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MDS 9700 Scale Out and Scale Up

This is the final part on the High Performance Data Center Design. We will look at how high performance, high availability and flexibility allows customers to scale up or scale out over time without any disruption to the existing infrastructure.  MDS 9710 capabilities are field proved with the wide adoption and steep ramp within first year of the introduction. Some of the customer use cases regarding MDS 9710 are detailed here. Furthermore Cisco has not only established itself as a strong player in the SAN space with so many industry’s first innovations like VSAN, IVR, FCoE, Unified Ports that we introduced in last 12 years, but also has the leading market share in SAN.

Before we look at some architecture examples lets start with basic tenants any director class switch should support when it coms to scalability and supporting future customer needs

  • Design should be flexible to Scale Up (increase performance) or Scale Out (add more port)
  • The process should not be disruptive to the current installation for cabling, performance impact or downtime
  • The design principals like oversubscription ratio, latency, throughput predictability (as an example from host edge to core) shouldn’t be compromised at port level and fabric level

Lets take a scale out example, where customer wants to increase 16G ports down the road. For this example I have used a core edge design with 4 Edge MDS 9710 and 2 Core MDS 9710. There are 768 hosts at 8Gbps and 640 hosts running at 16Gbps connected to 4 edge MDS 9710 with total of 16 Tbps connectivity. With 8:1 oversubscription ratio from edge to core design requires 2 Tbps edge to core connectivity. The 2 core systems are connected to edge and targets using 128 target ports running at 16Gbps in each direction. The picture below shows the connectivity.

Edge Core Design Day 1

Down the road data center requires 188 more ports running at 16G. These 188 ports are added to the new edge director (or open slots in the existing directors) which is then connected to the core switches with 24 additional edge to core connections. This is repeated with 24 additional 16G targets ports. The fact that this scale up is not disruptive to existing infrastructure is extremely important. In any of the scale out or scale up cases there is minimal impact, if any, on existing chassis layout, data path, cabling, throughput, latency. As an example if customer doesn’t want to string additional cables between the core and edge directors then they can upgrade to higher speed cards (32G FC or 40G FCoE with BiDi ) and get double the bandwidth on the on the existing cable plant.

Edge Core Design Scale UP

Lets look at another example where customer wants to scale up (i.e. increase the performance of the connections). Lets use a edge core edge design for this example. There are 6144 hosts running at 8Gbps distributed over 10 edge MDS 9710s resulting in a total of 49 Tbps edge bandwidth. Lets assume that this data center is using a oversubscription ratio of 16:1 from edge into the core. To satisfy that requirement administrator designed DC with 2 core switches 192 ports each running at 3Tbps. Lets assume at initial design customer connected 768 Storage Ports running at 8G.

Edge Core Design Day1

 

Few years down the road customer may wants to add additional 6,144 8G ports  and keep the same oversubscription ratios. This has to be implemented in non disruptive manner, without any performance degradation on the existing infrastructure (either in throughput or in latency) and without any constraints regarding protocol, optics and connectivity. In this scenario the host edge connectivity doubles and the edge to core bandwidth increases to 98G. Data Center admin have multiple options for addressing the increase core bandwidth to 6 Tbps.  Data Center admin can choose to add more 16G ports (192 more ports to be precise) or preserve the cabling and use 32G connectivity for host edge to core and core to target edge connectivity on the same chassis. Data Center admin can as easily use the 40G FCoE at that time to meet the bandwidth needs in the core of the network without any forklift. Edge Core Edge Design Scale Out

Or on the other hand customer may wants to upgrade to 16G connectivity on hosts and follow the same oversubscription ratios. . For 16G connectivity the host edge bandwidth increases to 98G and data center administrator has the same flexibility regarding protocol, cabling and speeds.

Edge Core Edge Example 1 ScaleUP

For either option the disruption is minimal. In real life there will be mix of requirements on the same fabric some scale out and some scale up. In those circumstances data center admins have the same flexibility and options. With chassis life of more than a decade it allows customers to upgrade to higher speeds when they need to without disruption and with maximum flexibility. The figure below shows how easily customers can Scale UP or Scale Out.

