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Unlock Big Data with Breakthroughs in Management Automation

Following on an excellent introduction to this blog series from Scott Ciccone on how Cisco’s solutions can help customers unlock the power of Big Data, this blog focus on management innovation that Cisco UCS brings to Big Data ecosystem.

Access to more and better data is creating new sources of competitive advantage and it has increased relevance in the connected world of IoE. This is aptly reflected in quote from Stanford’s Anand Rajaram  -  “More data usually beats better algorithms”. Organizations are realizing the essence of this statement as they see increased value from adding more data sources, to discover hidden insights, anticipate trends and make better decisions. New opportunities are constantly being identified and new datasets are added, requiring IT teams to have an agile, reliable and scalable infrastructure. Bottlenecks in infrastructure and complexity in management can have a profound impact on the ability of an organization to react to rapidly changing business needs. This calls for an infrastructure that is flexible, adaptable, scalable and easy to manage, to meet the both the growing and changing workloads in the Big Data ecosystem.

At the core of UCS ability to provide unified management across network, server and storage, is UCS Manager. Every element of the physical infrastructure including server identity (LAN addressing, I/O configurations, firmware versions, boot order, QoS policies) can be dynamically configured through software. This logical abstraction simplifies the configuration of Big Data Hadoop nodes and adapts it dynamically to changing workloads, leading to dramatic reduction in OpEx costs. UCS Central brings these same capabilities across multiple domains and provides the ability to extend to large clusters up to 10,000 nodes within the same management pane.

ucsde3

With the new UCS Director Express for Big Data, these same advantages of flexibility and agility at the physical infrastructure level are now extended into the Hadoop application space. UCS Director Express for Big Data delivers an integrated policy based Hadoop infrastructure on UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data, delivering a world-class infrastructure architected to provide performance at scale. It is integrated with major Hadoop vendors to provide centralized visibility across the entire Hadoop infrastructure. Enterprises can now provision on-demand Hadoop clusters and manage both physical and software infrastructure from a single management pane.

The advent of Hadoop 2.0 has triggered newer workloads including interactive and streaming workloads that can now run on Hadoop. The industry is poised to witness an unprecedented data growth with IoE and new wave of applications. This calls for architecture that is designed from the grounds-up to be extremely nimble to changing workloads. UCS has been built on this very foundation and is constantly innovating to simplify the operational complexity of managing Big Data clusters. With an agile and automated Big Data infrastructure, enterprise can now shift their focus to realizing business value from Big Data analytics, and faster time to market.

In the next part of this blog series, we take a step further into a more application centric approach. Sandeep Agarwal is going to share how Cisco ACI uses high level policies to dramatically improve cluster performance, secure and end-to-end data path and reprovision automatically for other workloads. To learn more about Cisco’s vision for the pervasive use of Big Data within enterprises, register for the October 21st executive webcast  ‘Unlock Your Competitive Edge with Cisco Big Data Solutions’.

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The Bottom Line for Recovery as a Service

Recovery as a Service (RaaS) is one of those services that bring the value of cloud into focus.  The ability to recover from a disaster is a mission-critical consideration for organizations.  For many, it’s a requirement to operate in their industry or to work with specific customers such as governments.

In “DRaaS And The Cloud: The Why, What, and How of Recovery Services”, cloud provider Sungard Availability Services describes the different options for deploying this essential service.  The bottom line is that effective disaster recovery — the kind that you have confidence will work in time of crisis— is not trivial to implement.   Most organizations have little to no experience with the complexities of reliable cloud-based recovery.  This is their first time trying to implement it, and they’re learning as they go.  Which means that the stability of their business during a disaster is based on the skills of a team that may have never actually experienced a disaster.

The cloud provides more than redundant data centers for failover recovery.  It enables businesses to leverage the hard-earned expertise of companies like Sungard AS and Cisco working together to provide the most reliable recovery available.  These recovery services aren’t home-grown implementations with the latest features added and bolted on as needed.  These services are integrated solutions, built upon best-in-class technologies and proven in the market.  And when your DRaaS is a Cisco Powered service like Sungard AS’, it has been certified and audited by a third-party to verify its reliability.

Interested in learning more about RaaS?  Read the new white paper “Disaster Recovery as a Service Comes of Age”.  You can also discover why Cisco Powered is the industry standard for cloud and managed services.

