Today’s blog post is by a guest author, Adel du Toit, who is currently spearheading the effort by Cisco’s internal IT organization to deliver IT-as-a-Service internally, dubbed the Cisco IT “eStore.” Recently, the eStore team took home multiple awards, you can read more about that here. (If you’re not familiar with the eStore, be sure to check out my other blog posts regarding the eStore here and here.)
Over the last few months I had to take a few steps back and admire the passion and dedication of the team as our Vision is starting to become a reality. For those less familiar with the Cisco IT eStore, have a look at the latest customer case study here. You can also check out the demo video below:
In the last few months the eStore team has delivered IT services, to any device, simply, while achieving broad adoption while showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company thanks to Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which is the underlying foundation for our end-user storefront interface.
Delivered IT services:
We have 2 ways of delivering IT services and apps. In estore.cisco.com employees can find the IT services that one needs to order from a desktop or laptop computer. As for mobile devices, employees can go to eStore for Mobile to install the apps he or she needs to stay productive whilst on the go.
Today we have nearly 290 IT services and mobile apps that our users can choose from:
To Any Device:
It is important to embrace BYOD and at Cisco we live this every day. It was important that the store we created could be used by any device.
Below is a breakdown of the device types that have accessed both eStore over the last 6 months.
User experience is important to us and we wanted to make sure that the store provides a similar experience to what you would expect when shopping at Amazon or eBay, for example.
In both our mobile and web interface we have the ability to surface the apps and services most needed by our end users:
The Cisco IT eStore (Desktop Version)
The Cisco IT eStore (on iOS mobile)
Adding spotlight content and recommendations is important to help with findability and user experience. This was made possible by the latest release of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which introduced a next-generation user interface and powers the storefront that the eStore is built on. Be sure to check out Phillipe’s post on the latest release here.
Achieving broad adoption…
One of the most recently added features in the internal Cisco IT eStore has been the addition of desktop software for employees to download. Going forward, we expect to see around 20k unique visitors a month ordering Desktop Software from eStore. For the first time we will have a single, unified platform for both Mac and Windows users to install their software from.
In addition, during our Global Sales Conference (GSX) in Las Vegas in late August we had the requirements to support 18,000 Sales users downloading the recommended mobile apps during the event. We had to be ready to surface the apps, but also support 18k users downloading the event app in a 15 minute period!
Lots of long hours and planning later, we made sure that all of this happened seamlessly, here are a few statistics from the event:
- 89% of the GSX attendees installed eStore for Mobile
- During the event we had 5.4k average visits a day
- 81% of the attendees installed the GSX event app from the store
- 49% of the attendees also installed other apps in addition to downloading the event app
- Very few support issues (less than 40 total!)
- Our max CPU stayed below 12%
- With an average load response time of 1.7 secs
If we take a step back and also look at our overall adoption for Q4, FY14 the numbers look very healthy. Nearly 50k requisitions in the 3 months period from May to July 2014.
…While showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company
The Cisco eStore team is no stranger to awards, and we continue to add our trophy cabinet with our latest award, the Gold Stevie Winner for Information Technology Team of the Year. For more information on the latest awards, be sure to check out this blog post detailing all of the awards we won this year at the International Business Awards.
Want to learn more? We have a webinar coming up on October 8th at 8 am PDT where we will discuss best practices for delivering Enterprise IT-as-a-Service, and delve deeper into the latest developments in both the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. You can register here.
Thanks for reading. For more info be sure to follow us on Twitter @CiscoIT to learn more about the Cisco IT eStore, and follow @CiscoUM for the latest info on Prime Service Catalog.
This is the final part on the High Performance Data Center Design. We will look at how high performance, high availability and flexibility allows customers to scale up or scale out over time without any disruption to the existing infrastructure. MDS 9710 capabilities are field proved with the wide adoption and steep ramp within first year of the introduction. Some of the customer use cases regarding MDS 9710 are detailed here. Furthermore Cisco has not only established itself as a strong player in the SAN space with so many industry’s first innovations like VSAN, IVR, FCoE, Unified Ports that we introduced in last 12 years, but also has the leading market share in SAN.