 

Edge Core Edge Design Scale Out Scale Up

 

As these examples show Cisco MDS solution provides ability for customers to Scale Up or Scale out in flexible, non disruptive way.

“Good design doesn’t date. Bad design does.”
Paul Rand

 

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UCS M-Series System Link Technology: The converged infrastructure story.

It almost feels like this blog entry should start with: Once upon a time….   Because it captures a journey of a young emerging technology and the powerful infrastructure tool it has become. The Cisco UCS journey starts with the tale of Unified Fabric and the Converged Network Adapter (CNA).

Most people think of Unified Fabric as the ability to put both Fiber Channel and Ethernet on the same wire between the server and the Fabric Interconnect or upstream FCoE switchs.  That is part of the story, but that part is as simple as putting a Fiber Channel frame inside of an Ethernet frame.   What is the magic that makes this happen at the server level?  Doesn’t FCoE imply that the Operating System itself would have to know how to present a Fiber Channel device in software and then encapsulate and send the frame across the Ethernet port?   Possibly, but that would require OS FCoE software support which would also require CPU overhead and require end users to qualify these new software drivers and compare the performance of software against existing hardware FC HBAs.

For UCS the key to the success of converged infrastructure was due greatly to the very first Converged Network Adapters that were released.  These adapters presented existing PCIe Fiber Channel and Ethernet endpoints to the operating system.  This required no new drivers or new qualification from the perspective of the operating system and users.  However at the heart of this adapter was a Cisco ASIC that provided two key functions:

1.)  Present the physical functions for existing PCIe devices to the operating system without the penalty of PCIe switching.

2.)   Encapsulate Fiber Channel frames into an Ethernet frame as they are sent to the northbound switch.

Converged Network Adapter

Converged Network Adapter

It is the second function that we often focus on because that’s the cool networking portion that many of us at Cisco like to talk about.  But how exactly do we convince the operating system that it is communicating with an Intel Dual port Ethernet NIC and a Dual port 4GB Qlogic Fiber Channel HBA?  I mean these are the exact same drivers that we use for the actual Intel and Qlogic card, there’s got to be some magic there right?

Well, yes and no.  Lets start with the no.  Presenting different physical functions (PCIe endpoints) on a physical PCIe card is nothing new.  It’s as simple as putting a PCIe switch between the bus and the endpoints.  But like all switching technologies a PCIe switch incurs latency and it cannot encapsulate a FC frame into an Ethernet frame.  So that’s where the magic comes into play.  The original Converged Network Adapater contained a Cisco ASIC that sits on the PCIe bus between the Intel and Qlogic physical functions.  From the operating system perspective the ASIC “looks” like a PCIe switch providing direct access to the the Ethernet and Fiber Channel endpoints, but in reality it has the ability to move I/O in and out of the physical functions without incurring the latency of a switch.  The ASIC also provides a mechanism for encapsulating the FC Frames into a specific Ethernet frame type to provide FCoE connectivity upstream.

The pure beauty of this ASIC is that we have evolved it from the CNA to the Virtual Interface Card (VIC). These traditional CNAs have a limited number of Ethernet and FC ports available to they system (2 each) based on the chipsets installed on the card.  The Cisco VIC provides a variety of vNICs and vHBAs to be created on the card.  The VIC not only virtualizes the PCIe switch, it virtualizes the I/O endpoint.

Cisco Virtual Interface Card

Cisco Virtual Interface Card

So in essence what we have created with the Cisco ASIC, that drives the VIC, is a device that can provide a standard PCIe mechanism to present an end device directly to the operating system.  This ASIC also provides a hardware mechanism designed to receive native I/O from the operating system and encapsulate and translate where necessary without the need for OS stack dependencies, for example native Fiber Channel encapsulated into Ethernet.

