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FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud — A Premier Integrated Platform for Mission Critical Microsoft SQL Server Implementations

This guest blog was authored by Frank Cicalese and contains summarized content from various articles that can be found on Cisco and NetApp’s sites. 

Untitled5Frank Cicalese is a Technical Solutions Architect with Cisco’s Data Center Architecture Team helping customers globally with their Microsoft solutions on Cisco UCS. Frank also worked at Microsoft for over 10 years in several positions that required deep technical knowledge such as Services Consultant, Platform Architect, Database Technology Specialist, Virtualization Technology Specialist and Datacenter Technology Specialist. Frank has in-depth technical knowledge and proficiency with database design, optimization, replication and clustering and has extensive virtualization, identity and access management and application development skills. He is also a writer member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers with published musical works that have aired on well-known cable and news networks.



Cisco and NetApp have been teaming for several years developing the FlexPod solution portfolio. This portfolio includes architectures that combine NetApp storage systems, Cisco Unified Computing System servers, and Cisco Nexus fabric into an architecture that provides a highly efficient operational model for workload deployments. This architecture is capable of hosting mission critical SQL Server implementations and is capable of providing them with the required throughput and availability for even the most demanding business requirements.

Recently, Cisco and NetApp contracted Scalability Experts to implement a performance and load test that proves my claims in the above paragraph beyond any doubt in my mind.

Scalability Experts, for readers who may not be familiar with them, is a triple Gold Microsoft Partner, and highly awarded consulting company specializing in Data Platforms, Business Intelligence and Infrastructure Solutions. Scalability Experts conducted the performance and load testing over several months using real world workloads. More information on Scalability Experts can be found at

The purpose of this performance and load test was to validate that FlexPod is a premiere platform for the most demanding applications. This performance and load test implements a real world gaming workload on Microsoft SQL Server 2014. Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Edition was used to generate and run the performance and load tests. For more information about Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Edition see More information about Microsoft SQL Server 2014 can be found at

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UCS at Collaborate 15: Simplify, Save, Increase Efficiency and Redefine the Word “Hardware”

I’m looking forward to Collaborate 15 where thousands of attendees travel to Las Vegas to learn, meet and improve their skills and understanding of Oracle databases and applications.   One of the main areas to see improvements in reliability, speed and cost of  Oracle database is the upgrading of server hardware.   Cisco UCS Servers and UCS Integrate Infrastructure offer Oracle customers’  a number of unique upgrade, benefits.  These hardware improvements are here today from Cisco, and its name is UCS.

#CiscoUCS takes the cake for performance in all Oracle environments. Learn about it at #Collaborate15

A video posted by Cisco Data Center & SDN (@ciscodc) on

Thousands of UCS Oracle customers around the world over have benefited as Cisco UCS has seen its server customer base increase from zero to over 41,000 in a little more than 5 years.   In fact, Cisco UCS servers have grown extremely fast in nearly every dimension.

Growth of UCS Servers

UCS Over Five years

Please stop by Cisco booth 1003 and see why customers are making the switch to UCS.  Learn why hardware really isn’t the correct word for a UCS server; a better description is software-abstracted hardware.  UCS will allow you and your organization to think differently about what the word hardware means and the differentiators it provides. Differentiators like:

  1. UCS SingleConnect Technology – save money with this dramatic simplification of your server connections.
Simplicity and Cleanliness of a Unified Cisco Approach

UCS SingleConnect Technology

  1. UCS Service profiles – fully automate provisioning and deployment of servers with this one-of-a-kind server abstraction, it abstracts server hardware in software. See why one historical analogy to UCS Service profiles is the assembly and its large productivity benefits:
Analogy to UCS Service Profile Benefits

Analogy to UCS Service Profile Benefits

  1. UCS Manager Programmability -unique ability to plug in and script into higher-levels tools like Oracle Enterprise Manager or Microsoft System Center.
  1. UCS World records: 37 in Oracle workloads and 100+ overall World Records

UCS architectures and these differentiators deliver significant benefits to your organization like:

  1. Save on Oracle licensing costs
  2. Increase server availability dramatically
  3. Decrease server deployment errors
  4. Automate at new, granular parts of your sever infrastructure
  5. Cloud-proof your future infrastructure needs

In addition, take these UCS Server benefits to the next level with UCS Integrated Infrastructure, combining UCS Servers, Nexus switches and UCS Director with your storage vendor of choice. UCS Integrated Infrastructure plus

  1. UCS Integrated Infrastructure + NetApp Storage = FlexPod
  2. UCS Integrated Infrastructure + EMC Storage = Cisco Solutions for EMC VSPEX or Vblock
  3. UCS Integrated Infrastructure + HDS Storage = UCP
  4. UCS Integrated Infrastructure + IBM Storage = Versatack
  5. UCS Integrated Infrastructure + Nimble Storage = SmartStack

UCS Integrated Infrastructure BDM_overall_slide_ 1_17_15_V2

UCS offers it all, less money, higher productivity, increased agility and integration with your storage vendor of choice.  Please stop by booth 1003 and learn how to save allot of money with just a few minutes of your time.

