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Data Center Newsletter: The Journey to Unified Computing

February 9, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

Organizations are ready to promote greater value with virtualization, however, data center complexity and costs are skyrocketing. Virtual machines have emerged as the new “atomic unit,” moving fluidly throughout the data center, promising reduced costs and increased flexibility.

  • Hindered by decreasing budgets and accidental architectures of the past, IT managers are struggling to realize the full potential of virtualization.
  • IT leaders must navigate a complex maze; combining diverse solutions and manual processes in the quest to cost effectively refresh aging technology, adhere to industry standards, and plan a safe path to the future.
  • Strategic architecture decisions made today will largely determine an organization’s competitive position for the next economic cycle.

As a result, core assumptions about infrastructure and data center strategies are shifting radically.

The key to a more efficient, simplified, and manageable data center lies with Cisco Unified Computing. This integrated architectural approach is built upon the virtual machine as the core element, uniting virtualized compute, network, and storage resources to reduce costs and increase agility. Cisco’s innovations are designed to unify data processes, simplify data center complexity, and amplify business results.


A Building Block Approach

Unified Computing is not an “all or nothing” proposition — Cisco understands that modern data centers are heterogeneous environments with complex interdependencies. You can deploy Unified Computing components as your needs and operational readiness dictate, bringing incremental advantages and investment protection to your computing infrastructure. You can embark upon this journey in several stages:

  1. Introduce systems that are optimized for virtualization into your existing infrastructure:
    • Cisco UCS C-Series Rack-Mount Servers take advantage of Intel Xeon 5500 processor innovations that maximize performance and virtualization capabilities.
    • Extended memory technology enhances and increases the number of virtual machines that each physical system is capable of maintaining. Cisco’s patented extended memory technology offers the ability to move well beyond the limitations of traditional servers offering up to 384GB of memory in a 2RU form factor, offering dramatic memory cost savings and server consolidation.
    • Cisco UCS C-Series servers integrate easily into heterogeneous data centers that use enterprise management tools such as BMC BladeLogic and others.
  2. Unify fabrics across all your servers and storage:
    • Unified fabric with Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Switches and Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders that support both IP network and storage connectivity at the server access layer that reduces infrastructure costs and simplifies connectivity, cabling, administration, and management.
    • VN-Link, virtualization-aware networking with Cisco Nexus 1000V that allows consistent policy driven network capabilities that move with the virtual machine during a VMware VMotion event. Additionally, Cisco offers a Virtual Interface Card that is a hardware instantiation of the Nexus 1000V, offering performance enhancements to Cisco’s UCS C-Series servers.
  3. Unify management:
    • In today’s data centers, servers can be difficult to deploy and repurpose, often requiring days to implement. This requires careful coordination between server, networking, and storage teams to make sure that all devices work together properly. Cisco UCS Manager embeds, unifies, and abstracts all those individually combined management consoles off the compute devices themselves and makes them role based with access controls that allow a more effective enforcement of infrastructure policies under a single, cohesive management domain. In addition, Cisco UCS Manager can flexibly integrate with existing enterprise management tools through an advanced API toolset.
    • Dynamic provisioning and service profiles offer the ability to move the server identity fluidly throughout the data center, allowing provisioning and re-provisioning in minutes, dramatically simplifying a previously tedious process.
    • Role-based access and policy controls within a single management toolset streamline interdepartmental workflows, releasing vital resources to other tasks.

Unified Computing is a revolutionary new approach to the virtualized data center. It offers the means to integrate virtualized compute, network, and storage access into a centrally managed environment. Each innovation can be deployed as a building block to reduce cost and increase agility; delivering a more efficient, simplified data center that’s easier to manage. The journey to Unified Computing can be one of incremental improvements, dictated by your needs, that when fully combined can help you realize the full potential of your data center.

By Scott Ciccone, Product Marketing Manager, Unified Computing System Solutions

For more of the latest data center content on Cisco.com, please check out the full version of the Data Center Insights newsletter.

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