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UCS M-series – As little as possible but Absolutely NO LESS!!

Welcome back! Thanks for your interest in our journey from that painful “you wasted our engineering” moment to the product we announced on Sep 4thUCS M-series Modular Servers.

There’s good pain and there’s bad pain. This pain was the muscle ache after a hard game of flag football. We had wasted some energy but were winning. Our customers were our coaches; they were precise about which parts of our game they loved and which parts they didn’t care for. They loved the management policy engine within UCS Manager but *did not* need the levels of redundancy and resilience in the hardware. And they really … really wished that we added some aspects to our game, specifically improvements to power and space efficiencies.  Our customers were either trying to eke out more from their existing data centers or trying to reduce their co-location costs.

So our cloud scale customers,
i)   loved our management policy engine
ii)  didn’t rely on hardware redundancy/resilience
iii) needed better power and space efficiencies

I’ll note here that during this time we gained incredible respect for our cloud scale customers. These customers are either disrupting traditional industries or are innovators who are reinventing themselves to take advantage of the “internet everywhere” age. That’s a tough business, and whoa is competition fierce! ……. being 2nd best on the internet often means you are a distant loser. Read More »

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UCS M-series Modular Servers – Because wastage just plain hurts!

Last week we announced the UCS M-series Modular Servers. The launch represented culmination of an exciting journey for us that started two years ago.

In mid 2012 just as UCS B-series blade servers were taking off in a big way, we noticed a group of our customers using our core technology very differently than customers in our primary market, enterprise IT. In our primary market customers loved UCS’s stateless computing model, virtualization benefits and the converged offerings with our partners EMC and NetApp. In this other category, customers did not consider those same benefits nearly as important. However UCS Manager’s powerful policy engine got them really excited. UCS Manager gave them a programmatic interface to manage thousands of nodes across dozens of sites globally.

Curious, I started to visit some of these customers. During one such visit, I was walking thru the aisles of their data center and I noticed something I had not ever seen at any of our enterprise IT customers data center. This customer had all UCS chassis single homed to a single Fabric Interconnect, I stopped in my tracks -- reallyIsn’t that kind of dangerous? What happens if there’s a failure? Or you have to upgrade? The customer explained to me how a combination of their application architecture and their application instance placement strategy made sure that outages at the rack level could be handled without service disruption. Wow! so we had engineered all kinds of resiliency, dual ported adapters, dual IOMs, dual chassis controllers, clustered Fabric Interconnects … lots and lots of hard engineering work to make our product robust and resilient, and this customer had thrown it all away with one toss… that really hurt. :( Read More »

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Cisco and Microsoft: Radically Improving I.T. Effectiveness Together

Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in Washington D.C. we entered into a new phase of our Microsoft relationship. Together Cisco and Microsoft announced a multi-year, worldwide sales and channel program focused on driving infrastructure solutions for Server Migration, Private Cloud, and SQL Server engagements. Based on key technologies such as UCS, Nexus, Hyper-V, and Windows Server 2012 R2 these solutions help to enable I.T. organizations to radically improve their I.T. effectiveness while improving their business outcomes.

At Cisco we believe our foundational technologies -- with UCS as the compute platform, Nexus as the switching platform, and with UCS Manager and System Center management integration – provide customers an optimal infrastructure for their Microsoft Windows Server workloads of SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, and Cloud.  Our industry leading UCS integrated infrastructure solutions combined with storage from EMC or NetApp, delivers an even more robust end-to-end value proposition via our FlexPod or VSPEX offerings to our customers. These solutions position our customers well on their respective journeys to the cloud. You’ve read my thoughts here; but let’s hear from Microsoft and their comments on Cisco, Microsoft, our partnership, and value to our joint customers:

We have focused heavily on infrastructure solutions for the Microsoft ecosystem over the past ~2 years and now that our UCS integrated infrastructure architectures are proven we will be putting more emphasis on discrete Microsoft workload solutions. Our initial focus will be on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and how UCS and its differentiated features, such as Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect, deliver improved performance, availability, and scalability.  Satinder Sethi, Vice President of UCS Engineering, details out the benefits of UCS and SQL Server 2014 in this video:

The solutions we deliver to our customers, whether they be private or hybrid cloud, workload or infrastructure focused, are architected and engineered by Cisco, and certified for the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) program as well as certified for the Microsoft Fast Track program. This delivers more value for customers as the prescriptive guidance in each solution offering enables customers to accelerate their deployments with lower risk.

If you happen to be at WPC 2014, please stop by the Cisco booth #801 to speak with our Experts; see things hands on; and simply learn a bit more.  You can also read more about Cisco’s channel programs for the Microsoft ecosystem in Cisco VP Denny Trevett’s blog.  Finally, please feel free to visit www.cisco.com/go/microsoft.

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UCS Manager vs. HP OneView

HP introduced the world to their OneView management appliance by comparing it to Cisco UCS Manager through a series of YouTube video attacks this past fall. I can almost hear the meetings… ‘Forget stealth, forget the high road – let’s attack the leader in converged systems management directly – let’s attack Cisco UCS Manager!‘ While we can’t help but respect HP’s gumption in attempting to pick on their #1 competitor, our flattery turned to dismay that HP continues to miss the boat on how UCS management truly works. Rather than respond with feigned outrage, we patiently waited for HP to release OneView for our own test drive. Read More »

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2013 – A year in review for UCS Management! What will 2014 bring?

December 31, 2013 at 10:15 am PST

As we come to the end of 2013, there is a lot to look back at, and still more to look forward to in 2014.  Last year I speculated whether 2012 was the year of converged infrastructure and all indications are that it was true.  I was at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, where they referred to converged infrastructure as Fabric-based infrastructure, and expect it to become mainstream within 2-5 years.

As I look back at 2013, some of the big events, from a UCS and management perspective were:

  1. Cisco entered the ranks of the top 5 server vendors with the UCS.
  2. The virtual UCS community started a monthly UCS Tech talk series.
  3. Cloupia was renamed Cisco UCS Director, and won the Storage, Virtualization and Cloud (SVC) 2013 product of the year award
  4. Cisco extended the innovative concept of the UCS Service profiles and introduced Application Centric Infrastructure.
  5. Updated version of the Cisco UCS Manager (2.2) was released this month

Interestingly at the Gartner conference, data center automation was a topic of great interest and many sessions were dedicated to it. The Cisco UCS Management portfolio products are designed specifically to automate data center operations, increase operating efficiencies and Read More »

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