Cisco enters the second half of Data Center 3.0

ORLANDO – Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers announced a trio of new software updates to his company’s Data Center 3.0 strategy, aimed at facilitating the increasing role of visual and social networking in today’s enterprises. The CEO also vowed to slash 25 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the strategy.

The announcements included the newest releases of the company’s Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), Application Control Engine (ACE) devices, and VFrame Data Center software. The networking giant rolled out the new products at the networking giant’s annual Cisco Live! event in Orlando.

At last year’s event, Cisco threw the industry a curveball and rolled out its Data Center 3.0 strategy, which involves combining virtualization, servers and centralized infrastructure.

The plan was scheduled to rollout over a 24-month period. To kick off this year’s Cisco Live! conference, Chambers reassured his customers that the plan is moving along nicely, and in fact, more relevant than ever.

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The data centre is virtual

“The next innovations [in the enterprise] will be in video and social networking,” Chambers told conference attendees. “It’s the way we’re used to communicating, except that we can now be anywhere in the world while we do it.”

Chambers referred to the growth of visual networking and Web 2.0 collaboration solutions as the key drivers behind making IT relevant again.

“Why should I spent my money on IT now when I could spent it in other areas,” Chambers asked. “Well, only if your believe there’s going to be a next generation of IT coming would you invest heavily.” He added that if done right and set up structurally, the network will become the platform for all of a company’s IT and communications.

Integral to Cisco’s plans is allowing the network – run by both the physical and virtual elements of the data centre – to become the platform that supports these new services.

The company said its WAAS software release 4.1 supports virtualized application hosting, network-embedded virtualization, and video delivery. It will allow customers to deploy services such as Microsoft Windows Server 2008 locally and reduce server hardware requirements.

“The WAAS optimization enables another round of consolidation from branch office servers to branch office services,” Doug Gourlay, senior director of marketing and product management at Cisco. “We have a tremendous focus on customer usability and we made it easier to deploy.”

Cisco is also upgrading the software to make it faster for IP telephony and video applications to be beamed from the data centre to a brand office. The WAAS software should be available this fall. Virtualization and live video streaming options are available as separate licenses starting at $2,500 per device.

“This will be the iPod of video streaming to your branch offices,” Urshit Parikh, director of product marketing (WAAS) at Cisco, said. For companies using video proxy devices, he added, networking teams have often had to double as media production companies to get video up and running.

Cisco’s other announcements included the ACE software 3.1 release, which will offer up to 4 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput and up to 2 Gbps of compression capability; and the VFrame Data Center software release 1.2, which adds end-to-end infrastructure provisioning with Cisco ACE and VMware ESX.

The strong focus on visual and social conferencing technologies like Cisco’s TelePresence and WebEX, also gave way to an aggressive commitment by Chambers to reduce its worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent before the 2012.

Michael Deyer, CIO at Visa Inc., said that Cisco’s Data Center 3.0 strategy, coupled with the company’s new announcements, have made it easier for his organization cut costs and save the environment.

“Any good steward of the environment and the economy will look at ways to improve their global footprint,” Deyer said. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but there are financial cost savings as well.” Mark Showers, CIO at Monsanto, agreed, saying that regardless of the exact savings on power and cooling, the use of video conferencing and communication tools as well as the consolidation of data centres, will deliver positive social and economic benefits for every company.

“If you’re taken out and consolidated whole data centres, you don’t really need to be too caught up with the exact wattage you’ve saved,” he said. “I’ve saved a lot of power on the blunt side of flat consolidation.” Showers said that his top priority is making sure Monsanto doesn’t have to buy something physical unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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