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Cisco UCS – Year End TCO Wrap-up

December 20, 2013 at 6:56 am PST

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to revisit the economics of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

Cisco UCS has fantastic technology. Technology that technical decision makers are demanding. But what about business decision makers? The question for them is how will UCS save them money? Read More »

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Blade Server Architecture Comparison – Important Differences Abound

October 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm PST

I recently wrote a blog titled Blade Server TCO and Architecture – You Cannot Separate Them and thought a little more on the architecture side would be a good thing.

 With so much misinformation (dis-information?) about UCS running around in the ether, I thought the straight forward comparison offered here would be valuable. It is important to dispel myths and analyze reality before making the important decisions around server and networking refreshes / upgrades, which by necessity affect long term data center architecture. I hope you will find this presentation -- Cisco UCS, HP and IBM -- A Blade Architecture Comparison, useful in your decision making process.

Cisco UCS HP and IBM A Blade Architecture Comparison from Cisco Data Center

For me, there are three primary drivers that differentiate the Cisco UCS architecture from everyone else’s designs and they can be divided into the buckets below:

You could, and probably should, ask what is left out? That’s pretty easy. I did not specifically call out Performance and TCO, for a good reason. If you can execute on the three bullets above like Cisco UCS does, Performance and TCO are the natural derivatives. You shouldn’t have to target them separately. It’s kind of a “If you build it, they will come” scenario. That’s why I made the statements in the TCO and Architecture blog that “…Server cost is irrelevant (to OpEx) because: changing its contribution to total TCO has a vanishingly small impact….” and “…It [architecture] is the single most important component of OpEx…”   For more on this and how server cost and TCO intersect, please check out this blog -- Blade Server TCO and Architecture – You Cannot Separate Them.  It takes a look at the OpEx and CapEx components of TCO, and how altering either of them effects the actual total  3-year TCO.  You may be surprised.

Cisco is providing trade-in credits for customers’ old generation servers and blade chassis,  helping ease the transition and upgrade to a new UCS blade architecture.  The UCS Advantage presentation below has more details on this fantastic program that can further enhance the already compelling TCO benefit of upgrading to Cisco UCS.

UCS Advantage -- Refresh to UCS from Cisco Data Center

Special note: For more on the benefit that Cisco UCS delivers for I/O and throughput, I suggest a great blog by Amit Jain -- How to get more SAN mileage out of UCS FI.  Amit does an excellent compare / contrast of FC and FCoE technologies (“…8 Gb FC yields 6.8 Gb throughput while 10 Gb FCoE yields close to 10 Gb throughput…”).

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Enhancing the MSE User Experience: Backup & Restore, Menu-based Device Setup

Following the last MSE blog on CleanAir, today I wish to explain how we prioritize the Mobility Service Engine’s user experience.

Listening to customers and implementing changes/features based on customer feedback has been a great strength of Cisco products. We from the Mobility Services Engine team strongly believe in this principle and make sure that we reach out to each and every customer who has provided a feedback on Cisco MSE and take their experience with MSE into consideration when designing future features and enhancements.

After analyzing the feedback we received during the MSE 7.4 release, I am pleased to announce that we have decided to implement the following two features as part of series of enhancements that we believe will improve the customer’s user experience with MSE.

Convenient Backup and Restore

Until the 7.4 release, MSE users had limited options in backing up their MSE data. The only supported option was to use the NCS FTP server as the destination for MSE data backups. Due to the limited disk capacity on NCS, as well as sharing of the disk space with other network elements, disk space limitations prevented MSE users from regularly backing up their data. If you are one of those users who always wished you could regularly backup MSE data without running into NCS disk space limitation, or if you wish you could back up your MSE data to non-NCS devices, we have some good news for you.

In the latest MSE 7.5 release, we have added the option to backup and restore your MSE data on remote FTP servers, provided there is connectivity between the MSE and the FTP server.  Similar to NCS Backups, MSE data can be backed up to configured repositories (internal or external FTP servers).  Love the command shell? We will also be coming up with CLI to backup MSE data. You can now start MSE backup using just a single command.

msecsat1 Read More »

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Blade Server TCO and Architecture – You Cannot Separate Them

September 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm PST

I have heard this a lot over the years, in one way or another – “The only price that really counts is what I actually pay for my server.” 

Alright, so why bother with a TCO analysis?  The truth is that server acquisition costs only contribute 20% (or less) to a 3 year server TCO.  Management and other OpEx costs contribute the remaining 80%.  If you go to 5 years, the acquisition cost starts to fade into obscurity.

There are a number of studies you can find online that call out server acquisition cost at 15% to 17% of TCO, or even less.  One is an Information Week report that quotes a 2007 IDC study.  The Information Week article is very good, with multiple sources and definitely worth a read.  Since 2007 there have been myriad improvements in processor performance, as well as, server and architectural innovations (Cisco UCS).  All of these supply ample rationale for a low CapEx component for Server / Data Center Total Cost of Ownership, see the figures below.  

[The WW Server Related Spend… chart is from IDC, “New Econmoinc Model of the Datacenter”; IDC 2011]  [Only the graph is from the cited source, the table is my analysis of the numbers presented by the graph.]

WW Server Spend & Mgmt

Summary of the figures above:

  • Server purchase spend and associated power & cooling spending is flat (red and green bands above)
  • Physical server management cost is the down (blue aband bove)
  • Virtual server management cost are way up and increasing (orange band above)

  Read More »

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[Cartoon Catalyst Blog Series] K-12 BYOD. Secure Students, Determine Internet Access, and Yet Provide Awesome Network Performance?

Students bounding into schools touting the latest device is creating big problem for K-12 IT departments. How can schools support BYOD initiatives while securing these mobile devices and the student information embedded within them if IT staff numbers aren’t growing?

In his latest blog, K-12 BYOD. Secure Students, Determine Internet Access, and Yet Provide Awesome Network Performance?, Cisco’s Rahul Chohan discusses how Identity Services Engine policy deployment as a part of Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education helps simplify mobile device security streamlines the IT security processes required to deploy BYOD. Rahul’s blog covers how ISE helps protect minors, ensure performance, and simplify IT over the wired and wireless infrastructure. How exactly can it do this? You’ll have to read his blog to find out.

For more on Cisco BYOD Solutions for K12 Education page.

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