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Who’s the Boss? Your Data Center or You?

Whether it’s ordering a last-minute Halloween costume from the comfort of your couch or being able to IM with colleagues on your flight to see family and friends this holiday season, we can all admit that “on-demand” access is an every day necessity.  In much the same way, today’s business users expect on-demand access to IT resources.  And as those customer demands increase, more pressure is placed on IT infrastructure.

Everyone – from consumers to business users, from IT departments in large enterprises to service providers – are grappling with both the opportunity and challenge of managing the evolution of IT.  It’s hard to let go of the past and the old ways of managing our data – whether that’s putting aside the family scrapbook for a digital library or adopting new management solutions to replace legacy systems in your data center. So, what’s the trick? Find a solution that allows you to easily and seamlessly transition to this new operating model.  Almost sounds too good to be true – but it’s real.

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Introducing Cisco UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data

Updated: 10/01/2013

You may have heard that the digital universe is in petabytes, global IP traffic is in 100s of exabytes. These are mind bogglingly large metrics. Big data analytics can play a crucial role in making datasets in this space usable – by improving operational efficiency to customer experience to prediction accuracy. While Cisco is the global leader in networking – Did you know that 85% of estimated 500 exabyte global IP traffic in 2012 will pass through Cisco devices ? – the company also builds an innovative family of unified computing products. This enables the company to provide a complete infrastructure solution including compute, storage, connectivity and unified management for big data applications that reduce complexity, improves agility, and radically improves cost of ownership.

To meet a variety of big data platform demands (Hadoop, NoSQL Databases, Massively Parallel Processing Databases etc), Cisco offers a comprehensive solution stack: the Cisco UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data includes compute, storage, connectivity and unified management. Unique to this architecture is the seamless data integration and management integration capabilities with enterprise application ecosystem including Oracle RDBMS/RAC, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP and others. See Figure 1.

Figure 1:

The Cisco UCS CPA for Big Data is built using the following components:

  • Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects provides high speed, low latency connectivity for servers and centralized management for all connected devices with UCS Manager. Deployed in redundant pairs offers the full redundancy, performance (active-active), and exceptional scalability for large number of nodes typical in big data clusters. UCS Manger enables rapid and consistent server integration using service profile, ongoing system maintenance activities such as firmware update operations across the entire cluster as a single operation, advanced monitoring, and option to raise alarms and send notifications about the health of the entire cluster.
  • Cisco UCS 2200 Series Fabric Extenders, act as remote line cards for Fabric Interconnects providing a highly scalable and extremely cost-effective connectivity for large number of nodes.
  • Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack-Mount Servers, 2-RU server designed for wide range of compute, IO and storage capacity demands. Powered by two Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors and support up to 768 GB of main memory (typically 128GB or 256GB for big data applications) and up to 24 SFF disk drives in the performance optimized option or 12 LFF disk drives in the capacity optimized option. Also features Cisco UCS VNIC optimized for high bandwidth and low latency cluster connectivity with support for up to 256 virtual devices.
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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 2- Cloud Service Assurance and Intelligent Automation

Welcome back to this series of blogs on Cisco Validated Designs (CVD)  for Cloud – In my first blog, I talked with Tom Nallen on the concept and benefits of CVD for Cloud – The second interview was with Laszlo Bojtos on a new CVD for Cloud : Cloud Service Assurance – Today we will explore one specific but critical aspect of this work, which is  the integration of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Zenoss Cloud Service assurance.

So obviously  orchestration systems can make better decisions with performance KPIs, and can also be used to provide precise and immediate monitoring for newly created or changed tenant services. For advanced workflow integration, all Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA)  function and data is available using the documented JSON interface.

As mentioned , this CVD also features the integration of Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Zenoss CSA as an example of how Zenoss’ API can be used with Cisco’s cloud management software. It shows IA for Cloud provisioning VMs while sending information about the tenant and VM to Zenoss to enable the creation of a dependency map.

Zenoss CSA is designed to make it easy to integrate Cisco Cloud infrastructure and cloud management software, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud, into an existing data center. Zenoss CSA will be integrated with client’s MoM system and configured for automated event forwarding.

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Summary: Water, Water Everywhere; Nor Any Drop to Drink

Find out how data centers help to bring clean water to citizens. Read the full article: Water, Water Everywhere; Nor Any Drop to Drink

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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud -Part 2 – Cloud Service Assurance

Last week Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design – So  I asked today Laszlo Bojtos, System Manager for the Cisco Cloud Service Assurance validation effort, to illustrate this concept with the recently published Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design.   This design guide is one of the recent CVD releases in the Cloud systems management and orchestration area.  You can view the complete portfolio of Cisco Validated Designs for Data Center and Virtualization on Design Zone at . We will cover this topic in two chapters , with a second chapter  more focused on the integration of Cisco Intelligence Automation for Cloud.

Q: Laszlo, last time we heard that Service Assurance is critical for companies, organizations and service providers looking to deliver cloud –based services.  Why is it so important?

A: Enterprises and Service Providers need to ensure that DC/Cloud services can be trusted and service levels ensured, hence they need to use advanced service assurance tools to automate service monitoring and issue resolution.  Cisco Systems Development Unit (SDU) identified key enterprise and service provider data center and cloud service assurance requirements and selected Zenoss Inc for Cisco Unified Data Center management implementation.  Cisco’s Cloud Service Assurance provides both fault and performance management with service impact and root-cause analysis.

As a DC/Cloud domain manager, Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) provides comprehensive monitoring coverage for data center infrastructure components and workloads, and tracks ever-changing relationships between infrastructure components and applications automatically.  Zenoss CSA understands how business services make use of cloud resources and provides contextual root cause analysis to provide clarity during event storms, and ties cloud projects easily into existing management processes.

Q: And customers can purchase Zenoss CSA from Cisco, right?

A: Yes, Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) became a Cisco SolutionsPlus product from Zenoss  and was added to the Cisco price list in September, 2012.

Q: OK, I’ve done a little research on Zenoss CSA. What is the difference between the original Zenoss Service Dynamics product and Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance (CSA) from Cisco?

A: Zenoss CSA was built from the same proven code base that powers Zenoss Service Dynamics. We worked with Zenoss on additional ZenPacks (product adapters) and new functions for complete Cisco Unified DC (VMDC reference architecture) coverage. Then, we created a Cisco Validated Design through the verification of this Zenoss CSA package in Cisco Virtualized Multi-service Data Center (VMDC) lab facilities. It’s pre-built and pre-tested to deliver success rapidly. Additionally, Zenoss CSA is licensed and priced with the Cisco Data Center in mind.

Two key new Zenoss CSA functions are expanded monitoring coverage and auto-discovery of VMDC networking devices.  The initial release covers Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and MDS 9000 series platforms, as well as the Nexus 1000v and Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG), and the Nexus 2000, 5000, and 7000 series.  It also covers the Catalyst 6500 series and Virtual Switching System (VSS) with the Firewall Services Module (FWSM) and the Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) modules.   The Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) series is also included in the monitoring and auto-discovery scope of Zenoss CSA.

The diagram below illustrates how Zenoss Cloud Service Assurance simplifies data center & cloud infrastructure management and provides a single API to other management applications (orchestration, chargeback, service desk etc.).




Q: And best practices to set this up are described in the CVD, right?  Briefly summarize the key technical benefits of Zenoss CSA one more time for us, Laszlo.

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