In addition, Cisco also offers other ways to share, learn and inform with Collaborate 15 attendees:

  1. Preconference boot camp on Oracle Virtualization and Licensing on April 12th. Dave Welch, CTO and Chief Evangelist with House of Brick Technologies will be joined by Cisco’s John McAbel for a 4 hour deep-dive to help you plan your Oracle deployments and lower licensing costs. Here’s a secret registration tip, send an email to to add the bootcamp to your schedule.
  1. Participation in the Women in Technology Cisco is proud to sponsor the Women in Tech Luncheon on April 13th. On April 15th, Cisco Distinguished Engineer, Judy Priest will be participating in an inspiring panel of women for an engaging conversation on their personal experiences and strategies for success.


Gartner’s Latest Point of View on BI, Analytics and Big Data

Over the past six weeks I participated in three Gartner BI and Analytic Summits in Sydney, London, and most recently Las Vegas.

I love going to these events, as they are a great opportunity to:

  • Stay abreast of the latest trends through the lenses of the Gartner analysts who cover BI, analytics, data management and integration, and big data.
  • Evaluate how Cisco’s Data and Connected Analytics Portfolio addresses market needs today and how we need to evolve our portfolio to meet tomorrow’s requirements.
  • Catch up with many friends including Gartner analysts, industry peers and most importantly, our customers.

Let me share my takeaways. Read More »

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Cisco UCS Mini – Powering Microsoft Applications

Since Cisco UCS Mini launched last September, Cisco and our partners (Citrix, EMC, Microsoft, NetApp, Nimble Storage, Oracle, SAP, and VMware) have been hard at work putting together a wide variety of solutions.

On the way to tradeshow week (May 4th), I’ll be doing a brief blog series on UCS Mini tied to these shows.

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The Power of the ACI Toolkit: The “Snapback” App

I recently wrote in my blog about a partner, WWT, that quickly developed a network replication solution across dual DC using the programming interface on the APIC.  Our own development team, just published a complete management rollback mechanism for the APIC using the ACI toolkit’s high level APIs and the APIC’s RESTful APIs.  It took them just a few short days to accomplish this.  This is a testament to the fantastic capability our customers and partners have for rapid feature development on this open programmable platform, the APIC and ACI fabric.

Cisco Insieme engineering team has introduced a new ACI toolkit feature to automate the snapshot and rollback of ACI fabric configuration. Why Snapshots and Rollback for Virtual Networks?  Virtualization introduced a powerful debugging and management capability when file based snapshots of state, data, and configuration of a virtual machine could be made at a specific point in time.  You could restore a previous state, restore lost data, and restart applications from a point in time using snapshots.  With network virtualization, you can store the state of the network, restore a previous configuration, and restart the network with its applications from a point in time.  There are tremendous applications for this capability for DevOps teams testing and debugging distributed applications to optimize performance at scale or to recover from some introduced error or failure.

Snapshot Feature: The tool called “snapback” allows administrators to take live snapshots of a running ACI Fabric configuration either immediately or at some predetermined time in the future.  It allows the snapshots to be performed as a one-time occurrence or on an ongoing schedule.  All snapshots are stored in a version control system that allows full viewing of any version of the configuration and the differences between versions.  Policies can be specified in version control to meet compliance requirements.


Rollback Feature: Rollback is allowed to any previous configuration version and can be done as a full configuration rollback or as granular as per tenant. This enables certain tenants to be rolled back to previous configs, while certain others get to keep their current configs. All config files are readable and open JSON formatted text files. The Open interfaces of ACI enables easy integration of this “snapback” tool with third-party systems to develop integrated operations-focused solutions as it can be imported as a library, run from the OS command shell, or run as a web application.


The source code of the toolkit with examples in GitHub, is available for you now to access and start building your own customized solutions using the APIC and ACI.

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