Cisco welcomes Dimension Data to global cloud initiative

The sun shone outside the Cisco Live conference on Tuesday even as the clouds gathered within, and that was exactly the kind of weather Cisco was hoping for.

Hosting and cloud provider Dimension Data signed on to use Cisco’s Intercloud platform, Cisco executive Rob Lloyd announced in a keynote address that emphasized hybrid clouds and making IT infrastructure easier to set up and manage.

Cisco will sell cloud services using Dimension Data’s Managed Cloud Platform, including IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) and SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings of Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint, said Lloyd, who is Cisco’s president of development and sales. The services are available now through 10 Dimension data centers worldwide, which will expand to 13 by the end of September, according to Cisco.

The services coming through Dimension Data will be aimed at medium-sized enterprises and at smaller service providers that want to resell cloud services, especially in the developing world, Lloyd said.

Intercloud is Cisco’s architecture for linking private and public infrastructure around the world into a single cloud. It will let enterprises and service providers host workloads anywhere and move them around based on regional needs and compliance requirements. Cisco is using Intercloud to offer its own services, backing away from earlier pledges not to compete with its service-provider customers, but is still counting on partners to bring their infrastructure to the party.

Australian carrier Telstra, a longtime Cisco customer, was the company’s first announced Intercloud partner. Dimension Data, a Cisco partner for 23 years, and parent NTT have now joined in, Lloyd told Cisco Live attendees.

Lloyd compared the concept to international roaming on cellular networks.

“We’re going to embrace all cloud partners … in the countries where we do business around the world, and in partnership with our cloud partners,” Lloyd said.

Hybrid clouds are the future because they combine the easy expansion possible on a public cloud and the security and control of private infrastructure, he said. Cisco’s platform for building those clouds, and the foundation of Intercloud, is ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure).

This platform, Cisco’s entry into the SDN (software-defined networking) sweepstakes, is designed to simplify network provisioning, management and teardown, and make infrastructure more secure. It works in conjunction with Cisco-designed silicon on the recently introduced Nexus 9000 switch, but its benefits have also been extended to much of the older Cisco gear, including the Catalyst 6000 series and Integrated Services Routers, the company says.

Cisco has a lot riding on ACI, which was announced less than a year ago, and it may take a while to get the mass of its customers on board. Two IT engineers attending Cisco Live, both from large U.S. retailers, said they were just learning about ACI for the first time. The technologies they’re now looking to adopt—converged network-computing-storage platforms for one, and VoIP for the other—are far from the cutting edge of Cisco’s agenda. Cisco says it has 1,000 customers in the pipeline to adopt the Nexus 9000 and ACI.

Cisco Delivering the Best Computing Platform for VMware Horizon 6

VMware Guest Blog by Jim McHugh, Vice President, Marketing, Cisco Unified Computing System

Last week’s announcement at VMware highlights the continued innovation seen in the end-user computing space, and how important our virtualized or remoted desktop and application solutions are to delivering enterprise workspace mobility, security and business agility.

Industry-Leading Desktop Virtualization

Delivering virtualized or remoted desktops and applications with an exceptional user experience that scales, is central to what


Cisco and VMware have a long, distinguished history of collaboration in delivering a complete solution for virtual desktop implementers and their end users.

The Results Speak for Themselves

I’m especially pleased with how our joint solution has delivered industry-leading results. If you check out the infographic shown here, you’ll see just a couple proof points of how Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon (with View) has dramatically moved the needle in terms of TCO, performance and end-user experience.


Our joint customers are using this industry-leading solution to:

  • Realize greater employee mobility
  • Deliver greater flexibility and choice through BYOD
  • Optimize business workflow and increase agility
  • Help ensure business continuity and data security
  • Reduce client computing costs

Why is Cisco UCS the Best Compute Platform for Desktop Virtualization?

The roster of testimonials in support of the Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution is growing at a rapid clip. Some great proof points of this success can be found in the case studies we’ve published, across a wide array of industry verticals and deployment scenarios.

