Q. What is Cisco announcing at Microsoft Tech Ed 2011?
A. Cisco is announcing the availability of new solutions focused on Microsoft applications and technologies that significantly expand our business and our technology alliance with Microsoft. Our joint customers will be able to host Microsoft-based private cloud, data warehouse, or online-transaction-processing (OLTP) configurations based on shipping Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco® UCS) server and Cisco Nexus® networking products.
Q. Specifically, what are the three news items you are announcing?
A. Three standalone, discrete offers are available:
• A Cisco developed SQL Server 2008 R2 Data Warehouse reference architecture, which is part of the Microsoft SQL Server team's Fast Track 3.0 program
• A Cisco developed SQL Server 2008 R2 OLTP reference configuration
• Prevalidated architecture designs that simplify private cloud deployment and operations as part of our participation in the Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track program
Q. Why are these Cisco announcements important to customers?
A. It is all about customer choice. Customers now can consider Cisco as they look at their various IT projects-a private cloud, an OLTP project, or a data warehouse project. The benefit to customers is that the Cisco Data Warehouse, OLTP, or Private Cloud solution offers prevalidated, pretested solutions optimized for the Cisco UCS platform. Our solution has all the benefits of the Cisco UCS platform; by adopting Cisco reference configurations, customers will be able to speed deployment, reduce costs, reduce energy consumption, and simplify management of their infrastructure with integration into the Microsoft System Center portfolio.
Q. Why are these three new solutions important for Cisco partners?
A. Cisco global system integrators and channel partners will have more opportunities now to sell a broader selection of solutions based on popular Microsoft solutions. Partners, with their expanded "tool box", can offer a SQL Server data warehouse solution, a SQL server-based OLTP solution, or a Hyper-V-based private cloud offering to enterprise and commercial market customers, depending on need. It will be especially beneficial to those partners that have Cisco UCS, Microsoft, and EMC or NetApp expertise.
Q. Does this announcement change Cisco's relationship with Microsoft?
A. It demonstrates that the two companies have and continue to cooperatively work together in the enterprise data center and virtualization space. The two companies have a long-standing strategic alignment with complementary solutions. Cisco research engineers and Microsoft development engineers continue to work together to enhance our joint customers' experiences with Microsoft and Cisco technologies.
Q. Will the solutions be available worldwide?
A. Yes, Cisco will roll out our data warehousing and OLTP solutions through global system integrator partners and channel partners operating in all regions of the world. NetApp will roll out its private cloud offering in a similar fashion.
Q. What products or offers will Cisco and its partners sell as these reference architectures?
A. Our partners will sell the core components of the solution: Cisco UCS C-Series servers, Cisco UCS Support services, NetApp or EMC storage and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and SQL Server 2008 R2 software. In addition, integration into the Microsoft System Center portfolio is available to improve the manageability of these offers. Partners will have the opportunity to sell additional value-add Cisco solutions such as fabric interconnects and switches.
Q. What professional services are available to help customers plan, build, and run the new solutions?
A. Cisco offers professional and technical services to help accelerate deployment and optimize data warehouse infrastructure solutions. These services are designed to assist in planning, design, and implementation of the database infrastructure to accelerate time to value and reduce risk. Cisco award-winning global technical support services help increase uptime, quickly resolve problems, and optimize solution performance.
Q. How will Cisco support these new solutions?
A. Customers who have purchased the Cisco UCS product and Unified Computing Technical Support or higher are entitled to basic solution support for Cisco UCS and third-party integration questions. This basic solution support works as follows:
• Identification: When a customer detects a problem within the Cisco Microsoft SQL Fast Track data warehouse solution, based on initial problem assessment, the customer should call the appropriate product vendor for resolution.
• Diagnosis: If a customer calls Cisco, the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) will perform triage and troubleshoot the root cause.
• Resolution: If the problem concerns a Cisco product, Cisco TAC will resolve it. If Cisco determines the problem resides with the third-party product, then-upon request-Cisco will assist the customer in opening a case with the third-party supplier, subject to any support agreement in place between the customer and the third-party supplier. Cisco TAC will collaborate with the solution partner as needed to support resolution of the problem, and will not close the Cisco case until the customer's problem is resolved (or the customer agrees that Cisco is no longer needed in problem resolution).
Q. What is Microsoft Fast Track? Is it a Microsoft product, too?
A. No, Fast Track is a Microsoft-led program designed to accelerate consideration and adoption of solutions based on the latest version of select releases of Microsoft software. Currently Cisco is working with Microsoft in the Hyper-V Private Cloud and SQL Server 2008 R2 Data Warehouse Fast Track programs. It also highlights partners of Microsoft that have joined the program and are "approved" to provide complimentary reference configurations.
Q. Does Cisco offer any other reference architectures for Microsoft applications and technologies?
A. Yes, Cisco has tested and validated other Microsoft applications-such as Exchange, SharePoint, and key Windows Server technologies such as the Hyper-V. Cisco refers to these architectures as Cisco Validated Designs.