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Imagine Virtually Anything

Posted by kidd in Jay's Blog on Jan 26, 2010 9:10:00 AM

Today, Cisco, NetApp and VMware announced a collaboration on a reference architecture for building Secure Multi-Tenant IT infrastructure.   The architecture, published as a Cisco Validated Design, lays out the recipe for linking the capabilities of the three companies together to create a shared server/network/storage infrastructure that can securely host multiple workloads or 'tenants' with confidence that none will interfere with the other.


One of the great dilemmas in IT is balancing the economic benefits of consolidating equipment against the risks of one application stepping on the resources needed for another.   This is a challenge for internal IT, but it becomes a serious business issue for IT service providers.   If you can't share servers, networks, and storage between clients, an IT service provider will struggle to deliver that service at a profit.


Most IT infrastructure exists in silos.   Servers are dedicated to an application.  Storage is dedicated.  Purchasing is done on a per application or project basis.  Budgets are diffused.   Only networks have truly become horizontal infrastructure.    The maturing of VMware and virtual server technology has made sharing servers for many applications viable.   NetApp has offered the ability to logically partition a set of storage systems to allow workload isolation on shared infrastructure.   With Nexus, Cisco has built the capability to link the virtual servers to the partitioned storage in a way that assures end-end isolation of workloads across the whole stack. 


None of these technologies are brand new; they have all been deployed individually in many environments.  And our three companies have been working together on technology integration and customer deployments for some time.    What is new is the collaboration between Cisco, NetApp, and VMware to document the best practice for using these technologies together to create a Secure Multi-Tenant Infrastructure solution.    We have also lined up our respective support organizations to ensure resolution of an issue with a single call to any of the three companies. 


The spirit of this partnership is open.   And a critical part of that openness is the involvement of our collective integration partners who have been trained on this solution and are empowered to integrate this secure multi-tenant infrastructure into their solution delivery.   We believe that the new datacenter architectures that are emerging are too dynamic and too new to be claimed captive by any single vendor or alliance of vendors.   Nothing retards innovation like a closed ecosystem and customers have historically preferred an open, best-of-breed approach in their vendor selections.


New datacenter architectures only come along about every 20 years.  It takes a confluence of new technologies along with compelling economic reasons to change to overcome the comfort of the old ways.  These forces are converging now and the field is ripe with possibilities.   You will see more from Cisco, NetApp, VMware and our partners, both individually and perhaps collectively.   We share a common vision of how datacenters will evolve and we believe that with the right set of partners, virtually anything is possible.


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