From Products to Strategy, a Journey of a Single Step

It’s hard to believe I’ve only been at Cisco for a little more than 2 years. At some companies, that may be considered to be the “long-toothed veteran,” but at Cisco it’s still a blink of an eye. During that time I’ve been doing a lot of work on FCoE in the storage team of fantastic individuals, but the time has come to try my hand at something else.

Beginning on Monday, September 24, I will be moving into a new role that hasn’t (as far as I’m aware; I could be wrong of course!) existed at Cisco: I’ll be a Strategic Product Manager for Unified Fabric.

Why would Cisco need such a role (and, specifically, me to do it)? Because Cisco makes great products, and has people focusing on making those great products. Unified Fabric, however, is a horse of a different color, and means more than just having products that do “neat-o, way-far” cool things.

Unified Fabric means taking a look at the way Data Centers are built from an increasingly holistic perspective, tying the individual pieces together to form a larger whole.

It’s called The Principle of Non-Summativity, where the final outcome is more than the sum of its parts. Effectively, it’s not just about connecting the dots, it’s about how those connected dots take the technology and its use to another level.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet, of course, is a key component of this. More than anything else, it represents the ability for Data Centers to be more efficient in the use of networking resources, in much the same way that we can virtualize servers using a hypervisor and make better use of memory and CPUs on the physical box.

Just like the hypervisor, though, the significance and impact of this goes beyond just the technology itself. The little hypervisor leads to much bigger things because we have suddenly made hosts more dynamic. FCoE does the exact same thing with storage networks. But that is only the basic building blocks, it is not the end result itself.

You need virtualization in place before you can think about moving workloads around. You need FCoE in place before you can think about creating a truly Unified Fabric running any and all traffic over a network.

And what can we do with a Unified Fabric? Amazing, incredible things. We are seeing hints of what’s possible with the excitement surrounding new technologies such as Software Defined Networks (SDN) and, of course, the “C-” word: Cloud.

I have always been a huge proponent of the next-generation Data Center, of Unified Fabric, and this new role gives me an opportunity to expand upon my small role with Converged Networks and extrapolate up into making Unified Fabric stronger and even more powerful for our customers’ deployments.

Like most technically-oriented people, I gravitate towards some of the wickedly cool things that get innovated. The work being done right now on Unified Fabric falls squarely in this category, as there are some mind-bogglingly beautiful concepts and ideas in the works. Granted, like everything else it may not be this year or even next year when they see the light of day, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being worked on.

This time I can be more of a participant than a spectator, and that is one of the most exciting things about this for me. I’ll be able to touch many more aspects of the next-generation data center, grappling with the bigger picture and help drive the long-term vision that I believe in.

In short, this is exactly the next step for which I’ve been looking. 🙂