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Inside the Branch: UCS E-series 101

Recently, I was chatting with Hugo Vliegen, Director of Technical marketing, Enterprise Networks, and he was telling me all of the questions he had been getting from customers about the Cisco UCS E-Series.  Questions such as:

  • What’s this rumor I’ve heard that Cisco has a server that sits on a branch router?
  • You’re telling me the UCS E-Series is enterprise-class? What does that even mean?
  • What’s new on the Cisco ISR series?

So I suggested we do an interview series with Hugo – something short and fun where he could get the Cisco experts on the record and help our customers learn a little more about the UCS E-Series. Read More »

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How to get more SAN mileage out of UCS FI?

October 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm PST

 

Image Credit: Wikispeed.org

Mileage (miles per gallon) is one of the important criteria while buying any automobile and once bought, it is highly desirable to hit the maximum advertised mileage without significantly changing the driving habits or the routes (highway vs city mpg). Well, I have not been able to achieve that yet, so being a geek, I focused my attention on a different form of mileage (throughput per switch-port) that interests me at work. So in this blog, I would explore a way to get more SAN mileage from the Cisco UCS FI (Fabric Interconnect) without significantly affecting the SAN admin’s day-to-day operations.

Context:

Just a bit of background before we delve into the details -- The I/O fabric between the UCS FI and the UCS Blade Server Chassis is a converged fabric, running FCoE. The usage of FCoE within the UCS fabric is completely transparent to the host operating system, and any Fibre Channel block storage traffic traverses this fabric as the FCoE traffic. So, a large number of over 20,000+ UCS customers, using Block Storage, are already using FCoE at the access layer of the network.

Choices:

Now, the key question is what technology, FC or FCoE, to use northbound on the FI uplink ports to connect to an upstream Core switch for the SAN connectivity. So, what are the uplink options? Well, the FI has Unified ports and the choice is using the same uplink port as either 8G FC -or- 10G FCoE. [Note that when using the FCoE uplink, it is not a requirement to use a converged link and one can still use a dedicated FCoE link for carrying pure SAN traffic].

Observations:

1)    Bandwidth for Core Links: This is a very important aspect for the core part of the network. It is interesting to note that 10G FCoE provides almost 50% more throughput than the 8G FC. This is because FC has a different bit encoding and clock-rate than Ethernet, and so 8G FC yields 6.8G throughput while 10G FCoE yields close to 10G throughput (post 1-2% Ethernet frame overhead)

10G-FCoE-Uplink

FCoE-is-FC

2)   Consistent Management ModelFCoE is FC technology with same management and security model, so it will be a seamless transition for a SAN admin to move from FC to FCoE with very minimal change in the day-to-day operations. Moreover, this FCoE link is carrying dedicated SAN traffic without requiring any convergence of LAN traffic. To add to that, if the UCS FI is running in the NPV mode, then technically the FCoE link between the UCS FI and the upstream SAN switch does not constitute a Multi-Hop FCoE design, as the UCS FI is not consuming a Domain-ID, and the bulk of SAN configurations like zoning etc. need to happen on only the Core SAN switch, thus maintaining the same consistent SAN operational model as with just the FC.

3)    Investment Protection with Multi-protocol flexibility: By choosing FCoE uplink from the converged access layer, one can still continue to use the upstream MDS core SAN Director switch as-is, providing the connectivity to existing FC Storage arrays. Note that Cisco MDS 9000 SAN Director offers Multi-protocol flexibility so that one can Interconnect FCoE SANs on the Server-side with the FC SANs on the Storage-side.

And, we have a winner… Read More »

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Educause: Bringing Together Technology and Education to Invest in Our Future

It’s amazing to think about the way a traditional classroom operated only a few years ago.  As Renee Patton recently pointed out in her blog post, there were rules, there were barriers, and they were all kept within the confines of an educational institution.  As technology has advanced, those rules have been challenged, barriers overcome, and an entirely new era of learning has emerged.

The collaborative nature of education, educators and learners has allowed new technologies to thrive and innovation to accelerate.  We’re flipping classrooms, implementing mobile learning programs and developing entirely new ways for students to connect and engage.  And we’re looking with excitement toward a future that will continually change the way we teach and learn. Read More »

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Why is Cisco at SAP TechEd

4 years ago, Cisco introduced a revolutionary server platform called Unified Computing System or UCS. Since that time it has become the number 2 blade server in the world. At the same time UCS was introduced, Cisco also elevated their relationship with SAP. Cisco was one of the first hardware platform certified for SAP HANA. Cisco has also announced and is selling SAP solutions on the UCS platform in a variety of solutions, those being SAP on Vblock, SAP on FlexPod, SAP ERP on UCS, Precision Marketing for retail establishments on UCS, Suite on HANA on UCS, Sybase ASE on UCS. Cisco is also working very closely with SAP on their cloud solutions and how these solutions will benefit joint customers.

So what is Cisco doing at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas from Oct 21 through Oct 25.

Palazzo Congress Center, Las Vegas
Come visit Cisco at our booth #1000 and see firsthand how
Cisco delivers a complete compute platform for SAP Applications, including SAP HANA. In booth demonstrations will include:

SAP on FlexPod
SAP HANA
SAP and Hadoop
SAP on Vblock
SAP IT Process Automation by Cisco

Attend Cisco Speaking Sessions
Join us at SAP TechEd for Cisco speaking and expert
networking sessions. With topics including: What Is
The Real Value of HANA, SAP and Hadoop, UCS For SAP HANA, and more. For more information on speaking sessions, click here. We look forward to seeing
you at our sessions.

Meet with Cisco Experts at Booth 1000

Cisco executives and subject matter experts will be available to meet with you at SAP TechEd 2013. To schedule a meeting, please contact your Cisco representative.

Connect at our Customer Events

Make sure to join us for some fun as well. We will be hosting a Customer Reception with some of our partners, for additional information, please contact you local Cisco Account Executive.

We will also be hosting an Exclusive Customer Dinner at TAO. For details, please contact you local Cisco Account Executive.

For more information be sure to visit,
Cisco at SAP TechEd Las Vegas.

Join the Conversation on Cisco at SAP TechEd Las Vegas

Cisco UCS with
Intel® Xeon® processors
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Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation
in the U.S. and/or other countries

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Cisco UCS vRack on Full Display at PASS Summit

October 6, 2013 at 10:55 pm PST

Cisco is proud to be a Platinum sponsor and exhibitor at PASS Summit this year. If you aren’t familiar with PASS Summit, it “is the world’s largest, most-focused, and most-intensive conference for Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals.”

Gary Serda has done an excellent job in detailing what the Cisco UCS team will be sharing with attendees in his blog post Guide to Cisco at the PASS Summit, so I wanted to highlight our 3D, interactive vRack of our Unified Computing System which is always a highlight at trade shows and will be on display at PASS Summit.

 

Stop by booth #300 Read More »

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