Many of you reading Cisco’s Data Center blog know that UCS is all about virtualization, and many of you have also read about our partnership with VMWare. While that’s been (and continues to be) a fruitful partnership, It’s important to highlight the great work we do with our other partners. I work with a team of folks focused on continuing to build the alignment between Cisco and Microsoft. Since the launch of UCS, we’ve had first-class support for Microsoft and their software portfolio, but sometimes that message is lost in the shuffle. I look forward to using this blog as a venue to amplify our message around the Microsoft+Cisco partnership.
In the data center space, we tend to talk about our work with Microsoft around three key pillars:
- OS and Virtualization
- Systems Management
- Application Best-Practices
As this is my inaugural post to the blog, I wanted to spend just a few sentences talking about what we’re doing in each area
OS and Virtualization
Right off the bat, its key to reinforce that Windows is fully supported on all of UCS server platforms. As we launch each new product, they’re taken through Microsoft HCL process to ensure its compatibility with Windows. For anyone curious, you can see the status of our Logo compliance by going to the Windows Catalog site. In addition to the Logo certification, we also fully support Hyper-V on top of our servers. When we launched UCS, we also extended our OEM relationship with Microsoft, and can re-sell many of the Windows SKUs pre-installed on UCS. In those scenarios, Cisco’s TAC also provides first-line support for Windows on UCS.
As part of Cisco’s broader VDI strategy, we launched a partnership with Citrix several months ago. One of the fruits of that partnership is the launch of a reference design including Cisco UCS, NetApp, Citrix XenDesktop, and Microsoft Hyper-V and Windows 7. Through the testing and benchmarking process, we’re seeing incredible scalability, and we’re anxious to share the results publicly. Stay tuned to Cisco.com and this blog for more details on the release of the CVD.
Here’s where I get really excited about the road ahead of us. Microsoft is banking on their systems management strategy to really differentiate Hyper-V in the market. Paired with UCS’ stateless computing feature and programmatic interface, it creates some interesting opportunities for us to take a new look at how we integrate with tools like Microsoft’s System Center Suite. Stay tuned for a future post from me to talk more about what we’re doing there, but suffice it to say that we’ve identified some really compelling integration opportunities with nearly every product in the System Center stack.
To integrate with System Center, much of the extensibility is provided via some flavor of .NET-based technology. From our perspective, if we want to fully integrate with the System Center family of products, we need to build a rock-solid .NET interface to UCS to serve as that foundation. To that end, we’re all extremely excited for the release of our .NET and PowerShell integration for UCS – offering complete manageability of UCS via PowerShell cmdlets or .NET managed code. Its in beta now, and marching steadily towards a release in the near future.
Application Best Practices
If I had to guess – nearly every person reading this blog is either an administrator of, or a consumer of at least one of Microsoft’s business applications – Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL Server, BizTalk, Dynamics, etc. Microsoft’s dominance in this space is difficult to dispute. In support of that, we’ve invested significant resources to ensure that not only is UCS the best hardware platform on which to run those apps, but also help you realize that same level of value. At Cisco, we produce reference architectures that we call Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs). Their purpose is to help customers leverage Cisco technology to build pre-tested solutions that we know are already-optimized. Working with partners like Microsoft as well as others, we’ve produced many of these CVDs focused on applications like Exchange and Sharepoint, and we’ve got many more under development. Stay tuned to our blog posts to learn about newly released CVDs – in the meantime, you can find many of our Microsoft-focused CVDs by clicking on this link.
I hope you found this snapshot of our partnership with Microsoft useful. Looking at the potential innovation we can bring to our joint customers, I’m genuinely optimistic about the opportunities ahead with Microsoft. Its my passion, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that’s working on bringing it to market.
My hope, along with the team @ Cisco supporting our Microsoft partnership is to post regularly to keep you up to date on the progress we’re making. Look for some more detailed posts soon on the topics I introduced above. Now – I’d love to hear from you, our readers, about how you use Microsoft in your environment today – as we plan for the future, its our customers’ requests that drive where we go!