Core to the success of these deployments is Cisco UCS. Why? If you’ve followed our journey that started five years ago, you already know that we created a compute platform purpose-built for scalable, high-performance virtualization, free of the limitations and encumbrances of traditional compute architectures. For VDI and app delivery, Cisco UCS offers the perfect balance of:

  • Industry-leading processing power
  • Low-latency, high performance unified fabric
  • Stateless provisioning model that streamlines and simplifies operations

Congratulations to VMware on the release of Horizon 6. Our companies have jointly set our sights on driving success for our customers with desktop and app virtualization. Our joint solution founded on Cisco UCS and VMware Horizon is enabling our customers to embrace the transformation of their desktops and applications into mobile workspaces, and we look forward to continued joint innovation in this space.

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Cisco is planning to spend $1bn over the next two years on its very own cloud computing service

Networking giant Cisco Systems is the latest tech titan to enter cloud in a big way, pledging to spend $1 billion over the next two years. The company will use that money to build up its data center infrastructure, which will run the new Cisco Cloud Services, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cisco wants to capitalize on customers’ growing desire to rent computing services rather than buying and maintaining their own machines, the basic impetus behind cloud computing. The service will be delivered with and through global partners, including Aussie telecom Telstra, tech distributor Ingram Micro and Indian IT company Wipro.

Cisco has built a massive business topping $49 billion in annual revenue. Most of that is selling networking equipment, and cloud offers an opportunity to diversify that revenue a bit. There’s no telling whether the company’s cloud intentions will fly or falter, as several hardware companies have entered the cloud computing fray to varying degrees.

Amazon Web Services is still the market leader in cloud infrastructure. While Amazon has been touting customer wins across a range of company types, AWS is still predominantly viewed as the place where startups get their infrastructure legs. Cisco’s entry into cloud will focus on the opposite end of the spectrum, targeting enterprise customers looking to shift to the cloud in order to reduce total cost of ownership or increase their agility.

Benefits for Partners

Cisco’s partners stand to benefit greatly, as this is a tech giant investing a number with a lot of zeros on building out a cloud infrastructure that they may leverage to compete with the big boys.

The move could also be the result of investor pressure for the company to shore up some kind of cloud strategy. Cisco’s revenue declined about 3.1 percent in the six months ended January 25, and a steeper sales drop is predicted for this quarter. Vendors selling equipment are struggling to keep up with cloud providers, which are the darling of the tech investment world, so many are forced into cloud to both diversify revenue and appease investors who view cloud revenue favorably. This strategy has worked to varying degrees with public companies, and arguably played a role in Dell’s decision to go private.

Cisco enters the cloud in the middle of a price war. AWS has been cutting prices, Microsoft has been cutting prices aggressively, and so has Rackspace (along with doing a major tech refresh on its cloud). There are also smaller competitors like Profitbricks slashing prices as well. Cisco is a late entrant to the cloud wars, but one that has the firepower to potentially be a main competitor.

It’s not easy transitioning a traditional technology company into the new cloud paradigm. However, a $1 billion dollar commitment is huge. It also means that Cisco will be building out a lot of data centers, which is good for the data center industry in general..

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Don’t Take Your Eyes off VDI – Cisco are Certainly Not!

Tony Paikeday of Cisco writes interesting article

This blog post promises to avoid telling you about all the fantabulous (I know that’s not a word) growth expected in the number of hosted virtual desktops to bedeployed by 2016.
  What I do want to share, is how Cisco is ramping up our investments in accelerating your path to virtual desktop success, and how we’re tapping into the fundamentals of our Unified Computing System (UCS) to deliver new VDI efficiencies; the same efficiencies that have made Cisco the 2nd most preferred x86  blade server vendor* worldwide, in just 4 years!  So why are so many organizations moving away from their legacy compute solution, and choosing UCS for VDI workloads and more?

