In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Cisco’s Dominick Delfino (@domdelfino) and VCE’s Trey Layton (@treylayton) take on a number of announcements from VCE, and trending in the data center space. Roll the tape:
Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Where do you stand? Is OpenStack Enterprise ready? Thoughts, comments, or feedback? Join the conversation @CiscoDC.
I have been with Cisco for more than 20 years and have seen incredible growth and change over these two decades – including hundreds of acquisitions that resulted in varying degrees of success for our business. With this recent Cloupia acquisition being strategic to data center management, I thought this would be an opportune time to lend my voice, create a blog, and join the conversation. The increasingly rapid rate of change for data center technology makes this ripe for many interesting blogs, and I hope will spur some commentary from readers. I may have to occasionally throw in some mention of the New York Yankees from time to time – which may also insight some colorful feedback as well.
As we have seen over the past decade, virtualization has transformed the data center as much as any other single technology. Virtualization has brought flexibility and agility to the data center, while reducing the capital expenses required to stand up and maintain the physical environments. This evolution has transformed the value associated with being able to manage complex data center environments through software.
Virtualization is not a free lunch
However, as is the case with many evolutions, these changes have introduced new challenges for IT. The single largest operational cost of managing data centers today is the cost of management and administration of virtual servers. So in many respects the benefits and capital cost savings of virtualization have placed even greater pressure on the ever shrinking IT operational budget.
Why is this happening if virtualization allows users to manage through flexible software? The cause is that virtual environments and assets need to be connected to the underlying physical devices. Often times as dynamic virtualization environments change rapidly, IT staffs are strained to update and reconfigure the underlying connections to the physical devices.
A single pane of glass to manage both worlds
A differentiated approach to help IT organizations more effectively manage the data center is essential to addressing their challenges, and key to that is how physical and virtual environments must be managed together while always aware of each other’s state.
Just as software controls the virtual environment, it should also be connected to the underlying physical devices and the connectivity to virtual environments. Cisco has transformed the way IT manages the relationship between virtual assets and their underlying physical devices. With software such as UCS Manager and Cloupia, IT can dynamically manage physical and virtual assets from a single pane of glass.
Cloupia is the most recent acquisition for Cisco’s Data Center business and is truly a game changer. As our customers look to migrate from standalone infrastructure to a virtual world, to private cloud and hybrid cloud , as well as public cloud, this easy-to-deploy infrastructure management provides provisioning for the physical AND the virtual, across the server, the network, and storage.
Listen to my recent conversation with Dominick Delfino, Sr. Director, leading our Global Data Center Architecture Technology team during Cisco Live Europe in London.
Domain 7 in our Cisco Domain TenSM framework for data center transformation is what we call “Platform”. More specifically, this term refers to the “software platform” upon which your business applications will run. In short, this area is where we examine operating systems, databases and other types of middleware and help you figure out your strategy, architectural decisions and implementation plans in these areas, to help you drive a more successful cloud or data center project. Let’s discuss this area in more detail.
First, though, if you are new to the Cisco Domain Ten, please check out my “Cisco Domain Ten: The Story So Far” summary blog I published recently. Additionally, earlier this week, we ran a public webinar, where some of my colleagues in the Cisco Data Center and Cloud Services team gave their perspectives on Cisco Domain Ten. If you missed this and their very practical insights, please do catch up on the Cisco Domain Ten webinar recording.
More and more this novel idea of user classifications and workload profiles is being used to separate VDI user allocations. I’ve worked with many customers who prefer to stack rank their users based on the importance of their role/job function and the typical applications that user needs in their role as a means to (hopefully) gain a more appropriate VDI resource allocation. Again – this is a great idea and a good excuse for organizations to take a long hard look at their users and the applications they use day to day.
In case you are finding this blog for the first time, we have been attempting to defy blog physics and host a series of blogs – this requires the use of a manually updated table of contents:
- VDI “The Missing Questions” #6: What do you really gain from a 2vCPU virtual desktop?
- VDI “The Missing Questions” #7: How memory bus speed affects scale
- VDI “The Missing Questions” #8: How does memory density affect VDI scalability?
- VDI “The Missing Questions” #9: How many storage IOPs?
Most of the time the three main items separating user classes are:
- vCPU quantity
- Memory allocation
- Disk space
The first sort of pitfall that I see occasionally is too much granularity in the workload profiles. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a good view into your users and applications that you see the need to support and manage 5 different user classifications – that’s great news! But most of the time it comes down to 3 particular types of user classifications:
- Gold (Multiple vCPU’s, a lot more RAM and disk space than other folks)
- Silver (Could be a couple of vCPU’s, usually more RAM than the OS calls for, can be required for specialized apps, etc)
- Bronze (These are almost always single vCPU and minimum amount of RAM profiles)
A good sort of buildup approach to start determining your workload profile requirements must take into consideration the users and compute requirements based on the apps those users will be running. In most cases, the Operating System you choose will be the foundation to start your buildup approach. The aging Windows XP platform is quickly being consumed by Windows 7 in the corporate workspace. There are few folks out there continuing to stand up net new systems for users and using Windows XP. This is for a number of reasons – most new PC’s and their manufacturers (not to mention this little company called Microsoft) are not developing drivers and supporting the workhorse XP operating system. Let’s be honest, Windows XP came out in 2001. Windows XP is older than my twin girls that are in 4th grade! It was a good ride, but it must come to an end. You probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned Windows 8 yet. After all, it is the newest desktop Operating System (OS) that Microsoft has out. There are a couple of reasons for this: Most corporate users don’t jump onto the latest OS because they have to support many users, must test/qualify their applications on a new operating system and as we all know – anything new usually has fixes and enhancements to follow. Plus, as a general rule of thumb, the first Service Pack must come out before anyone will give real consideration to mass deployment in any organization. Beyond the general newness of the Windows 8 OS, it will be interesting to see how “Corporate America” will integrate the new look and feel of Windows 8. With that being said, we have Windows 7 which came out in 2009 and already has Service Pack 1 with a host of subsequent updates. This is the OS that most folks are planning their VDI environments for. Per Microsoft, the requirements for Windows 7 are as follows: