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Free Free Free Cisco UCS Development Free Free Free

January 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm PST

The other day I was “making” breakfast for my daughter, as I poured the cereal from the box I noticed that the “toy” was the box. The box had a game board printed on it and you had to cut it out along with the game pieces and the die. The game instructions were printed inside the box, so I ended up with a whole bunch of cardboard snippets and the game.  She was so excited to play the game, so we played the game, it was an arduous journey but I stuck it out because that’s the kind of dad I am. When we finished playing, my daughter with her eight years of life experience remarked, “You just don’t get anything good for free anymore!”

Anymore?!! How many reference points could she have in her eight years?  Myself, being a little older, I have some more experience with “free”, and sadly I have to agree with her that the free you get today is not as good as the free you used to get, to the point where seeing the word free no longer excites me.

Well I have found some exceptions to that rule. As a developer for a couple decades now I have used many development tools and environments. Along the way either I or my employer had to pay for those tools, but now almost every development product I use is free and not cheesy cereal box game free but full featured with community support and add-ons to extend the capabilities of the product.  That’s the kind of free to get excited about.

Why get excited?  Well take for instance the Cisco UCS Manager; it has an XML API that is communicated with via XML documents in an HTTP post. Every tool I use to write applications that interface with the UCS Manager is free. That’s great you say, but you still need a UCS Manager and to get that you need a UCS Fabric Interconnect and you need chassis, blades, adaptors, memory, disks, etc. and you start to think things like “the UCS we just ordered isn’t here yet” or “the UCS systems we have are all production and we can’t test our scripts against them.”

Don’t despair because Cisco has released a UCS Emulator for the 1.4 and 2.0 versions of the UCS Manager firmware.  The UCS Platform Emulator (UCSPE) has significant capabilities to enable UCS Manager development, things like hardware configuration importing from a live system, exporting of a configuration and the ability to build an emulated UCS system like the one you just ordered. In addition to the emulation capabilities the UCSPE also includes the UCS Object Model documentation, example scripts, Visore (the object browser) and more. Don’t know what the Object Model is or concerned you need more information on the XML API, check out these docs.
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The Cisco SAP Business Warehouse Appliance is Here

Cisco IASBU has recently launched an update to their  In-Memory appliance offerings.  Cisco IASBU has certified  additional Cisco UCS based systems that now support an entry level SAP BWA appliance with SSDs for storage.  In addition, in order to broaden even more coverage, a 12 and 16  blade configuration for SAP BWA that uses NetApp storage.  However, what is really driving buzz is the inclusion of the Cisco Intelligent Automation (IA) for In-Memory as part of all the BWA offerings.   The same core technology  that drives the Cisco IA Cloud orchestration solution. This new automation content supports SAP BWA for Wave 2 customers  (non-traditional SAP  customers), SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ)  and will serve as a foundation for SAP HANA 1.0 automation content.

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Importance of the Network in Cloud Computing

On several recent occasions, in discussions with my customers, colleagues and industry peers, the importance of the network, as it relates to Cloud Computing and Data Centers, has been challenged. I am surprised that such a topic is even up for debate ! In my opinion, the underlying network infrastructure of any given Data Center is the architectural foundation for service and application strategy; be it Cloud Computing, Virtual Desktops, Video or even Hosting services.

If we look at a broader scale, no one can argue the complexity and at the same time, the intelligence the modern Internet brings to it’s consumers. How would enterprises and service providers alike, offer converged services like voice, video and data without any network intelligence ? Not to mention, security, application scaling and other managed services. Networks are no longer the traditional packet switching platforms, it’s the heart and soul of intelligence which integrates with other intelligent applications to differentiate the multitude of services that can be enabled over a common medium. As application requirements are increasingly becoming complex, the need for equally smarter transport is critical.

Virtualization is bringing a whole new perspective to this discussion. It’s true you can account for network, compute and storage virtualization within a given solution; virtual switch, virtual machine, virtual firewall, virtual load-balancer, etc.; but how far can we abstract the network ? One can absolutely argue, Cloud Computing is server/compute resource centric, however for most enterprises, when you combine this compute structure with application workload requirements from business, technology and operations perspectives, suddenly the foundation architecture plays a crucial role -- i.e. the network and it’s interconnects.

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They want a cloud real fast, just not sure what exactly it should look like or how it should function…..

I have talked to many enterprises that want a private cloud; also service providers that want to build a public cloud based upon Cisco UCS / Nexus.  They all would like to get to their first generation of cloud very quickly.   We have many conversations on infrastructure to use, the right choice of hypervisor, and what use cases to start with.  Today I talked to a customer of our Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud that wants a differentiating end user portal.  Everyone can spin up a VM, but how to do it in a way that will drive adoption and new business, whether it is for the enterprise or service provider?  How do we do this at a cost and a timeline that meets the needs of the business and the CIO.

These are not lightweight concerns.   I have seen many data center automation projects that focused too much on the provisioning and not enough on the end user experience.    The Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit at Cisco has been involved with many customers building private and public clouds with our software stack.  This includes Cisco IT’s very large private cloud deployment based upon our software.  The two services they deployed:  CITEIS (Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services) Express and CITEIS VDC (Virtual Data Center) has received broad acclaim.  Watch the following videos by Jamie MacQuarrie of the Intelligent Automation team on these two CITEIS Services.

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UCS: Over 10,000 Served

January 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm PST

This month we’re marking a special milestone… there are now 10,000 UCS customers worldwide. The natural question becomes: what’s driving this phenomenal growth? How could this possibly have been predicted?

The best explanation of snowballing UCS adoption is found in customer results. Lest we forget, adopting a new platform in the data center is not a decision undertaken lightly in IT, but word has spread in the industry about the real world benefits UCS is delivering. More and more customers are taking a look and liking what they find. It’s an admittedly bold statement to say UCS has changed the economics of the datacenter, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not marketing hype. We’re hearing from customers who are reporting all-in savings in the range of 40% on the cost of computing. Travelport, for example, conducted a deep dive TCO analysis of their pre/post UCS world and here is how they are seeing their data center economics change over the next 5 years:

Cost Category Cisco Environment Prior Environment Dollar Savings Percentage Savings
Hardware Capital $7,406,982 $9,747,500 $2,340,518 24%
Power and Cooling $915,468 $2,947,273 $2,031,805 69%
Server Administration $162,255 $1,151,945 $989,690 86%
Hardware Maintenance $301,194 $585,749 $284,555 49%
TOTAL $8,785,899 $14,432,467 $5,646,568 39%

 

The savings stem from a variety of sources: lower capex as the platform efficiently scales, dramatically reduced administrator time, density/ power savings and reduced SW licensing costs as more workload lands on fewer servers.  It’s cumulative and powerful.   If you want a firsthand look at the TCO/ROI impact UCS can make in your data center, check out our calculator; with 5 minutes you can get a ballpark estimate.

Economics aside, UCS just seems to make people happy.   I had a customer declare that his infrastructure was now “CTO proof.” He went on to explain that this meant the boss could deploy a server by himself without breaking anything. The infrastructure team let their CTO take a B-series blade straight out of the box, insert it into a chassis slot, and as the system identified and integrated the new resource into the available pool, they congratulated him on his first server deployment.

Beyond economic impact and increasing happiness in the data center, it doesn’t hurt that you can drop the clutch and put serious power to the ground in application performance.   In December Cisco posted TPC benchmark results that surpassed existing records by as much as 32% in raw performance and 26% in price performance.  This brings the total number of UCS world record results to 54 since introduction in 2009.

10,000 customers and growing, and it’s no wonder why.

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