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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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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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#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: engineersunplugged.com
  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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#EngineersUnplugged S7|Ep1: SAP HANA 101

In this episode of Engineers Unplugged, Tony Harvey (@tonyknowspower) and Craig Sullivan (@craigsullivan70) discuss the role of storage in SAP HANA. How does big data impact you? Watch and learn.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmZwq1UCo8w

Thinking about unicorns.

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: engineersunplugged.com
  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.

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Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) Case Study features Cisco, NetApp and SAP along with Benefits

Many parts of the world are undergoing structural reform in terms of their utilities and services, and Electrical Utilities are no exception. Privatization was opening up both opportunities and challenges for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC). “With greater competition on the horizon, the company needed to push its efficiency to the next level”, says a new Cisco case study that talks about the business challenges and how Cisco is helping EAC address them.

As the case study mentions, EAC uses SAP applications for almost every area of business, from materials and warehouse management to enterprise resource planning, finances, and human resources. By improving performance of these SAP applications, EAC realized that it could boost productivity and help departments run smoother across the organization. So that’s what it’s doing.

EAC Quote

 

So  EAC turned to Cisco and our partners to provide a solution that could help EAC take cycles out of the business whilst still maintaining agility and resilience and allowing them to scale for the future. That solution has, at the heart of it, the Cisco FlexPod environment, built around Cisco® Unified Data Center solutions and NetApp storage (supported via the FlexPod Cooperative Support Model), and helps get gets the most out of SAP applications.

Some pretty compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) numbers are expected, along with other valuable business benefits as outlined in the case study:

EAC TCO Graphic

  • Reports that used to take 24 hours to complete take far less time – great for managers to get visibility into the business sooner
  • Faster closing of monthly financial periods – faster visibility into the Utility’s performance
  • Faster migration of user applications down from two to three months to just one month so users can be up-and-running with less delay.
  • Backups that used to take 40 hours can now be completed in only 45 minutes, getting systems up to speed faster than ever.

All-in-all an impressive improvement. I’ll leave the last word to Phanos Kolokotronis, IT manager and CIO, Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) as he states in the case study:

EAC IT Quote

To read more about EAC, the business, and the solution offered with product lists from Cisco and the Cisco Partners (which includes Oracle for the database along with the Oracle Customer Care and Billing application; SAP ECC6; Esri GIS and the Aspect Contact Centre software) click here.

Let us know if you have a similar story you’d like to share and, as always, please engage us with comments telling us  your views.

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