A picture really is worth a thousand words. I found this out many times over doing booth duty at IDF and then Oracle Open World recently. We had the UCS Manager Platform Emulator running at IDF, but not at OOW, and being able to actually show people the flexibility, breadth and depth of control you get with the UCS approach to management made a notable difference in the tenor and seriousness of the conversations.
You can download the Platform Emulator from the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) and play with it to get a feel for how UCS Manager is organized. But I wanted to give a nod to the valuable public service provided by Kevin Houston over at BladesMadeSimple: he’s created a YouTube video using the Platform Emulator that walks you through the information and tools available to the administrator(s) in UCS Manager, including the creation of service profiles, templates and pools. It’s definitely long, but thanks to the soundtrack I found myself wanting to samba as I watched (not that I have the slightest idea how to samba; fortunately nobody was around). Simply put, it may well be the coolest 15-minute tech video you’ll see all week.
There are a couple of things I particularly like about showing off UCS Manager, and you can see them in this video. For one thing, as it systematically goes through all the various tabs in UCS Manager, you’re able to see the level of granularity available to system admins, all organized logically in one place—as opposed to the traditional model, in which controls are scattered across several different, generally unintegrated management consoles which can’t share policies consistently.
For another, close to two-thirds of the video covers the networking aspects of UCS. I know that Michael Morris of Network World spoke for many when he commented, “What shocked me was how much networking is involved in UCS.” To be clear, the role-based access control built into UCS Manager ensures that server admins don’t have to become network experts in order to do their jobs effectively—in fact they have to manage less networking than with some other systems. Instead, LAN, SAN and server teams can all do what they do best with UCS Manager taking care of much of the handoff integration. But I think grasping this essential fact about how UCS is architected goes a long way towards helping people understand how UCS is fundamentally different from a classic x86 system—even though it utilizes the same components and standards—and why Cisco felt we were in a unique position to innovate in this space.
P.S. When you visit CDN, be sure to read Sheryl Sage’s fun and informative post about her experience creating an iPhone app for remote UCS management.