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Cisco at the PASS Summit 2013

September 29, 2013 at 3:35 pm PST

PASS_2013_Banner_300x250More than 5,000 Microsoft SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals will be convening in Charlotte, NC, for the PASS Summit 2013. Cisco is proud to support the SQL Server community as a Platinum Sponsor of the PASS Summit. We have an action-packed agenda of activities and hope to connect with you, to discuss how the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), with Intel Xeon Processers, integrates with Microsoft technologies to provide the optimal SQL Server platform, – and a bit of fun.

Let’s start with the fun! Cisco is pleased to join with Microsoft as the co-sponsor of the Welcome Reception on October 15th. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone at this festive event. The reception will feature a surprise signature Cisco beverage, in case you get thirsty.

Of course, the Cisco data center team also has fun speaking about our integrated solutions for SQL Server and Microsoft oriented data centers. Please join us in booth 300 to pick up your Cisco UCS cap and speak with a Cisco expert about: Read More »

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Cisco UCS Migrates Server Identities Faster and Easier than HP

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.

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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.

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Cisco UCS Management

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 »

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Blade Server TCO and Architecture – You Cannot Separate Them

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 »

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