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The Most Boring Service We offer … And how to bring down a data center in one easy snip!

I do enjoy the (sometimes irreverent!) perspectives of some articles on data center in the UK publication “The Register“, and the story of how a data center change went wrong made me laugh, cringe and cry at the same time – the change being when an electrician cut the wrong wire and brought down a 25,000 square feet data center!!!

It Only Takes a Snip ... The Case for Change Support

It Only Takes a Snip … The Case for Change Support

 

Let’s have a look at what went wrong here, and then I’ll relate this to one of our more fundamental services, that of “change support”. Some may call this a “boring” service option, however “fundamental” is much more appropriate, as the following story will show.  Finally, I’ll point you to a free white paper to illustrate the cost benefits.

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Cool Updates to UCS Mini and M-Series

Tuesday Girish blogged about the new UCS Innovations and at the end of this post there is a list of other blogs with more details on other updates.

Today I’ll go a bit more in-depth on what’s new for UCS Mini & M-Series Modular Servers.

 

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Cisco UCS Innovations: Leverage the Power of Unification, Performance and Scalability

Cisco leads the industry with a Unified, Application-centric approach to computing. Building on the architectural foundations, partnerships, and rapid customer adoption of UCS,  today Cisco introduces innovations inspired by customer requirements in two key Data Center technology areas:

  • Cisco MDS, UCS and Nexus portfolio Innovations: To help customers grow, consolidate, converge and to adapt to changing business needs, Cisco is announcing new additions and innovations to the Cisco MDS, UCS and Nexus portfolio. Please check the blog post by Tony Anthony Cisco Storage Networking Innovations to support high data growth and scale for additional details about these innovations.
  • Cisco UCS Innovations: Inspired by customer needs for greater efficiency and lower TCO, Cisco delivers new UCS features and functionalities with 3rd generation Fabric Interconnect, next wave of unified computing management innovations, new acceleration options for Cisco UCS and scalability options for Cisco UCS solutions.

Let’s take a closer look at these latest Cisco UCS innovations and how they can assist to achieve better business outcomes.

New Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series and Fabric Extender 2304 

FI

The Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series employs the UCS Fabric, VIC and UCS Manager to enable a high-performance, low latency and lossless fabric architecture for high capacity data centers. The Fabric Interconnect 6300 series adds to Cisco’s successful Fabric Interconnect 6200 series to deploy 40Gb, 40G FCoE, and 16Gb FC to further bandwidth capacity and provide for an adaptable data center fabric. The 6300 Series offers 2.6X increase in throughput, 3X lower latency and high-density 40GbE ports that enable an end-to-end 40 Gigabit solution. For additional details please check: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/servers-unified-computing/ucs-6300-series-fabric-interconnects/index.html

Cisco VIC 1387 dual port 40Gb QSFP mLOM adapter

Cisco also announced the 3rd generation UCS VIC 1387 dual port 40Gb QSFP mLOM adapter.The VIC 1387 is based on 3rd Generation Cisco ASIC technology and is ideally suited for next-generation networks requiring up to 40Gb bandwidth. It supports network overlay technologies such as VXLAN and carries forward support for advanced Cisco features such as VMFEX, Netflow, and usNIC. The VIC 1387 is supported with the C220 M4, C240 M4 and the C3160 Servers.

UCS Management Enhancements: UCS Central 1.4 (1a) Releases and UCS Manager 3.1(1e) Release:

UCSM 1

Enhancements to the UCS Management portfolio enable remote operation, automation and policy enforcement across massive multi-site footprints with the UCS Central Software 1.4(1a) Release. The UCS Manager 3.1(1e) Release provides Unified Management for ALL UCS Server Platforms – UCS B-Series, C-Series, M-Series and UCS Mini.

Some of the key UCS Management enhancements include:

  • New HTML5 as well as JAVA GUI options
  • Unified Release for ALL UCS server platforms – B-Series, C-Series, M-Series, and UCS Mini
  • Provisioning and usability Enhancements to UCS Central
  • Support mixed UCS domains with M-Series and B/C-Series with support for up to 10,000 servers

Please check Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS Central Software for additional details.

New Acceleration options for Cisco UCS Servers

Cisco announced the availability of the new “Maxwell” generation M6 GPU for Blade Servers and M60 GPU for Rack Servers.  Both new GPU technologies enable new VDI use-cases with NVIDIA GRID 2.0 Integration. Cisco and NVIDIA have co-developed the M6 MXM GPU for both Tesla, general purpose Graphics Processing as well as GRID VDI GPU and integrated it with the Cisco B200 M4 Blade Server.  This fully-integrated GPU is supported with all CPU SKUs and provides performance on par with the NVIDIA K2 GPU, at less than ½ the power profile!

