Cisco Rolls Out Two-Year Plan for Data Center Virtualization

Networking hardware and software maker Cisco announced an array of data center products gathered under the umbrella moniker Data Center 3.0.

The vision for Data Center 3.0, says the company, entails the real-time, dynamic orchestration of infrastructure services from shared pools of virtualized server, storage and network resources.

The rollout harkens to similar announcements made in recent months by other enterprise computing companies that provide hardware and software and services, like HP and IBM, Laura DiDio, research fellow with Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld.

It remains to be seen how companies in various industries will receive the announcement, and whether or not Cisco will provide a clear migration plan for enterprises that wish to step up to new infrastructure hardware and software, she noted.

Next Step for Virtualization

Over the next 24 months, Cisco will deliver the products and programs necessary to support a more fully virtualized data center, the company said. The first, an orchestration platform, is called the VFrame Data Center. The software will use network intelligence to provision resources together as virtualized services; it also includes an open API (application programming interface).

The VFrame platform allows IT groups to link computing, networking and storage infrastructures, and also includes a policy engine for automating resource changes in response to infrastructure outages and performance changes.

Virtualization, said DiDio, is seeing very good reception in enterprises. Now, companies must move from using it as a tool for backup and data recovery and instead use it to optimize their infrastructure equipment and minimize expenditures.

Applications and Storage

The Cisco Wide Area Application Services software will support highly secure wide area network (WAN) acceleration and accurate application performance management, says Cisco. It will include encryption of data stored on Cisco WAAS devices and support tight integration with NetQoS application monitoring products.

New Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) Extensible Markup Language (XML) Gateway will provide management along with improved visibility and performance for XML and Web 2.0 applications, according to Cisco. It offers virtual storage area networks (VSANs), inter-VSAN routing (IVR), and remote SAN extension with high-performance Fibre Channel over IP (Internet protocol). A new multiservice modular switch, the Cisco MDS 9222i, will support deployment of departmental and remote branch-office SANs. The Cisco MDS 9134 Multilayer Fabric Switch is targeted to midrange and large enterprises.

Storage is a particular pain point in many organizations, said DiDio. Most companies see their storage needs double in any given year, even if staffing remains static, she explained. Those enterprises implementing bandwidth-intensive applications that include streaming media can see storage needs grow much faster. Thus, being able to dynamically configure virtualized storage is an important capability to allow IT groups to first optimize infrastructure use and then limit expenses associated with expanding it.

New Partner Programs

In addition to the hardware and software announcements, Cisco has formed three new specializations for channel partners, said the company. The new Advanced Data Center Networking Infrastructure Specialization enables channel partners to design, sell, install and support a comprehensive data center solution based on Cisco Catalyst Ethernet switching platforms and Cisco Security. The current Storage Networking Specialization will become the Advanced Data Center Storage Networking Specialization.

Also, the company is in the initial development phase on a Data Center Application Networking Specialization designed to build partner competencies related to application delivery network technologies such as the Cisco Application Content Engine (ACE).

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