Before we look at some architecture examples lets start with basic tenants any director class switch should support when it coms to scalability and supporting future customer needs
Design should be flexible to Scale Up (increase performance) or Scale Out (add more port)
The process should not be disruptive to the current installation for cabling, performance impact or downtime
The design principals like oversubscription ratio, latency, throughput predictability (as an example from host edge to core) shouldn’t be compromised at port level and fabric level
Lets take a scale out example, where customer wants to increase 16G ports down the road. For this example I have used a core edge design with 4 Edge MDS 9710 and 2 Core MDS 9710. There are 768 hosts at 8Gbps and 640 hosts running at 16Gbps connected to 4 edge MDS 9710 with total of 16 Tbps connectivity. With 8:1 oversubscription ratio from edge to core design requires 2 Tbps edge to core connectivity. The 2 core systems are connected to edge and targets using 128 target ports running at 16Gbps in each direction. The picture below shows the connectivity.
Down the road data center requires 188 more ports running at 16G. These 188 ports are added to the new edge director (or open slots in the existing directors) which is then connected to the core switches with 24 additional edge to core connections. This is repeated with 24 additional 16G targets ports. The fact that this scale up is not disruptive to existing infrastructure is extremely important. In any of the scale out or scale up cases there is minimal impact, if any, on existing chassis layout, data path, cabling, throughput, latency. As an example if customer doesn’t want to string additional cables between the core and edge directors then they can upgrade to higher speed cards (32G FC or 40G FCoE with BiDi ) and get double the bandwidth on the on the existing cable plant.
Lets look at another example where customer wants to scale up (i.e. increase the performance of the connections). Lets use a edge core edge design for this example. There are 6144 hosts running at 8Gbps distributed over 10 edge MDS 9710s resulting in a total of 49 Tbps edge bandwidth. Lets assume that this data center is using a oversubscription ratio of 16:1 from edge into the core. To satisfy that requirement administrator designed DC with 2 core switches 192 ports each running at 3Tbps. Lets assume at initial design customer connected 768 Storage Ports running at 8G.
Few years down the road customer may wants to add additional 6,144 8G ports and keep the same oversubscription ratios. This has to be implemented in non disruptive manner, without any performance degradation on the existing infrastructure (either in throughput or in latency) and without any constraints regarding protocol, optics and connectivity. In this scenario the host edge connectivity doubles and the edge to core bandwidth increases to 98G. Data Center admin have multiple options for addressing the increase core bandwidth to 6 Tbps. Data Center admin can choose to add more 16G ports (192 more ports to be precise) or preserve the cabling and use 32G connectivity for host edge to core and core to target edge connectivity on the same chassis. Data Center admin can as easily use the 40G FCoE at that time to meet the bandwidth needs in the core of the network without any forklift.
Or on the other hand customer may wants to upgrade to 16G connectivity on hosts and follow the same oversubscription ratios. . For 16G connectivity the host edge bandwidth increases to 98G and data center administrator has the same flexibility regarding protocol, cabling and speeds.
For either option the disruption is minimal. In real life there will be mix of requirements on the same fabric some scale out and some scale up. In those circumstances data center admins have the same flexibility and options. With chassis life of more than a decade it allows customers to upgrade to higher speeds when they need to without disruption and with maximum flexibility. The figure below shows how easily customers can Scale UP or Scale Out.
As these examples show Cisco MDS solution provides ability for customers to Scale Up or Scale out in flexible, non disruptive way.
“Good design doesn’t date. Bad design does.” Paul Rand
This week is exciting, had opportunity to sit on round table with Cisco’s largest customers on an open ended architecture discussion and their take on past, present and future. More on that some other time let’s pick up last critical aspect of High Performance Data Center design namely flexibility. Customers need flexibility to adapt to changing requirements over time as well as to support diverse requirements of their users. Flexibility is not just about protocol, although protocol is very important aspect, but it is also about making sure customers have choice to design, grow and adapt their DC according to their needs. As an example if customers want to utilize the time to market advantage and ubiquity of Ethernet they can by adopt FCoE.
Moreover flexibility has to be complemented by seamless integration where customers can not only mix and match the architectures/protocols/speeds but also evolve from one to other over time with minimal disruption and without forklift upgrades. Investment protection of more than a decade on Cisco director switches allows customer to move to higher speeds, or adopt new protocols using the existing chassis and fabric cards. Finally any solution should allow scalability over time with minimal disruptions and common management model. As an example on MDS 9710 or MDS 9706 customers can choose to use 2/4/8 G FC, 4/8/16G FC, 10G FC or 10G FCoE at each hop.
Let’s review each aspect of flexibility at a time.
