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Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Cisco UCS Servers

February 15, 2013 at 4:30 am PST

Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Cisco UCS

A good segue to Fabric-Based Infrastructure is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Blade Servers (March 2012), by Andrew Butler and George Weiss.  To fully understand the tie in with Fabric-Based Infrastructure I suggest reading the section on Cisco UCS.  Their observations are important because they tie directly to the subject of this blog.   You will also get a better feel for why Cisco UCS is having such rapid customer adoption worldwide.

The emphasis for Fabric-Based Infrastructure is delivering value-add functionality that enables data centers to operate more efficiently and cost effectively.  A good place to start is by looking at this Gartner report by George Weiss and Donna Scott -- Fabric-Based Infrastructure Enablers and Inhibitors Through the Lens of User Experiences (April 2012).  In this short research note, George and Donna go into the key drivers and reasons for the FBI architecture and the benefits that their clients have seen.  My take away for the key benefits of Fabric-Based Infrastructure are:

  1. OpEx and CapEx savings
  2. Increased VM density
  3. Time-To-Deploy reduced from months to hours via automation and standards implementation;
  4. Reduce cost and complexity and improve agility;
  5. Improved resiliency by recreating servers and connectivity in minutes using profiles and templates

While reading about a technology innovation is helpful, actually listening to experts discuss the architecture and give their individual perspectives can be more so.

I suggest that you make time to listen to this 34 minute video with featured guest Donna Scott (a VP and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner) and Paul Perez (VP and CTO for the Data Center Business Group at Cisco Systems) -- Fabric-Based Infrastructure (FBI) in Today’s Data Center.  Donna looks at the motivations and impact of customers moving to a Fabric Based Infrastructure with an eye toward what is important to adopters.  Then Paul discusses Cisco UCS innovations and how they let FBI adopters achieve their goals.  If you would like, you can download a podcast of the video from theCisco Analyst Reports page.

From my perspective the truly compelling part of this story is the extent to which Cisco UCS makes the promise of Fabric-Based Infrastructure a reality, while emphasizing safety, security and the risk reduction.  These are critical considerations in today’s IT environment.  Cisco continues to be a key innovator in data center technology and is continuing to grow from strength to strength, delivering value and benefit for your long term application solution needs.

Below is how I think a Fabric-Based Infrastructure should look.  Of course I am predisposed.  Cisco UCS architecture provides the ability to define and manage over 120 different server identity parameters via service profile templates, using a native tool with Roles Based Access Controls and across geographies.  UCS enables you to have a distributed environment that is centrally managed.  Your admins can also use CLI, custom designed tools / scripts, or third party tools as they choose to meet the needs of their current management structure. Cloyd

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Cisco UCS Delivers the Best 2-socket SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) on Linux Benchmark Results

Cisco announced the best 2-socket SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) on Linux Benchmark result with the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) delivering impressive scalability and performance to growing deployments of SAP Business Suite applications.

Cisco’s results on the SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) Benchmark support for up to 6,530 concurrent users and a 35,680 SAP Application Performance Standard (SAPS) score derived from the processing of 713,670 order line items per hour and 2,141,000 dialog steps per hour.

The benchmark results successfully demonstrate how a Cisco UCS® B200 M3 Blade Server delivers high scalability and low latency to SAP Business Suite solutions by supporting up to 6,530 concurrent users in a Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Sybase ASE environment. High-performance blade servers and network fabrics enables application throughput optimization as Cisco UCS handles many SAP application tasks, with results showing that the system can process 713,670 order line items per hour or 2,141,000 dialog steps per hour.

 The tested configuration consisted of a Cisco Unified Computing System™ chassis equipped with one Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3. The server was configured with two 2.90-GHz, 8-core Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2690 CPUs and 256 GB of 1600-MHz memory. The blade server ran both the SAP Business Suite application software and the 64-bit Sybase ASE Server 15.7. The SAP Enhancement Package 5 for SAP Enterprise Resource Planning 6.0 was used in this scenario. One LSI 400GB SLC WarpDrive provided solid-state disk capacity for database log files that require low-latency write access.

The “Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server: Scalable Performance and Capacity for SAP Business Suite Applications” Performance Brief provides additional benchmark configuration details.Official Benchmark Certification is available at the  SAP® Standard Application Benchmarks certification web site.

 Cisco UCS deployed with Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® provides additional flexibility, efficiency and savings. Combined with enterprise-class open source operating system Cisco UCS servers are the perfect foundation for any standards-based infrastructure solution. The LSI 400GB SLC WarpDrive enables storage performance to be decoupled from storage capacity. Using solid-state disk technology and intelligent caching software, the LSI 400GB SLC WarpDrive integrates a powerful new memory tier that is uniquely designed to accelerate in-server application performance for database workloads.

 By deploying SAP Business Suite on Cisco UCS configured with Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, LSI solid-state storage and running Sybase ASE Server, IT departments can support more users and accelerate response. IT departments can choose from a full range of Cisco UCS blade and rack server models to scale deployments further with larger servers, or add servers, to create scale-out deployments with a small footprint. These innovations and a dramatic reduction in the number of physical components demonstrate Cisco’s commitment to delivering systems that provide value to SAP deployments.

