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Could the Converged Network Adapter be the most important element in a Unified Fabric?

Many vendors are touting the benefits of IEEE DCB, FCoE, CEE, DCE, Unified Fabrics, and many other marketing monikers for equipment consolidation.  Each component of the technology is interesting, but maybe no more so than the Converged Network Adapter itself.   Why so?  Let’s take a look.

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Cisco Nexus 4001I Switch Module for IBM BladeCenter

On my previous blog post “What exactly is a Nexus 4000?” there were many questions/comments around OEM blade server vendors and details of Nexus 4000 Series Blade Switches . Today, IBM announced the details of the Cisco Nexus 4000 blade switch for their BladeCenter H and HT chassis.

Nexus 4001 Switch Module for IBM BladeCenter will provide the support for Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and the emerging IEEE Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards over 10 GbE for IBM Blade servers.

So IBM becomes the first blade server vendor to make Cisco Nexus 4000 available for their blade servers. You can find the Nexus 4000 blade switch IBM description at:

and included in the IBM websites below:

and on the Cisco website:

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Cisco IT Data Center Experience

You know, our customers, even folks that are not our customers, are always interested what Cisco IT is up to.  Our IT strategy is intrinsic to our business strategy and folks are always curious to know what is working and what is not working.  Now, if you have every been lucky enough to hear folks like Rebecca Jacoby or Sidney Morgan talk, you know our IT org is a big believer in transparency and will happily share both our successes and learning experiences.  To that end, we have recently released the Cisco IT Data Center Experience.

The website takes you behind the scenes of Cisco’s global data center environment with a chance to hear from the folks responsible for long-term planning and strategy, architecture and operations and implementation.  There are over 30 videos on a broad range of topics–pretty much something for everyone.

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Government Agency Upgrades Application Infrastructure with a Virtualized App Delivery Solution

Government Agency Upgrades Application Infrastructure…and by doing so provides a great proof point of  why old load balancers should be virtualized  (source: IDC) .

Faced with challenges of an aging application infrastructure and needing to scale application delivery state wide with security and performance, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) deployed the industry’s only virtualized application delivery solution.

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Cisco UCS Gets the Nod From Oracle

So, we continue to see broad traction in the industry for the Cisco Unified Computing System.  The latest passenger on the UCS Bus is Oracle, which recently certified and validated the Cisco UCS platform for Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.3 and Oracle VM.  

As the picture illustrates, the test system was built around out UCS B-Series servers with EMC CLARiiON storage system with a mix of Fibre Channel drives and state- of-the-art Enterprise Flash Drives (EFDs) to further speed performance.  Its important to note that, because the Cisco UCS is architecturally consistent across form factors, the same system could be built with the recently announced C-Series rack servers.

We have published a white paper on the tested deployment that digs into a fair amount of detail on the setup and configuration of the system–highly encouraged reading for anyone that supports Oracle in an enterprise environment.  Please note, you will need to register to access the doc (any follow-up from us is on an opt-in basis).

One of the more interesting things  things that came out of the testing was the performance data. We ran the cluster through 24h hrs stress tests for both OLTP (order entry) and DSS (sales history). The results included:

  • Very consistent CPU utilization: around 40 percent on all eight nodes
  • No saturation levels of any subsystems (CPU, disk, I/O, or networking)
  • Sustained FCoE-based I/O ranging between 1.8 and 2.0 GB per second, which could be further divided into 1.4 GB per second of Fibre Channel I/O and approximately 450 MB per second of interconnect communication
  • No occurrence of I/O bottlenecks or wait times
  • Excellent I/O service times for storage

We attribute much of this consistency to the UCS architecture and its intrinsic 10GB fabric as well as the use of the EMC CLARiiON storage with EFDs.  Note, this was not performance testing, there was no config optimization or the like done for this test, we were more interested in understanding how the system handled long-term sustained loads.  We are working on performance benchmarking, so stay tuned for those if you are looking for numbers to compare to other solutions out there.


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