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Cisco UCS – Changing the Economics of the Datacenter

May 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm PST

Cisco UCS has fantastic technology that technical decision makers are demanding. But what about business decision makers? It doesn’t matter how great the technology is, the question for BDMs is how will UCS save me money?

I set out to answer that question, connecting UCS technology innovations to TCO improvement, for the Unifying Your Data Center Roadshow (running through late June) and wanted to share the presentation with a larger audience so it has been posted to SlideShare.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS): Changing the Economics of the Datacenter from Cisco Data Center

The savings are grouped into two overall buckets: Unified Fabric (servers, networking, cabling, power & cooling) and Unified Management (provisioning, ongoing administration, and systems management software). Each sub-section discuss Cisco’s differentiation at a high level and shows how they impact the value of a UCS solution. The savings categories are validated by customer case studies, some of which you may remember from my first series of blog posts, Yes, Cisco Servers are that good. Lastly there are two real world TCO/ROI examples including Loughborough University who are cutting their costs ~50% over five years.

Would you like to learn more about how Cisco UCS can help you? There are more than 250 published datacenter case studies on Cisco.com. Additionally, there is a TCO/ROI tool that will allow you to compare your existing environment to a new UCS Solution. For a more in-depth TCO/ROI analysis, contact your Cisco partner

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Cisco UCS at EMC World 2013

May 13, 2013 at 7:37 am PST

new button

We handed out a stack of these buttons for the Cisco booth staff to wear this year and that sums up my favorite part of EMC World:  it’s an infrastructure party.  This is a place where you’re going to talk with people at the heart of the data center and IT, and the conversations all start there.

Our alignment with EMC couldn’t be any clearer than what we had on display last week. VBlock continues to rock and roll and Trey Layton of VCE summed that up quite nicely here.   On the VSPEX front, Cisco recently released 7 new and updated integrated infrastructure designs that combine UCS, Nexus and VNX Storage.  Moreover, Cisco offers these as single-part-number SmartPlay Solution Pak bundles that make them even easier for our partners and customers to order.   Cisco’s VSPEX offerings span the gamut on choice of virtualization platform and application, paving that second of the three paths to cloud we talked about at EMCworld.

Cisco Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with VMware vSphere 5.1 for 50 Virtual Machines

Cisco Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX VMware vSphere 5.1 for 100, 125, and 250 Virtual Machines

Cisco Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V for 50 Virtual Machines

Cisco Solution for EMC VSPEX: Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track 3.0 Enterprise Medium M250

Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with VMware View 5.1.2 for 500 and 2000 Desktops

Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 for 500 Desktops

Cisco Solution for EMC VSPEX: Microsoft SharePoint 2010

booth

On a product front the big news for Cisco was the new MDS 9710 and that brought a lot of visitors into the booth.  I was also really happy by the amount of people that came by to talk with us about UCS and the things we’re doing around data center automation.  Each year the conversation has changed and the evolution has been fun to experience:

2010

Customer: “What’s that funny looking switch there?”

Me: “That’s the Unified Computing System, are you familiar with Cisco’s new server platform?”

Customer:  “What? No, really, what’s that funny looking switch there??”

 2011/2012

Customer:  “Do you have any UCS on display here?  Our team in XYZ division just deployed it and I’d like to take a look”

Me: “Certainly, let me take you through an overview of the system

 2013

Customer:  “Hey, I really like what you folks did with the switch-based Fibre Channel zoning in the last release of UCS Manager.  When does version 2.0 of UCS Central come out? We’re deploying UCS in three more data centers and I want to talk about implementing global ID pools”

Me:  “Fantastic.  Let me find our systems management expert.”

I speak geek pretty well, so when customers come in and want to go deeper than I can on operating the system instead of asking me “Cisco sells servers?”…I know we’re in the right place and on the right vector.   Thanks to the EMC and Cisco teams for putting on such a great event.

I’ll leave you with a photo here for a caption contest.  Leave your ideas in the comment section and try your best to keep it clean.  My first take is “I loved EMC World 2013 thiiiiiiiiiiiis much!”

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Delivering the Madness: remember to thank your servers and the network

March 21, 2013 at 10:35 am PST

March Madness is here and in full effect.  If you’re reading this post you probably aren’t paying close enough attention to the results pouring in from the round of 64.   Today and tomorrow will make or break your bracket!  Take appropriate action.  As soon as I hit “publish” on this post I promise you that I will.

