At some point, every data center has to migrate a complete server identity between two servers. This could be driven by maintenance needs, server upgrades or DR/HA and SLA requirements. For DR/HA, Business Continuity requirements mandate that this be done as quickly as possible, which means automation is critical to drive time to productivity restoration. True automation equals fewer steps and faster implementation, with the smallest possibility for error. This is more than just setting up a similar server with the same BIOS and firmware and then doing a lot of manual work requiring multiple administrative domains – compute, network and storage. I’m talking about QoS, vNIC / vHBA setting, storage access and ownership transfers, etc., the whole enchilada, all delivered in an automated repeatable processby design not by accident.
Not surprisingly, Cisco UCS with UCS Manager does the job -- fast, complete and in full. What may be surprising is that Cisco UCS Manager enables you to do this transfer not just from blade server to blade server, you can also do it from blade server to rack server. UCS Manager comes with and is embedded on the UCS Fabric Interconnects. I want to emphasize that there is no additional charge for UCS Manager, which is an important consideratin when you look at other companies’ multiple toolsets, agents and databases, most of which carry an additional cost, and which are required to equal UCS Manager functionality. UCS Manager architecture does not require a separate management server which other designs typically require.
The very best part of the entire activity is that the full migration of the server identity (enabled by Cisco SingleConnect technology) takes just 6 initial steps with UCS Manager; the rest is all about how we deliver on the promise of automation. UCS Manager lets you use and specify 127+ different server identity parameters including:
48 BIOS Settings
Host BIOS Firmware
Hdwr NIC Teaming (fabric failover)
FC Adapter & Storage Controller Firmware
BIOS & Disk Scrub Actions
Dynamic vNICs (VM FEX)
NIC and HBA Adapter Settings
vHBA WWPN & WWNN Assignment
HBA FC SAN Membership,
NIC Receive Rate & NIC MTU size
FC & iSCSI Boot Parameters
PCIe Bus Scan Order and PCIe Device Slot Placement
And Much Much More…….
The above all sounds good. Now we need to see ‘proof of delivery’. Below are the links to a white paper by Principled Technologies that are the real point of this blog – complete (not partial) migration of a server identity from a blade server to a rack server.
The real fun is to watch the accompanying video below. See for yourself how much time it takes in an apples to apples server identity migration from a blade to a rack server. Once you take a look at the video (the paper on the right has the full details of the testing), you will find taking a UCS Test Drive worthwhile.
The ability of Cisco UCS server to manage both blade and rack servers with a single tool is UCS Manager. Cisco took a unique approach to computing and focused on the common point of interaction, the fabric. Servers don’t operate in isolation. They are part of a total environment that at the minimum encompasses servers, networking, management and storage – a Fabric Based Infrastructure . Cisco’s comprehensive and efficient architecture is the key to why customers worldwide are rapidly adopting UCS.
For information on how UCS and UCS Manager integrate with a wide variety of our leading management partners follow this link UCS Manager Ecosystem Partners, and for interoperability with other major systems management tools please see the UCS Interoperability page.
Next week at Oracle OpenWorld, I will be giving an abbreviated theater presentation on how Cisco UCS is changing the economics of the datacenter (full presentation below). If you will be at OOW, please stop by the Cisco booth (#1021 -- Monday 9/23 @ 12:30pm, Tuesday 9/24 @ 4pm, & Wednesday 9/25 @ 2:30pm) for the presentation or anytime the exhibit hall is open to discuss how the Cisco Unified Computing System is the best platform for your Oracle environment.
Given the diversity of the attendees, I wasn’t sure what to expect at Intel® Developer Forum (IDF) having never been to one before.
Now I’m very glad to have the opportunity to discuss our updated blade and rack servers with Intel’s Xeon® E5-2600 v2 series of processors (aka Ivy Bridge v2) with potential customers, analysts, and even competitors. It was a very good experience and I hope to participate again.
I have heard this a lot over the years, in one way or another – “The only price that really counts is what I actually pay for my server.”
Alright, so why bother with a TCO analysis? The truth is that server acquisition costs only contribute 20% (or less) to a 3 year server TCO. Management and other OpEx costs contribute the remaining 80%. If you go to 5 years, the acquisition cost starts to fade into obscurity.
There are a number of studies you can find online that call out server acquisition cost at 15% to 17% of TCO, or even less. One is an Information Week report that quotes a 2007 IDC study. The Information Week article is very good, with multiple sources and definitely worth a read. Since 2007 there have been myriad improvements in processor performance, as well as, server and architectural innovations (Cisco UCS). All of these supply ample rationale for a low CapEx component for Server / Data Center Total Cost of Ownership, see the figures below.
[The WW Server Related Spend… chart is from IDC, “New Econmoinc Model of the Datacenter”; IDC 2011] [Only the graph is from the cited source, the table is my analysis of the numbers presented by the graph.]
Summary of the figures above:
Server purchase spend and associated power & cooling spending is flat (red and green bands above)
Physical server management cost is the down (blue aband bove)
Virtual server management cost are way up and increasing (orange band above)
It’s a beautiful thing when you can hijack four not-quite random people off the VMworld show floor and get them to tackle a discussion on desktop virtualization. And that’s exactly what we did a couple weeks back, when the opportunity presented itself. With Courtney Burry (VMware), Mike Brennan (Cisco), Dave Kinsman (WWT) and myself on hand, we did a sort of VDI blogger “round-up”. You should check out the video below, but a quick recap as follows:
Courtney discussed some of the latest improvements in Horizon View that improve desktop TCO by optimizing storage footprint through technologies like SE sparse (or Space Efficient Sparse) which provides the ability to reclaim blocks of storage that are unused or deleted by the guest file system.
I also shared some thoughts on our joint solution with VMware that’s expanding the number of use cases addressable by VDI, through our support of hardware-accelerated 3D Graphics with nVidia as part of our C-Series rack server solution, as well as the improving economics of 1:1 persistent desktop images using the latest generation of flash-based partner technologies we support through our VDI storage ecosystem.
Mike discussed how we’re offering a more consolidated management approach with VMware through things like integration within vCenter which includes a snap-in for UCS, allowing administrators to see our UCS infrastructure inside the vCenter web client as well as open API’s that introduce more opportunities for automation, which combined with combine with UCS Manager and our automation tools, can help our customers provision desktops from bare metal, much faster.
And to help round-out the round-up, we snagged Dave Kinsman from WWT, to give us his feedback on how he sees all of this coming together, both for channel partners like WWT, and they customers they serve.