Here is a complete list of new acceleration options introduced for the Cisco UCS servers:

  • NVIDIA M6 GPU Support for B200-M4
  • NVIDIA M60 GPU support for C240 M4 and C460 M4
  • Support PCIe SSD on M4-Servers
  • Support Crypto Card on B200-M4
  • Support LSI 9286CV-8e RAID Controller

 Enhanced Solutions Scalability with Second UCS Mini Chassis Support

UCS Mini

If you need more than eight blades for your small / medium business, remote / branch office, or in your data center for physical isolation, wait no more! You can now have a total of 16 blades and up to six rack servers. Check out these UCS Mini Solutions for integrated infrastructure, business applications, and storage.

New Acceleration Options for UCS M-Series

Part of Cisco’s composable infrastructure, M-Series is designed for scale out applications and dense compute. Four new cartridges have been released. Two each for the M142 and M1414 models featuring the Intel® Xeon ® E3-1200 v4 series processors including Iris Pro graphics integrated GPU. The Iris Pro GPU can accelerate a variety of graphical applications like remote desktops. For additional details please check: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/servers-unified-computing/ucs-m-series-modular-servers/index.html

Building on the architectural foundations, partnerships, and rapid customer adoption of UCS, Cisco now delivers the next wave of Unified Computing innovations to enhance data center performance and scalability while maintaining operational efficiency. Leverage the latest Cisco UCS innovations to minimize data center complexity and disruption while deploying infrastructure and applications faster than ever before.

Don’t forget to register for the Interactive Webinar on February 11th, 2016 “Cisco UCS Innovations-Adopt the Power of Unification, Innovation and Scalability”  where Cisco Data center experts will review new Cisco UCS innovation in detail and you can  also hear fa customer testimonial about the latest UCS Innovations.

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Cisco Storage Networking Innovations to support high data growth and scale

The SAN Also Rises: Cisco Delivers Storage Networking Innovations to Support High Data Growth, Scale and programmability.

New user demands and shifting application requirements impose higher demands on data center, cloud and storage infrastructure, requiring a transformative new approach that is simpler, more agile, high performance and cost-effective. To help customers grow, consolidate, converge and to adapt to changing business needs, Cisco is announcing new additions and innovations to its Cisco MDS, UCS and Nexus portfolios. The latest Cisco innovations include:

  1. Cisco MDS 9718 Director – The industry’s highest port density SAN Director (aka “The Beast”)scales up to 768 ports of 16G FC. Cisco MDS 9718 is also Industry’s first 32G-ready SAN Director and Industry’s first SAN Director to support native REST API calls directly to the switch.
  2. New 40G FCoE Module for MDS 9700 -Customers can now upgrade their SAN fabric between access and core to 40G speeds; Industry’s fastest interconnect speed for SAN Inter Switch Links (ISL). For FC customers 40G ISLs’ are very efficient providing 194% higher bandwidth compared to 16G FC and 47% higher bandwidth compared to 32G FC ISL.
  3. Nexus 5672UP-16G – Offering FC, FCoE and Ethernet convergence from a single platform, and the complementary Nexus 2348UPQ Fabric Extender, with support for Fibre Channel (FC) along with multiprotocol storage and LAN connectivity. Nexus 2348UPQ bring FEX capability to FC SANs.
  4. The Unified Computing System (UCS) Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series features two new 1RU 40G/16G FC switches and a new 40G/16G FC Fabric Extender. The new Fabric Interconnect enables 40G FCoE, and 16Gb FC to further bandwidth capacity and provide low latency and lossless fabric, with dramatic performance improvements
  5. Programmability: Latest REST API implementation of Cisco NX-OS allowing programmatic access to MDS, aiding simpler scripting and more effective programming.

To learn more, Please attend the webinar on Feb 23rd 8:00 PST – Register now.

A special thanks to all our partners for their support and participation to make the launch successful. Cisco’s MDS product line is supported and sold by authorized original storage manufacturers (OSM).  We are very pleased that all of our partners are looking forward for the arrival of the new high density MDS 9718 Director along with the other innovations. Cisco is also working closely with Flash Storage partners to bring customers better efficiency and flexibility and built a network that last for the next decade.  High performance SAN and Flash Storage Arrays are match made in heaven; Our Flash Storage partners are equally excited about the introduction of new MDS 9718, providing real value to our customers.

Global customers are also embracing Cisco’s new Storage Networking developments.  For example, China Guangfa Bank, which has 37 branches and more than 700 Business outlets across 76 cities in China, has used the high performing Cisco MDS 9513 Directors for the past 7 years.   With rapidly growing data requirements, and a current storage capacity exceeding 2.4 PB, the new MDS 9718 will help them meet growing customer demands.

