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Month: September 2014

Console Wars: Book Review

Console Wars: Book Review

 

2014-09-24 10.51.51 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 24th, 1990

I was twelve years old and twelve days away from becoming the BIG thirteen. This Christmas was very special indeed. I was getting a “combined” Birthday and Christmas present. Oh boy, was it special! I was sitting there with my family, my hands trembling because I knew exactly what lies beneath that red paper surface.  Just a few hours ago I was playing 720 on the NES on a small color TV and thinking how awesome Altered Beast is going to look. An ARCADE experience right in my living room. By contrast, 720 looks NOTHING like it’s arcade counterpart. My younger sister went to bed and this year I could stay up until midnight and open my gifts. I cared nothing about the other “stuff”, just that giant red present. I was moments away from tearing into this thin red barrier that stands between me and the most memorable Christmas present I’ll ever receive. 11:59 > GO!

It was indeed a Sega Genesis and E-Swat: City under Siege! I probably set a record time for setting it up to the living room TV. I powered up the Genesis, smirked at the “16-Bit” etching on the top because I was an elite, then I heard this. “Rise from your grave”

My jaw hit the floor. Digitized voice, giant sprites, 64 on screen colors out of a 512 palette, and a 16-bit processor (motorola 68k). I was playing a reproduction of the arcade game in our living room. More digitized voice would come out of the famous Yamaha 2612. “Power Up!” and then “Welcome to your Doom”. Man, I was living the dream right here. All year, I was waiting for this moment and it was glorious. My family watched me for a few minutes and then dispersed. I put some headphones on, cranked up the volume slider, and stayed up until I finished Altered Beast and played the first level of E-Swat. Here we are, 24 years later and I remember that day like it was yesterday. That is the kind of impact Sega had on me.

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Promise

I made a promise with the author of Console Wars, Blake Harris @blakejharrisNYC via Twitter. That promise was a FULL review of his book after I had time to digest and process my thoughts. The topic of video games (retro especially) is something I’m very passionate about like many of you reading this post.

I plan to fulfill this promise and thank you Blake for caring enough to ping me on Twitter about my sentiments of your book.

The Recommendation

On May 22nd, 2014, I’m walking through the Cisco Live world of Solutions in San Francisco and ran into fellow gamer and TechWiseTV co-host Jimmy Ray. Now Jimmy Ray and I have a mutual bond when it comes to things that go fast and video games, so I proceed to tell him about me being a speaker for the first time at live and how I managed to incorporate video games into my presentation. He then tells me about this book called Console Wars and how it just came out. He basically said this and I’m paraphrasing a bit because Jimmy Ray talks so fast. “Dude, you got to get this book it’s really cool”.

So, on that sound advise, I ordered the book from my hotel room later that evening. I actually didn’t realize the book was only out for nine days, I thought it was something that I just missed. Well… I had to wait until the 28th to receive my PAPERBACK (that’s how I roll) and that very night started my journey back in time.

I read it cover to cover (558 pages) in 3 days. By the weekend, I was summarizing my thoughts and my overall verdict was quite different then what I expected.

The Review

WOW! This is one of the best books I’ve read about marketing strategies. That was my overall initial impression. This is very different from what I was expecting. I was thinking it was going to be a geek out retro fest about the deep secrets between Nintendo and Sega and the culture clash between the Japanese developers and American consumers (some of which is the case).

Let me just start of by summarizing the overall premise. David (Sega) vs. Goliath (Nintendo)

Excluding the Foreword (don’t waste your time on this part, it’s just a bunch of ramblings) by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, the book had me hooked from Chapter 1. The tale begins with Tom Kalinske (former Matchbox and Mattel CEO) on a beach with his family. He receives an offer from the then president of Sega, Hayao Kakayama that was too good to refuse.

From this point on your whisked away into the inner sanctum of Sega R&D, this history of Nintendo, excessive costs of licensing/royalty, game concept idea conception, lock out chips, culture clashes, Sonic vs. Mario, 16-bit to 32-bit transition, and the actual marketing proxy wars that took place between all this.

