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Cisco UCS: The Optimal Platform for Microsoft SQL Server 2014

November 2, 2014 at 9:54 am PST

The world of data is changing. Businesses face growth in the volume of information and the types of data they encounter. There are new landscapes of vast and dynamic information that must be processed, managed and analyzed to achieve business insight. It is no surprise, therefore, that legacy infrastructures are failing to meet I.T.’s expectations.

For many of you this is why you are in Seattle this week – to attend PASS Summit 2014, the SQL PASS organization’s annual conference on SQL Server.  You want to learn this week from your peers, from Microsoft, and from vendor’s ways to successfully harness SQL Server and drive solutions that do meet your business and user’s expectations.

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UCS Integrated Infrastructure: Best of Breed Building Blocks in the EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution

Clouds come in various flavors, but a common scenario is IT shops who have many applications on-premises (private clouds) and other workloads off-premise (public clouds).  This combination of private and public clouds is often called a hybrid cloud.  Integrating, customizing and securely delivering services based on hundreds of applications from dozens of vendors in public and private clouds are becoming part of a new wave of IT.  In addition, moving workloads between clouds is becoming a bigger part of IT every day.

Earlier this week, EMC unveiled its Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution that addresses this hybrid scenario.   The EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution is a fully engineered solution that integrates hardware, software and services from EMC to unite the strengths of private and public cloud.  The EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution allows choice among hypervisors and public clouds providers.  The solution can be built on VCE Vblocks or VSPEX solution portfolio.

Both VCE Vblocks and EMC VSPEX with Cisco technology build on vital technology building blocks of Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure.    Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure consists of the following, cloud-friendly technologies:

  • A standard, highly-secure, automated infrastructure based on
    • Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers
    • Cisco Nexus datacenter switches
    • Cisco UCS Director  and UCS Manager management software
    • Additional capabilities for Application Centric Infrastructure, InterCloud Fabric, and Cisco security.

Why is UCS Integrated Infrastructure a building block cornerstone cloud technology?  The answer lies in the flexibility that UCS Integrated Infrastructure delivers.

Workloads move quickly between clouds and the underlying server and networking infrastructure must adapt to these movements.  Traditional servers are slow to adapt to these changes as their deployment times are measured in days or hours—in extreme cases, weeks.  However, UCS Integrated Infrastructure addresses this issue by abstracting all hardware in software.  Since the UCS Integrated Infrastructure cloud hardware is now all abstracted in software, the day-long waits for server changes are reduced to minutes. In other words, UCS servers can be provisioned and deployed in minutes, not days or hours like traditional serves.  The ability for UCS server to be provisioned and re-provisioned quickly, accurately and in a timely fashion is a huge advantage that is perfectly suited to both changing business conditions and movement of workloads from private to public clouds and vice versa.  Underlying UCS server infrastructure can scale up in nodes or down or change servers in minutes.  Now, with UCS Integrated Infrastructure as your cloud and business changes quickly, so can your underlying server and switching infrastructure.

UCS Integrated Infrastructure adapts to quick changes with a few pieces of revolutionary Cisco software:

1)      UCS Servers offer a unique capability through the UCS Manager of software abstraction of hardware that enable automatic, deployment and provisioning of servers.  Hardware is provisioned in software, offering numerous downstream benefits.

  • Without the flexibility of the UCS Manager software, cloud building becomes much more difficult, because the underlying hardware is inflexible.  However, UCS Manager abstracts server hardware to give stateless flexibility to provisioning servers and deploying workloads.

2)      Cisco UCS Director unifies and automates end-to-end IT converged infrastructure management processes by abstracting the complexity of individual devices, hypervisors, and virtual machines.

  • Cisco and non-Cisco switches and servers managed; physical, virtual, and multivendor management
  • Enhancements for VMware, VCE, and EMC solution components
  • Supports Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure-based and Cisco Virtual Application Container Services automated network solutions
  • Integration of third-party solutions into the Cisco UCS Director management platform with a publicly available software development kit

3)      UCS Integrated Infrastructure is also optimized for most popular infrastructure cloud and other use cases, applications and technology transition points in the industry: private and hybrid cloud, desktop virtualization, enterprise and vertical applications, in-memory databases, analytics and Big Data.  Workload optimization is another attribute of the architectural benefits of UCS servers and their policy-based service profiles.  In addition, UCS Integrated Infrastructure is a record-breaking platform for the both current and future cloud workloads.

