Cisco SVP Takes Five

Cisco's Jayshree Ullal profers 'Top Five' predictions for data centers at SNW

October 26, 2005

3 Min Read
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Storage Networking World -- Data center technology is moving toward a new world in which storage, computing devices, and networking gear can be unified to serve common application goals, according to Jayshree Ullal, SVP and general manager of the Security, Switching, and Data Center Technologies Group at (Nasdaq: CSCO).

"My dream and vision is one in which consolidation is not just on one level; security turns from a noun to an adjective; virtualization is reality; management is inherently built; and applications can be seamlessly delivered," said Ullal, in a talk at Storage Networking World today.

Ullal made five predictions about the future of data center technology. Here's a rundown:

  • Consolidation: In Ullal's view, data centers are only just starting to see the benefits of consolidation. Today's "post-9/11" focus is on regrouping data center gear physically, with a central site and one or two redundant ones. This shift is evident, Ullal maintains, in the adoption of blade servers instead of server farms and in the use of denser storage arrays and larger, more director-driven SAN fabrics.

    Over time, the physical consolidation everyone's focused on will become a move toward virtualization and other management techniques. Where storage networking has relied on port-level information and MAC addresses, products are moving to block-level provisioning, which will help untie physical resources from their actual locations.

  • Security: Security can't be about perimeter control alone, Ullal says. An "onion layered" approach needs to replace point solutions, and the industry needs to tie security to application and content. She speaks of an "anti-x engine" embedded in applications, which will be able to detect anomalies before malware can do any damage. "The industry is moving to more embedded security solutions."

    SANs will play a key role in security by detecting policies about content handling. A SAN could detect whether email and IM policies are being followed and deny service or access to certain protocols or apps. The goal is to check at every step of the way in the network infrastructure.

  • Virtualization: "Virtualization is a loaded term that means different things for different technologies," Ullal says. There's virtualization of memory, wherein a pool of memory is assigned to a range of CPUs; network resources, where bandwidth is assigned as needed to different applications; servers, where processors are allocated to CPUs according to specific applications; and virtualization of storage.Virtualizing storage has up to now meant scaling the SAN, then extending the SAN across a metropolitan area. The move is on to virtualize SAN fabrics and enable moves, adds, and changes to take place at the application level.

    Ullal also thinks virtual NICs, HBAs, and I/O techniques will play a role in virtualizing data center resources. She spoke of moving "applications down, components up" in order to achieve all this.

  • Management: Getting more global management calls for "a real change in thinking," Ullal asserts. Instead of point products and silos, the new IT perspective needs to be on combining the monitoring and control of networking, operations, and applications.

  • Application delivery: The world of the data center is moving toward providing not just application support but "optimized Web services," Ullal says. In this world, caching and optimization will be key trends.

    NOTE: In this vein, Cisco has announced creation of the Application Delivery Business Unit, whose new VP and general manager, George Kurian, reports to Ullal. (See Cisco Joins WAN/WAFS in Name Only.)

Ullal's Top Five predictions rather bemused some in the audience, who felt the talk was too fast, too abstract, and too peppered with Cisco pitches.

"She covered an awful lot of material really quickly. If I could listen to it again I might be able to figure out what she was getting at," said one attendee."She brought up Cisco on more than one occasion, more than the other speakers have done," said another attendee, who works for an aerospace firm and asked not to be quoted. "It was too quick. Whether her vision is right, I can't tell."

Figure 1: Jayshree Ullal, SVP, Cisco Systems Inc.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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