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Cisco UCS: Powering Applications at Every Scale

September 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm PST

If you follow the news in the world of data center you probably noticed a small announcement from Cisco last week regarding the UCS portfolio…  :)

grandslam

To net it out in a simple way, I’ve been telling people that the trail of innovation that Cisco has been blazing with UCS  just got a lot wider.   That’s because this rollout is all about three key vectors that our customers have guided us to expand on:

Here’s a short recap on the event.  If you missed it, the replay is available here.

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Padma Warrior and Joe Inzerillo discuss how technology is transforming the #MLB fan experience.

We had a stellar lineup at the event in New York.   Our CTO, Padma Warrior, headlined and did a fantastic job setting the context for this wave of innovation in the frame of IoE and Fast IT.   Paul Perez followed, explaining the sea change occurring in the application landscape and the customer imperatives guiding development of the UCS platform.   Finally, Satinder Sethi stepped us through all the new technology we’ve added to the portfolio.  Frank Palumbo hosted the event for us in New York, and I think it’s no coincidence he was rewarded later in the day by a thrilling walk-off win by the Yankees.   Note that my last link there is to MLB.com, whose CTO, John Inzerillo, joined our event to share all the cool fan experience technology they’re developing.

I’d like to thank our #CiscoChampions for joining us at the event and bringing their unique and (trust me) unfiltered perspective to the news.   Another highlight for me was the opportunity to tour the MLB Advanced Media Center with Matt Eastwood of IDC who joined us in New York to moderate a panel on scale-out computing.  Matt, so sorry about the results of the Yankees/Red Sox game…it’s tough to overcome Palumbo-level karma.    Having several of our customers and partners at the event really rounded it out, making a special day for everyone that joined us in New York and in the streaming sessions.

Jim Leach (L) and panel of Cisco Champions

Jim Leach (L) and Tech Field Day panel of Cisco Champions.

To hit on all the details, the team has taken a divide-and-conquer approach here on the blog as well as youtube and our other social media venues.  In addition to the links above, here are some of the pieces you can check out to learn more.  Scanning the #USCGrandSlam hashtag on Twitter is another good way to take a look at the news and reactions.

Padma with panelists discussing Big Data in the IoE.

Padma with panelists discussing Big Data in the IoE.

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UCS Innovation for Core Data Center Applications

We have a number of exciting additions to the UCS family, which we are announcing today.  Application architectures are fundamentally changing, which is driving a change to the core infrastructure.   Today, you will hear about new innovations in the area of scale-out computing, which are optimized for the delivery of new applications, data analytics and the scale that is required to support these apps.

As part of this announcement, we are delivering significant innovations around what I’ll call the core data center applications.  Put another way, these are the more traditional applications that keep the business running and keep employees productive.  Cisco is announcing our fourth generation of our workhorse two-socket blade and rack systems as well as a broad set of enhancements to UCS Management.

Over the past five years, when I ask customers why they purchased UCS, it comes down to two key areas:  more power to drive applications faster and simplified management, which accelerates IT operations. Let’s talk first about the core data center platforms and the new innovations there.  Once again, Cisco is raising the bar on “enterprise class” stateless computing and performance.  Today, we’re announcing the Cisco UCS M4 series, which are optimized for the widest set of enterprise use cases.  Delivered through the new UCS B200 M4, C220 M4 and C240 M4, Cisco continues to deliver the highest performance CPUs, maximum memory and highest I/O performance.  Besides support for fastest and highest core count and memory, we have added significant flexibility to the platforms via modular LAN-on-motherboard (LOM), Modular HBAs and Flex Storage options.

In addition to the M4 generation of servers we are introducing our 3rd gen VIC technology.  This generation brings native 40Gb and advanced networking features such as NVGRE and VxLAN to UCS.  The latest VIC will also enable ultra low latency RDMA capabilities.. As really fast flash storage becomes mainstream and clustered applications gain popularity, high bandwidth, low latency interconnect technology will be required for applications to see the full benefit of performance  improvements.  With this technology, applications requiring low latency can see up to an 85% improvement without the complexity of building Infiniband fabrics.

As much as we like talking about performance (and believe me, we like that a lot), the biggest innovation UCS brought to the datacenter was a dramatically simplified management paradigm with our UCS Management portfolio.   Today, we’re announcing the addition of the software programmable ACI fabric through the Nexus 9000 and APIC into UCS Director.  UCS Director is also delivering a software development kit and open API to accelerate third party integration with Cisco’s technology partners.

Finally, we are delivering new application container support within UCS Director, which provides both virtual and bare metal isolation of workloads, automated with UCS Director.  Users simply request a container for a particular set of application components and UCS Director deploys the necessary infrastructure configuration required.  Taken together, UCS Director becomes an even more robust control point for IT infrastructure as IT customers can now request application services and have computing, storage and networking services (such as firewalling or Layer 4-7 switching) delivered across a programmable networking fabric.

Taken along with the M-series and the UCS C3160, this announcement represents a huge step forward in the UCS portfolio to enable customers to move faster into the new application paradigm while still supporting their core data center applications.

 

 

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How Is Cisco IT Benefiting from Application Centric Infrastructure?

Cisco IT has already started reaping the benefits of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) from our early internal deployments. Cost savings rank high, in decreased operating expenditures through automation enabled by ACI and the sharp reduction of manual processes that introduce human errors and operational risk.   Read More »

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Integrating ACI & Nexus 2000-7000

As the breadth and depth of the ACI solution continues to grow, so does customer interest.  Many customers who have invested in, and continue to invest in, the Nexus 2000-7000 switches find the ACI vision very compelling.  So, this leads to a logical question regarding how an existing Nexus 2000-7000 fabric will integrate with an ACI fabric.

In short, customers can leverage current Nexus products and add ACI capabilities to their data centers in an incremental manner.  Integrating ACI into an existing Nexus environment will not require replacement of existing Nexus switches.  The benefits of ACI policy can be extended to apps on both physical and virtual servers within the existing Nexus fabric.  This can be achieved as follows (double click on the graphic below to launch the 3+ minute presentation):

In this scenario, the existing Nexus fabric is serving as an optimized transport for an ACI overlay solution.  However, this solution is very different from other industry overlay solutions.   It’s different in that the ACI overlay provides integrated/embedded support for both physical and virtual servers, it allows use of existing L4-7 infrastructure, while providing the automation functionality of the ACI policy model.

If you’d like to learn more, there is a summary, as well as a white paper available.  There is also this video whiteboard session that covers a subset of the elements mentioned above.

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How Cisco is Using Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivery and ACI

The role of IT in the enterprise is transforming. Cisco is creating the next-generation data center and cloud deployments with Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) to simplify and optimize the entire application deployment lifecycle.  Read More »

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