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Cisco UCS Mini and EMC Storage

On the way to tradeshow week (May 4th), I decided to do a brief blog series on UCS Mini tied to these shows. I’ve covered Microsoft Ignite and SAPPHIRE NOW in the past two weeks.

Last up, EMC World in Las Vegas. Read More »

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Tour the Cisco Allen Data Center

I had been looking forward to revisiting one of my favorite data center’s.  We had done this first back in 2011 and that video continues to do pretty well.

We had a chance to go back this year and one of the first things I noticed when we returned…it was filling up.  All the open floor space we shot the open for in 2011 was now filled and their were crews still pulling in fresh cable, racking new equipment and more. It was a busy place all night long.  (Watch the full tour)

TechWiseTV Allen Data Center Cable Pull

TechWiseTV Allen Data Center Cable Pull

One of the biggest reasons we returned was the growth in cloud services and the extensive use and build out of UCS of course, but now also ACI. The flexibility of this entire network relies upon the very use of technology that Cisco is developing. Its certainly on the mature side of course since this is one of Cisco’s primary production centers. As you would probably notice, its a beautiful, roomy layout that makes it desirable for touring. This is not common of course but it was built as a showcase for customers who want to see how things look when they all come together. The site is mirrored in Richardson, just a 20 minute drive South from this Allen location so that either site could take over and maintain operations for Cisco.

I am a big fan of all the physical facility innovation present here. These visual aspects would be appealing to a visual storyteller of course, but they also have not really changed since 2011. Read More »

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Five Reasons You Can’t Ignore OpenStack

Five Reasons You Can’t Ignore OpenStack

1.    It’s growing dramatically.
OpenStack User Survey, Nov 2014
Source: OpenStack User Survey, November 2014

·       The growth trajectory of OpenStack® is similar to that of Linux, and is on track to grow even faster. What started as a sandbox for developers has now become significantly more stable and mainstream.

·       Many larger enterprises are now using OpenStack, even in limited deployments, and as the advantages become more apparent, use will increase.

·       The code itself has matured dramatically since its introduction five years ago. Updates are now far more likely to be bug fixes and usability improvements rather than major new code releases.

·       An impressive number of technology and cloud vendors now offer OpenStack solutions and tools. Almost every major cloud vendor now has a presence in OpenStack. We are nearing critical mass.

2.    The OpenStack community is vigilant about protecting flexibility.

·       The biggest advantage of an open-source approach is that you can create a much more flexible and vendor-neutral cloud environment. As a result, you can lower your costs, avoid the risks of vendor lock-in, and add new capabilities and approaches much more quickly and easily.

·       The cloud is still an incredibly dynamic, rapidly evolving marketplace. New features and approaches are being introduced all the time. If you lock yourself into a single vendor, you’ll be on that vendor’s timeline to bring those new capabilities to your business. Your success may well rest on responding more quickly than your competitors.

3.   It can make a big difference in productivity and staffing.

·       Using OpenStack on an integrated infrastructure platform, like Cisco UCS® offers significant productivity benefits, because the two architectures work together to eliminate many of the manual tasks involved in building a cloud. OpenStack defines how computing, networking, storage, and other essential cloud elements will interoperate, so your IT engineers are free of repetitive deployment tasks and can focus on more value-added projects.

·       If you lock your cloud environment into a single vendor’s approach, you’re limited to staff who specialize in that vendor’s technology—or to long ramp-up times to train existing staff who don’t.  But open source technologies are a smart investment and many of today’s developers and engineers are adding open source to their skill set, expanding the number of people qualified to support your OpenStack cloud.

·       OpenStack is growing rapidly. Even if you’re not planning to begin implementing an open-source approach right away, it’s critical to start building OpenStack skills in your team now, so you won’t be scrambling to catch up later.

4.    Are you avoiding OpenStack because you think using an open-source solution means a long, complex do-it-yourself project?  Not necessarily.

·       Hardened, enterprise-class OpenStack solutions are now available from open-source leaders like Red Hat®, often as part of pre-integrated, ready-to-deploy solutions developed in partnership with vendors like Cisco.  Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat OpenStack is a fully documented design guide and bill of materials, designed to accelerate deployment of your OpenStack cloud.

·       And for those who prefer to leave operation of OpenStack to the experts, Cisco now provides a fully-managed, on-premises private cloud option, based on technology acquired from Metacloud.  Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud® gives you all of the benefits of a public cloud in a private cloud environment, so you can focus on application development.

