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Just what we need on Cyber Monday – Cisco UCS Central

Total (consumer) spending for the (Thanksgiving 2012) weekend reached an estimated $59.1 billion, a 13% increase from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.  Online spending on Friday alone topped $1 billion for the first time, according to the data-analysis firm comScore Inc.

We can analyze the seasonal patterns of traffic by studying the Alexa reports such as the one below for different retailers.  In the case of walmart.com the holiday traffic is 400% the average during the year.  It remains to be seen how much more the traffic would spike today – Cyber Monday 2012. It is clear that retailers like Walmart need the ability to scale up the e-commerce infrastructure during the holiday season.

A retailer’s e-commerce infrastructure would include software applications, middleware, server, network and storage resources.  Virtualization technology has made scaling of e-commerce applications easier.  However, virtual machines can only start on physical servers after they are racked, stacked and necessary network and storage access components have been properly configured.  The preparation of the physical infrastructure is still mostly a manual task, unless they are using something like the Cisco UCS.  The Cisco UCS Manager embedded in the system, handles the simplified configuration.  With large environments (thousands of servers) infrastructure management software such as Cisco UCS Central becomes increasingly important. Cisco UCS Central, which simplifies compute infrastructure scaling, became generally available last week.   With it, physical compute infrastructure management can now be policy based and automated.  This in turn can increase the velocity of changes and reduce the possibility of errors while scaling rapidly.  This blog by Steve Kaplan and the short video below give a nice overview of Cisco UCS Central software.

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James Bond and Data Centers??

This weekend I managed to see the new James Bond film, Skyfall.  The technologist in me noticed the transformation of the espionage industry to the cyber world.  More interesting were the Data Center scenes in which the equipment was neatly arranged with minimal cabling.  One blog even called it the data center of the future.

 

(This film image released by Sony Pictures shows Daniel Craig, left, and Javier Bardem in a scene from the film “Skyfall.” Bardem portrays, Raoul Silva, one of the finest arch-enemies in the 50-year history of Bond films.) (AP Photo/Sony Pictures, Francois Duhamel) – Notice the data center equipment in the background.

Reality is that data centers are full of cables (see above) unless you are using Cisco UCS in which case you have a chance of being in the future NOW.  General availability of UCS Manager 2.1, which brings all the cable reduction benefits to rack mount servers could not have been more timely.

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Cisco + Microsoft: UCS PowerTool for PowerShell Quick Start Guide

A truly “Better Together” story is the pairing of two strong management utilities – Cisco UCS Manager’s PowerTool offering with Microsoft’s PowerShell solution. Together they afford UCS System Administrators the ability to quickly automate and customize a multitude of management tasks resulting increased efficiency and quality utilization of IT resources and staff.

PowerTool is a Microsoft PowerShell module which helps automate all aspects of Cisco UCS management including server, network, storage and hypervisor management. A new PowerTool Quick Guide has been developed that can help jumpstart your learning and use of PowerTool with PowerShell. Available from Cisco’s Developer Network Community, http://developer.cisco.com,  the document can be downloaded here.

PowerTool incorporated with use of Cisco’s UCS Manager and Microsoft’s System Center portfolio can help speed your Microsoft oriented deployments be they FlexPod (Cisco + NetApp) or VSPEX (Cisco + EMC) infrastructure based or platform focused on Windows Server 2012, Exchange 2010, or SQL Server 2012.

Feel free to download the Quick Start Guide and start exploring the power of PowerTool for your Microsoft datacenter environments. To learn more about Microsoft on UCS, please visit www.cisco.com/go/microsoft.

 

 

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Introducing UCS Central: Unified Computing at Global Scale

If your motto is “go big or go home” then you’re probably going to like UCS Central.  Since inception, Cisco’s Unified Computing System has upheld some important core tenets in its design ethos:  management via policy, simple scaling and open infrastructure programmability. UCS Central, a new management product in the UCS family, extends all of those principles to a level of scale and granular administrative reach that are truly unprecedented in our industry. The Data Center team at Cisco is very excited about what UCS Central is going to mean for our customers, so on November 8th we’re hosting an online event to lay out the whole story. I hope you will join us.

UCS Central is essentially a manager of managers. Consider a single domain of UCS to be a pair of Fabric Interconnects where an instance of UCS Manager resides and looks after the goings on of up to 160 servers and all of their I/O connectivity. UCS Central now allows administrators to manage multiple domains of UCS and scale their aggregate environment to the range of 10,000 servers.

You might say that UCS customers can opt for the “go big” option. I suppose since this the golden age of mobility, they can access it all remotely to go big and go home…

 

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“Microsoft is a great partner in the data center…” – John Chambers, October 2012

I was flying back home late last week after participating in Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 launch event in Denver.  As I scanned through my email InBox I saw the John Chambers quote from an interview he had done with CRN . John’s quote is timely given our many Cisco engineering and marketing activities going on with Microsoft as well as with our key partners EMC and NetApp. Let’s take a look and see what’s happening:

  • Our UCS and Nexus platforms are key components in our VSPEX for Microsoft Hyper-V reference architecture with our partner EMC.
  • Our FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud solution with our partner NetApp is providing Hyper-V based private cloud solutions to customers such as ING Direct in Australia and the University of Waterloo in Canada.
  • UCS Manager is tightly integrated with Microsoft System Center 2012 and this was recognized with it being awarded the Breakthrough Technology Award at Microsoft Tech Ed in Orlando.
  • UCS PowerTool delivers industry leading – and in this case this phrase is really well deserved – integration with Microsoft’s PowerShell  technology affording ease of automation for deployment and rapid configuration of UCS and Microsoft applications such as Exchange and SQL Server.
  • Nexus 1000V enables virtual networking scenarios in Microsoft Windows Server 2012’s new Hyper-V Extensible Switch – a result of great teamwork between Microsoft and Cisco R&D organizations. View our recent WindowsITPro webinar on virtual networking and Nexus 1000V here.

These Cisco technologies and solutions bring UCS, Nexus, and UCS Manager into your environment helping to create a better datacenter for your Microsoft private clouds and applications.  We will continue to work closely with Microsoft and key partners on various Microsoft/Cisco initiatives.  Our combined efforts allow you more choice in determining how to spend your IT budget and a Cisco based datacenter for Microsoft applications is a good choice indeed!

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