We started our day with the Cisco Live Europe Keynote, initiated by Jeremy Bevan, Vice President EMEAR. Impressive room, very large audience and wonderful video effects. The keynote speech, as you can imagine, was very general and kind of hinted the direction Cisco is headed for. Keywords (or buzzwords) used were automation, digitization, orchestration, and a lot was said also around IoT (without saying anything – I bet they’re saving themselves for tomorrow’s announcement). The mandatory Star Wars reference, poster etc was also present. My brain cells were not too receptive to this verbiage, unfortunately.
The keynote continued with two more Cisco top management folks who spoke in all sorts of possible buzzwords and attempted to deliver to the audience the message -or gospel- of the future society as Cisco sees it. Sorry to be frank but I am sort of impermeable to management talk. Below is however one of the slides that made sense to me. With all due respect to VCE, I even heard a mention that vBlock is an hyper-converged solution. Interesting.
The closing of the keynote, however, was more interesting with Cisco’s security CxO speaking up about security initiatives and Cisco beefing up their product line and take on security. Interesting is the approach that is being put forward with a sort of three-pronged approach where security will be managed at the network level, at the cloud level (will they leverage security services in the cloud?) and at the endpoint level. Let’s see how this will translate concretely in their offerings and product line.
After the keynote, we had free quarters and we mainly hanged around discussing with the many technical folks and acquaintances at CLEUR. It was pleasant to chat with Fabio Chiodini from EMC Italy, then we moved along to engage shortly with Veeam, and finally reached TFDx delegate James Green + Cisco’s Lauren Friedman for a couple sessions of Engineers Unplugged, a sort of 5 minutes long video interview on a tech topic. Francesco Bonetti covered the “5Ws of Hyper-converged solutions”, I followed him afterwards on “Data locality and high availability in hyper-converged systems”. The format was very nice and involved not only whiteboarding but also the drawing of an hyper-converged, block aware unicorn that would have made Picasso and the likes very proud.
After these high feats we moved along to several stands, followed by lunch with Jeremiah Dooley, Francesco Bonetti and James Green. We had an interesting discussion about several storage vendors as well as Solidfire acquisition by NetApp.
The afternoon was an alternance of meeting with vendors, resting, visiting booths, engaging with TFDx delegates. I was extremely glad to finally meet Amy Lewis and was very happy to register an hilarious Tech Pop Up video (or whatever it is called). Knowing Amy and her enthusiasm (and seeing what else was already done) we can fear for the final result.
My next stop was the Paessler PRTG stand, where I discussed shortly with CEO and founder Thomas Timmermann. Paessler PRTG is a solution I’ve used in the past for monitoring and I really loved it. I’ve even written a couple old blog articles about it. It’s an excellent monitoring solution which supports up to 10000 sensors. A sensor is basically a single item that is monitored such as ping, telnet to a given port (to check if port is open=service is up), or monitoring a single WMI service (such as vCenter or SQL service), etc. I really love this product so it was a pleasure to stop by and show appreciation to the creators.
We had a lengthy conversation afterwards with Cisco UCS product engineers, discussing about Cisco UCS B-Series (normal/mini), the new UCS M-Series and UCS E-Series. The M-Series seem interesting in terms of compute density, unfortunately they are limited to 256 GB of RAM. On the other hand, you get two x86 servers within a single blade (Cisco calls this a “Compute Cartridge”), and you can stick 8 blades within a single 2U chassis, which brings you to sixteen x86 servers. Speak about compute density. That may be interesting for compute intensive workloads with low memory requirements (did someone say containers?? – insert Nigel Poulton voice).
Speaking about the case for SMBs and UCS Mini vs M-Series, the product engineer showed us the UCS “Behemoth” (I like the name), a 4U, storage dense chassis hosting 2 servers and a totality of 60 LFF hard drive slots (a mix is possible between SSD and HDD). You can allocate the disks as you need fit between the two servers. In my opinion this would make a great use case for solutions such as StorMagic SvSAN, however a StorMagic engineer (Tom Shepherd) was nearby and was telling us that StorMagic SvSAN wasn’t tested yet with this model, hinting that Cisco is instead pushing Cisco UCS C-Series and B-Series (Mini) as the use case for SvSAN. Turns out the “Behemoth” is in fact a Cisco UCS C3160 server (see pic below).
I was able to clarify some information pertaining to SvSAN NSH, also about how targets are configured, plus some additional tech bonanza (SSD caching, how writes are performed, how read cache is used). I liked the discussion and I’m getting convinced that it makes sense to leverage SvSAN for tiny SMBs. This is a market that VMware has abandoned and SvSAN fits the space with an interesting solution.
After some strolling from booth to booth, our last stop was at the SimpliVity booth where I wanted to gain a better understanding of their solution, especially the way they handle data copy. Jesse (sorry, forgot the last name!) did a great job explaining the way data is processed through a sort of metadata tree. I got to meet SimpliVity folks two years ago in Prague and their folks (someone Czech at the time) did an extremely poor job explaining the solution. I’m impressed now. I think they have a great, unique way of addressing data (or rather metadata) replication and it’s kind of sad that they do not advertise this as a great feature. Are they talking to the wrong audience maybe? Or maybe they are not placing their product properly on the market. The feeling that most of us share is that SimpliVity is a hyper-converged storage solution.
Disclosure: I was invited at Cisco Live Europe and Tech Field Day Extra by Gestalt IT. Gestalt IT has covered travel, accommodation and food & provided me with a Cisco Live Pass. I have received no compensation for participation in this event, and I am also not obliged to blog or produce any kind of content. Any tweets, blog articles or any other form of content I may produce are the exclusive product of my interest in technology and my will to share information with my peers. I will commit to share only my own point of view and analysis of the products and technologies I will be seeing/listening about during this event.