Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Data Center and Cloud

Cisco UCS Migrates Server Identities Faster and Easier than HP

September 23, 2013 at 3:30 am PST

At some point, every data center has to migrate a complete server identity between two servers.  This could be driven by maintenance needs, server upgrades or DR/HA and SLA requirements.  For DR/HA, Business Continuity requirements mandate that this be done as quickly as possible, which means automation is critical to drive time to productivity restoration.  True automation equals fewer steps and faster implementation, with the smallest possibility for error.  This is more than just setting up a similar server with the same BIOS and firmware and then doing a lot of manual work requiring multiple administrative domains – compute, network and storage.   I’m talking about QoS, vNIC / vHBA setting, storage access and ownership transfers, etc., the whole enchilada, all delivered in an automated repeatable process by design not by accident.

Not surprisingly, Cisco UCS with UCS Manager does the job -- fast, complete and in full.  What may be surprising is that Cisco UCS Manager enables you to do this transfer not just from blade server to blade server, you can also do it from blade server to rack serverUCS Manager comes with and is embedded on the UCS Fabric Interconnects.  I want to emphasize that there is no additional charge for UCS Manager, which is an important consideratin when you look at other companies’ multiple toolsets, agents and databases, most of which carry an additional cost, and which are required to equal UCS Manager functionality.  UCS Manager architecture does not require a separate management server which other designs typically require.

The very best part of the entire activity is that the full migration of the server identity (enabled by Cisco SingleConnect technology) takes just 6 initial steps with UCS Manager; the rest is all about how we deliver on the promise of automation.  UCS Manager lets you use and specify 127+ different server identity parameters including:

48 BIOS Settings

Host BIOS Firmware

Hdwr NIC Teaming (fabric failover)

FC Adapter & Storage Controller Firmware

BIOS & Disk Scrub Actions

IPMI Settings

Dynamic vNICs (VM FEX)

QoS Settings

NIC and HBA Adapter Settings

vHBA WWPN & WWNN Assignment

HBA FC SAN Membership,

NIC Receive Rate & NIC MTU size

FC & iSCSI Boot Parameters

Server UUID

PCIe Bus Scan Order and PCIe Device Slot Placement

And Much Much More…….

The above all sounds good.  Now we need to see ‘proof of delivery’.  Below are the links to a white paper by Principled Technologies that are the real point of this blog – complete (not partial) migration of a server identity from a blade server to a rack server.

Blade to rack migration Paper

The real fun is to watch the accompanying video below.  See for yourself how much time it takes in an apples to apples server identity migration from a blade to a rack server.  Once you take a look at the video (the paper on the right has the full details of the testing), you will find taking a UCS Test Drive worthwhile.

       

 The ability of Cisco UCS server to manage both blade and rack servers with a single tool is  UCS Manager. Cisco took a unique approach to computing and focused on the common point of interaction, the fabric. Servers don’t operate in isolation. They are part of a total environment that at the minimum encompasses servers, networking, management and storage – a Fabric Based Infrastructure .  Cisco’s comprehensive and efficient architecture is the key to why customers worldwide are rapidly adopting UCS.

For information on how UCS and UCS Manager integrate with a wide variety of our leading management partners follow this link UCS Manager Ecosystem Partners, and for interoperability with other major systems management tools please see the UCS Interoperability page.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cisco and VCE: Infrastructure Will Always Matter

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Trey Leyton, VP & CTO for VCE, to discuss VCE’s momentum and how they use Cisco technologies to deliver a truly converged infrastructure and an incredible customer experience.

Last year, VCE achieved a $1 billion per year run rate with the VblockTM Systems portfolio. Customers have returned to purchase additional systems. Seventy percent of Vblock customers buy a 2nd and 3rd Vblock system. Why? VCE delivers a great customer experience. Vblock is a truly converged infrastructure, it is pre-integrated, factory built and tested, delivered as a single product with one phone number to call for support. A converged infrastructure such as Vblock requires a holistic management solution. Cisco UCS Director enables the automation and orchestration of converged infrastructures from a single-view portal improving IT efficiency.  These efficiency gains allow IT to spend much less time managing infrastructure.

Ninety nine percent of the time a Vblock system is operational within 48 hours of being delivered. A solution that is usable this quickly meets the requirements of both technical and business IT teams. The factory-integration and validation accelerates deployment, enabling IT technical staff to focus on driving innovation rather than installing infrastructure.  IT executives like that the infrastructure is operational faster to help drive the business forward.

Vblock Systems eliminate many of the challenges that consume today’s data center resources including planning, setting up and deploying infrastructure, and keeping infrastructure up to date. Basically, Vblock Systems can simplify every aspect of IT operations while boosting productivity and lowering costs.

