UCS: Foundation for Cloud
A story came out today showcasing the platform built to power Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS), and it’s hard to describe better example of how Cisco’s data center technology comes together to help unlock the full potential of cloud computing. In the lead-up to this release and the webcast that we’re airing this Thursday, I had the pleasure of working with Tom Force who leads up the architecture team at Xerox that built the MPS cloud. What I heard him describe illustrates some of the fundamental differences in UCS that come into play for cloud builders:
- Fabric-centric design. MPS is a cloud based service and hosts over a hundred applications. Many of these are multi-tier apps and they benefit directly from the fact that every server in a UCS environment is connected to a single high performance, deterministic, low latency fabric. This eliminates hops between servers and opens up the platform to support intense E/W traffic within the servers that collaborate to deliver services. Contrast this to traditional architectures that put layers of switching between servers with in-chassis blade switching modules. The performance gains were noticed and communicated by Xerox customers to Tom, and that is the end result that really matters
- Form factor agnostic design. In UCS a server is a server is a server regardless of the shape of the box. The Xerox MPS cloud leverages blade and rack servers as and where they make sense and the architects and administrators can manage them all in one abstracted pool of resources. No other platform so fully eliminates the concerns of what shape the sheet metal is.
- A unified control plane exposed via XML API. The MPS cloud is orchestrated with vCloud director. The deep integration between UCS Manager and cloud platform SW enables automated discovery and configuration of new compute resources as they’re added to the system. This creates the true elasticity and automation that a cloud of the magnitude of Xerox MPS demands. Programmable pools of abstracted computing and network elements is what separates a robust cloud from one built on a brittle, manual infrastructure foundation.
- UCS Manager Service profiles: Simplification of server image types and elimination of configuration drift as applications move from development through test, staging and deployment was a big win for the Xerox IT team. Having a infrastructure that can be reliably and accurately provisioned and maintained, both in the primary and remote DR sites is another area Tom cited in our conversations.
- UCS Central: this is recently released technology that allows customers like Xerox to manage multiple UCS domains across the data center and across geographies.
- I’m sure i’m forgetting something but I’ll go with 5 unique attributes for now.
**Fictional rendering of Tom Force
This Thursday, the Xerox team is joining us for a dynamite webcast we’ve pulled together to talk about UCS and laying the right foundations for cloud. James Staten of Forrester, who is THE MAN on cloud, helps us kick it off and we also have architects from FICO joining to talk about their private cloud design. If you’re in the business of looking at infrastructure strategy for cloud computing this is one you don’t want to miss.
Check also Xerox case study