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Cisco recognized as a bona fide server platform for SAP HANA by Vishal Sikka at SAP Sapphire

Over the past three years, Cisco has vaulted from the not only the leader in the networking industry, but they have become the number two blade vendor in the US and number three world-wide. This has caused some pause on the part of the top platform vendors in the industry.

Cisco is now making an impact on the application world as well. Last week at SAP Sapphire, the largest world-wide industry trade show for SAP in Orlando, Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP Executive Board, specifically called out Cisco as a SAP HANA Server Platform Vendor in addition to their world-wide leadership role in the networking space. This was significant because this clearly puts Cisco in a different category as they gain market share in the SAP Application and SAP HANA space.

The result of this announcement was clearly visible at the Cisco booth at Sapphire. Cisco was an Onyx sponsor at Sapphire and demonstrated the many solutions that Cisco has with SAP. In the booth there was SAP HANA, SAP on Vblock, SAP on FlexPod, IT Process Automation, Afaria, and Precision Retail. The Cisco UCS Server Platform, Fabric Extender and Nexus are the basis for all these solutions with SAP. The result is Lower Total Cost of Ownership on a standardized x86 platform.

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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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NEW! Cisco Announces Highly Scalable Third Generation UCS Networking Fabric

Today Cisco announced an expanded portfolio of third generation UCS Networking products that improve Datacenter scalability, performance and agility with industry leading capabilities. The announcement includes the following new products:

1. A new Fabric Interconnect (Cisco UCS 6296UP) that doubles the switching capacity of the data center fabric to improve workload density (from 960Gbps to 1.92 Tbps), reduces end-to-end latency by 40 percent to improve application performance  and provides flexible unified ports to improve infrastructure agility and transition to a fully converged fabric

2. A new Chassis I/O Module (Cisco UCS 2204XP) that offers enhanced resiliency and utilization with Port Channeling, and an option for 80 Gbps, in addition to 160 Gbps, down to each chassis (from 80Gb to 320Gb to the blade) to handle workload bursts

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Re-defining Fabric Scale: Thinking Beyond the “Box”

Today we are making a significant announcement with several new innovations across our data center and switching portfolio that showcase how our customers can build large scale-up and scale-out data center networks.  While the press release does a great job (thanks Lee!) of highlighting all the innovations across the Nexus Unified Fabric portfolio and the new ASA 1000v, two aspects of the announcement stand out quite prominently:

  1. Cisco is delivering the highest density 10GbE modular switching platform in the industry
  2. Cisco is delivering the most scalable fabric in the industry and, by extension -- on the planet! (we’re told planet sounds much cooler)

No. 1 above is fairly straightforward. With our new 2nd-generation F2 line card and Fabric 2 module, at 768 ports of 10GbE line-rate switching ports running NX-OS, the flagship Nexus 7018 in a fully-loaded configuration is simply the epitome of switch scale.

No.2 is where things get interesting, because we’re no longer thinking about just the “box” but rather, how we can weave different elements across the data center into a holistic “fabric”.  This systems-based approach focuses on multi-dimensional scale transcending the box and even the data center LAN, to span between data centers, while providing feature-rich fabric capabilities.  At 12,000+ 10GbE nodes supported as part of one Fabricpath-enabled system, and with the ability to support Fabric Extender (FEX) technology (plus L2 and L3 capabilities), this approach re-defines fabric scalability at 2X the scale and half the cost point of the next best claim in the industry. More important, it achieves this in an evolutionary manner for our 19,000+ NX-OS customers, offering investment protection for brownfield deployments while raising the bar for greenfield environments!

The Nexus platforms have been around for 3+ years, and over 500 customers have deployed FabricPath on the Nexus 7000 alone since its introduction about an year ago. It is a proven technology. With Fabricpath now coming onto the Nexus 5500 platforms, the momentum is likely to spike up with a mix of both size and scale. Like I said, things get interesting.

To make it more fun, our technical experts from the product teams have taken a data-driven approach and compared Cisco’s new innovations and our box and system-scale with others in the industry.

They looked at a couple of representative examples -- the first being, what it would take any other vendor to build a non-blocking 768-port 10GbE “switch”, with capabilities similar to what the Nexus 7000 could provide in a single chassis. The second example takes a look at what it takes to build a “fabric” with Cisco leveraging its Nexus portfolio and NX-OS to build that.

Take a look and let us know what you think. It is useful to note that most vendors in the industry today have no fabric capabilities to speak of, and the few that are attempting a systems approach, have really limited to no customer traction thus far. Our customers and key analysts tell us that Cisco has a multi-year innovation lead in this space, even as Cisco continues to focus on bringing the network, compute, storage and application services together with integrated management to drive productivity and efficiency across traditional IT and organizational silos.

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New Cisco UCS Networking Products announced at Cisco Live, 2011

On July 12, 2011 Cisco announced at Cisco Live an expanded portfolio of UCS Networking products that improves Datacenter agility, scalability, performance with industry leading capabilities. The announcement includes the following new products:

1. A new Fabric Interconnect (Cisco UCS 6248UP) that doubles the switching capacity of the data center fabric to improve workload density (from 520Gbps to 1Tbps), reduces end-to-end latency by 40 percent to improve application performance  and provides flexible unified ports to improve infrastructure agility and transition to a fully converged fabric

2. A new Chassis I/O Module (Cisco UCS 2208XP) that doubles the bandwidth to the chassis (from 40Gb to 80Gb) to improve application performance and handle workload bursts (from 80Gb to 320Gb to the blade)

3. A new Virtual Interface Card (Cisco UCS VIC 1280) that quadruples the bandwidth to the server to improve application performance (from dual 10Gb to dual 40Gb) and doubles the number of virtual interfaces to improve Virtual Machine workload density (from 128 interfaces to 256 interfaces). It also offers a choice of Hypervisor to customers by expanding VM-FEX  technology to Linux based hypervisors (KVM based on RHEL 6.1). Read More »

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