Next Generation Data Center Design With MDS 9700 – Part III

This week is exciting, had opportunity to sit on round table with Cisco’s largest customers on an open ended architecture discussion and their take on past, present and future. More on that some other time let’s pick up last critical aspect of High Performance Data Center design namely flexibility. Customers need flexibility to adapt to changing requirements over time as well as to support diverse requirements of their users. Flexibility is not just about protocol, although protocol is very important aspect, but it is also about making sure customers have choice to design, grow and adapt their DC according to their needs. As an example if customers want to utilize the time to market advantage and ubiquity of Ethernet they can by adopt FCoE.

Flexibility

Moreover flexibility has to be complemented by seamless integration where customers can not only mix and match the architectures/protocols/speeds but also evolve from one to other over time with minimal disruption and without forklift upgrades. Investment protection of more than a decade on Cisco director switches allows customer to move to higher speeds, or adopt new protocols using the existing chassis and fabric cards. Finally any solution should allow scalability over time with minimal disruptions and common management model. As an example on MDS 9710 or MDS 9706 customers can choose to use 2/4/8 G FC, 4/8/16G FC, 10G FC or 10G FCoE at each hop.

Multiprotocol Innovation

Let’s review each aspect of flexibility at a time.

 

Architecture:

Cisco SAN product family is designed to support Architecture flexibility. From smallest to  the largest customers and everything in-between.  Customers can grow from 12 16G ports to 48 ports on a single 9148S. They can grow from 48 16G Line Rate Ports to 192 16G Line Rate with MDS 9710 and upto 384 ports on MDS 9710. Finally having seamless FC and FCoE capability allows customers to use these directors as edge or core switches . With the industry leading scalability numbers, customers can scale up or scale out as per their needs. Two examples show how customers can use Director class switches (9513, 9506, 9710 or 9706) based Architecture for End of Row designs. Similarly customers can orchestrate Top of Rack designs using Nexus fixed family or MDS 9148S.

Examples of Edge Core Designs with MDS ToR and EoR

If they want to continue with FC for foreseeable future or have sizable FC infrastructure that they want to leverage (and have option to go to FCOE) then MDS serves their needs. Similarly they can support edge core designs, and edge core edge designs or even collapsed  cores if so desired.

 

FC Edge Core and Edge Core Edge

 

If customers need converged switch then Nexus 2K, 5K and 6K provides the flexibility, ability to collapse two networks, simplify management as shown in the picture below.

FEX and Nexus Edge Design Options

Speeds

Customers can mix and match the FC speeds 2G/4G/8G, 4G/8G/16G on the latest MDS 9148S, and MDS 9700 product family. With all the major optics supported, customers can pick and choose optics for the smallest distance to long distance CWDM and DWDM solutions in addition to SW, LW and ER optics choices. In addition MDS 9700 supports 10GE optics running 10G FC traffic for ease of implementing 10G DWDM solutions based on ubiquitous 10GE circuits.

Protocol

FC is a dominant protocol with DC but at the same time a lot of customers are adopting FCoE to improve ROI, simplify the network or simply to have higher speeds and agility. Irrespective of the needs and timeline MDS solution allows customer to adopt FCoE today or down the road without forklift upgrades on the existing MDS 9700 platforms while leveraging the existing FC install base.

FCoE Flexibility

The diagram above shows how customers can collapse LAN and SAN networks on the edge into one network. The advantage of FEX include reduced TCO, simplified operations (Parent switch provides a single point of management and policy enforcement and Plug-and-play management includes auto-configuration).

Another example to allow non transition less disruptive for customers Cisco has supported the BiDi optics on the Nexus product family. This allows customers to use the the same same OM2, OM3 and OM4 fabrics for 40G FCoE connectivity and still don;t have to rip and replace cabling plant.

BiDi Option

For customer who are not ready to converge networks but want to achieve faster time to market, higher performance, Ethernet scale economies can use separate LAN and SAN network and use FCoE for that dedicated SAN .

Evolution path from FC to FCoE

Coupled with broad Cisco product portfolio means that customers have the maximum flexibility to tune the architecture precisely to their needs. Cisco product portfolio is tightly integrated, all the SAN switches use same NxOS and DCNM provides seamless manageability across LAN, SAN, Converged infrastructure to Fabric Interconnects on UCS.

Broad Product Portfolio

From the last 3 blogs lets quickly capture what are the unique characteristics of MDS 9700 that allows for High Performance Scalable Data Center Design.

24 Tbps Switching capacity, line rate 16g FC ports, No Oversubscription, local switching or bandwidth allocation.

Redundancy for every critical component in the chassis including Fabric Card. Data Resiliency with CRC check and Forward Error Correction. Multiple level of CRC checks, smaller failure domains.

