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Hard Choices !

Sorry .. I did not mean to steal the title of Hillary Clinton’s book. It so happened that we had to deal with “hard choices” of our own,  when we had to decide on the management approach to our new M-Series platform. In the first blog of the UCS M-Series Modular Servers journey series, Arnab briefly alluded to the value our customers placed on UCS Manager.As we started to have more customer conversations, we recognized a clear demarcation when it came to infrastructure management. There was a group of customers who just would not take any offering from us that is not managed by UCS Manager. On the other hand, a few customers who had built their own management framework were more enamored by the disaggregated server offering that we intended to build. For the second set of customers, there was a strong perception that UCS Manager did not add much value to their operations. We were faced with a very difficult choice of whether to release the platform with UCS Manager or provide standalone management. After multiple rounds of discussions, we made a conscious decision to launch M-Series as a UCS Manager managed platform only.  Ironically enough, it was one such customer discussion that vindicated our decision. This happened to be a customer deploying large cloud scale applications and did not care much UCS Manager. During the conversation, they talked about some BIOS issues in their super large web farm that surfaced couple of years back. After almost 2 years, they were still rolling out the BIOS updates !

UCS Manager is the industry’s first tool to elegantly break down the operational silos in the datacenter by introducing a policy-based management of disparate infrastructure elements in the datacenter. This was made possible by the concept of Service Profiles, which made it easy for the rapid adoption of converged infrastructure. Service Profiles allowed the abstraction of all elements associated with a server’s identity and rendering the underlying servers pretty much stateless. This enabled rapid server re-purposing and workload mobility as well as made it easy for enforcing operational policies like firmware updates.  And, the whole offering has been built on the foundation of XML APIs, which makes it extremely easy to integrate with other datacenter management, automation and orchestration tools. You can learn more about UCS Manager by clicking here.

UCS M-Series Modular Servers are the latest addition to the infrastructure that can be managed by UCS Manager. M-Series is targeted at cloud-scale applications, which will be deployed in 1000s, if not 10s of 1000s of nodes. Automation of policy enforcement is more paramount than the traditional datacenter deployments. Managing groups of compute elements as a single entity, fault aggregation, BIOS updates and firmware upgrades are a few key features of UCS Manager that kept surfacing repeatedly during multiple customer conversations.  That was one of the primary drivers in our decision to release this platform with UCS Manager.

In the cloud-scale space, the need to almost instantaneously deploy lots of severs at a time is a critical requirement. Also, all of the nodes are pretty much deployed as identical compute elements. Standardization of configurations across all of the servers is very much needed.  UCS Manager makes it extremely easy to create the service profile templates ahead of time (making use of the UCS Manager emulator) and create any number of service profile clones literally at the push of a button. Associating the service profiles with the underlying infrastructure is also done with a couple of clicks. Net-Net: you rack, stack, and cable once; re-provision and re-deploy to meet your workload needs without having to make any physical changes to your infrastructure.

Storage Profiles is the most notable enhancement to UCS Manager in order to support M-series. This feature allows our customers to slice and dice the SSDs in the M-Series chassis into smaller virtual disks. Each of these virtual disks is then served up as if they are local PCIe devices to the server nodes within the compute cartridges plugged into the chassis. Steve has explained that concept elaborately in the previous blog. In the next edition, we will go into more details about Storage Profiles and other pertinent UCS Manager features for the M-Series.

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Cisco UCS Claims 100th World-Record Benchmark Result with SPECjbb®2013 MultiJVM Benchmark

One hundred is one of the most ubiquitous numbers in life. We see it on money, best-of lists, memorials, compilations, scoring systems, and many other benchmarks. Cisco Unified Computing System™ reached this significant milestone as Cisco UCS claimed its 100th world-record performance result with the fastest 2-socket server on the SPECjbb®2013 MultiJVM benchmark for the max-jOPS metric.

A Cisco UCS® C220 M4 Rack Server powered by the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 v3 family delivered  four times the max-jOPS rate that Cisco measured using previous processor generations to set a new world record.  This dramatically increased performance of 195,119 max-jOPS is the top 2-socket MultiJVM score for maximum Java operations (max-jOPS).