Differentiated capabilities that address VDI pain points: TCO and Manageability

It’s no secret to anyone that VDI is not simple to deploy.  You essentially have to bring together multiple seemingly disparate solution elements (server, storage, virtualization, broker, network, security, etc.) and make them work in a cohesive manner, and then be certain that your implementation will scale from a small pilot of 50 users to hundreds, thousands, or more!  Clearly with such complexity, the last thing you need is a complex compute infrastructure underneath it all.  There are 3 key things at the heart of this, that speak to why UCS is better for VDI:

1.)    Server-resident flash.  Our “On-Board” Architecture for VDI intercepts the rapidly proliferating use of flash based storage solutions that offer expansive IOPS capacity and huge performance.  UCS takes it a step further by offering an integrated solution leveraging our partner Fusion-io.  We’ve additionally delivered reference architectures that extend the use cases and attractiveness of flash-based solutions with appliance approaches (that direct-connect the storage array to our fabric interconnect) as well as more traditional multi-tiered architectures.  More on that in a moment…

2.)    We’ve made it easier to provision and manage the hosts for your virtual desktop deployments.  UCS Service Profile Templates enable rapid deployment from bare metal, creating a zero-touch, mistake-proof, stateless operations model.  Now, when you add the On-Board, server-resident flash to the configuration, you extend the reach of this management model to include high-performance, economical storage, completely provisioned and managed as part of the blade configuration/profile!  No SAN or associated expertise required!  Perfect for floating, non-persistent desktops.

3.)    Granular visibility across the virtualized infrastructure.  With user desktops now running amidst other mission-critical workloads in the data center, there’s more reason than ever to ensure that you can impart QoS, security and manageability across the multitude of virtual machine traffic flows traversing the data center.  Cisco Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) and Cisco Nexus 1000v provide the visibility and controls that make this possible, extending physical world policy and administration to virtual.

A Comprehensive Approach to Architectures and Ecosystem

In my recent post “Wristwatches, Bicycle Helmets, and VDI” I talked a little about how the days of One-Size-Fits-All are long gone, and how organizations like yours, need, demand… solution approaches for VDI that are tailor made to your specific IT environment’s scale, embedded resources, budget, etc.  As Cisco moves from a number 2 global position to the market share leader, it’s clear we’ll need to speak to customers of all sizes.  And that means having the solution set and ecosystem to match

1.)    We’ve introduced an expanded suite of solution architectures for VDI, that introduce not only the On-Board approach I mentioned earlier, but also the “Simplified” architecture (UCS Fabric direct-connected to storage appliance) and the “Scalable” architecture (traditional multi-tiered, with Cisco Nexus 5000 as intermediating switch fabric between storage and server).  Additionally we have our Converged Infrastructure models leveraging VCE vBlock and FlexPod that offer convenient, modularized packaging of the complete infrastructure needed to rapidly deploy VDI.

2.)    The architecture suite mentioned above would not be possible without a comprehensive portfolio of technology partners, especially where storage is concerned.  Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with industry leaders CitrixVMwareNetApp and EMC, and together we’ve made VDI one of the top workloads deployed on UCS with over 1,200 VDI customers in place thus far.  As we expand our market reach, we’ve converged on a select group of technology partners who help us expand our value proposition, offering new exciting capabilities that intercept the flash-based trend, and with whom our customers have sought validated design guidance based on Cisco.  This group currently includes: Atlantis ComputingFusion-io,NexentaNimble StorageTegile, and more on the way!

Clearly there’s a lot going on here with Cisco UCS and VDI…  and with our commitment to anticipate and intersect meaningful technology trends, and the leading solution capabilities of our strategic partner ecosystem, we’re refusing to take our eyes off the VDI-ball, regardless of whether this is the Year of VDI, next year, or the year after that.

Lastly – are you going to Cisco Live at the end of the month?  If so, we’ll have some great news on desktop virtualization content to be had at the event, and how you can connect with helpful demos, sessions and expertise.  Stay tuned!

*Source:  IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, Q1 2013 Revenue Share, May 2013

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