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Get it and save time: Multi-UCS Domain Management simplifies your administrative life

 Guest Blog: Jacob Van Ewyk,  Jacob Van Ewyk Photo 2

Product Manager – Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS Central

One of the great benefits of the Cisco UCS solution is that it includes the management layer -- Cisco UCS Manager - as part of the Fabric Interconnects  This ensures that any UCS server connected to a Fabric Interconnect has embedded management of all software and hardware components in that domain. While this is a great solution for many customers, we recognize that some customers want multiple domains, whether for scale, redundancy, multiple locations, or a host of other reasons. While Cisco UCS Manager has an XML API that can help manage multiple domains, Cisco also offers UCS Central to help solve this challenge.

Cisco UCS Central runs as a virtual machine and centralizes many features across multiple domains -- whether local or remote domains. The first release of UCS Central, version 1.0, was released in November 2012 and provided value to customers with central fault management, ID pool management, and global operational polices. However, I am proud to announce that Cisco has released UCS Central 1.1, the follow up release that brings key functionality such as service profiles and templates, policies, statistics, and more. This release is a major step forward in providing a complete, centralized offering that provides the full capabilities of UCS Manager, but across a multi-domain environment.

How does UCS Central 1.1 make your life easier? Here are several good use cases to illustrate the value of UCS Central.

Use Case Benefit
Bring up an additional domain Additional domains can pull access service profiles and templates, policies, and ID pools from UCS Central allowing customers to bring up an additional domain in minutes instead of hours or days.
Consistent Service Profiles across domains Global Service Profiles, templates, and policies are available across multiple domains. UCS Central automates the task of replicating the information and ensuring consistency, helping to ensure compliance, simplify HA and DR deployments, and reduce troubleshooting time.
Centralized, In-depth Inventory Simplified inventory reporting and analysis across multiple domains reduces administrative overhead from hours or days to minutes.
Centralized Fault Manager With all of the faults in one place, it helps eliminate oversights, enables quicker problem resolution, and helps provide higher levels of uptime, allowing the team to support more systems with the same people.
Capacity and Performance Planning Detailed bandwidth, power, and thermal statistics that are kept for two weeks or one year instead of 24 hours in UCS Manager enable better system optimization, higher utilization levels, and fewer performance issues. Proper sizing reduces direct costs.
Firmware Updates Automatically get scheduled updates of new firmware bundles pulled into UCS Central and automatically pushed to relevant UCS Manger instances as needed,  based on policies. This reduces the administrator time when managing firmware.

 

If UCS Central 1.1 is something that you would like to try, you can download it from Cisco.com. It will work for 120 days without a license, so Read More »

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Cisco UCS in a world with lotsa data

My previous blogs have turned into a “in a world” series introducing the reader to the versatility of the Cisco Unified Computing System.  We are no strangers to the fact that data collection and data records are exploding.  The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to add a lot more data to our treasure trove.  As more objects are embedded with sensors and get the ability to communicate even more data will be collected and stored. Here at Cisco, we see the Internet of Everything (IoE), which goes beyond IoT when we add people, processes and information to the mix.  Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before—turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.  Check out http://blogs.cisco.com/ioe/how-the-internet-of-everything-will-change-the-worldfor-the-better-infographic/

Clearly the Internet of everything (IoE) will affect the data center in many ways. In this video Cisco VP Satinder Sethi, gives us a perspective on some of the challenges and how Cisco is partnering with other IT companies to solve the problems.

Organizations can transform, mine or analyze the data collected to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks. The recent NSA scandal of tacking phone records indicates it can be used to improve physical security. Read More »

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Cloud Computing and Cisco UCS

In my blog last week I introduced a series of conversations in which Mike Spanbauer, Industry analyst at Current Analysis, Cisco Executives, Jim McHugh and Brian Schwarz discussed several topics.  One of the topics they discussed was the adoption of Cloud technologies by Enterprises.

More details on the specific study that Mike alluded to in the video can be found on the Current Analysis website.  Analyst perspectives are always valuable inputs to understand the trends.  At the Gartner ITxpo in Orlando this October, David Cearley, a vice president and Gartner fellow, discussed his vision of the top 10 data center trends of 2012 , and cloud computing was prominent among them. More analyst reports on Cisco Unified Computing System can be downloaded from the Analyst reports page on Cisco.com.

If you are interested in another analyst perspective, tune in to a webcast on December 6, at 9:00 am PST , to hear from James Staten of Forrester Research on their findings and analysis of the Cloud computing frontier.

Recognizing that Cloud computing is an important trend, I wanted to see how Cisco and Cisco UCS in particular facilitate a customer’s Journey to the Cloud.  First, I noticed that InformationWeek recognized Cisco CTO Lew Tucker as a pioneer in Cloud computing.  Second, I found a document by Cisco partner GTSI on the Cloud Maturity model which looks like a roadmap.  The Journey included Consolidation, Virtualization and Automation – three things the Cisco UCS excels at.