We have some fun things going on here during the tournament.  If you’re watching the games you may see some UCS ads (yes, server ads from Cisco on TV…believe it!)   We teamed up with CDW and Charles Barkley to celebrate the soothing hum of the data center in this spot, and there are a couple more that touch on Cisco Data Center more broadly.

Barkley

These ads come on the heels of a big push we’re making at Cisco to spread the good word about Unified Computing.  We have print and digital ads running across the big tech pubs that talk about the very real application performance and IT operations benefits the UCS brings.

Read More »

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VCE: Converging on a better data center

Cisco’s Unified Data Center strategy is rooted in the idea that customers shouldn’t be put in the position of DIY technology integration.  It’s just an unfair ask given everything that IT and LOB leaders contend with above and beyond the infrastructure.   As technology has evolved, the component parts of the data center are decreasingly the source of complexity.   It’s the connections between them, creating that sum of the parts that can actually run applications, that’s the hardest part.   Eliminating this complexity has been Cisco’s guiding star in the data center, building systems that help customers focus on what matters most to them:  applications and IT services, not infrastructure.

VCE, Cisco’s joint venture with EMC, VMware and Intel, is a critical expression of this vision for fabric based infrastructure and converged solutions.  Today marks a major milestone for VCE with the broadest solutions announcement since the launch of Vblock Systems, which has become widely recognized as the gold standard of converged infrastructure.

These new offerings extend the proven value of Vblock: converged, pre-engineered infrastructure that slashes deployment time and ongoing management burden, into a new set of market segments and key workloads.

The team at VCE have done a great job detailing this out; I see the key components being brought forward today as:

  • Taking Vblock Systems to new customer segments and use cases:  System 200 is designed for mid-size data centers and service provider-managed customer premise (CPE) scenarios.  System 100 extends to remote office/branch office environments.  Combining these new Vblocks with applications like  Microsoft Exchange & Sharepoint, VDI, and Cisco Unified Commuications will continue the push to eliminate DIY solution assembly for customers.
  • VCE Specialized Systems: a series of systems optimized for key workloads, starting with SAP HANA.  Certification for Vblock here is an exciting new opportunity for customers to quickly adopt this hot new analytic technology
  • VCE Vision Intelligent Operations which brings intelligent discovery and single lens management to VBlock Systems.  This takes a similar API driven approach found at the core of UCS to enable orchestration of the converged system.   This is a critical component for cloud builders.

VCE’s launch is a major milestone in their evolution, but the way each Vblock system is built, maintained and supported remains constant and predictable. Customers can continue to rely on the same comprehensive physical and logical build done in the factory, single point support and the IT agility and economic benefits these create.

Customers have spoken and this is being reflected in the results, with 1,000 Vblock Systems shipped, demand on a billion dollar run rate and recognition as the market leader in converged systems.

Congratulations to the VCE team as they continue to make it easier for customers to concentrate on the business and not on the infrastructure!

vblockvideo

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The Truth about Cisco UCS Server Service Profiles and Templates

February 4, 2013 at 5:42 am PST

Cisco Unified Computing System Service Profiles and Templates contain over 127 different server identification and configuration settings.  These identity settings are abstracted from the physical server and stored in the UCS Domain where they can be leveraged automating and speeding deployment while reducing errors. Today, this Cisco innovation is still unique in the industry. The reality is that no other server vendor can offer the level of hardware abstraction that Cisco provides with UCS Manager using Service Profiles and Templates.

Unlike Cisco, other vendors must rely on many different tools and methods that are cobbled together to manage their servers.  For some, it can take up to six different tools to configure a subset of what Cisco can do with one and most of these tools are at an additional cost.

Are you concerned about systems management and how it impacts your total cost of ownership (TCO)? Here are some fair questions to ask your current vendor:

  • Can your software templates manage both rack and blade servers using a single tool and interface?
  • Are your templates and profiles limited to specific models and only certain generation of servers, requiring different templates or tools for the same settings for servers from different generations of the same server model?
  • Is server firmware truly integrated into a single tool and supported by policies and profiles?
  • Do the tools use only proprietary orchestration and automation software to manage the infrastructure or does it support an open interface like XML?
  • What is the licensing model – how much is the additional cost per server or per blade chassis to fully manage server profiles, updates to firmware, BIOS, and integration with other tools?

If you have more than one domain, UCS Central will manage them extending all the benefits of UCS Manger globally. You can leverage your templates and profiles across all servers regardless of location.

If you’d like to have a more in-depth discussion on this topic, contact your Cisco account team or Partner.

Want to learn more? Take Cisco UCS Manager for a test drive.

Convinced? Buy now and save with Cisco UCS SmartPlays.

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