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The Next-Gen Data Center: Warp Speed Potential?

Have you caught the new “Star Trek” summer blockbuster yet? If you’re a Trekkie, you know that one of the spin-offs of the original series was “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and the Star Trek universe just continues to evolve. This puts me in mind of where our industry is heading today with the next-gen data center. IT is going boldly where none of us techies have gone before. But to really get there we need to tap into the greater potential for speed locked in the engines of our data center. But how? We’re techies, not magicians! Well, read on…

IT is advancing to next-gen data centers that encompass compute, network, and storage into converged standardized units in order to reduce costs and increase resource and IT staff-related efficiencies. Fundamentally, IT is moving away from compartmentalized infrastructure resources toward unified infrastructure pools. The industry’s leading shared/converged infrastructure solutions from EMC VSPEX, NetApp FlexPod, and VCE Vblock are the most prominent in this enterprise upgrade.

Like any bold adventure into new territory this shift is presenting major challenges to enterprise IT crews. Mainly, they lack tools to efficiently and securely manage converged infrastructure — that’s what’s preventing enterprises from achieving “warp speed IT”. As I covered in my earlier blog entry, new hardware architectures are important, but alone they lack the capabilities needed to deliver the cost savings and management efficiencies needed for IT to shift attention from mundane maintenance to services innovation which translates to organizations reaching their goals speedily and more easily. What are the missing ingredients? Centralized automation and management.

Earlier this year, we introduced Cisco Cloupia as the key to letting IT spend 75 percent of staff time and resources on innovation and 25 percent on maintenance—instead of the industry norm of the other way around. This week at Cisco Live in Orlando, Florida, we’re announcing the rebranding of Cisco Cloupia to Cisco UCS Director, and I would like to explain why.

First of all, the Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) is a strategic component that powers the industry-leading shared/converged infrastructure solutions offered by EMC, NetApp, and VCE. Cisco UCS Director (formerly Cisco Cloupia) is the perceived market leader in managing the virtual, physical, and bare-metal layers across compute, network, storage, and virtualization components and presenting these separate components to IT from a single pane of glass. This alone significantly diminishes the complexity of IT, and diminished complexity leads to reduced risks and costs.

Second, Cisco UCS Director complements the natural management hierarchical progression of Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS Central. The scope of Cisco UCS Manager is a single UCS domain. When customers need to manage multiple UCS domains, Cisco UCS Central provides a single console from which IT can administer UCS devices across multiple data centers. Acting as a “manager of element managers,” Cisco UCS Director is the next progression up the solution stack. Using the native API layer within the compute, network, and storage components, the software virtually eliminates the need for human intervention.

Third, Cisco UCS Director provides a centralized connection point for higher level management applications to integrate with Cisco infrastructure. For an example of this, stop by the Cisco Unified Management booth at Cisco Live to see our initial integration of Cisco UCS Director and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.

Finally, Cisco UCS Director delivers multiplatform vendor support that helps customers manage not only Cisco’s compute functionality, but also that of Dell, IBM, and HP. Organizations using non-Cisco hardware can take advantage of Cisco UCS Director without having to rip and replace their data center architecture. To be enhanced moving forward, the software’s multiplatform support also opens up new market opportunities for Cisco that had previously been unavailable with a hardware-only focused solution.

Cisco UCS Director is a new name to reflect that it is a true next-gen data center solution, with software that offers you the same competitive advantages as before. It still provides the centralized automation, orchestration, and management functionality required by today’s infrastructure models to help data centers conquer a new frontier.

Although warp speed doesn’t really apply to data centers, and enterprises are still earth bound, Trekkies can think of Cisco UCS Director as that special “crystal” in the engine room that lets you unlock the potential speed inherent in your converged infrastructure investment and make you feel like you are on a whole new fast, sleek, ship. So welcome aboard, Cisco UCS Director will help you accelerate and even set cruise control with confidence. Go ahead, beam it up and try it for yourself. Warp drive engaged!

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