At the heart of the UCS M-Series servers is the System Link Technology.  It is this specific component that provides access to the shared I/O resources in the chassis to the compute nodes.  System Link Technology is the 3rd Generation technology behind the VIC and the 4th Generation technology for Unified Fabric within the construct of Unified Computing.  The key function of the System Link Technology is the creation of a new PCIe physical function called the SCSI NIC (sNIC) that presents a virtual storage controller to the operating system and maps drive resources to a specific service profile within Cisco UCS.

System Link Technology

System Link Technology

It is this innovative technology that provides a mechanism for each compute node within UCS M-Series to have it’s own specific virtual drive carved out of the available physical drives within the chassis.  This is accomplished using standard PCIe and not MR-IOV.  Therefore it does not require any special knowledge of a change in the PCIe frame format by the operating system.

For a more detailed look at System Link Technology in the M-Series check out the following white paper.

The important thing to remember is that hardware infrastructure is only part of the overall architectural design for UCS M-Series. The other component that is key to UCS is the ability to manage the virtual instantiations of the system components.  In the next segment on UCS M-Series Mahesh will discuss how UCS Manager rounds out the architectural design.

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#EngineersUnplugged S6|Ep11: #UCSGrandSlam from Admin View

October 1, 2014 at 10:35 am PST

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Roving Reporter Lauren Malhoit (@malhoit) talks to Adam Eckerle (@eck79) about #UCSGrandSlam and UCS as a platform. Great view of the tech from the admin perspective: “UCS is built from the ground up with virtualization in mind.” Great practical episode for anyone exploring UCS!

Much like UCS, the Unicorn Challenge is a platform for creativity.

Much like UCS, the Unicorn Challenge is a platform for creativity.

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Automated PBR and Route Health Injection with RISE

RISE is an innovative architecture that logically integrates an external service appliance such as Citrix NetScaler or the Cisco Prime NAM so that it appears & operates as a service module within the Nexus 7000 Series switches.
RISE integration with the Citrix NetScaler provides features like Route Health Injection (RHI) and Automated PBR (APBR) which allow easy configuration to redirect client and server traffic to the load balancer.
Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.47.15 AM

 

Automated Policy Based Routing (APBR)
Existing solutions to have server traffic return to the load balancer are Source NAT and PBR. Using Source NAT causes applications (server) to lose the visibility to client IP, burning IP address pool for Source NAT configuration and manual configuration. Policy Based Routing (PBR) requires complex initial configuration from the user (susceptible to human errors), configuration updates when a server is added or removed which can be cumbersome as the number of network devices and servers/VIPs grow.
  • Auto PBR eliminates the need for Source-NAT or manual PBR configuration in an one-arm mode design of load balancers
  • Preserves client IP visibility for applications/servers without the need for manual PBR
  • APBR feature allows the NetScaler to program policies on the N7K server-facing interfaces to redirect return traffic to the NetScaler appliance set up in one-arm mode
  • NetScaler passes information about real servers to N7K via the RISE channel and a policy is applied on the N7K interface through which the real server can be best reached
  • Since it is desirable to change the SRC IP to VIP for the return traffic, the APBR policies redirect traffic to the NetScaler IP without modifying the packet
  • The NS appliance will then direct the packet to the client by changing the source IP to VIP
Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.51.47 AM
Please reach out to nxos-rise@cisco.com for more information on RISE features.
Resources

RISE At A Glance white paper: http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/switches/nexus-7000-series-switches/at-a-glance-c45-731306.pdf

RISE announcement blog: http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/rise

RISE Video at Interop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HQkew4EE2g

Cisco RISE page: www.cisco.com/go/rise

 

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Introducing Cisco Information Server 7.0: Easy Access for Business Users, Larger Deployments, More Data

Today, at Data Virtualization Day 2014 in New York City, we proudly announced Cisco Information Server 7.0 (CIS 7.0). The latest version of our flagship data virtualization offering, CIS 7.0 extends data virtualization to new audiences, enables larger, more-complex deployments and integrates more data sources so our customers can run their businesses more effectively by leveraging all of their data.