Infrastructure will always matter if your goal is to deliver an elastic, automated cloud computing environment. The success and momentum of VCE with the Vblock Systems portfolio is proof that a truly converged infrastructure using  best-in-class technologies from Cisco (Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus Switches) and  EMC (EMC VNXe, VNX and Symmetrix VMAX) can help customers can get projects done faster, with better performance, higher availability and low total cost of ownership.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cisco UCS Management

September 17, 2013 at 5:04 am PST

As Cisco UCS enters a new phase of growth with Cisco’s entry into the top 5-server vendors list, let’s step back and take a look at how we manage infrastructure in the world of Unified Computing. UCS Management is a key ingredient of Cisco’s Unified Data Center, which unifies physical and virtual infrastructures across data centers. The architecture delivers IT services through a holistic fabric-based approach, and has proven to lower the cost of computing and enable real IT innovation.    Customers are reporting an 84% reduction in provisioning times and 61% reduction of ongoing administrative/management costs.  In this post we’ll examine some of the drivers for that.  More recently, UCS Director has bolstered the portfolio and provided significant capabilities to reduce data center operational expenses.  Since there are many questions about how the portfolio products complement each other, I hope to clarify it.

UCSM_portfolio

The UCS management portfolio includes:

  • UCS Manager for individual UCS domains
    • Provides embedded, unified, policy based management of Cisco UCS blade and rack servers and all fabric components within the system Read More »

Tags: , , , ,

Blade Server TCO and Architecture – You Cannot Separate Them

September 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm PST

I have heard this a lot over the years, in one way or another – “The only price that really counts is what I actually pay for my server.” 

Alright, so why bother with a TCO analysis?  The truth is that server acquisition costs only contribute 20% (or less) to a 3 year server TCO.  Management and other OpEx costs contribute the remaining 80%.  If you go to 5 years, the acquisition cost starts to fade into obscurity.

There are a number of studies you can find online that call out server acquisition cost at 15% to 17% of TCO, or even less.  One is an Information Week report that quotes a 2007 IDC study.  The Information Week article is very good, with multiple sources and definitely worth a read.  Since 2007 there have been myriad improvements in processor performance, as well as, server and architectural innovations (Cisco UCS).  All of these supply ample rationale for a low CapEx component for Server / Data Center Total Cost of Ownership, see the figures below.  

[The WW Server Related Spend… chart is from IDC, “New Econmoinc Model of the Datacenter”; IDC 2011]  [Only the graph is from the cited source, the table is my analysis of the numbers presented by the graph.]

WW Server Spend & Mgmt

Summary of the figures above:

  • Server purchase spend and associated power & cooling spending is flat (red and green bands above)
  • Physical server management cost is the down (blue aband bove)
  • Virtual server management cost are way up and increasing (orange band above)

  Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

New Intel Processors – Seven New Cisco UCS Performance Records

On September 10th, 2013 Cisco introduced support for the Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2600 v2 product family on the Cisco UCS B200 M3, C240 M3, and C220 M3 servers.  On the same day as the Intel announcement Cisco captured seven world records on industry benchmarks on Cisco UCS to highlight the breadth of Cisco’s product line and the way in which Cisco can accelerate performance across the data center— on enterprise applications, Java application servers, desktop virtualization, and raw CPU power.

As we know, there is no better way to compare performance than by using industry-standard benchmarks, and with seven  new world record performance benchmark results Cisco has demonstrated Cisco Unified Computing System’s outstanding performance and IT productivity across key data center workloads. Check out the Performance Brief for additional information on the seven new Cisco UCS world record benchmarks. The detailed benchmark disclosure reports are available here.

Cisco UCS delivers versatility with performance leadership across a wide range of workloads, enabling customers to eliminate infrastructure silos historically driven by unique application needs.  The performance leadership across a wide range of workloads provided by Cisco UCS is validated by the seven World records announced this week which include:

 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, with exclusive Cisco SingleConnect Technology, maximizes Intel innovations and as a result Cisco UCS with the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v2 family delivered up to 48 percent better performance over the prior generation of Intel Xeon processors as shown in the graph below:

Ivy Bridge Graph
 So the momentum continues…In four short years, the Cisco UCS has captured over 81 world records for performance and IT productivity taking its place among the most trusted server vendors on the market. Check out the Cisco Unified Computing System™ 81 World-Record Performance Results.

The architectural advantages of a single cohesive system optimized for virtualized environments coupled with the industry leading performance validated by World Record Industry-Standard Benchmarks makes the Cisco Unified Computing System an “infrastructure platform of choice” to provide industry-leading performance in your data center. Don’t forget to check the excellent blog by Todd Brannon at http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/tick-tock-goes-the-server-clock

These world-record performance results further reinforce the fact that Cisco is not just selling servers—it is re-inventing the server market. For additional information on Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS solutions please visit Cisco Unified Computing & Servers web page.

Girish Kulkarni

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Unified Computing System 

gikulkar@cisco.com

Tags: , ,