My personal highlights are the following.

  • The origin story of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Thomas Kalinske’s journey as president of Sega of America
  • Nintendo of America was saved in 1981 by Miyamoto-san’s Donkey Kong (originally a Popeye game) and then Seattle lawyer Howard Lincoln. History would then repeat itself in 1994
  • Japanese dudes smashing stuff
  • Sony Playstation origin story and the greatest marketing presentation ever. Read the book, I won’t spoil the surprise.
  • The various victories of an underdog
  • The creative marketing tactics, which many are still in use today. I should know, I’ve been in sales over 7 years now.
  • The awesome Sonic 2 marketing campaign

I’ll end my review on this simply message. If your into video game history, this book has it ALL. It your into business sales and marketing, this book has some great insight. Enough reading my post, go get this book and start your journey on the road of gaming nostalgia.

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Cisco Modeling Labs 1.0: First Impressions & Getting Started

Cisco Modeling Labs 1.0: First Impressions & Getting Started

2014-09-16 01.30.37 pm

When a Legend becomes Real

I’m still pinching myself. Last week I delivered my very first Cisco Modeling Labs (CML) 1.0 demo to a customer. Overall, they were pretty darn excited, however there are some things that we need to address to make it a GREAT fit for their specific testing/validation environment.

Let’s take a step back and talk high level about CML for a moment. CML is the Cisco TAC supported variant of VIRL. The FCS date for CML 1.0 was 08.11.14. Almost a month later and several hours behind the wheel, I can say it was totally worth the wait. If your looking for a deep dive into the architecture behind the scenes, check out my previous blog post on the subject.

Let’s start with some of the most important aspects of CML to set expectations accordingly.

  • CML is NOT an emulator. The CML images are compiled specifically for the virtual machine environment (KVM). This is how you can scale to 150-200 nodes. It’s actual IOS/XR/XE/NX-OS code optimized for the VM. I was a huge fan of GNS/Dynamips, but the scale always left something to be desired. This is one of the major issues with emulation, PERFORMANCE.
  • CML WILL NOT validate ASICs, line cards, or any other hardware specific functionality/behavior. If your getting CML for this reason, it will NOT be a good representation.
  • CML is GREAT for config verification and migration/functionality testing. For example going from single IPv4 stack to dual stack, testing PfR configs, IGP configs, route policies, etc…
  • CML will also be GREAT for testing new code and features. The BU’s are committed to updating the CML images. For example: My IOSv image is 15.4(2)T1 which is pretty recent.  “IOSv Software (VIOS-ADVENTERPRISEK9-M), Version 15.4(2)T1”
  • CML is GREAT for troubleshooting problems in an isolated environment.
  • CML allows you to integrate the virtual simulated environment with the physical lab network.
  • CML images available TODAY/09.16.14 are IOSv (included with your 15 node base license), IOS XR, and IOS XE in the form of CSR1000v. There is also a Linux server image for hosts.
  • CML team recommends UCS C220 M3 server or C460 M2, but you can really bring your own hardware for the host. ESXi 5.0, 5.1 or 5.5 is REQUIRED. Check out this URL for the data sheet and requirements. 
  • There is NO cloud/hosted offering of CML.
  • Be sure to check out the CML Q&A for anything I may have missed.

Craig Brown (TME): Cisco Modeling Labs Overview

Getting Started (see inline for ordering info)

  1. Download the install guide
  2. Setup your ESXi host
  3. Download the CML OVA
  4. Deploy the CML OVA
  5. Run through the “First Time” scripts on the Ubuntu guest
  6. Install the necessary license keys
  7. Add any additional images (IOS-XRv, CSR1000v, linux server)
  8. Download the CML client (OSX or Windows) from http://IP_OF_CML_SERVER/download
  9. Connect to the CML server
  10. Design, Build, Visualize, Simulate

This is a really just an overview. Your gonna want to go through the install guide and ensure your following the requirements and recommendations. I’ll be posting an instructional video on youtube shortly with a step-by-step guide on how to get started.

