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Microsoft Integrated Infrastructure Solutions. Deploy, Deliver, and Scale with FlexPod and VSPEX

Like many of us I am in the wonderful city of Chicago on a warm sunny day preparing Cisco’s presence for Microsoft Ignite 2015. Starting Monday in booth #122 at McCormick Place we’ll be showcasing our leading solutions for the Microsoft stack.  Stop by if you are here!

Our Ignite focus will be on our core technologies: our UCS family for compute, the Nexus  portfolio for switching, and our industry leading integrated infrastructure solutions. In addition we will breakout some cool new Cisco technologies and solutions but you are going to have to wait until Tuesday morning to get that news!

Sunday Morning Booth Set-up and Prep

Sunday Morning Booth Set-up and Prep

 

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FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud — A Premier Integrated Platform for Mission Critical Microsoft SQL Server Implementations

This guest blog was authored by Frank Cicalese and contains summarized content from various articles that can be found on Cisco and NetApp’s sites. 

Untitled5Frank Cicalese is a Technical Solutions Architect with Cisco’s Data Center Architecture Team helping customers globally with their Microsoft solutions on Cisco UCS. Frank also worked at Microsoft for over 10 years in several positions that required deep technical knowledge such as Services Consultant, Platform Architect, Database Technology Specialist, Virtualization Technology Specialist and Datacenter Technology Specialist. Frank has in-depth technical knowledge and proficiency with database design, optimization, replication and clustering and has extensive virtualization, identity and access management and application development skills. He is also a writer member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers with published musical works that have aired on well-known cable and news networks.


 

FlexPod

Cisco and NetApp have been teaming for several years developing the FlexPod solution portfolio. This portfolio includes architectures that combine NetApp storage systems, Cisco Unified Computing System servers, and Cisco Nexus fabric into an architecture that provides a highly efficient operational model for workload deployments. This architecture is capable of hosting mission critical SQL Server implementations and is capable of providing them with the required throughput and availability for even the most demanding business requirements.

Recently, Cisco and NetApp contracted Scalability Experts to implement a performance and load test that proves my claims in the above paragraph beyond any doubt in my mind.

Scalability Experts, for readers who may not be familiar with them, is a triple Gold Microsoft Partner, and highly awarded consulting company specializing in Data Platforms, Business Intelligence and Infrastructure Solutions. Scalability Experts conducted the performance and load testing over several months using real world workloads. More information on Scalability Experts can be found at http://www.scalabilityexperts.com/

The purpose of this performance and load test was to validate that FlexPod is a premiere platform for the most demanding applications. This performance and load test implements a real world gaming workload on Microsoft SQL Server 2014. Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Edition was used to generate and run the performance and load tests. For more information about Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate Edition see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd831853.aspx. More information about Microsoft SQL Server 2014 can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server/.

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Cisco UCS Mini – Powering Microsoft Applications

Since Cisco UCS Mini launched last September, Cisco and our partners (Citrix, EMC, Microsoft, NetApp, Nimble Storage, Oracle, SAP, and VMware) have been hard at work putting together a wide variety of solutions.

On the way to tradeshow week (May 4th), I’ll be doing a brief blog series on UCS Mini tied to these shows.

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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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