·        The number of tools is growing and responding to the need for support.  OpenStack users have made Chef cookbooks and Puppet configuration modules freely available on GitHub.  In addition, the latest technologies for putting infrastructure at the service of cloud applications and services are being made available for OpenStack.  Vendors now offer software-define networking (SDN) controllers, such as the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), that allow you to perform policy-based management of your OpenStack-based cloud environment.

5.   Are you ready for a hybrid cloud world?

·       For many businesses, the immediate priority is to create a private cloud environment to deliver IT as a service (ITaaS). But you want to be able to shift workloads to public cloud resources when it makes sense to do so, as well as meet growing demands from lines of business that want to use public cloud services in the enterprise.

·       Hybrid cloud is growing in importance as it combines the economic benefits of the public cloud with the control and security of a private cloud.  The December 2014 Ubuntu Cloud and Server Survey found that 40% of respondents using OpenStack were planning to implement an OpenStack-based hybrid cloud in the next 12 months.  OpenStack is an obvious candidate for hybrid cloud, with the support of an active open source community, as well as major cloud vendors.

OpenStack may have seemed like a curiosity a few years ago. But it’s becoming a big part of the cloud landscape. If you want to capitalize on the benefits of open source cloud environments before your competitors, start paying attention now—or be prepared to play catch-up later.

 

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Tailored Data Center Integration (TDI) For SAP HANA

Tailored Data Center Integration for SAP HANA enables the use
 of enterprise storage and networking components that already exist in your data center rather than requiring customers to purchase additional storage and networking to be used only for the SAP HANA environment.

Cisco and its partners deliver a TDI deployment model using a common architectural approach, built on standard building blocks with the Cisco Unified Computing SystemTM (Cisco UCS®) as the base. This approach gives application datacenter managers flexibility of choice in the way that they implement SAP HANA. Cisco supports the SAP HANA TDI deployment with shared storage and shared networking today.

SAP HANA TDI provides the first evolutionary step away from the constraints of a very controlled standalone appliance model toward a model in which application datacenters can be configured using existing SAP certified enterprise storage and enterprise networking.  When you use the SAP HANA TDI model, existing network and storage can be used only if sufficient resources are available and if all components used are SAP certified. Here, “sufficient resources” means that sufficient storage capacity and I/O bandwidth are available on both the storage system and the storage network to meet the SAP HANA application needs in your environment.

What does this mean for you?  You will gain the following benefits.  You can:

  • Use your existing storage and network investment in people, process, and equipment
  • Get the best use of your investment in current datacenter switching architecture
  • Create a more flexible deployment in which server, network, and storage resources can be moved between different SAP HANA and SAP business solutions applications, and even non-SAP applications 
mitigate risk and optimize operations and resources by using existing data center management processes for SAP HANA implementations
  • Gain flexibility in hardware vendor selection and SAP HANA configuration

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High performance backup storage: Cisco UCS C3160

I don’t know about you, but the thought of using a “server” as a “backup storage” resource may sound a bit odd at first. After this post, you may change your tune. Let’s dig into this a bit.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Cisco UCS Unified Computing line of servers and their associated Fabric Interconnect technologies. Additionally, you may know that there are M-Series, B-Series and C-Series form factors for the various configuration options that are in high demand for the modern data center. Which reminds me, you should check out this PDF poster of all of the current UCS components; it is my go-to resource to see how the different UCS offerings can be arranged and interconnected.

So let’s zoom in on the Cisco UCS C3160. It has a few key specifications that caught the interest of a number of keen architects in my extended professional networks which led to this notion of putting the C3160 in place as high performance and high capacity backup storage system. The most interesting specification is that the C3160 can hold up to 60 small form factor drives. Two additional small form factor SSD drives are in place for the boot volume. What this means is that these 60 drives can be used as a backup storage repository.  RAID levels are available on this configuration as well, in particular the Cisco 12G SAS Modular RAID controller supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 6. I’d recommend RAID level 6 for this large of a storage resource in terms of drive capacity (up to 4 TB) and the sheer number of drives coupled with rebuild times and have some spares in place. That being said, there is easily over 200 TB available for backup storage in one C3160 server. Let’s take the following figure:

Ciscoblog-April 2015-FigA

The C3160 provides large amounts of backup storage with excellent connectivity

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