It is clear that Cisco’s UCS Integrated Infrastructures when paired with EMC’s storage technology in the Vblock and VSPEX portfolio delivers an important and uniquely flexible building block of the cloud. Through Cisco partnerships with cloud providers and our delivery of industry-leading solutions, IT departments will get even more flexibility in how they choose to map their applications to the best cloud model.

Introducing the ACI Toolkit

Cisco, in its quest to embrace programmability, has created what is called the ACI Toolkit, which is basically a combination of an NX-OS like CLI and some custom python scripts. Although this toolkit doesn’t allow you to do all configurations within ACI, it can be used to create and show the common configuration and administrative actions that may be used daily. It’s also great for someone who is just starting to migrate to a more programmatic way of doing things, as it’s easily understandable to folks used to common networking commands.

If you’re not familiar with ACI, check out this short video to get a brief understanding of some of the basic constructs used and for a deeper dive go to www.cisco.com/go/aci. These concepts will help you to understand some of the configuration options available with the ACI Toolkit.

ACI - Toolkit

The toolkit’s python libraries are all available on GitHub.com and it’s fairly simple to access. All you need to do is open a terminal window on your computer and enter the following command:

git clone https://github.com/datacenter/Simple-ACI-Toolkit

This command will download the necessary libraries to use the ACI Toolkit syntax. Then to run CLI commands from your APIC type:

python acitoolkitcli.py -l admin -p password -u https://APIC_IP

This will connect you to your APIC so you may run commands that will help you build your application network profiles as shown in the three tier application in the picture above. We can do things such as switching tenants, creating contexts, creating bridge domains, and creating end point groups (EPGs).

Here are some examples of the common commands we might use to create these logical objects.

Switch to a tenant configuration mode:

  • fabric# switchto tenant <tenant-name>
  • fabric-tenant# switchback

Create a Context and don’t enforce contracts on it:

  • fabric-tenant(config)# [no] context <context-name>
  • fabric-tenant(config-ctx)# [no] allow-all

Create a bridge domain and assign it to a context:

  • fabric-tenant(config)# [no] bridgedomain <bd-name>
  • fabric-tenant(config-bd)# [no] context <context-name>

Create a subnet under the bridge domain:

  • fabric-tenant(config-bd)# [no] ip address <ip-address>/<masklength> [name <subnet-name>]

 

As you can see from these examples the syntax will be very familiar to network engineers. We can also use the ACI Toolkit combined with the Python SDK to actually script these things. It makes scripting a little easier because we’re again using simpler syntax. Below is an example of configuring a tenant using Python in conjunction with the toolkit:

from acitoolkit import *

from credentials import *

tenant = Tenant (‘Customer1’)

context = Context (‘customer1-router’, tenant)

bd = BridgeDomain(‘BD1’, tenant)

bd.add_context(context)

bd.add_subnet(‘10.0.0.1/24’)

app = AppProfile(‘web-and-ordering’, tenant)

vlan10 = EPG(‘VLAN10’, app )

vlan10.add_bd(bd)

vlan20 = EPG(‘VLAN20’, app )

vlan20.add_bd(bd)

Currently the ACI Toolkit may not be used to create service graphs, VMM Domains, SPAN, Atomic Counters, and or to see most telemetry and health score information. However, the toolkit still gives us a lot to work with and automate as far as basic configurations go. For more information please see the guide found here (http://datacenter.github.io/acitoolkit/).

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Users to Take Center Stage at the Paris OpenStack Summit

On Monday the OpenStack® Summit kicks off in Paris, and estimates are that nearly 4000 people from around the world will be attending what I believe will be the best summit yet. It will also be my ninth summit, so to say that I’ve had an opportunity to see the project, community, and user base grow is an understatement.

My favorite activity at the summits has always been talking to people that use OpenStack to make magic happen for their companies. Not the data center teams, but the application developers, operations and devops teams, cloud architects, etc.  Every six months when the community gets together, there’s more of these end-users, and that’s a great thing. In Atlanta this past spring it was great to peek at peoples badges and see their company names. Virtually every sector of industry was represented, from the biggest banks to tiny social startups.

The shift to users is most evident in who is on stage. Just a few years ago the keynotes were 100% vendor talks about the future of OpenStack, in Atlanta earlier this year they were split between users being on stage and vendor talks, and in Paris, it’s truly about the users. Beyond the keynotes, a high percentage of the talks that got accepted involve user stories, or are actually being led by users.

