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FlexPod for the Future

I’ve been a huge fan of Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod since 2011, when I had the pleasure of working with it for the first time.  We had just gotten two brand new UCS Chassis full of B-Series blades, and I was impressed with how quickly I had them up and running.   I wired up the UCS Chassis to a Nexus 5000 switch I had in the lab, as well as a NetApp FAS2020, it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t in the same rack, but it was still a FlexPod.  When I did some firmware updates a couple of weeks later, again, it was simple process.  I could have actually scheduled it to run later, which I thought was an extremely cool feature.  It took next to no time to have everything revved to current levels (the poor UCS sat in the lab neglected for a few months before I got my hands on it).

FlexPod has come a long way since then, so let’s take a look at some of the hottest Cisco Validated Designs out there today, and a little bit more about what makes a FlexPod a FlexPod Read More »

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Seeing is believing – Graphics Conference first day brings together industry players with Cisco

No longer just the domain of gamesters and young-at-heart, the graphics industry is now providing stunning performance to all sorts of industries such as manufacturing, finance, healthcare and design. Perhaps none more so though than the Oil and Gas Industry, as companies explore in harder-to-get-at places and dangers to workers are greater than ever. The GPU Technology  Conference in San Jose this week showed how far we’ve come in accelerating energy discoveries with less time spent travelling to far off dangerous environments.

So what’s it all about? Well, for starters four partners – Cisco, NetApp, NVIDIA and Citrix have got together to change the way users of high performance graphics applications can be used in remote and local environments. Normally geophysicists and geoscientists using, say, Schlumberger or Halliburton seismic analysis software use powerful (but expensive) workstations or have to work close to large central datacenters to get the kind of performance they need to get their applications running fast enough and their graphics visualizations looking smooth and not jittery.

That’s where the four partners come in. Putting it simply Cisco and NetApp provide a best-in-class virtualized data center with ‘Flexpod’, then NVIDIA provide high-performance  GPUs (Graphics Processor Units) that slot into the Flexpod (remember it’s based on Cisco UCS so have heaps of flexibility), and then remote users can access their graphics applications on inexpensive devices (even tablets!) using VDI (Virtual desktop infrastructure) software from Citrix. This is on show in various places in the Exhibit hall, including Cisco’s booth # 219.

What does it all mean? Well, for starters, really fast loading of the datasets – no waiting around in the break room for ages! Also – remote access to the analysis of the data – so the data never leaves the datacenter so better security. Add to that the possibility that scientists can now work together using Cisco and other collaboration tools, and productivity just got a shot-in-the-arm. The demo stowed the applications running remotely – performance was indistinguishable from running locally on expensive and cumbersome workstations or on local datacenters!

Folks at the booth were impressed. “Wow – that’s graphics visualization and analysis on steroids'” said one visitor. “We could really use that where I work” said another (yes, we’ll be following that one up!).

Other highlights today were Cisco presenting the benefits of UCS to a sizable audience, and Dassault Systems, an accomplished Cisco UCS user, talking about how they use NVIDIA GRID and CISCO UCS for Graphics Virtualization. Laurent Seror, Founder and CEO, Outscale, presents. Tomorrow we’ll hear from the Ford Motor Company with a presentation entitled ‘So you want to Deploy High Resolution Graphics Desktop Virtualization’. Chip Charnley, Technical Expert, Client Technologies, Ford Motor Company will review both the process of doing, and the results of the Proof of Concept for implementing XenApp and XenDesktop that was conducted jointly by Ford Motor Company, Citrix and Cisco. Read More »

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IT Automation Eases the Cost of Doing Business

The increasing pace of business is creating high demand for IT efficiency and speed.

IT directly affects your ability to respond correctly and quickly to new opportunities.  Slow IT equates to slow business.

The latest release of Cisco UCS Director allows IT to automate the deployment of infrastructure delivering the speed and efficiency IT needs in order to support business demands.

Not familiar with Cisco UCS Director?  Briefly, this solution reduces data center complexity by replacing manual provisioning tasks with unified automated workflows that span compute, network, storage and virtualization.  But this solution doesn’t manage just Cisco products.  It unites Cisco UCS-based integrated infrastructures and third-party hardware solutions into a single management view to ensure maximum IT efficiency.  Heterogeneous management is just one of the features that makes Cisco UCS Director different.  You can learn more by going here. Read More »

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Capture New Business Opportunity with Effective Automation

The connections between your business success and data center efficiency have never been clearer or stronger. Delivering data center resources quickly to capitalize on new business opportunities or projects is a major factor for business success. The only way to expedite resource delivery is by replacing manual processes with repeatable, best-practice-based automated service consumption and delivery.

So what is getting in the way?

The first problem is inconsistent delivery of standardized infrastructure instances. Many solutions on the market today only manage virtual resources while others just support their proprietary hardware stack. Automation needs to be across all layers – and that includes networks. I believe the only way to achieve the speed and efficiency businesses desire is to manage your entire heterogeneous data center as a unified whole — holistically. Read More »

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#EngineersUnplugged S7|Ep2: FlexPod 101

In this episode, Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) and Melissa Palmer (@vmiss33) give us the highlights of the FlexPod solution, from the parts to the implementation, with plenty of real world examples.

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here:
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

Quick programming note: This is the last episode I’ll be blogging about, but never fear! There are many great episodes to come, brought to you by my friend, co-host, and colleague Lauren Friedman (@Lauren). Be sure to enjoy a marathon of episodes over the holiday break, and prepare your unicorns!

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