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High performance backup storage: Cisco UCS C3160

I don’t know about you, but the thought of using a “server” as a “backup storage” resource may sound a bit odd at first. After this post, you may change your tune. Let’s dig into this a bit.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Cisco UCS Unified Computing line of servers and their associated Fabric Interconnect technologies. Additionally, you may know that there are M-Series, B-Series and C-Series form factors for the various configuration options that are in high demand for the modern data center. Which reminds me, you should check out this PDF poster of all of the current UCS components; it is my go-to resource to see how the different UCS offerings can be arranged and interconnected.

So let’s zoom in on the Cisco UCS C3160. It has a few key specifications that caught the interest of a number of keen architects in my extended professional networks which led to this notion of putting the C3160 in place as high performance and high capacity backup storage system. The most interesting specification is that the C3160 can hold up to 60 small form factor drives. Two additional small form factor SSD drives are in place for the boot volume. What this means is that these 60 drives can be used as a backup storage repository.  RAID levels are available on this configuration as well, in particular the Cisco 12G SAS Modular RAID controller supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 6. I’d recommend RAID level 6 for this large of a storage resource in terms of drive capacity (up to 4 TB) and the sheer number of drives coupled with rebuild times and have some spares in place. That being said, there is easily over 200 TB available for backup storage in one C3160 server. Let’s take the following figure:

Ciscoblog-April 2015-FigA

The C3160 provides large amounts of backup storage with excellent connectivity

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#CiscoChampion Radio S2|Ep 12. 802.11ac Wave 2

CiscoChampion2015200PX#CiscoChampion Radio is a podcast series by Cisco Champions as technologists. Today we’ll be talking about 802.11ac Wave 2 with Cisco Product Marketing Engineer Mark Denny and Cisco Product Marketing Manager Allen Huotari.

Listen to the Podcast.

Learn about the Cisco Champions Program HERE.
See a list of all #CiscoChampion Radio podcasts HERE.

Cisco SMEs
Mark Denny, Cisco Product Marketing Engineer
Allen Huotari, Cisco Product Marketing Manager

Cisco Champion Guest Hosts
Stewart Goumans, @WirelessStew, Mobility Consultant
Sam Clements, @samuel_clements, Mobility Practice Manager

Lauren Friedman (@Lauren)

What is 802.11ac Wave 2 and why it is important?
Multi-user MIMO
Wave 2 and backwards compatibility
Troubleshooting Wireless Networks and Wave 2
Infrastructure and Power Requirements with Wave 2
AC toolbox recommendations
Wave 2 and disabling NCS rates

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4+1 Practices for Effective Lifelong IT Learning (Part 1)

The debate of what we should be learning seems to be a more frequent topic today. For instance, there’s been a long-standing question for each new networker: after learning a little about routing and switching, does a relative newbie dive deep into route/switch? Move on to learn voice? Or security? Data Center? Or for emerging technologies like SDN, should we learn SDN as defined by the Open Networking Foundation, or ACI, or both? Should we build programming skills to become network programmers, or programming for network automation, or stick with traditional config/verify/troubleshooting skills?

So we can talk to coworkers and discuss/argue about what technologies we should learn… but then we all seem to agree that learning throughout our careers is hugely important. (In fact, the day I was wrapping up this blog post, the Cisco Champion podcast included several people making that very same point, in agreement.) And then we stop talking about learning, because we all agree. We agree that learning is important, and don’t talk about how to learn effectively.

Our long-term career prospects depend in part on learning about existing and emerging technology. But how good are our learning skills? Are we happy with the results? How can we get better at learning?

Today’s post begins a 2-part post that offers a top 4+1 list of answering that last question: how do we get better at learning? Rather than us just agreeing that learning is important, and moving on, let’s treat the process of learning as an important process, and learn how to do it better. Read More »

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FlexPod for the Future

I’ve been a huge fan of Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod since 2011, when I had the pleasure of working with it for the first time.  We had just gotten two brand new UCS Chassis full of B-Series blades, and I was impressed with how quickly I had them up and running.   I wired up the UCS Chassis to a Nexus 5000 switch I had in the lab, as well as a NetApp FAS2020, it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t in the same rack, but it was still a FlexPod.  When I did some firmware updates a couple of weeks later, again, it was simple process.  I could have actually scheduled it to run later, which I thought was an extremely cool feature.  It took next to no time to have everything revved to current levels (the poor UCS sat in the lab neglected for a few months before I got my hands on it).

FlexPod has come a long way since then, so let’s take a look at some of the hottest Cisco Validated Designs out there today, and a little bit more about what makes a FlexPod a FlexPod Read More »

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#CiscoChampion Radio S2|Ep 11. UCS E-Series and the Branch in a Box experience

CiscoChampion2015200PX#CiscoChampion Radio is a podcast series by Cisco Champions as technologists. Today we’ll be talking about the Cisco UCS E-Series with Cisco Technical Marketing Engineers Kishan Ramaswamy and Tony Banuelos.

Listen to the Podcast.

Learn about the Cisco Champions Program HERE.
See a list of all #CiscoChampion Radio podcasts HERE.

Cisco SMEs
Kishan Ramaswamy, Cisco Technical Marketing Engineer
Tony Banuelos, Technical Marketing Engineer

Cisco Champion Guest Hosts
Michael Aossey, @aossey, Solutions Architect
Chris Nickl, @ck_nic, Cloud Infrastructure Architect
Jonathan Davis, @subnetwork, Network Planning Analyst Read More »

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