Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More about IBM, Cisco, Juniper, and Clouds

This is shaping-up to be an interesting week for some of the big IT players, and their intentions to build-out their cloud strategies. But within these announcements, there are also some fascinating implications that aren't making the headlines... yet.

First-off, IBM and Juniper made an interesting joint announcement, replete with demo. Very nice coverage from ZDNet, TechCrunchIT and InfoWorld - which, BTW, has a great description of their demo.

But note that in all of the IBM/Juniper coverage, there is little-to-no mention of the word "virtualization". That's very telling. It means that much of what will makes clouds (and Cloud "overflow" as they put it) work is part of the network, I/O and compute management infrastructure. i.e. it's *not* just about the VM/hypervisor. Which brings me to observation #2:

Last month, Cisco's CTO Padmasree Warrior had a widely-viewed blog about their upcoming product/strategy around "unified computing". Today, Cisco agressively followed-through with an update/elaboration on that blog with yet another blog/video featuring Ms. Warrior. In it, she elaborated on their "unified computing" vision, including their view on the phases that cloud computing will take. It's very telling re: where Cisco's strategy is likely to be focused:

Phase 1 for instance lays the foundation for data center cost containment through standardization. Core to this foundation is consistently applied network intelligence and virtualization in each area of specialization: local and wide area networking, storage networking and server/application networking.

Phase 2, or ‘Unified Fabric’ – This phase optimizes and extends data center technologies through consolidation of virtualization across the network, storage and servers/applications.

Phase 3, or ‘Unified Computing’ – Unified Computing virtualizes the entire data center through a pre-integrated architecture that brings together network, server and compute virtualization. Moving beyond that…

Phase 4, or ‘Private Clouds’—is a phase that extends the advantages of unified computing into the cloud, bringing enterprise-class security, control and interoperability to today’s stand-alone cloud architectures.

Phase 5, which is the ultimate vision of ‘inter-cloud’ marks our long-term transition with the market, by enabling portable workloads across the cloud. This will drive a new wave of innovation and investment similar to what we last saw with the Internet explosion of the mid-1990s.

Unified computing, as Cisco refers to it, is what we here at Egenera call "infrastructure orchestration" -- essentially it is about abstracting-away the I/O, network, storage and compute elements. In that way, they can become an instantly-configurable "fabric" where resources can be deployed, failed-over, scaled, etc., without having to manage any physical components at all. And all of this is *agnostic* to whether the SW payload is physical or virtual.

All-in all, I bet we'll be seeing MUCH more noise in the market about Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Infrastructure Orchestration, and how these foundations will help accelerate creation of "internal" clouds, public clouds, and bridges between these entities.


omarsultan said...


I would agree that we are still getting warmed up on this front. To get traction, folks will have to be able to execute on two fronts: 1) continue raising the bar on the ability to virtualize data center assets and 2) simplify the management model so we can start to manage workloads holistically instead of managing parallel silos.

One without the other is an incomplete solution, or at least the net benefits are less clear. What we did with VN-Link/Nexus 1000V, automatically coordinating VMotion with network configuration, is an example of integrating across silos to move the ball forward.

Omar Sultan

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