Cisco bridges data centre-network gap with cloud services offering

Cisco Systems Inc. is extending its data centre portfolio with a new platform that will help service providers build cloud computing services.

Called Unified Services Delivery, the new offering promises to enhance information transmission between data centres and various networks and ultimately to users consuming various types of data for either business or entertainment purposes.

The system uses Cisco’s CRS-1 core Internet router, Nexus 7000 data centre switches and its new unified computing system (UCS), which integrates blade servers with switching, storage access, virtualization and management. Cisco will roll out new faster modules for the CRS-1 to enable virtualization across the wide area network (WAN) for service providers’ peering and interconnect applications. Pricing for the new CRS-1 modules starts at $30,000.

“This will be taking virtualization capability into the data centre and bridging that over to the network all the way to the other end for a better user experience,” said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice-president, service provider routing technology group, for Cisco. Extending capabilities such as virtualization across data centres and networks has become necessary with the ever growing consumers and businesses demand and newer services and better network experience. For example, IP traffic is expected to shoot up to half a zetabyte by 2012 across the globe. A zetabyte is equivalent to the contents of 127 billion DVDs, he said.

This demand, according to Suraj Shetty, vice-president for worldwide services provider market for Cisco, has prompted many services provider to extend their own offerings across various platforms. “Many triple-play wireless providers are now positioning themselves for quad-play,” Shetty said. “Meanwhile, the likes of Google and Hulu are creating video alliances and entering into cloud services as well.”

Shetty said this development has created a dilemma.

On one hand, demand for visual networking and collaborative services develops new business pressures, such as how to fit these services into the current economic and regulatory environment. On the other, operational limitations such as security, business continuity, provisioning, and power and cooling demands come up as new challenges.

In an online conference, the two representatives said Unified Services Delivery will optimize Cisco-supplied services and IP network elements and resources for consistent security, quality and customer experience for voice, video and data. At the same time the offering will also reduce operational costs, they said.

Traditional approaches such as combining Cisco switches and routers with servers and storage from incumbent data centre vendors do not have the capability to cost-effectively accommodate the growth in new services, they said.

“As service providers take proactive steps at transitioning to cloud services and becoming part of the value chain of data centre virtualization, they are looking at two key factors, profitability and increasing revenue,” according to Ray Mota, chief strategist for Synergy Research Group.

“The Unified Services Delivery solution is designed to increase speed to new revenue, simplify service delivery, provide more secure experience and reduce costs while addressing data centre longevity and efficiencies,” he said.

Data from Synergy Research Group indicates that the platform can double the power efficiency of a traditional data centre and offer two to seven times the operational savings over a four-year period for unified communications, voice and virtualized video set-ups.

— With files from Jim Duffy

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