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Introducing Cisco SingleConnect Technology


When customers talk about why they like UCS they often sum it up in very concise terms. “It makes things a lot easier,” is a common refrain. But if you ask a Cisco technologist what’s good about UCS you’ll get a much more lengthy reply, probably more than you wanted to hear. :) That’s because when anyone fully describes all of the innovations in the solution, “under the covers,” so to speak, which conspire to bring about UCS benefits, they quickly find themselves reciting a rather long list of complex advancements. As I spend time in our booth at VMworld this week I hear both of these accounts of UCS. The long (how it rocks) and the short (why it rocks.)  As luck would have it, some intrepid UCS product marketers have taken it upon themselves to bridge this yawning gap in the UCS lexicon.

First, remember that UCS is an outcome of starting with a clean sheet of paper and designing a system to rectify all the random acts of system architecture that had come before it. It’s also an outcome of a completely revolutionary way of approaching computing: not from the perspective of the constituent technologies but from the perspective of fusing them all together. UCS was expressly designed to eliminate the DIY integration that customers have been faced with for years. It was designed for a world of virtualization, automation and cloud. Fundamentally, UCS was designed to connect all the dots.

With the connections in mind, we’re introducing a technology ingredient brand into the UCS lexicon: Cisco SingleConnect Technology.

SingleConnect is a term intended to encapsulate the aggregated benefits of several key UCS technology components as they relate to server connectivity: Cisco Fabric Interconnects, Fabric Extenders, Virtual Interface Cards and Virtual Machine Fabric Extender Technology (VM-FEX.) Related technologies like the Nexus 1000v suite and Cisco’s virtualized network services also come into view when we talk about connecting physical and virtual servers in the data center.

Each of these deeply sophisticated products plays a specific role, but taken altogether they create an elegant result: a simplified, uniform and extremely powerful connectivity model for servers and virtual machines. SingleConnect is way for us to describe how all of these together result in one connection for:

• LAN, SAN, and systems management

• Rack servers and blade servers

• Physical servers and virtual machines

SingleConnect, very simply, is the easiest, most intelligent and efficient way to connect and manage computing in the data center.

SingleConnect is Easy: UCS is a “wire once and walk away” solution that eliminates many of the traditional time-consuming, manual and error-prone tasks required to connect servers and virtual machines in the data center. UCS with SingleConnect is self-integrating, with automated and dynamic configuration of server I/O and networking components over a common connection. UCS centralizes administration, eliminating dozens of switching and server management points found in traditional environments while radically reducing cable management complexity.

SingleConnect is Efficient: SingleConnect Technology combines three network layers into one: top of rack, blade chassis and hypervisor switching. It also combines LAN, SAN and server systems management networks on a single fabric. Modular fabric extenders deliver capacity from a centralized fabric interconnect (single point of management) to as many as 160 servers, replacing all the Ethernet and FibreChannel switches typically deployed in much smaller server increments. Server I/O adapters (NICs, and HBA’s) are consolidated onto a single Virtual Interface Card, eliminating cost and simplifying administration.

SingleConnect is Intelligent: SingleConnect technology creates a virtualization-aware system, providing seamless VM mobility and advanced security capabilities for multi-tenant environments. I/O capacity is dynamically allocated across physical and virtual machines in the system in accordance with QOS policies, eliminating the need for manual administrator intervention and simplifying troubleshooting. Deterministic, low latency switching delivers industry leading bare metal and virtualized performance for traditional multi-tier application environments and cloud workloads alike.


Cisco SingleConnect Technology is not a specific product or feature, it is a way to describe how a deliberate roadmap of innovation solves against one of the oldest computing problems in the data center: “how do I connect all this stuff together?”

With SingleConnect!

If you’re at VMworld in San Francisco this week, stop by the Cisco booth and we can give you demo of how SingleConnect brings it all together.

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Cisco UCS – Changing the Economics of the Datacenter

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 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

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


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:


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??”


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


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 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.


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!


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