As Cisco UCS enters a new phase of growth with Cisco’s entry into the top 5-server vendors list, let’s step back and take a look at how we manage infrastructure in the world of Unified Computing. UCS Management is a key ingredient of Cisco’s Unified Data Center, which unifies physical and virtual infrastructures across data centers. The architecture delivers IT services through a holistic fabric-based approach, and has proven to lower the cost of computing and enable real IT innovation. Customers are reporting an 84% reduction in provisioning times and 61% reduction of ongoing administrative/management costs. In this post we’ll examine some of the drivers for that. More recently, UCS Director has bolstered the portfolio and provided significant capabilities to reduce data center operational expenses. Since there are many questions about how the portfolio products complement each other, I hope to clarify it.
The UCS management portfolio includes:
UCS Manager for individual UCS domains
Provides embedded, unified, policy based management of Cisco UCS blade and rack servers and all fabric components within the system Read More »
One thing is clear -- IT world is changing and at a pace much faster than we have ever known. It seems appropriate to culminate the series in the world of applications. All entities, big and small ultimately want their data center infrastructure to run applications. They could be collaboration applications for internal use or with partners. The applications could be developed in house or could be commercial off the shelf (COTS). Some of the applications can provide the firm a competitive edge in the market – think recommendation engine used by Amazon. At the end of the day the application is providing a valuable service. With the advent of the Internet of Everything (IOE), there are many sources of data and connections that applications have to consider while delivering the service.
Imagine the Amazon recommendation engine taking into account your location and the temperature from a gauge near you. Assuming that application services are delivered from a data center, the application must also be cognizant of the different access mechanisms, desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones. The rate of change in these new technologies is brisk. As these rapid changes take place, Cisco offers Application centric infrastructure to ease the transitions. Read Cisco CTO, Padmasree Warrior’s blog on this.
After a refreshing summer road trip through the beautiful Michigan Upper Peninsula I am happy to be back at work. I even got a fresh perspective on the phrase “cherry picking”.
The geek in me got to see the “Nuclear Energy” sculpture at site where Enrico Fermi’s Manhattan Project team devised a nuclear reactor to produce the first self-sustaining controlled nuclear reaction at the University of Chicago. ( image from - http://www.chicagobauhausbeyond.org/ )
While I was away, I missed an interesting webinar on optimizing operations of Cisco Data Center environments with converged infrastructure management. Thanks to video archiving, I was able to review it this week. EMA analyst Jim Frey gave a comprehensive view of data center management using converged infrastructure. Some key takeaways from my perspective were:
Converged infrastructure will usher in a renewed focus on application performance and service quality.
The need for automated discovery and configuration will become all the more important with converged infrastructure.
It was very interesting to see a customer -- Molina Healthcare -- discuss their journey to a service oriented data center. The reorganization of the IT department along the lines of service delivery was fascinating. Like other UCS customers, they had seen quantifiable benefits from the Cisco UCS management capabilities.
Speed of deployment improved 50- 75% (down to 1 week from 2-4 weeks)
Support costs reduced by 60%.
Discernable improvements in reliability and availability of the infrastructure.
As integrated infrastructure gains importance in data centers with physical and virtual environments that support application services, simplified management of these assets becomes very important. The Cisco UCS management portfolio was recently enhanced with the Cisco UCS Director. It provides unified management of industry-leading integrated infrastructure solutions that Cisco delivers with EMC (VSPEX) Read More »
CiscoLive 2013 concluded last week in Orlando. Some of the sessions are available for viewing at www.ciscolive365.com. One of the keynote addresses featured an AVA 500 robot from irobot (Registration required - Hour and 48 mins into the video). The robot brought a flood of memories from my days as a grad student. I was a student participant in a consortium of companies striving for manufacturing excellence. There was a major push in the 90’s to improve US Manufacturing and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was instituted to spur progress. It is now awarded to companies for performance excellence and the 2010 the winner was the parent company of two Texas restaurant chains – Rudys and Mighty fine burgers.
So what has this got to do with Cisco UCS you ask? Large scale data centers are ushering in the industrialization of IT services with standardization and stringent service level agreements. Cisco UCS is the infrastructure platform for delivery of IT Services and has the main ingredients to power service excellence.
Service excellence come about with reduction in variation in the process. Good service principles and practices bring about consistency, reliability and predictability. The slide deck which was a result of work with Forrestor analyst Glenn O’donnell a couple of years ago, gives more details on service orchestration, and the business case to invest in it.
The presentation addresses how orchestration goes beyond automation. The two key points were:
Automation is restricted to a single domain or systems whereas Orchestration encompasses multiple domains.
Orchestration takes into account real time feedback of the system where as automation does not do so.
To give a more concrete example, provisioning of a Cisco UCS server for a service with a script or software program, would be automation. Adding server capacity for the service when 90% of compute capacity is in use, would be orchestration.
Automation of tasks is however the foundation for service orchestration and Cisco UCS excels at it. The Cisco UCS XML API enables automation regardless of user preferences. Since I will be attending Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, TX next week, I expect to meet many Microsoft Powershell users who can now exploit Cisco UCS C-Series PowerTool to manage standalone UCS (needs CIMC v1.5) rack servers. With Cisco UCS PowerTool, users can enjoy the benefits of automation and hence service orchestration in their data centers. If you are attending the conference come by and check out all the Cisco solutions including the Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco UCS PowerTool.