Cisco SAN product family is designed to support Architecture flexibility. From smallest to the largest customers and everything in-between. Customers can grow from 12 16G ports to 48 ports on a single 9148S. They can grow from 48 16G Line Rate Ports to 192 16G Line Rate with MDS 9710 and upto 384 ports on MDS 9710. Finally having seamless FC and FCoE capability allows customers to use these directors as edge or core switches . With the industry leading scalability numbers, customers can scale up or scale out as per their needs. Two examples show how customers can use Director class switches (9513, 9506, 9710 or 9706) based Architecture for End of Row designs. Similarly customers can orchestrate Top of Rack designs using Nexus fixed family or MDS 9148S.
If they want to continue with FC for foreseeable future or have sizable FC infrastructure that they want to leverage (and have option to go to FCOE) then MDS serves their needs. Similarly they can support edge core designs, and edge core edge designs or even collapsed cores if so desired.
If customers need converged switch then Nexus 2K, 5K and 6K provides the flexibility, ability to collapse two networks, simplify management as shown in the picture below.
Customers can mix and match the FC speeds 2G/4G/8G, 4G/8G/16G on the latest MDS 9148S, and MDS 9700 product family. With all the major optics supported, customers can pick and choose optics for the smallest distance to long distance CWDM and DWDM solutions in addition to SW, LW and ER optics choices. In addition MDS 9700 supports 10GE optics running 10G FC traffic for ease of implementing 10G DWDM solutions based on ubiquitous 10GE circuits.
FC is a dominant protocol with DC but at the same time a lot of customers are adopting FCoE to improve ROI, simplify the network or simply to have higher speeds and agility. Irrespective of the needs and timeline MDS solution allows customer to adopt FCoE today or down the road without forklift upgrades on the existing MDS 9700 platforms while leveraging the existing FC install base.
The diagram above shows how customers can collapse LAN and SAN networks on the edge into one network. The advantage of FEX include reduced TCO, simplified operations (Parent switch provides a single point of management and policy enforcement and Plug-and-play management includes auto-configuration).
Another example to allow non transition less disruptive for customers Cisco has supported the BiDi optics on the Nexus product family. This allows customers to use the the same same OM2, OM3 and OM4 fabrics for 40G FCoE connectivity and still don;t have to rip and replace cabling plant.
For customer who are not ready to converge networks but want to achieve faster time to market, higher performance, Ethernet scale economies can use separate LAN and SAN network and use FCoE for that dedicated SAN .
Coupled with broad Cisco product portfolio means that customers have the maximum flexibility to tune the architecture precisely to their needs. Cisco product portfolio is tightly integrated, all the SAN switches use same NxOS and DCNM provides seamless manageability across LAN, SAN, Converged infrastructure to Fabric Interconnects on UCS.
From the last 3 blogs lets quickly capture what are the unique characteristics of MDS 9700 that allows for High Performance Scalable Data Center Design.
If you aren’t familiar with the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog, this intro video provides a great overview:
Now we are very proud to announce that Cisco IT has won not just one more, but four new honors: the 2014 “Stevie” Awards from International Business Awards.
The Stevie Awards, which honor and generate public recognition of achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals, feature some of the most exciting work in business and information technology.
This year, the team behind the Cisco IT eStore was recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for Information Technology Team of the Year. As this internal implementation of Cisco Prime Service Catalog grows in scale, this team has been working to rapidly deploy new services (whether desktop applications or data center infrastructure) and new capabilities (e.g. a new mobile interface) to provide a single, one-stop shop for all IT services at Cisco. It’s effectively the internal “IT app store” within Cisco for all employees.
For more information on the Cisco IT eStore initiative, you can check out the case study here, my write-up on the eStore here, Adel du Toit’s blog post on the Cisco IT initiative here, and a great overview session from our recent Cisco Live conference here.
Cisco IT also took home a Silver Stevie Award for their innovative work on our internal Lightweight Application Environment (LAE) – an innovative platform-as-a-service deployment that’s also powered by Cisco Prime Service Catalog as well as other tools including Jenkins and OpenShift.
Within Cisco, we have a private cloud – dubbed the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) – that offers infrastructure-as-a-service with ready-to-go server, storage, and network resources for development teams. Together, CITEIS and the Lightweight Application Environment allow Cisco application developers to focus on application coding and testing, not on the underlying infrastructure or platform. The LAE is called “lightweight” because the ordering and provisioning processes places very light demands on developers.
For both and CITEIS and LAE, the eStore (Cisco Prime Service Catalog) gives developers an easy-to-use, self-service portal for ordering and provisioning their application environment – providing on-demand access to the infrastructure as well as the required operating system, middleware, and system functions without manual provisioning by Cisco IT. All the resources they need are delivered just a few minutes after the developer orders them. Here’s an example screenshot:
You can read more about how Cisco IT enabled this Lightweight Application Environment in this blog post here.