Krones,  the market leader in the bottling and packaging industry, services customers worldwide through three data centers hosting over 1000 Virtual Machines that support more than 4.8 TB of data..   Krones currently uses the MDS 9700s to aggregate links and optimize bandwidth utilization as they scale, and is looking forward to implementing Cisco Data Center Network Manager for better visibility and scalability in their data centers

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New VersaStack™ optimized for distributed workloads

It has been said that data is the new oil. Given the price of crude today, the metaphor seems to fit in that there is just too much data in the world, to the point we have no idea what to do with all of it. The data glut is driven by the sheer number of data-producing devices in use today due to factors such as Internet of Things, distributed application architectures, and as-a-service consumption models of the cloud.VersaSTACK

The burden of managing all these devices and data is falling squarely in the heart of the data center, disruptively so. The urgency to modernize data center architectures and infrastructures has never been arguably stronger. Specifically, it requires data center to support higher VM densities, more powerful computational processing, a highly responsive and intelligent network, as well as a high-performance data storage foundation that form tightly integration solutions that can be rapidly deployed and provisioned at the speed of business.

Cisco and IBM took on these challenges head-on when they collaborated to launch the VersaStack™, a next-generation, converged infrastructure that combines the innovation of the Cisco UCS Servers , Nexus Switches and the IBM Storwize 7000 Storage solutions. The initial VersaStack Cisco Validated Design (CVD) solution was designed to address the on-premise data center use cases wherein the UCS servers scaled dynamically up to 160 servers and the Storwize 7000 array scaling up to multiple petabytes of storage. It quickly became the blueprint for cloud-ready enterprise data centers that needed exponential scale for the next decade.

Cisco and IBM followed this success up by adding the next solution – VersaStack for private cloud build-outs to address the needs for the XaaS market. This solution combined Cisco UCS servers, Cisco UCS Director, Cisco Nexus® 9000, and IBM® Storwize V7000 Unified system into a single highly automated and scalable system.

Fast forward one year to today, VersaStack solutions now extend from the on-premise data centers and private cloud solutions to a scale out architecture to address the needs of the distributed data and application use-cases. This comes in the form of two additional VersaStack solutions that have been added to thereby enable VersaStack solutions to address the modern distributed workloads—within and across multiple data centers. This newest solution is based on Cisco UCS Servers and IBM FlashSystem V9000 running vSphere 5.5, and seamlessly handles mission-critical, I/O-bound workloads.

In addition, Cisco and IBM are addressing the requirements of smaller IT environments for medium-sized businesses, branch offices and retail stores. For these organization, we offered a VersaStack solution based on Cisco UCS Mini Servers and IBM Storwize V5000 array running vSphere 5.5, optimized for remote office/branch office that:

  1. Monitors and manages the infrastructure remotely from a single management point
  2. Requires a much smaller footprint
  3. Offers new levels of RAS (service profiles to move a server image quickly) to give new levels of geographic RAS to the ROBO use case. For example, a failed server can be replaced automatically within minutes, not days.

UCS MANAGEMENT

 

The advantages of having a single UCS management interface regardless of location include : being able to spin up new VMs 85% faster1 and reducing cabling complexity 75%2 than legacy data center management methods.

A quote from IT industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) validates the benefits of the single-pane-of-glass UCS solution:

VersaStack offers a vast improvement. It is a converged infrastructure solution that uses some of the most well-known and proven server, storage, and networking solutions in the industry. Pools of compute, network, and storage resources can be shared among many applications and reclaimed when not in use, driving utilization up and costs down. Pre-integrated and pretested, VersaStack saves IT from having to purchase the components individually, test them for interoperability, integrate them manually, and then test, refine, re-test, and finally deploy. Handling all this manually steals valuable time away from IT and application users, and will not provide the agility and flexibility that organizations demand. The same goes for ongoing management. VersaStack enables IT to manage all resources from a single pane of glass, and offers end-user self-service, saving organizations time and money.”1

In other words, enterprise data is more distributed than ever before and compounded with its exponential growth and ubiquity presents new demands on IT infrastructure. To manage this growth, enterprise IT teams have to operate far more efficiently, to do more with less and always faster. In this respect, perhaps the data is oil metaphor falls short. Unlike oil, the production of which can be manipulated downward, the data glut streams inexorably forward toward the Zettabyte Era and beyond. In the face of this daunting onslaught, Cisco and IBM teamed to produce the highly versatile and adaptable VersaStack that will serve as the converged infrastructure blueprint for the next decade. This is the kind of synergy that OPEC members can only dream about these days.

[1] ESG Lab Validation Report: VersaStack Converged Infrastructure from Cisco and IBM, December 2015
[2] VersaStack Customer Validation

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