easier automation in turn leads to easier orchestration.”

Cisco UCS Director is being used for orchestration and “is preconfigured with orchestration workflows that are integrated with the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) to deliver unified deployment and provisioning across the entire environment, including Cisco ACI ecosystem partners, such as F5 for application delivery and Nimble for storage.” (3)

As far as flexibility, the post mentions that “… a very significant feature for Fabrix is Cisco ACI’s ability to support bare metal connections…” Along these lines, Light Reading mentioned “Cisco differentiates from VMware in that it integrates API with hardware, while VMware operates an overlay model. ‘We’re not building a different network and overlaying something on top’ ” Hampton says.

Since we’re on the topic of flexibility within the context of cloud, its worth mentioning that “Hutchinson also offers application extraction – the ability to move applications between multiple cloud platforms – using services from CliQr, which was acquired recently by Cisco, as well as Pivotal and Apprenda. Extraction can be tricky for non-cloud-native apps, which require policies around security and app delivery, as well as moving large data sets.” (4)

At this point, I do need to inject a little biased editorializing by saying I think its pretty cool how they are leveraging Cisco for compute, network, orchestration and public cloud extraction/movement. They don’t need to, because they could, for example, use ACI’s northbound API’s to integrate with other orchestration tools like OpenStack. In any case, it would appear they place a heavy emphasis on automation.  The ability to use consistent policies to accelerate and simplify automation across all these platforms is unique to Cisco.

So, we’ve covered Hutchinson’s problem (business disruption), solution (ACI) and the rationale used for arriving at the solution. Hampton summarized all of this nicely by stating:

“Cisco ACI is built for automation, giving our services the speed and cost-efficiency that our customers expect.” (5)

But Wait – There’s More!

Hutchinson Networks is one of five different customers profiled yesterday in this Press Release discussing how Service Providers worldwide are adopting ACI. I don’t have enough space to cover each of them here, but would encourage you to check out how ACI is positively impacting business at Integra, NTT DOCOMO, Tele2 and Manx Telecom, as well.

References/Resources:

(1) Light Reading article

(2) Case study

(3) Case study

(4) Light Reading article

(5) Success story

Hutchinson Post

Press Release

 

Image source: Pixabay

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Forrester names Cisco UCS a Leader

– June 2, 2016 – 2 Comments

Recognition for Cisco UCS continues! Forrester Research recently positioned Cisco as a “Leader” in their report: The Forrester Wave™: Big Data Hadoop-Optimized Systems, Q2 2016. Built on innovation, designed for business acceleration, and engineered with scale and performance in mind, our Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data solutions continue to grow in all major industry segments and geographies. We believe Forrester’s evaluation of Cisco provides yet more evidence of our strength and capabilities.

In their own words, here is how Forrester summarizes Cisco for Hadoop: “Cisco Systems provides a viable midsized system at attractive price point. Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data provides a secure and scalable infrastructure to support enterprise requirements. Cisco’s UCS solution comes pretested and prevalidated for Cloudera, Hortonworks, IBM, and MapR, providing a lower-cost and scalable storage platform to support Hadoop deployments. Management tools such as Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS Director allow for simple configuration of big data Hadoop clusters that can adapt dynamically to changing workloads. Cisco’s key differentiators lie in its ability to offer a wide range of configurations, its strong focus on internet-of-things (IoT) use cases, and its broad partner ecosystem.

Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data, a set of reference architectures optimized for performance, scalability and TCO, is the foundation for our Big Data and Analytics offerings. This solution, as mentioned by Forrester, supports and is available for the leading Hadoop distributions: Cloudera, Hortonworks, IBM, and MapR. Additionally, we collaborate with leading analytics providers such as Platfora, SAP, SAS, and Splunk providing even more choice, which highlights our openness and breadth. Investigate our Big Data and Analytics offerings by visiting the Cisco Big Data Design Zone here.

Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data delivers a spectrum of value, too as these customer comments reflects:

  • “We chose the Cisco Unified Computing System because of its dense form factor, scalability, and high performance. Our computational power is now about 80 times greater than our legacy server infrastructure.”

Brad Anderson, Vice President, Big Data Informatics, Liaison Technologies

  • “Data scientists can design complex queries that run against multi-terabyte data sets and get more accurate results in just minutes rather than hours or days.”

Alex Shaw, Head of Technology Operations, Quantium

We are not done yet! We will continue to innovate and bring new Big Data oriented solutions to the market, which will afford Data Scientist productivity gains, reduced risk via our validation and support processes, and of course, easily scale as your data volume grows. Stay tuned! Feel free to visit www.cisco.com/go/bigdata to learn more.

 

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2 Comments

    Great news! The report can be downloaded here: http://reprints.forrester.com/#/assets/2/154/%27RES123865%27/reports

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Cisco Recognized as A Leader in Gartner WAN OP MQ, 2nd Year in a Row

– June 2, 2016 – 0 Comments

I am excited to share that Cisco, once again, secured a leadership position in Gartner 2016 WAN Optimization Magic Quadrant. This comes shortly after the Best of Interop win in Las Vegas for Cisco Enterprise NFV. According to the report, Leaders in this Magic Quadrant have a broad feature set, including QoS, generic compression, protocol acceleration and file system acceleration, with the majority of features proved in substantial real-world implementations. In my opinion, these recent recognitions are a testament to Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture solutions in providing an open, software-driven, service-centric network to accelerate our customers’ digital transformation initiatives.

Cisco Enterprise WAN Magic Quadrant

(Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization, May 2016. G00276843)

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Cisco.

The Winning Factors

I believe this recognition is a result of Cisco’s abilities to address key market needs:

  1. Delivering network services convergence and secure cloud app performance via Direct Internet Access for SaaS applications, which now includes asymmetric deployment
  2. Robust offerings providing our customers with flexible deployment choice
    • As standard virtual machine on a hypervisor of choice – vWAAS on VMWare ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, or KVM on an x86;
    • As router integrated solution – vWAAS on a UCS-E Series compute blade hosted on the ISR 4000;
    • As virtual container in the IOS XE operation system; and
    • As virtual network function supported by Cisco Enterprise NFV solution.
  3. Met and exceeded hybrid WAN and software defined (SD-WAN) requirements:

Download the full Gartner MQ WAN Optimization report here, and check out Anna Duong’s post on Cisco Enterprise Network Communities for an insider view of Cisco WAN Opt Vision and Strategy.

 Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

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