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Cisco UCS Mini – a deep dive

In September 2014, Cisco launched the UCS Mini for what they dubbed “Edge-Scale Computing”. The UCS Mini offering is a stripped down version of the classic UCS system with Fabric Interconnects. To learn about classic UCS, click here.

In this post I will go into some details about the UCS Mini that I’ve learned over the past few months. The information here will assume you have the basic knowledge about what the UCS Mini is and what components are involved. If you need a refresher, I’ve written up a small introduction here.

Let’s dive in.

Fabric Interconnect

The UCS FI 6324 is the same size as the UCS I/O Modules (IOM 2208XP, 2204XP, etc) and fits in the back IOM slot of the UCS Chassis 5108 (version 2).

ucs-fi-6324-breakdown Read More »

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Management implications of large scale data centers.

As data center workloads grow we hear about new large-scale mega data centers being built.  According to a recent report Microsoft is planning on building a $9 Billion data center in Korea.



This photo shows one of Microsoft’s large-scale data centers in Dublin.

(courtesy datacenterdynamics)





Cisco’s own Allen data center in Allen Texas is 38000 square feet.

You can take virtual tour of the data center.



As more of these large data centers are built, managing them efficiently will have to both from a facilities, and an IT point of view. The research firm, IDC has started tracking a category of software called DCIM or Read More »

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Get it and save time: Multi-UCS Domain Management simplifies your administrative life

 Guest Blog: Jacob Van Ewyk,  Jacob Van Ewyk Photo 2

Product Manager – Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS Central

One of the great benefits of the Cisco UCS solution is that it includes the management layer – Cisco UCS Manager – as part of the Fabric Interconnects  This ensures that any UCS server connected to a Fabric Interconnect has embedded management of all software and hardware components in that domain. While this is a great solution for many customers, we recognize that some customers want multiple domains, whether for scale, redundancy, multiple locations, or a host of other reasons. While Cisco UCS Manager has an XML API that can help manage multiple domains, Cisco also offers UCS Central to help solve this challenge.

Cisco UCS Central runs as a virtual machine and centralizes many features across multiple domains – whether local or remote domains. The first release of UCS Central, version 1.0, was released in November 2012 and provided value to customers with central fault management, ID pool management, and global operational polices. However, I am proud to announce that Cisco has released UCS Central 1.1, the follow up release that brings key functionality such as service profiles and templates, policies, statistics, and more. This release is a major step forward in providing a complete, centralized offering that provides the full capabilities of UCS Manager, but across a multi-domain environment.

How does UCS Central 1.1 make your life easier? Here are several good use cases to illustrate the value of UCS Central.

Use Case Benefit
Bring up an additional domain Additional domains can pull access service profiles and templates, policies, and ID pools from UCS Central allowing customers to bring up an additional domain in minutes instead of hours or days.
Consistent Service Profiles across domains Global Service Profiles, templates, and policies are available across multiple domains. UCS Central automates the task of replicating the information and ensuring consistency, helping to ensure compliance, simplify HA and DR deployments, and reduce troubleshooting time.
Centralized, In-depth Inventory Simplified inventory reporting and analysis across multiple domains reduces administrative overhead from hours or days to minutes.
Centralized Fault Manager With all of the faults in one place, it helps eliminate oversights, enables quicker problem resolution, and helps provide higher levels of uptime, allowing the team to support more systems with the same people.
Capacity and Performance Planning Detailed bandwidth, power, and thermal statistics that are kept for two weeks or one year instead of 24 hours in UCS Manager enable better system optimization, higher utilization levels, and fewer performance issues. Proper sizing reduces direct costs.
Firmware Updates Automatically get scheduled updates of new firmware bundles pulled into UCS Central and automatically pushed to relevant UCS Manger instances as needed,  based on policies. This reduces the administrator time when managing firmware.


If UCS Central 1.1 is something that you would like to try, you can download it from It will work for 120 days without a license, so Read More »

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Post CA World 2013

The last couple of weeks have been among my most hectic.  CA World 2013 was a blast and the return flight from Las Vegas was an adventure in itself with an inebriated co-passenger. Over the weekend I attended a colorful Indian wedding deep in heart of the Austin hill country.  Anyone who has been a part of the groom’s party knows how tiring it can be.  To top it, last week I was at OSCON (Open Source Conference) 2013, a conference hosted by Cisco at which we had speakers from IBM, Canonical, Red Hat and Rackspace Hosting among others.

The keynote session at CA World 2013 with Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, was absolutely fascinating.  Richard spoke about how he started Virgin Airlines. We also got to see the advertisement for space travel with another of his ventures – Virgin Galactic.  A musical performance by the Goo Goo Dolls on the 23rd of April ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

The Cisco UCS session at CA World 2013 by Mark Balch and Lax Sakalkale was well received. In the session Mark highlighted how the increasing demands on data centers and adoption of cloud computing require IT departments to be agile and use flexible infrastructure.  He then went on to show why more than 20,000 customers have adopted converged infrastructure based on Cisco UCS technology to meet these requirements.  He gave examples of operational efficiency with Cisco UCS in deploying solutions such as VDI, Cloud and Big Data applications. He also cited case studies in which customers had seen significant economical benefits. Lax then showed some of the advantages of managing the UCS infrastructure with solutions from CA Technologies.

Cisco UCS – CA World 2013 from Ranjit Nayak

We also had a houseful of attendees in the theater session, which discussed real world operations management results from UCS deployments.  This session aggregated the results from customer case studies. It also went on to explain the underlying basis for the economical gains that customers are experiencing.  Most importantly we had engaging conversations with customers who were designing and deploying continuity and disaster recovery solutions for business critical applications on Cisco UCS.  We heard from at least two customers who had UCS blade servers running the critical software for their business.

The following were some of their reasons to invest in business continuity: Read More »

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