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New UCS Servers Expand the Portfolio: More Third Generation Fabric Computing from Cisco

June 18, 2012 at 9:29 am PST

Back in March we announced the third generation of UCS, with significant expansions to the I/O and systems management capabilities of the platform as well as a new lineup of servers.  This month we’re continuing to expand the UCS server lineup with the addition of four new models.  The latest batch of M3 systems are comprised of three Intel Xeon “EN” class machines (E5-2400 series processors) as well as a four socket “EP” (E5-2600 series) blade server.   Specifically: the UCS B22 and B420 M3 blades and the C22 and C24 M3 rack servers.  These new servers round out the UCS portfolio with an even stronger set of products optimized for scale-out and light general-purpose computing as well as a new price/performance 4S category in the mid-range.

If you prefer watching than reading , here is a nice conversation between  Intel Boyd Davis , VP & GM, Data Center Infrastructure group, Cisco Jim McHugh, VP UCS Marketing, and Scott Ciccone, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, highlighting the key benefits of these new models.

To figure out how these fit in, let’s step back and consider the broader evolution of server technology in play here:

1)  Cisco has made server I/O more powerful and much simpler.

One of the key differentiators of UCS is the way in which high-capacity server network access has been aggregated through Cisco Virtual Interface Cards and infused with built-in high performance virtual networking capabilities.   In “pre-UCS” server system architectures, one of the main design considerations was the type and quantity of physical network adapters required.  Networking, combined with computing sockets/cores/frequency/cache, system memory, and local disk are historically the primary resources considered in the balancing act of cost, physical space and power consumption, all of which are manifested in the various permutations of server designs required to cover the myriad of workloads most efficiently.  Think of these as your four server subsystem food groups.  Architecture purists will remind us that everything outside the processors and their cache falls into the category of “I/O” but let’s not get pedantic because that will mess up my food group analogy.   In UCS, I/O is effectively taken off the table as a design worry because every server gets its full USRDA of networking through the VIC:  helping portions of bandwidth, rich with Fabric Extender technology vitamins that yield hundreds of Ethernet and FC adapters through one physical device.  Gone are the days of hemming and hawing over how many mezz card slots your blade has or how many cards you’re going to need to feed that hungry stack of VM’s on your rack server.  This simplification changes things for the better because it takes a lot of complication out of the equation.

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What is the longest running item of Cisco equipment in your data center? Can you beat 13 years?!

June 18, 2012 at 4:33 am PST

Where were you in 1998? Somewhere in one of our customers, a customer booted one of our 3640 routers, and it’s been running ever since without a reboot!

It’s been running since last century! Wow.   It’s been running since around the time my daughter was born, and a good few years before my son was born!  It’s been running longer that some of our competitors have been in existence, and longer than Juniper Networks has been a publicly traded company!

I learned this from an email was passed around my office, that highlighted this remarkable evidence of reliability.  It made me wonder, in your data center, what is your longest running piece of Cisco data center equipment?

And it also reminded me of some of our best practices for network reliability, such as Cisco Smart Services, described in this short VoD:

So now for the evidence.  As you can see from the “show version” Cisco IOS output below ……

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CiscoLive 2012 and the FCoE Groundswell

June 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm PST

As the Product Manager for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), I often get asked some of the hard questions about how the technology works. Sometimes I get asked the easy questions. Sometimes -- like two nights ago -- I get asked if the standards for FCoE are done.

I’m not kidding.

My own expectations for discussing FCoE were focused around the topics and conversations that we’ve been seeing over the last year, since the last Cisco Live in 2011. Read More »

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Three Paths to Private Clouds with Cisco, EMC and VCE

June 14, 2012 at 7:37 am PST

Cisco Live 2012 has been  another great opportunity to show the power of the partner ecosystem that Cisco built to provide compelling solutions to the IT organizations, interested in deploying a Unified Data Center, and a private cloud infrastructure.

I invited this week VCE Tom Chatham to blog about the collaboration between VCE, Cisco and EMC to support workload mobility and business continuance, and EMC Brian Gracely to write about VSPEX.  But I also took advantage of the presence  at Cisco Live of EMC Parmeet Chaddha VP Partner Solutions and VCE Jay Cuthrell, Office of the CTO, to invite them to a short video panel with Cisco Senior Director  Data Center Cloud and Enterprise Solutions Shashi Kiran to talk about the different architectures that can simplify, automate and transform IT while helping customers accelerate the journey to cloud computing.

There is no doubt that the collaboration between our 3 companies over the past years has been  very productive , and today this “triad ” is able to offer to the customers 3 clear options  depending on their unique business IT needs:

  • ŸBuild Your Own—Solutions built using tested and proven products and services
  • ŸReference architectures through VSPEX—Pre-packaged reference architectures
  • ŸConverged infrastructure through joint venture VCE—Vblock
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Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) solution for Citrix XenDesktop: Different Business Use Cases

June 12, 2012 at 6:55 am PST

Desktop virtualization is one of the major initiatives at Cisco and our partnership with Citrix is flourishing as Jonathan Gilad reported on this social media platform several times.

Today I invited  Bhumik Patel , Alliance Engagement Architect at Citrix, to write about some aspects of the collaboration between Cisco and Citrix to provide the best workspace experience to our customers. Bhumik is responsible for delivering technical best practices and joint solutions on Citrix XenDesktop and Cisco VXI desktop virtualization solutions for customers and partners. He has been with Citrix since 2007 and is based out of Santa Clara; CA. Prior to this role, Bhumik was part of Citrix’s WW Consulting group leading consulting projects for several enterprise Citrix customers around the globe and has led initiatives for developing best practices while integrating Citrix and partner solutions.

Bhumik is at Cisco Live in San Diego this week and on Twitter @bhumikp and on his blog – Check Citrix booth #734.

“As a Citrix Architect implementing Desktop Virtualization solutions with Cisco VXI and Citrix XenDesktop in the field, I would like to share some of the successful business use cases that a joint solution addresses primarily from a Citrix viewpoint. Since Cisco VXI is a unique, end-to-end architectural solution integrating virtualized data center, virtualization-aware networks and virtualized collaborative workspaces for optimally delivering virtual desktops with XenDesktop, it is really built to drive multiple I.T initiatives for you at once, all leading towards a flexible, next-generation workspace. Let’s look at the VXI solution at a very high level and then a few practical use cases:

 

First and foremost benefit is with Cisco UCS providing an ideal platform for hosting Citrix XenDesktop delivering virtual desktops for organizations. With the extended memory technology providing great VM density, and the service profiles allowing customers to dynamically build and scale out their infrastructure hosting XenDesktop. UCS also provides a great end user experience even for some very large VM footprints due to the unified fabric supporting very high I/O bandwidth. The solution with UCS and XenDesktop is completely validated and tested for providing the required density numbers. I had the opportunity to contribute to the initial validations with Cisco and you can read more on it here. So the guess work is eliminated while implementing your VDI solution, which could be a huge benefit in itself.

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