Caveats

  • Only GigE virtual interfaces are supported currently. No serial interfaces or 10G/40G
  • Additional images (IOS-XRv, CSR1000v, etc) must be purchased separately. Only IOSv is included with the base license
  • Modeling of traffic patterns (traffic flow creation) are slated for the CML 1.1 release

Thoughts and Closing

In closing, I hope your as excited as I am about CML. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really glad the CML team took the time to get this right. I see many applications for CML in my personal journey. Let’s start with my home lab. I’m blessed to have access to Cisco hardware, but my lab gets HOT and my electric bill goes through the roof. I’ll use CML to validate customer configs, design and test IWAN/PfR configs, CCIE DC studies (NX-OSv image), EEM applet validation, and routing configs. Hopefully this saves me from the hundreds of dollars in electric to run a cat6500 and nexus 3k’s at home. 🙂

I used GNS3/Dynamips and IOU/IOL for many years. I will just say this, CML blows them away. I love GNS, but my problem has also been two fold. Scale and relevance. With regards to relevance, I was running the 7200 image and old IOS code. It’s just not current enough and emulated platforms suffer when it comes to performance. IOU/IOL is internal to Cisco only.

If your wondering about VIRL personal edition, my understanding is we’ll eventually release this to Cisco DEVNET. I just don’t have any committed date (update Dec 1st, 2014) at this point in time. This is going to be great for those studying for Cisco certifications from the CCNA to CCIE level.

If your interested in a 30 day trial of CML, reach out to your Cisco account team.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful. If you have any suggestions on how I can best demonstrate CML, please leave feedback. I’m going to talk to the CML team and see if they plan on conducting a WISP lab at Cisco Live next year. If not, I’ll be hosting one. It’s that good. EVERYONE needs to see it.

UPDATE: I’m told by one of the TME’s that CML will be demoed at Cisco Live, Cancun in Nov. 

Ordering Information

2014-09-16 02.13.06 pm

Next Wave of UCS Innovation

Next Wave of UCS Innovation

Today was a BIG day for us at Cisco. We announced our next wave of UCS products and continue building our data center innovation superhighway. Did we announce one product? NO! We announced four major UCS products today at #UCSGRANDSLAM and it was AWESOME! I knew about this stuff for months, but had to keep quite. As you can imagine, I was at the point of imploding because I just wanted to share this info with EVERYONE. Here is a quick recap of the UCS portfolio expansion announced today.

  • UCS Mini provides the full power of Cisco Unified Computing in a smaller, all-in-one solution that is simple, easy to manage, yet expandable. Great for IoT/IoElocal processing (Fog) and ROBO customers. 

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  • UCS M-Series Modular Servers for Online Content Providers and Cloud Service Providers and for distributed applications in Industrial High Performance Computing (HPC) and Enterprise Grid. What about dedicated hosting and cloud services?

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  • Cisco UCS C3160 Rack Server is a modular, capacity-optimized solution ideal for distributed data analytics, unstructured data repositories and media streaming and transcoding. I have one customer looking at this now for vSAN. 

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  • Cisco M4 Generation UCS Rack and Blade Servers are armed with the latest processing power providing increased performance, efficiency and computing density. Intel Haswell architecture, E5 v3. 

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All that said, I’m ecstatic about today’s announcement and can’t wait to hear from our customers on the challenges that can be overcome with these latest additions to the UCS family. I think about five short years ago when naysayers said Cisco had NO PLACE IN THE SERVER MARKET. They were WRONG! We are #1 in the US and #2 worldwide in the x86 blade server market. I’m confident we’ll be the #1 server vendor worldwide in no time at all.

UCS | Powering Applications at Every Scale

As soon as the video of today’s announcement is posted, I’ll link it here. Stay tuned!