In next few days lets put this all together to see how customers can deploy scalable networks that allow them to Scale Up or Scale Out in a non disruptive way.

To learn more about the MDS 9148S please join us for a webinar.

“In business, words are words; explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.”

Harold S. Geneen

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UCS M-Series Design Principles – Why bigger is not necessarily better!

Cisco UCS M-Series servers have been purpose built to fit specific need in the data center. The core design principles are around sizing the compute node to meet the needs of cloud scale applications.

When I was growing up I used to watch a program on PBS called 3-2-1 Contact, most afternoons, when I came home from school (Yes, I’ve pretty much always been a nerd). There was an episode about size and efficiency, that for some reason I have always remembered. This episode included a short film to demonstrate the relationship between size and efficiency.

The plot goes something like this. Kid #1 says that his uncle’s economy car, that gets a whopping 15 miles to the gallon (this was the 1980s), is more efficient than a school bus that gets 6 miles to the gallon. Kid #2 disagrees and challenges Kid #1 to a contest. But here’s the rub, the challenge is to transport 24 children from the bus stop to school, about 3 miles a way, on a single gallon of fuel. Long story short, the school bus completes the task with one trip, but the car has to make 8 trips and runs out of fuel before it completes the task. So kid #2 proves the school bus is more efficient.

The only problem with this logic is that we know that the school bus is not more efficient in all cases.

For transporting 50 people a bus is very efficient, but if you need to transport 2 people 100 miles to a concert the bus would be a bad choice. Efficiency depends on the task at hand. In the compute world, a task equates to the workload. Using a 1RU 2-socket E5 server for the distributed cloud scale workloads that Arnab Basu has been describing would be equivalent to using a school bus to transport a single student. This is not cost effective.

Thanks to hypervisors, we can have multiple workloads on a single server so that we achieve the economies of scale. However there is a penalty to building that type of infrastructure. You add licensing costs, administrative overhead, and performance penalties.

Customers deploying cloud scale applications are looking for ways to increase the compute capacity without increasing the cost and complexity. They need all terrain vehicles, not school buses. Small, cost effective, and easy to maintain resources that serve a specific purpose.

Many vendors entering this space are just making the servers smaller. Per the analogy above smaller helps. But one thing we have learned from server virtualization is that there is real value in the ability to share the infrastructure. With a physical server the challenge becomes how do you share components in compute infrastructure without a hypervisor? Power and cooling are easy, but what about network, storage and management. This is where M-Series expands on the core foundations of unified compute to provide a compute platform that meets the needs of these applications.

There are 2 key design principles in Unified Compute:

1.) Unified Fabric
2.) Unified Management

Over the next couple of weeks Mahesh Natarajan and I will be describing how and why these 2 design principles became the corner stone for building the M-Series modular servers.

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New CSA Survey Highlights Opportunities for Data Privacy Harmonization Across Cloud, IoT and Big Data

Responses in a recent Cisco-sponsored Cloud Security Alliance survey (hyperlink) illustrate that many data privacy challenges previously cast in the  “too hard” basket can be more readily navigated though focusing on universal principles across Cloud, IoT and Big Data.  Survey responses showed a surprisingly strong level of interest in a global consumer bill of rights and responses were overwhelming in favor of the OECD data privacy principles facilitating the trends of Cloud, IoT and Big Data.

Following are the most significant findings:

Data Residency and Sovereignty

Data residency and sovereignty challenges continue to emerge.  However, there was a common theme of respondents identifying “personal data” and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) as the data that is required to remain resident in most countries.

User Consent

73 percent of respondents indicated that there should be a call for a global consumer bill of rights and saw the United Nations as fostering that.  This is of great significance with the harmonization efforts taking place in Europe with a single EU data Privacy Directive to represent 28 European member states. As well as with the renewed calls for a U.S. Consumer Bill of Privacy Rights in the United States and cross-border privacy arrangements in Australia and Asia.

Privacy Principles

Finally we explored whether OECD privacy principles that have been very influential in the development of many data privacy regulations also facilitate popular trends in cloud, IoT and big data initiatives or cause room for tension.  The responses were very much in favor of facilitating the various trends.

The survey report includes an executive summary from Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada and commentary from other industry experts on the positive role that privacy can play in developing new and innovative cloud, IoT and Big Data Solutions. Read the Data Protection Heat Index survey report:

Data Protection Heat Index Survey Report – Sep 2014 from Cisco Data Center

 

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