Enterprises are challenged to keep pace. That’s a big problem in a world where data and analytics form the competitive battlefield. With trends like Big Data, Cloud and the Internet of Everything are transforming our world, the possibilities are staggering.

Unfortunately, these possibilities also come with challenges:

  • With 25 billion connected devices by the end of 2015 and another 25 billion by 2020, data is and will continue to be sprawled out over billions of devices.
  • Data distribution reaches far beyond the traditional enterprise data warehouse, today data is everywhere across hybrid IT environments that span on-premise, private cloud and public cloud.
  • With data the lifeblood of today’s modern enterprise, business and IT stakeholders must radically change how they partner together in order to extract the most useful insight for all users. An “all hands on deck” approach to data and analytics is needed.

These are challenges CIS 7.0 is engineered to address.

Self-Service Data Gateway for Business

Leveraging the new class of easy-to-use business intelligence tools such as Qliktech, Spotfire and Tableau, as well as the increasingly powerful and ubiquitous Excel, business users have become adept at visualizing and analyzing data without IT’s help.  However finding and accessing that data remains a big challenge, with long IT lead times frequently the only option. That is until CIS 7.0.

bd - search results

Business Directory is the first data virtualization offering designed exclusively for business self-service.

CIS 7.0’s Business Directory is the first data virtualization offering designed exclusively for business self-service. Users apply search and categorization techniques to quickly find the data they’re looking for, and then use their business intelligence (BI) tool of choice to query it.  The result is far faster time to insight and translates to better business outcomes sooner.

With Business Directory, IT creates a new partnership with the business.  IT provides secure, curated data sets to the business.  Then the business adds domain knowledge and analytic value on the path to insight. Using CIS 7.0’s scalable platform, IT can manage security profiles ensuring users see only the data for which they’re authorized.  And as new business needs arise, IT can use the CIS Studio to quickly add new data sets, often in a day or less.

Connecting Data Globally, with Control

Data virtualization’s ability to connect and deliver data with agility is well understood.  As data has become increasingly distributed, data virtualization adoption has skyrocketed. This has led to highly complex, global-scale data virtualization deployments.

CIS 7.0’s Deployment Manager simplifies management of the mega-scale CIS 7.0 deployments. Deployment Manager automates the transfer views, data services, caches, policies and more across multiple CIS 7 instances.  These faster, risk-free deployments provide the scalability desired, ensure compliance with software development life cycle processes and other governance practices, and reduce the cost of IT administration.

More Data Sources For Better Analysis

Everyone knows that if you can access more data sources, you can drive better, data-driven business outcomes. However the rise of new fit-for-purpose data stores from graph databases to Hadoop, as well as highly specialized industry solutions, such as the PI System in upstream energy, has made it difficult for IT to integrate all these sources at business pace.

CIS 7.0’s Data Source Software Development Kit (SDK) accelerates data adapter development. Using Data Source SDK, Cisco, system integrators and customers can build high-performance data virtualization adapters for emerging and industry-specific data sources quickly and in a way that leverages Cisco development best practices and market-leading, query optimization techniques.

Winning on the Data Battlefield

With Big Data, Cloud and the Internet of Everything disrupting data integration, the time is right for CIS 7.0. Business Directory addresses business demand for self-service data. Deployment Manager provides global-scale data virtualization with control.  Data Source SDK extends data virtualization’s reach.  These breakthroughs, on top of the industry’s leading data virtualization platform, will help our customers drive better business outcomes and outpace their competition.

CIS 7.0’s time in now!  So get ready!

For those of you attending Data Virtualization Day, check out a sneak preview at the Solution Showcase. General availability via Cisco Support is scheduled for next month. Cisco Advanced Services and our many ATP partners are set to provide migration assistance.

 

Learn More

To learn more about Cisco Data Virtualization, check out our page.

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