Well, I survived my first trip to Cisco Live. What an amazing show for sure. But I have to say I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of people and in some cases the amount of information. There were over 25,000 people out at Live this year and all of them were looking to get the most of of their trip. What was interesting about live is the depth of people that go out there. Cisco has such a broad range of products that you meet people that don't know what or how you do say Data Center or Storage but are masters at Voice or Wireless technologies. It's really nice to find a group that are so different and yet very passionate about what they do and all brought together through a single vendor.
So lets to a quick recap of the hot topics this week. I counted at least three that were pretty much everywhere.
1. Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)
ACI is the extension of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and the data center as a Service (DaaS) concept. Cisco has created a way to program deployments and simplify management through software and hardware. They talk about provisioning systems within hours instead of days and lessing the amount of management that goes into a normal workflow. It's a pretty neat idea, I'm still trying to wrap my head around implementation and ease of use. It seems that the way things are shifting in IT right now, not only do you need to be a server admin, network master, storage guru, and VMware aficionado but you now have to know some type of coding/scripting in order to really tie everything together. Some vendors might make this simpler by selling a nice GUI that lives on top of ACI but how useful is that if you don't want to buy anything in addition to the tools that are given. I'm in the wait and see stage right now while I try and brush up on my programming skills.
2. Internet of EVERYTHING!!
So, this struck home for me and I loved to see the examples that were everywhere. Cisco created an amazing Internet of Everything (IoE) machine that showed how everything being connected and serving up data would help benefit us all. They had four or five different IoE booths at the World of Solutions also that showed off things from the doctors office all the way to the living room. Bottom line here is that IoE is coming. Not only from Cisco's mouth but from the huge maker community. They have been talking about IoE for at least two years now and building things in their back yards and sheds that actually use it.
The example they had with the IoE machine was going to Cisco Live. As the plan landed, our luggage would be tracked and delivered through some kind of RFID to the taxi that was waiting (the one you ordered through your mobile phone to pick you up). That taxi would then take you to the hotel, which dynamically updated actual room availability on the fly as you checked in. Then you take your rental car to get your favorite coffee which is being made as you walk into the door thanks to the bluetooth enabled app the vendor uses keep a light on for you. Waste pickup is scheduled when the containers get full, so the trucks are running around trying to empty garbage cans that don't really need it. The road that you would take is closed due to some kind of construction or accident and it reported in real time, which updates signs and even your GPS tracking. The parking garage for the venue has RFID tagged spaces and know exactly how many are open and where they are located at. The signs will direct you to the one you reserve as you get into the garage. Boom, your at the venue and massive amounts of data have helped you get there quicker and more efficiently then ever before.
All of this connected data is going to be interesting to manage. NetApp did a thing where they talked about how to do that. Through IoE, we will have people specifically trained to manage this data (Data Scientists) and figure out the best way to parse and process all the data from everything connected to the internet. But what hardware will this stuff run on? What is fast enough, strong enough, and most efficient to get through everything reporting in?
Yes, the NetApp and Cisco solution can allow customers to install their internal/external/hybrid cloud solution of choice and start putting dents into all that data coming into businesses. (Oh ya, this is why I went to Live.) Cisco UCS and Nexus platforms follow a similar "scale out" and "scale up" model as NetApp does with their FAS systems. I will expand more on this in another post I think....lets stay with a recap post.
This was kind of a surprise to me really. I always try and think about security when I'm doing installations of stuff. We want to make sure that information gets to and from without the possibility of losing any integrity or having people just eavesdrop on the packets in flight or endpoints. I also knew that security was a big deal for a lot of people and a big seller for Cisco. I am not sure why I was surprised by it being such a big topic for Live, but I'm really glad it was. And the topic of security at Live was hand in hand with IoE. It really helped drive home that yes, we have a ton of things sending data back and forth now. My coffee pot even has an internet connection now. But how do we make sure that peoples information is secure from source to destination? It was great to hear Cisco and family help raise awareness for the need of security. We don't want some kid script kiddy grabbing my favorite type of coffee or the credit card that is sent when it calls home to order more filters. Making sure we have end to end encryption and proper security checks on these devices is important. Just glad they were making the point to have people think about it and that they were thinking about it.
World of Solutions
Not much to say about this. NetApp was there and they were awesome. They did these really cool flip books and a bunch of "mini theater" sessions that were always packed to the rim. People seemed to be very interested in the Flexpod architecture as well as the FAS 8000 series boxes. I was very glad to hear positive comments from existing customers talking to the engineers and hoping some of the new exposure guests go back and get more info and ask questions of their NetApp rep.
Other then that, it was a trade show floor. I expect my inbox to be flooded over the next month. Also, I didn't win anything really cool like the iPads or quad copters that were raffled off.
Overall, it was an amazing week of learning (mainly UCS stuff for me) and networking with people. After getting all excited about some of the data center stuff, I am going to try and finish up some CCNP data center tests and get busy pounding on the CCIE data center level if I can. Keep an eye out for posts related to different IE level topics in data center on top of the other NetApp ones that I have in mind.
Please let me know what you think in the comments and if you have any topics that you might have questions about, put them in there as well.