The final two Stevie Awards for Cisco IT this year were a Silver & Bronze medal for the Information Technology Executive of the year – awarded to our very own V C Gopalratnam (Cisco IT Vice President) and Michael Myers (Cisco’s Senior Director of Information Systems for Cloud Orchestration and Platform Service) respectively.
V C and Michael have played key roles in both the aforementioned CITEIS and LAE initiatives, enabling IaaS and PaaS via the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. We’re excited that these executives are being recognized for their leadership, and we look forward to what lies ahead for the Cisco IT and eStore team going forward.
Superior Platforms, Scale, and Operational Simplicity
Data Center trends like Virtualization, Solid State Drives, DC consolidation and Data Explosion are putting a tremendous amount of strain on the infrastructure. These challenges need targeted and multifaceted approach. It has to be holistic solution to the problems rather than point products for each unique problem. Data Centers require improvements in performance, flexibility, scalability, and reliability and ease of management. To address that Cisco revamped the MDS product line, the journey we started last year when we introduced 9710 and 9250i.
9710 – Director Class Switch with 3x the performance of any director, 384 ports of line rate 16G FC, highest reliability and flexibility.
9250i – Services Appliance supporting 10G FCIP, 16G FC and 10G FCoE in addition to IO Acceleration, Data Mobility Migration in compact 2 RU form factor.
We had a great success with the product line with steepest ramp and amazing customer feedback. Building on the success we have added new members to the product family and extended the innovation to allow for simpler management and scalable deployments.
a) Three New Products
MDS 9148S – Industries’ most versatile affordable 1RU switch with High-Performance, Easy of Deployment, Enterprise-class features
MDS 9706 -- Unprecedented investment protection with high performance, reliability and multi-protocol flexibility
High Density line rate 10G FCoE Card -- For customers to adopt high density FCoE in incremental non-disruptive fashion on the existing FC footprint without forklift upgrades.
b) New Scalable Deployment Options
Much Higher Scalability for SAN Infrastructures.
Dynamic FCoE over Fabric Path
Data migration enhancements for speed, scale and resiliency
c) New Management Features
Hardware based FC Congestion Detection and Recovery
Integration with Industry leading Platforms
End to End Visibility
Switch Health Score
With the addition of new members Cisco not only has best of the breed products but also broadest product portfolio. This allows customers to design the SAN precisely to their needs from small departmental SANs to the largest enterprises, from traditional LAN, SAN networks to fully converged fabric and everything in between.
Lets look at the capabilities of each product in little more detail
Cisco MDS 9148S: High-Performance, Easy to Deploy, Enterprise-class Fabric Switch
Versatile: 9148S pay as you grow model allows customers to start from small base and grow . It allows customers to grow from 12 Ports to 24, 36 and finally 48 without any rip and replace. It allows customers to go from 2/4/8G to 16G FC speeds. It is not only the most affordable switch shipping today across all the possible configurations but with 2x the range of ports it allows unparalleled scalability for future growth.
Ease of use: Power On Auto provisioning which allows 9148 and 9148S to automate switch setup. From getting DHCP, to downloading and applying the software to the final configuration is done automatically. Quick configuration wizard allows the box to be configured in an easy way. It shares the same NxOS as rest of the MDS and Nexus products. Power on Auto Provisioning (POAP) is important for large scale data centers where 9148S will be used as Top of the Rack (ToR) switch and distributed throughout the data center. This saves customer to go from box to box with the serial cable and program them individually. It allows for rapid, error free and consistent provisioning.
Enterprise Class switch: It offers the rich Enterprise features like non-disruptive software upgrade,32 Virtual SANs (VSANs), Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR), QOS, PortChannels, N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), N-Port Virtualization (NPV), Comprehensive Security in addition to redundant power supplies and fans. Its first of the kind switch in the industry to allow hardware based slow drain detection and recovery. It has back to front airflow.
Customer Use Case: Customer will use the 9148S to design small SAN environments like departmental SANs. Larger Enterprises will use 9148S as ToR Switch for ease of cabling and ease of Management. In addition to that 9148S will be used for BC/DR or remote locations. Pay as you go model is very attractive to customers as it allows them to grow the port count from 12 to 48 without any price penalty as their network demands grow.
