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Enterprise IT continues to spend nearly $15B of their hard-earned budgets every year in RISC/UNIX and mainframe hardware.  The upfront expense combined with the proprietary lock-in on these platforms and associated maintenance and licensing costs is a mandate for IT to rethink their long term strategy.  Many of these companies are already moving off the RISC/UNIX architectures due to high costs and uncertainty about their futures foreshadowed by missed deadlines, changes in roadmaps and discontinued hardware and software support.  There is a strong and on-going market trend to migrate from proprietary architectures to the open Intel Xeon® based architecture, and the Cisco Unified Computing System is particularly well suited as a target platform for this purpose.  In partnership with Intel, Cisco has developed a RISC/UNIX Migration Program (www.cisco.com/go/migratetoucs) that includes a complete set of Cisco Migration Services through Cisco AS and Partners to help IT organizations define and realize the business benefits of migrating to Cisco Unified Computing System.

I had a conversation recently with Patrick Buddenbaum , Director of Intel’s Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, and Cisco’s Scott Clark, VP, Enterprise DC Services, to discuss the RISC/UNIX migration program.  Read on for a summary of this  conversation.

" Scott : Satinder, why is Cisco UCS an ideal destination platform for a RISC/UNIX migration?

SS : Fundamentally, the landscape of the business-critical application market is changing - many commercial, off-the-shelf enterprise applications have been restructured to take advantage of the improved economics of Intel Xeon processor-based servers, with reliability and performance equal to or better than current RISC/UNIX implementations. In addition, IT departments understand that greater agility and flexibility are critical to supporting the business. The Cisco Unified Computing system is a smart infrastructure in which every aspect of server personality is abstracted and can be applied programmatically. This approach does for physical servers what hypervisors do for virtual machines: it provides a pool of abstracted resources that can be quickly and easily configured to be whatever the software stack (hypervisor, operating system, or application) requires in terms of identity, personality, and I/O settings. Reproducible and easy server deployment makes the migration process efficient, smooth, and error-free.

We designed the Cisco Unified Computing System to meet the challenges of mission-critical business computing now and into the future. The architectural advantages of our Unified Fabric, Fabric Extender, Extended Memory, and UCS Management technologies deliver greater scalability and consolidation than traditional RISC/UNIX and x86-architecture servers. These capabilities also enable rapid and accurate deployment of bare-metal, virtualized, and cloud-computing services and applications—giving organizations greater flexibility and performance at less cost than traditional systems.

Patrick , what capabilities does the Intel Xeon processor E7 product family bring to mission-critical applications?

PB : Mission-Critical applications must be available and secure at all times. The Intel Xeon processor E7 product families are designed to offer reliability, security, and availability that can meet the needs of the most demanding workloads. These top-of-the-line processors deliver performance that is ideal for your most data-demanding workloads with improved scalability, and increased memory and I/O capacity, allowing you to handily adapt to changes in short-term business demands, and address requirements for longer-term business growth. Advanced reliability and security features work to maintain data integrity, accelerate encrypted transactions, and maximize the availability of mission-critical applications.

SC: Business demands can change rapidly – how do you see mission critical applications moving into the cloud?

PB : The data center has evolved over the past decade and is still evolving at a very rapid pace.  In the past, many organizations trusted their most mission-critical applications to RISC-based server platforms or to the mainframe because of the absolute need for high reliability, scalability and capacity.  Today, businesses and organizations are looking at deploying their mainstream enterprise infrastructure in a cloud compute environment, while moving their mission critical applications and services off RISC/UNIX to an Intel-based infrastructure.  This provides IT a common, interoperable infrastructure today, that can easily join the cloud compute pool when the cloud infrastructure becomes secure and robust enough to meet the SLAs IT have for their mission critical applications.

SC: Satinder, What benefits can IT organizations expect to experience by migrating to Cisco UCS?

SS : UCS provides unique benefits because it is not just a server, it is a complete computing system architecture that integrates compute, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single cohesive system to reduce overall cost and increase data center agility. We have several excellent RISC/UNIX migration case studies located here. We recently helped a leading research university to seamlessly move Oracle applications from a SPARC/Solaris environment to the Cisco Unified Computing System. The University of Colorado consolidated its previous 300 servers on 24 racks down to 10 total servers with Cisco UCS consolidated into two racks. This reduced the university’s data center footprint from approximately 5000-square feet to 200-square feet, shrinking the physical capacity of its data center by 96 percent, and consequently reducing power consumption by 90 percent, which saved them approximately $600,000 per year. In addition, the combination of Intel Xeon Processors and Cisco UCS unified network resulted in 400 to 600 percent performance improvement. They were able to run twice the number of transactions using half the number of servers.

Services are key element to a migration, since data centers work better when technology products and services are aligned.  Scott, maybe you can share a little more detail about our services capabilities ?

SC: Sure. Cisco’s RISC/UNIX Migration Service can be of assistance through each step of the migration process, whether you are evaluating the business case for RISC/UNIX migration or have already decided to migrate from a RISC/UNIX environment. Cisco and our valued partners help define the business benefits and return on investment (ROI), perform test migrations to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of migrating to the Cisco UCS platform, and migrate production applications and data in line with your requirements and timeline. We understand that these applications have higher level Service Level requirements during a transition and will utilize proven processes for migrating RISC/UNIX environments onto Cisco’s innovative Cisco Unified Computing System platform safely and securely. Cisco Advanced Services has helped migrate some of the largest oracle database, oracle applications, and mission critical SAP installations to Cisco UCS. "

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