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Composable Infrastructure Part 5: The Right Tool for the Job

Tool Kit with ToolsWe all know the importance of using the right tool for the job. Having the right tool can make the work much easier and faster. When you think about infrastructure to support the new cloud-scale applications, you also want the right tool. System vendors have offered a range of options for decades. Servers are designed to support the requirements of different applications and workloads. This same principle applies to composable infrastructure.  Even if you pool the infrastructure resources and allocate them dynamically to support each application, there is still a requirement to have different systems architected to support different requirements. A one size fits all approach to this new category of infrastructure is bound to have its limitations.

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Forbes Article Reinforces Cisco Composable Infrastructure Strategy

the_end_is_near_sign“It’s the end of the server as we know it”. That’s the title of an article published today in Forbes describing the attributes of a new category of systems that Cisco introduced last year called composable infrastructure. In the article Gina Longoria, a senior analyst with of Moor Insights & Strategy, explains the attributes of composable infrastructure. This is a new, disruptive technology that is reshaping the server landscape. Gina provides further details in a report she recently published, “The Journey to Composable Infrastructure”. The report also includes analysis of Cisco’s composable infrastructure strategy and the first two composable products available  – the UCS M-Series and C3260.

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Organizational Dexterity with Private Cloud Automation

atelier-digital-transformationThe world is experiencing a digital revolution that is rapidly changing your business landscape.  This revolution is not only connecting people with digital technology; but it has made this technology ubiquitous in all of our lives.  The result is tech-savvy employees and customers with new expectations how to interact with your business.

Meeting these expectations requires a transformation into a consumer technology company by utilizing digital technology to streamline operational processes and improve customer experiences.  Industry data indicates those organizations begin this transformation process experience increased profitability, market value and revenue.

Cisco’s private cloud automation facilitates the transformation of your business from manual to automated standardized service delivery.  Converting manual processes into automated workflows increases data center productivity which fuels faster time-to-market by business and application teams of new products or services.

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Composable Infrastructure: Cutting Through the Noise

Its seems that lately, there is a lot of noise in the industry about composable infrastructure.  Some of others in the industry seem to be busy churning out a bunch of noise around their vision of the future as though just talking about it repeatedly will somehow capture mindshare.   Most of what is out there amounts to a whole lot of talk and hand-waving, but it has been pretty light on real products that customers can buy.  Back in September of 2014 we launched the UCS M-Series and C3000 families of products.  At that time, we not only added the new server products to the UCS portfolio, but also introduced SystemLink Technology.  We set out to lay the foundation for our composable infrastructure vision, a vision that is being noticed by many in the industry.  Check out what Moor Insights & Strategy is advising customers about Composable Infrastructure.  Also, take a few minutes to hear more about the attributes of a composable infrastructure with the video below.




The revolutionary capabilities of SystemLink really lay the groundwork for one of the most important elements required for a truly composable infrastructure.  The Cisco SystemLink ASIC, the first of it’s kind in the x86 Server space, has several key capabilities.

First, it enables server subsystem disaggregation.  This is critical to be able to break down the traditional server, which is traditionally defined primarily by convention and sheet metal, into its basic elemental resources.  By separating the physical components of the server, those resources can then be pooled and programmatically composed into a logical server and then, subsequently decomposed, returning the elements back to the pools allowing for reuse.  This breaking down of the server means that not only can the most efficient and optimal use of resources be made, but also the lifecycle management of those resources is also decoupled.  So, in the case of M-Series, the next CPU generation that would drive a complete replacement of the server with a traditional rack-mounted server would only require the replacement of the CPU and possibly DIMMs to achieve an upgrade.  Subsystems like the local storage, RAID controller, network adapter, power supplies, fans, and cabling are preserved until upgrades of those respective elements would yield benefit to the business.  As you can see illustrated below, this adds up to a significant savings of both capex and opex, while at the same time offering a more agile IT environment.



Another key capability afforded by Cisco SystemLink Technology is the extension of the control plane into the hardware.  After all, simply sawing a woman in half on stage is not a real magic trick unless you put her safely back together at the end.  So too is the case with server disaggregation.  It’s why we chose the term Composable Infrastructure.  The reconstitution of the elements (in a more efficient and flexible form) is where the real benefit comes in.  To accomplish this, without undue complexity or multiple layers of software, you must have a control plane within the server that can arbitrate the connection of the subsystems as prescribed by the policies that are defined by the user / application.

If you would like a more in-depth understanding of how SystemLink works, check out a very informative blog that Steve McQuerry posted back in October of 2014.

Thus, SystemLink’s unique capabilities expose some truly revolutionary capabilities within the underlying infrastructure, but the more evolutionary (read: consistent) part of Cisco’s Composable Infrastructure architecture is the management framework which allows for the policy-based programmatic control of the disaggregated elements.  The UCS Management environment along with a highly extensible set of APIs provides the customer the ability to control this composable infrastructure while at the same time abstracting the added complexity of the larger and more granular pools of resources.




The UCS Management architecture is capable of providing not only the capabilities to orchestrate the Composable Infrastructure, but do so with the common set of interfaces and user experience that customers employing a more traditional model, one that is transitioning between a traditional and a DevOps style, and ultimately the organization that requires ultimate agility.  That means that UCS is uniquely positioned to offer both traditional server elements and composable elements in whatever combination that best meets the needs of the business without siloed tools and processes.  Additionally, consistent UCS Management tools and interfaces means that IT staff need not re-learn new tools to manage an infrastructure even as it evolves from traditional to agile. This allows the IT staff to be treated as the ultimate resource in the infrastructure and be utilized as efficiently as the hardware.

So while the talk about Composable infrastructure continues in the market, at Cisco, we believe that with products like UCS M-Series and the UCS C3260, we are not just defining Composable Infrastructure, but we are walking the walk with shipping products that customers can buy today to begin the journey to the next generation of agility and efficiency.

CCIE : ITD and RISE in CCIE Data Center

ITD and RISE are now part of CCIE Data Center:

Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is a hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and services insertion solution on the Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches.

Domain Written Exam (%) Lab Exam (%)  
1.0 Cisco Data Center L2/L3 Technologies 24% 27% Show Details
2.0 Cisco Data Center Network Services 12% 13% Hide Details
2.1 Design, Implement and Troubleshoot Service Insertion and Redirection

  • 2.1.a Design, Implement and Troubleshoot Service Insertion and Redirection for example LB, vPATH, ITD, RISE

2.2 Design, Implement and Troubleshoot network services

  • 2.2.a Design, Implement and Troubleshoot network services for example policy drivenL4-L7 services
3.0 Data Center Storage Networking and Compute 23% 26% Show Details
4.0 Data Center Automation and Orchestration 13% 14% Show Details
5.0 Data Center Fabric Infrastructure 18% 14% Show Details
6.0 Evolving Technologies 10% N/A Show Details


To learn about RISE (Remote Integrated Services Engine), please see:

To learn about ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director), please see:


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