If you’re a user, come find me or Niki at the summit and let’s chat about what you’re doing with OpenStack. We will be recording chats with users that are willing to go “on the record” and turning them in to blog posts showing off what users like you are doing with OpenStack. You could be Internet Famous!

Best way to hunt us down will be on Twitter: @scottsanchez or @nikiacosta, or at the Metacloud or Cisco booths on the expo floor. We will be giving away the highly anticipated People of OpenStack playing cards at the Metacloud booth, so make sure to come by and grab one!

See you in Paris!

Follow Scott on Twitter: @scottsanchez

 

 

 

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Cisco Live Cancun – Hi-Tech visits Vacation Paradise

Cancun in November is not your ideal spring break destination, but it feels that way as many of us are heading there next week as part of a big contingent to host Cisco Live Cancun 2014. Beyond fun and tourism, lots of excitement awaits Cisco customers on the technology front at Cancun next week.

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Cisco Live Cancun 2014 offers two amazing keynotes, 100s of sessions, and the opportunity to network with many of Cisco’s premier partners among major attractions.

cancun4

Rob Lloyd, Cisco President, kick-starts the event with a welcome address keynote Tuesday, Nov 4.  Do not miss the keynote as you will get an insider’s perspective on how Cisco and partner companies will make the Internet of Everything (IOE) a reality, and how today’s emerging technologies will rewrite the rules for the way we connect and collaborate in the future. This year we also feature a Guest keynote on Wednesday, Nov 5, by Jon Steinberg, the CEO of MailOnline America as well as series of solution keynotes on different topics during the course of the event.

cancun3

My focus for the rest of this blog will be on Application centric Infrastructure (ACI) and related key activities. I am sure most of you think of ACI as the most happening technology in today’s Data Centers, and therefore, are eagerly waiting for deep-dive ACI breakout sessions. I’d recommend Cisco Distinguished TME Maurizio’s breakout session on “Integration of Hypervisors and L4-7 Services into an ACI Fabric / Operations” as a must-attend. This session provides a technical introduction to how the ACI fabric handles single and multi-hypervisor environments and how the ACI controller provides integration into different Virtual Machine Management domains.

We are also featuring a multi-hour technical seminar on topic “ACI – Policy Driven Datacenter” complemented by a 2-hour breakout “End-to-End ACI by another Cisco Distinguished SE Carlos Pereira.

If you are challenged for time, we also have short duration ACI presentations at the Cisco Theater in the World of Solutions (WOS). The WOS opens on Tuesday, Nov 4 at 8 PM with a welcome reception. You can enjoy your time at the Cisco Theater where we feature non-stop 15 minute presentations on multiple topics including three repeating sessions on ACI. Specifically, there is a session on each of the following topics: Open ACI Eco-System, ACI for Campus and WAN, and ACI and SDN.  This will give you an end-end perspective on ACI architecture and strategy.

As we have seen in other Cisco Live events, demos are a major draw at the WOS. This year’s event will include multiple demos including several ACI solutions with OpenStack, F5 and Citrix eco-system integration, Multi-hypervisor integration featuring VMware and Microsoft, and a number of other SDN solutions for Campus and WAN deployments.

Stop by our Cisco booth at the WOS to engage our subject matter experts for a deep-dive engagement. We can also do architectural white-boarding and walkthroughs to address your specific needs.

If you wondered about entertainment, well I read your mind. To celebrate with you, we are bringing an incredible band Starship at the customer appreciation event, on Thursday, Nov 6. It will be a night to remember.

cancun6

We also offer in addition, Walk-in labs, a Cloud day featuring new trends in Cisco Intercloud (Monday, Nov 3), Industry summit on Internet of Everything trends (Tuesday, Nov 4), and a networking opportunity to meet the experts at the Expert Area in the Expo Center.

While at the event, follows us via social media on Twitter, Facebook and other outlets. It can be overwhelming to even a regular Cisco Live attendee as the list of activities is vast.  If you are new, do not feel overwhelmed and I have been there myself. Our Information desk and reception ambassadors can make you feel at home and help you find the agenda activity of your interest throughout the event duration.

Well, I do not want to share all the fun and excitement and take away the spirit of adventure and discovery from you.  Hope to see you at the event and safe travels.

Related Links:

www.ciscolivecancun.com

www.cisco.com/go/aci

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