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Technology Behind the Surface

What do Walt Disney World, The Matrix, and Big Ben have in common?  On the surface they do not share much.  Each of these is special because everything that makes them tick, pun intended, are hidden from view of the consumers.  We all intuitively know there is a great deal of complexity behind the scenes, but it is intentionally hidden from the users.  This is the behavior consumers of cloud-based services also expect, even in the datacenter.

Today vendors are working hard to make their products and services more consumable in a nearly seamless fashion.  They are accomplishing this by adding abstract control layers, open APIs with robust development kits, and enabling cross platform integrations.  The recognition is that in today’s virtualized datacenter and the Internet of everything no technology is an island any longer.  Efforts have to be made to make interoperability a priority in order to provide the polished experience that consumers have grown to expect.  The question being answered is ‘Why doesn’t X communicate with Y?’ Read More »

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Decoding UCS Invicta – Part 2

Solid State Drives (SSD) 101

In part one of this series we covered the internals of HDDs and some basic techniques manufacturers use to increase performance. In part two we are going into a deep dive of Solid State Drives (SSD), how they work, and some caveats.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

The solid-state drives (SSDs) have a simple unit where one or more bits are stored: the “NAND Flash Cell”. So, this should be easy! Right! Lets see.

The SSDs are constructed like a Lego where the smaller piece is the “Flash Cell”. We aggregate multiple “Flash Cells” into a “4KB Page”. The amount of “Flash Cells” in a “Page” depends on the amount of bits the “Flash Cell” can manage. Now, here is the first caveat, a “Page” is the minimum writable unit in SSD. Even if you need to write a single bit, you would have to write an entire “4KB Page”.

We take “Pages” and group them into “512KB Blocks”. Here comes the second caveat, “Blocks” are the minimum erasable unit in SSD.

This causes a phenomenon known as the “write amplification” effect in SSD. If you need to erase a single bit, you need to modify and entire “Page” (the minimum writable unit), but you can only erase a “Block”. The drive needs to read the “128 Pages” that made the “Block”. Next it erases the “Block”, then write back the 127 unmodified “Pages” plus the 1 modified “Page”. Read More »

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Summary: Decoding UCS Invicta Part 2

Solid State Drives (SSD) 101

In part one of this series we covered the internals of HDDs and some basic techniques manufacturers use to increase performance. In part two we are going into a deep dive of Solid State Drives (SSD), how they work, and some caveats.

The solid-state drives (SSDs) have a simple unit where one or more bits are stored: the “NAND Flash Cell”. So, this should be easy! Right! Lets see.

Click here to learn more.

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Summary: Decoding UCS Invicta Part 1

Storage 101

Less than a year ago, October 29th 2013, Cisco acquired Whiptail {http://newsroom.cisco.com/release/1279074}, a high performance scalable solid-state memory system. Shortly after its acquisition, the product lines were renamed UCS Invicta.

The idea behind UCS Invicta and its market positioning is application acceleration. This is not to be considered a traditional storage but instead a solution to enhance application performance. In fact, Cisco has made it quite clear that they have no plan to target the traditional storage market:

“This acquisition is really about the server market. It’s a significant opportunity, but distinct from the portion of the market served by traditional stand-alone storage systems. As a result, our continued engagements with NetApp on FlexPod, EMC on VSPEX and VCE on Vblock will not change. We have no current plans to expand into the broad based, traditional storage market.”

Now, just as it happened in 1998 when Cisco got into the VoIP market, and then in 2009 when it got into the server market, we need to learn a new lingo and we need to understand the pains of that market.

In this blog series, I’ll be covering some of the lingo, highlighting some of the pains the users have and describing what UCS Invicta brings to the table. Learn more here.

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Decoding UCS Invicta – Part 1

Storage 101

Less than a year ago, October 29th 2013, Cisco acquired Whiptail , a high performance scalable solid-state memory system. Shortly after its acquisition, the product lines were renamed UCS Invicta.

The idea behind UCS Invicta and its market positioning is application acceleration. This is not to be considered a traditional storage but instead a solution to enhance application performance. In fact, Cisco has made it quite clear that they have no plan to target the traditional storage market:

“This acquisition is really about the server market. It’s a significant opportunity, but distinct from the portion of the market served by traditional stand-alone storage systems. As a result, our continued engagements with NetApp on FlexPod, EMC on VSPEX and VCE on Vblock will not change. We have no current plans to expand into the broad based, traditional storage market.”

Now, just as it happened in 1998 when Cisco got into the VoIP market, and then in 2009 when it got into the server market, we need to learn a new lingo and we need to understand the pains of that market.

In this blog series, I’ll be covering some of the lingo, highlighting some of the pains the users have and describing what UCS Invicta brings to the table. Read More »

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