Please check the SAP Press Release covering this benchmark for additional details: “SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise Scores Top Two-Processor and Four-Processor Linux Performance Results on Two-Tier SAP SD Standard Application

 Girish Kulkarni

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Unified Computing System 

gikulkar@cisco.com

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Server Management – Critical consideration for data center automation and orchestration

January 18, 2013 at 11:46 am PST

I wish the topic of Server management was as juicy as Lance Armstrong’s confession or as intriguing as Manti Te’os girlfriend hoax, but it is NOT.  It is, however, intertwined with two of the domains– 1) infrastructure management and 2) automation and orchestration described in the Cisco Domain Ten model. Server management was also one of the topics in a series of discussions with Mike Spanbauer from Current Analysis.

Cisco UCS Management addresses the problems of complexity and scaling which the panel discussed.  Service profiles ease the deployment of policy based server management and simplify routine setup tasks as well as server repurposing tasks within the typical server lifecycle.  The Cisco UCS is architected for automation from the very core with an open API.   The operational benefits can usually be quantified in $$ and cents as some of these customers have experienced.

Travelport   -  “86 percent savings in total support hours”

Hendrick Automotive Group -- “Boost IT staff productivity by more than 30 percent”

Xerox -   “Staff productivity has improved 20 percent…”

Peak10  - “We can certainly quantify the impact Cisco UCS has had on our operations: the benefits are clearly there…”

To create an effective computing platform that supports mission-critical applications and cloud-computing environments, automation and efficiency are basic requirements. With traditional rack and blade servers, the operational complexity of managing discrete infrastructure Read More »

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A Look Back at 2012: Evolution of Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI)

As 2012 came to a close, I found myself looking back not only on the events of world at large but also on just how much progress we have made here at Cisco with the Cisco VXI Smart Solution. I took a moment to reflect on the incredible value VXI delivered to our customers last year.

Since its inception in 2010, the Cisco VXI Smart Solution has been at the center of successful virtual desktop initiatives. VXI brings together compute and collaboration in a complete solution and lets people seamlessly experience their desktops anywhere--on any device. I am very pleased to say that we have more than 1,000 VXI customers and that number is growing. With every new release, VXI has evolved with innovations that maximize performance, scalability, security and user experience while minimizing complexity and risk.

In 2012, we delivered major enhancements across the solution. We introduced optimization that reduces storage costs--often one of the biggest investments in a desktop virtualization program. We have enhanced data center performance and scalability with the remarkably successful Cisco UCS, or Cisco Unified Computing System. Now customers can easily scale from 500 to 29,000 virtual desktops on a single system by simply adding blades. The advantage of these performance enhancements becomes very obvious when large user groups are logging on at the same time—just imagine a call center at 8 am on a Monday.

Security is always at the top of the list for any organization thinking about virtualization. In 2012, Cisco VXI enhanced security for end users with support for Cisco AnyConnect VPN and single sign-on with Citrix Receiver. Security policy was also improved with integration of Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) into the solution. ISE gives customers greater control with policy-based security services for both corporate and employee devices, protecting organizations from data loss, compliance issues, loss of revenue and brand damage.

The VXI Smart Solution has always been a leader in user experience for desktop virtualization. We pioneered a new collaboration architecture for voice and video by eliminating the primary cause of poor quality in virtual desktop environments--namely the hairpin effect. We went even further this year by integrating Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Software, which reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to deliver workspace traffic over the WAN by up to 70%. Now, people are able to collaborate with voice and video calling on their virtual desktops – or as we like to call it– the Unified Workspace.

Complementing the VXI technologies are comprehensive design guides, services, support and our technology partner ecosystem. The Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) for VMware and for Citrix give our customers an end-to-end blueprint for implementation and they are updated with every release to facilitate success. To further assure a premium experience and exceptional flexibility, we have expanded our ecosystem of technology partners to include smartcards, endpoints and accessories.

While it gives me much satisfaction to reflect on the past 12 months I am even more enthusiastic about what’s in store for VXI in 2013. Right off the bat, you’ll hear about the next chapter in the evolution of the VXI Smart Solution with our upcoming announcement. Join us on January 17 to learn what’s new.

Phil

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Was 2012 Year of the Converged Infrastructure Solutions?

December 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm PST

As we got past the Mayan Apocalyse day and as 2012 comes to an end, a question to reflect upon is if this has been the year of the Converged Infrastructure Solutions.   Incidentally, use of these solutions by data centers was a topic of discussion on a panel moderated by Jim McHugh last month.

Just so we are on the same page, Converged Infrastructure Solutions are those which have integrated servers (CPU & Memory), server virtualization (hypervisor) and storage with the necessary network access into a single entity or logical unit.  Examples are the VCE Vblock, NetApp FlexPod, Hitachi Data Systems UCP, IBM PureFlex System and HP CloudSystem  (all names are trademarks of the respective companies).  Even Dell has started marketing converged systems.  The term pre-integrated has to be dissected carefully.  In some cases the precise choices on server, storage array and the hypervisor have already been made by the vendor.  In others, there is a choice on these infrastructure components and the solution is a reference design with tested scenarios.  For instance, the Vblock is a fully integrated and tested solution with Cisco UCS for servers and network access, Cisco MDS 9148 storage switches, EMC VNX series storage and VMware virtualization.  The misunderstanding on converged solutions is deep enough that an IBM PureFlex video goes on to compare the UCS Manager (manages only the UCS components) to the PureFlex management software, when in reality it should be compared with the Vblock management software. Read More »

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