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Cisco Live 2013 highlights: Cisco ONE, UCS Director, UCS Central, and more

TechRepublic contributing writer Lauren Malhoit reports on notable product announcements, official sessions, and her experiences at Cisco Live 2013 in Orlando.

I had the pleasure of attending Cisco Live in Orlando, FL for the first time this year. Cisco Live is Cisco's large annual conference for customers and partners to attend technology sessions, network with other technologists, and listen to keynote speakers about the direction of the company. Here's a brief summary of what I learned and participated in at the event.

Announcements

Cisco released the Catalyst 6800 switch, which is the highest performing Cat switch available with speeds of 10/40/100 Gbps. These switches tie in to the Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) by providing more APIs and programmability than ever before.

Cisco purchased a company called Cloupia a few months ago and have rebranded it as UCS Director. Don't be fooled by the name, though; UCS Director is meant to help you manage all sorts of things in your environment, including physical appliances, virtual, and bare metal. For more information, watch this Cisco video about UCS Director.

Speaking of UCS, UCS Central was covered quite a bit in sessions and in talks. UCS Central is a way to manage multiple UCS domains globally without having to go to each UCS Manager. For larger environments, this will make administration much easier. With UCS Central, it's also possible to do what's called Estimated Impact to see what happens to your environment if you wanted to add more servers and the like. It will give you some predictability of the impact.

My experiences

I attended several of the official sessions. An interesting session focused on Cisco ONE, which is supposed to be more than software defined networking (SDN); it is meant to make applications and networks mutually aware so that it's possible to program for an optimized experience. According to the Cisco site, "Cisco Open Network (ONE) is a comprehensive solution to help networks become more open, programmable, and application aware. The broad capabilities of Cisco ONE help meet the needs of numerous market segments, including emerging concepts such as software-defined networking (SDN)." OpenDaylight was also a topic that came up quite a bit when discussing Cisco ONE.  OpenDaylight is an open source project that Cisco is involved with that will help build an open SDN controller. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out, to say the very least.

I also went to some of the UCS sessions. They went through a lot of the things I've mentioned in previous TechRepublic blog posts, including the Cisco UCS Integrated Management Controller (CIMC) and the UCS Manager. They also mentioned UCS Central. Both blades and rack servers were discussed in these sessions, as you're able to mix both these in the same domain and, with the right equipment, you can manage them from the same pane of glass.

Perhaps one of my favorite sessions was a blogger session in which I was invited to hear all about Cisco UCS from the product managers themselves. There was much discussion over UCS Director, and while everyone agrees it's a pretty cool product, it seems to be missing a capacity planning and operations manager component that most felt would be a nice feature.

We also discussed server-side flash being shipped or at least available with both the C series and the B series server (rack and blade, in that order). This is terrific news, as it seems (in my opinion) like a great value add for any server to allow for caching or for using products like ExtremSW or PernixData FVP in your virtual environments.

There was some discussion over integration with OpenStack as well. Hopefully things like Nova and Neutron (used to be Quantum) will be more tightly integrated in future versions of firmware.

I was also able to attend some pretty cool things as a part of the EMC Elect group. One of the best being a one-on-one session about EMC's ViPR with Mark Prahl, who is a member of the Advanced Storage Division at EMC. As a post-sales engineer in the Midwest, I was not expecting one-on-ones like this! It was a great opportunity only made possible by the leaders of the EMC Elect group, Mark Brown and Matthew Brender.

Would I go to another Cisco Live event?

Absolutely! There was some great content and even better learning experiences after the sessions were over, and we were able to talk tech over dinner and drinks.

If you ever get the chance to go to any tech conferences, I recommend going to them, if possible. Let us know in the discussion what IT conferences you plan to attend this year.

About

Lauren Malhoit has been in the IT field for over 10 years and has acquired several data center certifications. She's currently a Technology Evangelist for Cisco focusing on ACI and Nexus 9000. She has been writing for a few years for TechRepublic, Te...

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