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Chris Dedicoat on the Expansion of Cisco Systems in the Data Center Market


June 2, 2006

Today’s data centers are not just centers of data: increasingly they represent the beating heart of the entire organization around them.

The data center now frequently acts as the cornerstone of a flexible and efficient infrastructure, which a Gartner survey of nearly 1000 chief information officers has identified as the top technology priority for heads of IT.

Cisco Systems® is focusing on bringing to market innovations in all of the critical areas of the data center, including storage area networking (SAN), application networking, Wide Area File Services (WAFS) server switching and optical transport, which will allow enterprises to realize new benefits from technology.

The Cisco data center architecture provides the technologies, services, partners and tested architectural design and deployment guides to allow customers to protect applications and information, share computing and storage resources and support emerging services.

News@Cisco spoke to Chris Dedicoat, Cisco Senior Vice President, European Markets, on developments in this vital market.

How important is the data center market for Cisco?

Chris Dedicoat: The data center represents one of our core areas of growth in the next two to three years.

The opportunity ahead of us is extremely significant as chief information officers look at how they can improve their responsiveness towards their businesses while keeping costs under control and improving the resilience of their infrastructure.

Ever since we entered the SAN arena 2002, we have believed that the data center was an area of critical importance, both for us as a vendor and for the competitiveness of our customers.

Virtualizing networking resources is a crucial stage in our technology vision of the Intelligent Information Network.

We have worked hard to rapidly build up a strong profile in the data center market and have made a number of important acquisitions to enable us to become leaders in innovation.

We take an integrated approach to the data center, offering services including virtualization, advanced security and traffic management which together deliver increased administrative efficiency and optimized use of computing, networking and storage resources.

What new technologies is Cisco helping bring to market?

Chris Dedicoat: We are constantly working to bring innovation to the data center market.

A great example of this is our latest announcement in storage networking, where we have introduced the MDS 9513 Multilayer Director, 4 Gbps and 10 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) Switching Modules and more advanced software capabilities for our MDS 9000 family of storage networking products.

We are confirming our industry leadership on several fronts, including the greatest scalability in port density, up to 528 ports in the MDS 9513; the greatest scalability in performance, with port speeds of 1, 2, 4 and 10 Gbps; and the greatest scalability in management and diagnostics.

We also offer Investment protection, since all new modules are compatible with existing modular systems; fabric intelligence, with a choice of network-based intelligent applications; advanced SAN security, and SAN extension through features such as integrated FC over IP gateways.

How are SAN developments being reflected in your optical networking portfolio?

Chris Dedicoat: Optical networks are extremely important for enterprise customers and service providers, which are looking at linking data centers. Here the challenge is to see what distance we can take the links up to. And we are taking it to the limit.

Faced with ever increasing storage needs for business resilience and disaster recovery applications in the enterprise, Cisco engineers have focused on the problem of providing high-density storage and Ethernet connectivity between geographically separate locations.

Cisco platforms use technologies such as dense wave division multiplexing to provide up to 320 Gbps of bandwidth over a single fiber, allowing companies to transport the maximum data over the maximum distance, with maximum efficiency.

Packet multiplexing technology also allows customers to aggregate multiple storage services over a single wavelength much as Ethernet switches and routers would with IP packets.

What is the relationship between the data center network architecture and the application arena?

Chris Dedicoat: Applications are very important to businesses and there is a trend in the industry towards application optimization and integration.

IT organizations are looking at new paradigms for the deployment of applications, often under the umbrella of service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

With the Service-Oriented Network Architecture, Cisco lays the foundation for enterprises to deploy SOAs in a much more scalable and cost-effective way.

The relationship between applications and infrastructure is very tight and for a service-oriented model to work well at the application layer the underlying infrastructure is required to provide an equal level of service and flexibility.

How are customers using these technologies in practice?

Chris Dedicoat: Allianz, Hungary’s largest insurance company with three million customers, is deploying Cisco technology instead of employing multiple links to connect two data centers that are located 14 km apart.

The Cisco optical networking technology will help Allianz to support the back up of information between the data centers in Budapest, and consolidate multiple traffic channels onto one optical network.

Similarly, Sweden’s biggest hospital, Karolinska University Hospital, expects to make significant savings using Cisco technology as it consolidates four data centers, resulting from the merger of two hospitals in Stockholm, into two, one of which will be used for business continuity.

Cisco SAN technology will help the hospital manage huge amounts of data more efficiently. A Cisco e-radiology solution using the SAN is expected to enable 100 GB of radiology data a week to be stored and easily accessed for several months instead of days before being archived.


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