This world-record of 195,119 max-jOPS is more than three times better than Cisco UCS C240 M3 with Intel Xeon processor E5 v2 family-based result from just 10 months ago, and more than four times better than our Intel Xeon processor E5 family –based result from 18 months ago. This consistent record-setting performance from Cisco UCS blade and rack servers ensures that Cisco will stay ahead of competitors in delivering high performance for Java virtual machines (JVMs) and throughput-intensive Java applications.

SPECjbb 100

The JVM instances ran on a Cisco UCS C220 M4 Rack Server powered by two 18- core Intel Xeon processor E5-2699 v3 CPUs running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)Server 6.5 and Oracle Java HotSpot 64-Bit Server Virtual Machine (VM) Version 1.8.0_20. Check out the Performance Brief and the detailed official benchmark disclosure report for additional information on the benchmark configuration.

Let’s see, what does this latest result mean for our customers? This result proves that IT departments that deploy Java applications on Cisco UCS can deliver more throughput and support more users while reducing the complexity of the data center. For customers assessing infrastructure for Java applications, this result demonstrates Cisco’s capability to consistently deliver record-setting performance with every new generation of processor.

It is interesting to note that although all vendors have access to same Intel processors, only Cisco UCS unleashes their power to deliver high performance to applications through the power of unification. The unique, fabric-centric architecture of Cisco UCS integrates the Intel Xeon processors into a system with a better balance of resources that brings processor power to life. . For additional information on Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure solutions please visit Cisco Unified Computing & Servers web page.

Disclosure

SPEC, and SPECjbb, is registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. The benchmark results used to establish world-record status are based on those available at http://www.spec.org as of October 6, 2014.

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Cisco at Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014

October 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm PST

Ready to savor tapas, Gaudi and the most vibrant community of IT professionals in the industry? You must be headed to Barcelona for Microsoft TechEd Europe, 28-31, October. Cisco will be there as well.  We’ll be showcasing integrated solutions from Cisco and Microsoft for Windows Server 2003 migrations, cloud and SQL Server.

Cisco and Microsoft have worked closely to integrate Cisco UCS with Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2, to provide the optimal platform for your Microsoft clouds and applications. Listen to what Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson has to say about the Cisco and Microsoft relationship.

Tech Demos

Make sure to stop by stand #207 to speak with a Cisco solution expert and take in a demo on: Read More »

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New Security White Paper: Unified Computing System (UCS) Hardening Guide

Check out the new Cisco UCS Hardening Guide white paper which is now released  and available on the Cisco Security Portal. The paper outlines and highlights security best practices for Cisco UCS.

This paper provides information to help users secure Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) platform and provides guidance on how to harden Cisco UCS Software features.  The paper provides references to lots of related documentation.

Please access it using the following URL: http://www.cisco.com/web/about/security/intelligence/ucs_hardening.html

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Cisco UCS Video Library from Oracle OpenWorld 2014

October 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm PST

theCUBEIt’s been a couple of weeks since the Cisco data center and partner teams wrapped up a terrific Oracle OpenWorld 2014.  We had a great week of conversations with customers and partners on how Cisco UCS provides a superior platform for Oracle Data Base and applications. We also announced three record-setting benchmarks for Oracle E-Business Suite and Java operations (SPECjbb2013).

This year, we placed a greater emphasis on communicating beyond our booth via video, digital and social streams. We staged a studio in the Cisco booth that enabled us to stream live video interviews with industry luminaries and Cisco experts hosted by theCUBE, the leading interview format show in enterprise tech. We were honored to host Intel CIO Kim Stevenson immediately following her main stage keynote presentation. Other featured guest included Jim McHugh, Cisco VP of UCS Marketing; Intel VP, Shannon Poulin; Cisco VP of Global Partner Marketing; Sherri Liebo; and Red Hat VP, Mike Evans. The videos are now available for replay here.

The Cisco booth was a hub of non-stop action in our theater where we hosted a terrific line-up of presentations by Cisco experts, customers and partners. We took advantage of this opportunity to record video summaries of these sessions and are pleased to present this video library from Oracle OpenWorld 2014.

House of Brick Technologies on the Advantages of Cisco UCS for Oracle Workloads

Why is Cisco UCS everywhere? Dave Welch, CTO of House of Brick Technologies, highlights the many advantages of UCS for Oracle workloads in this discussion with Jim McHugh, Cisco VP of UCS Marketing.

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