  1. Consolidation -- The converged server and network access architecture of the UCS promotes consolidation of resources.  The notion of server pools and network port channels allows furthers consolidation and better utilization of the resources.  The ability to run a large number of virtual machines on the same server as a result of superior performance enables consolidation of workloads on the same physical infrastructure. Read More »

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Fabric Computing at scale

Tune in to the webcast, this Thursday, Nov 8, which specifically addresses large-scale fabric computing to find out more.  Research firm, Gartner, defines fabric computing as “A set of computing, storage, memory and I/O components joined through a fabric interconnect, and the software to configure and manage them”.  In a study on fabric computing adopters earlier this year, Gartner researchers called out the following three major impacts:

  • External service providers justify fabric-based infrastructure (FBI) based on operating cost savings and density (for greater revenue per square foot), while enterprises base their FBI acquisitions primarily on capital cost savings.
  • Gartner clients found that FBI’s use of templates and profiles improves resiliency because, in the event of infrastructure failure, they can recreate servers in minutes.
  • Virtually all clients with FBI in production found a reduction in time to provision from two to three months to a few hours to three days.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is leading this industry transition to fabric computing, and with Cisco UCS Central, catapulting it to an unprecedented scale.  In his blog, Todd Brannon, Unified Computing Product Marketing Senior Manager, explains UCS Central in a nutshell. Cisco UCS Central lays the foundation for disaster recovery by providing the ability to recreate the infrastructure environment in a different data center. With Cisco UCS Central, customers can manage dynamic environments efficiently without higher-level software and complex setups. With an open API, UCS Central allows users to retain existing data center processes and tools. It also provides role-based administration to support collaboration across disciplines and to accommodate necessary organizational changes.

The basic underlying configuration capabilities are provided by Cisco UCS Manager, which is embedded in the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect:

  • Policy and model-based management with service profiles and templates
  • Auto-discovery to detect, inventory and provision system components that are added
  • A comprehensive open XML API for integration and automation

Cisco UCS Single Wire Connectivity

Cisco UCS Manager 2.1 brings additional benefits to fabric computing adopters

  • Customers will get blade server benefits such as reduced cabling and ease of management on rack mount servers. Cisco UCS Virtual Interface Card (VIC) 1225 with the Nexus 2232PP Fabric Extender drastically reduces the cabling and number of switches needed for rack-mount servers as shown in the figure above.
  • Customers will also get more options on storage topology including Multi-hop FCOE

Cisco UCS is expected to reduce the total cost of ownership for fabric computing as Gartner clients have verified.  Find out how, in our webcast, which will include a customer perspective.

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Cisco Live Update on Intelligent Automation for Cloud – The Journey and How Cisco Partners Help IT Shops Get to Cloud

Being at Cisco Live was a very different experience for me this year.  Previous years I spent most of my time in the Intelligent Automation booth discussing functionality in the areas of service catalogs, portals, and orchestration workflows.  It was mostly a technical conversation of how to build private cloud catalogs and how to provision infrastructure.  This year my Cisco Live experience started off in talking to about 80 partners at the Cisco Connected Architecture Forum Summit; a very interesting crowd.   It was here that I talked about what Cisco IT and our Intelligent Automation Solutions Business Unit experience was in deploying private clouds for end users.  I discussed Cisco’s private cloud CITEIS, and our new product release Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition.   I discussed Physical and Virtual Clouds and there was much interest in the concept of a services portal and automation construct for both Physical and Virtual clouds, something that is enabled very elegantly with the UCS Manager API.  Partners asked great questions:  How quickly can they deploy this starter cloud?  How do customers chart out their journey to the cloud?  Where do they start and what do they do first?  Great conversations ensued…

Service Delivery Partners are a key strategy for the deployment of Cisco Cloud software stack.   Watch the following interview with Sydney Morgan of Cisco IT and Dave Kinsman from World Wide Technologies, a partner of ours in this area as we talk about the Journey to Cloud and our experiences on the deployment side.

I  spent the rest of Cisco Live talking to some great IT organizations about their cloud plans and journey that they are on.  Some interesting examples are:

Financial Services:  This customer of ours was focused on the deployment of cloud and the changes to the organization as they were coming off of Mainframe centric workloads, deploying them to x86 architectures on UCS.  How the application developers would use the newly minted cloud was top of mind.

Service Provider:  Many Cloud Service Providers are right at the intersection of business and technology:  what service offers can I offer out of the chute to differentiate my company?  Discussions around how our IA for Cloud technology stack and pre-built services and automation can make that easier.  We also discussed the need and desire to train up their staff to become service designers and workflow authors.

Manufacturer:  This customer is focused on operational efficiency and how automation software can reduce the mundane and routine tasks in operations.   Replication of system configuration in a standardized way allows their deep application support teams to focus on differentiating their business.

We are now in the thick of that Journey.

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