I had several interesting conversations with customers regarding Cisco UCS Manager, the embedded device manager, which simplifies server management in the data center. Customers spanned the entire gamut from those who had purchased the UCS three years ago when it was just introduced to those evaluating the product today. The following video summarizes the discussions.
I also attended the keynote address by VMWare CEO Paul Maritz, and found his talk fascinating. He alluded to two megatrends affecting Information Technology namely “Cloud” and “Big data”.
The terms “life cycle” conjure up an image of a biology class on butterflies for me. The metamorphosis that a butterfly undergoes is very interesting. Every stage has a specific purpose:
In the data center, life cycle of servers is something we deal with all the time. For analysis we could consider physical, virtual or software servers just like I did in a previous blog. I drew the life cycle of the 3 servers and the resulting diagram is below. Interestingly a physical server is the only one that can be truly re-purposed, more like the stages in the life cycle of a butterfly.
This morning at Microsoft’s Management Summit event here in Las Vegas Microsoft announced their new Private Cloud Fast Track program. Cisco is pleased to be recognized as a charter member of this program. Private Cloud Fast Track, a joint effort between Microsoft and Cisco, enables our clients to quickly get up and running with pre-configured Windows Server & Hyper-V based private clouds utilizing Cisco UCS, Nexus, and UCS Manager technology.
At Cisco we believe we are moving to an interconnected “World of Many Clouds” – our Fast Track offerings will enable our clients who choose a Microsoft private cloud environment to quickly activate and deliver an agile, efficient, and simple IT infrastructure.
Today, Cisco introduced the Third-Generation of Fabric computing. The power of unification can be seen in all aspects of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). It unifies physical and virtual compute environments. It integrates the server and network access. It also unifies and simplifies the management of rack and blade servers. The choice between using blade and physical server is not obvious and usually sparks a heated debate. The Cisco UCS Manager with B-Series blades and C-Series Rack-mount servers makes this argument moot.
Without passing judgment on whether rack or blade servers are better, lets begin by listing the benefits of the two form factors. Blade server use is growing and there are many reasons for this:
Data center space / Power / Cooling constraints -- Data center space can get expensive depending on the location. In this CBS 60 minutes segment, proximity to the stock exchange is extolled. This fascinating video shows the collocation of data centers in urban nerve centers. I am sure data center space in these locations commands a premium. Energy efficiencies also become important in the overall cost structure. Power constraints may also favor the use of blades that consume less power than equally powerful rack mount servers.
The term server management conjures up different connotations in the mind of the listener. Depending on the type of server -- software application server, virtual server or physical server, the issues they care about are different. Two tasks that instantly come to the fore are server configuration and server monitoring.
A software application server manager may visualize configuration of production middleware servers and the parameters may include database connections, memory size etc. A manager responsible for the virtual infrastructure in a data center may picture server configuration tasks as storing and accessing virtual images, operating system types etc. for the virtual machines. An infrastructure manager responsible for physical servers will take into consideration power, firmware and network configurations for the server.