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Cloud Computing and Cisco UCS

In my blog last week I introduced a series of conversations in which Mike Spanbauer, Industry analyst at Current Analysis, Cisco Executives, Jim McHugh and Brian Schwarz discussed several topics.  One of the topics they discussed was the adoption of Cloud technologies by Enterprises.

More details on the specific study that Mike alluded to in the video can be found on the Current Analysis website.  Analyst perspectives are always valuable inputs to understand the trends.  At the Gartner ITxpo in Orlando this October, David Cearley, a vice president and Gartner fellow, discussed his vision of the top 10 data center trends of 2012 , and cloud computing was prominent among them. More analyst reports on Cisco Unified Computing System can be downloaded from the Analyst reports page on Cisco.com.

If you are interested in another analyst perspective, tune in to a webcast on December 6, at 9:00 am PST , to hear from James Staten of Forrester Research on their findings and analysis of the Cloud computing frontier.

Recognizing that Cloud computing is an important trend, I wanted to see how Cisco and Cisco UCS in particular facilitate a customer’s Journey to the Cloud.  First, I noticed that InformationWeek recognized Cisco CTO Lew Tucker as a pioneer in Cloud computing.  Second, I found a document by Cisco partner GTSI on the Cloud Maturity model which looks like a roadmap.  The Journey included Consolidation, Virtualization and Automation – three things the Cisco UCS excels at.

  1. Consolidation -- The converged server and network access architecture of the UCS promotes consolidation of resources.  The notion of server pools and network port channels allows furthers consolidation and better utilization of the resources.  The ability to run a large number of virtual machines on the same server as a result of superior performance enables consolidation of workloads on the same physical infrastructure.
  2. Server Virtualization -- Cisco UCS not only allows optimal use of resources when hypervisors run on the servers, but it goes further in abstracting physical server and network identity in software.  This is made possible with service templates and service profiles supported by the Cisco UCS Manager.  VM-FEX technology supported in VMWare vSphere and Microsoft HyperV gives virtual machines direct access to the network.
  3. Automation – Policy based manageability with programmability reduces errors and improves reliability and time to value of the compute infrastructure.  The repeatability of the processes enables rapid scaling up and down.  With Cisco UCS Central policy based management and automation is possible in globally distributed data centers.

I must note that although virtualization is a very useful technology for cloud deployment, it is not a necessary characteristic.  The NIST definition clearly calls out pooling of physical or virtual resources and multi-tenancy as the essential characteristics. Cisco UCS allows the pooling of physical server and network access resources prior to the installation of hypervisors. One customer  put it succinctly as -”UCS is to physical machines as hypervisor is to virtual machines”.   It is therefore no surprise that more than 16000 unique customers now use Cisco UCS.

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