Dell was in San Francisco last week to host its Enterprise Strategy Update, staking its claim to the x86 top spot with the announcement of its big converged infrastructure platform, the Active System 800.
Three years ago, Dell was just another PC/server maker fighting for market share in a commodity market. The ultra-lean manufacturing processes that had previously allowed it a significant price advantage over its competitors had been eroded as other manufacturers emulated Dell’s approach, leaving it with little to differentiate it from its competitors other than memories of past advertising campaigns. While its reputation for poor support and burning batteries was behind it, my personal perception of Dell, strongly colored by the large number of Dell laptops that expired at my hands, was not good.
However, in the last two years my view of Dell has been slowly changing. A new focus on data center technologies, a string of successful acquisitions and some fresh blood in key leadership positions has revitalized the company, forcing me to reassess Dell’s position in the enterprise technology ecosystem. Suffice to say, this is not the Dell I used to know.
While not particularly new news, the next version of the Cisco Nexus 1000v will be free, unless you want the security features. This is an interesting shift from Cisco with respect to VMware vCloud Director, the Nicira purchase, furthering UCS, and Cisco within non-UCS data centers. However, given other announcements, with respect to OpenStack, perhaps this is more a play to level the playing field between cloud architectures? But what I find most interesting, is that the changes to the Nexus 1000v also align with the changes we see in the vCloud Suites from VMware.
VDI is expensive and complicated; at least it used to be. Cost is no longer the issue that it was with the cost of data center hardware falling from over $1,000 per desktop a couple of years ago to a fraction of the cost of a budget PC today. Complexity however has been rising as multiple third-party components have been integrated into the mix to bring the price down. As cost falls so VDI becomes more attractive especially to budget conscious SMB customers, at the same time though as complexity has increased, the willingness and ability of these new customers to successfully deploy and maintain VDI has fallen. This has proven to be a boon for DaaS providers who can abstract the complexity of VDI behind a simple to consumer service, and are as a consequence seeing significant increase in traction.
The start of VMworld 2012, the biggest Virtualization conference of the year, is less than two weeks away. The surge of marketing emails have started to arrive, announcing all the new and exciting offerings that the venders and 3rd party companies are planning on showing off at VMworld. This is one of the things I enjoy the most about attending these conferences, seeing what’s new and the direction of the trends in virtualization. At last year’s show, VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, the trend that I saw was the advancements in storage and storage virtualization. My prediction at the end of VMworld 2011 was that 2012 would be the year for the network virtualization and/or software defined networking.
I have spent a great deal of time lately working with the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). This computing platform is really quite impressive with its power and flexibility, but my expectations about the platform have really changed since I completed the UCS training. During the training classes that I attended, both the design and install courses emphasized that the Cisco UCS platform would be a collaborative platform that would bring the different groups like Storage, Network, and Server each working their own functional area of responsibility within UCS based on role permissions. That sounded great. The network team can create and trunk the VLANS and the storage team could add the boot targets as well as assign the LUNS. This platform is a true collective effort by all teams right?
The 6/14 Virtualization Security Podcast we spoke about firewall placement within the virtual environment as well as storage based defense in depth. While we covered Encryption on the 5/31 podcast, in the 6/14 podcast we covered other measures when dealing with storage (which will be part of a followup post). This conversation was slightly different than all other firewall discussions, as it was about migrating from a physical environment to a virtual environment, and keeping the same firewall placements. Spurred by a customer, we sought to come to a set of guidelines to follow for defense in depth within the virtual as well as physical and hybrid cloud environments.