Cisco MDS9706: Extending MDS 9710 Director Qualities to a Smaller Form Factor
It is the highest performance director in the industry. It provides 3X the bandwidth compared to any compact director in the industry. Not only it provide 192 ports line rate performance at 16G but it is designed to provide line rate performance at 32G FC and 40G FCoE when those line cards are introduced without the forklift upgrades using the same type of fabric cards. With 6 fabric cards it provides 1.5Tbps of bandwidth per slot.
In addition to that this is industries first class of directors to offer Redundancy on all critical components including fabric cards. Smaller failure domain, Forward error correction, multi-point CRC checks, predictable and consistent performance for both latency and throughput.
Small to medium enterprises will use 9706 as Middle of the row and end of row switch in addition line rate 16G performance allows it to be used for connectivity to targets in addition to host connectivity. It will be used for both edge core and edge-core-edge designs.
In addition to the pod like deployments where 9RU form factor and 192 ports of line rate at 16G is very attractive.
Some of the specs of the switch are enumerated below
1.5 Tbps per slot switching capability
192 ports of 16G FC line rate today with 100% head room to grow to 32G FC) without forklift upgrade
Industries Highest Reliability
N+1 Fabric redundancy, smaller failure domains, Forward Error Correction, CRC error checks at multiple points, In service software upgrades, Crossbar design with central arbitration and Virtual Output Queuing ensure customers not only get highest availability but also predictable and consistent throughput independent of the traffic profile.
With ability to support both FC and FCoE line cards. With capability to support 2/4/8/10/16G FC and 10G FCoE today and performance to support 32G FC and 40G FCoE on the same footprint.
Industry’s Highest-Density FCoE Module on a FC Director
With 48 ports this has the highest port density and greatest flexibility in the industry. Without any restrictions Cisco customers can now orchestrate FC, FCoE and mixed solutions. FCoE line card afford customers ability to design FC solutions and incrementally deploy FCoE without forklift upgrades and meeting the same features, reliability and availability as afforded by FC.
In addition to hardware we added extensive capabilities to enable small size to cloud scale deployments.
To support large scale out and scale up deployment models we have increased the scalability limits for the SAN infrastructure. The industry leading scalability numbers allow Cisco customer’s unprecedented future proofing and scalability to Scale out or Scale-up.Finally the Data Mobility Migration has 2x the speed and 8x the scale and higher resiliency.
Simplifying SAN Management
In addition to enhanced capabilities in Cisco tools MDS family is integrated with industry standard tools to provide faster configurations like automated zoning. Some of the examples of the tools are UCS Director, EMC ViPR, Microsoft System Center VMM and IBM PpowerVC.
To address complexity in the data-centers Cisco is focused on SAN Management simplification. First and foremost that is top of mind for customers is slow drain. If there are slow draining devices in the network it chokes the entire fabric. These conditions are transient, extremely difficult to isolate, debug and fix. To detect and recover for these conditions Cisco introduced Slow Drain Detection and Recovery in software in previous generation of devices. Now with the new products we have provided the support for these devices to run the slow drain detection and recovery in the hardware rather than waiting for software to come around polling individual ports every 100 ms which is a life time in the data center. As the table below shows with hardware based slow drain the detection speed has increased 100 times and recovery is of the order of nano seconds rather than 100ms.
In addition to that Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) provides end to end visibility from hosts (virtual or Physical) through switches (MDS or Nexus) into the storage arrays independent of the protocol. DCNM is single pane of glass visibility into the Data Center for both SAN and LAN.
Host Path Redundancy Analysis checks the network every 24 hours or customer designated interval if there is end to end dual paths from Host to the target. It checks against port down situations, VSAN mismatches, VSAN Segmentation, LUN mismatches as well as makes sure both the ports are not on the same line cards. Similar activity that used to take months is now completed on the fly every 24 hours reducing risk and time to repair. Further more administrators are not surprised by an outage as they have complete visibility for the dual paths. Furthermore having both the paths up allows to mitigate any silent failures as well as avoid outages if one of the SAN fails.
Switch health score is another unique capability of DCNM to track switch health over time. It allows customer to quickly determine level of risk, isolate and fix the alerts resulting in low health score and track the health of the SAN over time.
As I started the discussion today Data Centers need a holistic approach to solving the challenges of the data center. Customers not only need higher performance, investment protection, lower opex and capex, reliability but also ease of management and tightly integrated end to end solution. The solutions and capabilities I described allows us to solve the challenges faced by data centers not only today for the years to come. We introduced MDS products in 2002 and since then we have introduced industries first innovation, just few examples out of that are enumerated below. We will continue to innovate in this space for the next decade.
Sr. Product Manager, DCBU
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”