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UCS: Foundation for Cloud

December 4, 2012 at 11:44 am PST

A story came out today showcasing the platform built to power Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS), and it’s hard to describe better example of how Cisco’s data center technology comes together to help unlock the full potential of cloud computing.  In the lead-up to this release and the webcast that we’re airing this Thursday, I had the pleasure of working with Tom Force who leads up the architecture team at Xerox that built the MPS cloud.  What I heard him describe illustrates some of the fundamental differences in UCS that come into play for cloud builders:

  1. Fabric-centric design.   MPS is a cloud based service and hosts over a hundred applications.  Many of these are multi-tier apps and they benefit directly from the fact that every server in a UCS environment is connected to a single high performance, deterministic, low latency fabric.  This eliminates hops between servers and opens up the platform to support intense E/W traffic within the servers that collaborate to deliver services.   Contrast this to traditional architectures that put layers of switching between servers with in-chassis blade switching modules.  The performance gains were noticed and communicated by Xerox customers to Tom, and that is the end result that really matters
  2. Form factor agnostic design.  In UCS a server is a server is a server regardless of the shape of the box.  The Xerox MPS cloud leverages blade and rack servers as and where they make sense and the architects and administrators can manage them all in one abstracted pool of resources.  No other platform so fully eliminates the concerns of what shape the sheet metal is.
  3. A unified control plane exposed via XML API.  The MPS cloud is orchestrated with vCloud director.  The deep integration between UCS Manager and cloud platform SW enables automated discovery and configuration of new compute resources as they’re added to the system.  This creates the true elasticity and automation that a cloud of the magnitude of Xerox MPS demands.   Programmable pools of abstracted computing and network elements is what separates a robust cloud from one built on a brittle, manual infrastructure foundation.
  4. UCS Manager Service profiles:  Simplification of server image types and elimination of configuration drift as applications move from development through test, staging and deployment was a big win for the Xerox IT team.  Having a infrastructure that can be reliably and accurately provisioned and maintained, both in the primary and remote DR sites is another area Tom cited in our conversations.
  5. UCS Central:  this is recently released technology that allows customers like Xerox to manage multiple UCS domains across the data center and across geographies.
  6. I’m sure i’m forgetting something but I’ll go with 5 unique attributes for now.

You have to love it when a plan comes together. **

 

**Fictional rendering of Tom Force

This Thursday, the Xerox team is joining us for a dynamite webcast we’ve pulled together to talk about UCS and laying the right foundations for cloud.  James Staten of Forrester, who is THE MAN on cloud, helps us kick it off and we also have architects from FICO joining to talk about their private cloud design.   If you’re in the business of looking at infrastructure strategy for cloud computing this is one you don’t want to miss.

Check also Xerox case study 

 

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An Infrastructure Foundation to Deliver A World Of Many Clouds

There has been major market traction this past year in the deployment of cloud services, but the discussion still too often focuses on cloud in the singular. Our experience has shown that companies are not typically adopting a single approach to cloud, but rather are embracing a rich set of approaches that provides them with flexibility and control. While many are building  private clouds; others are building public clouds, many differentiated on industry specific characteristics. Increasingly, we see organizations using a mix of these options, consuming services from multiple cloud providers as well as building their own private cloud capacity.   But, all expect a secure and assured cloud experience.  Regular readers of this blog will recognize this as what we at Cisco we refer to as a world of many clouds. IT leaders must be prepared to build or acquire a portfolio of business application services in the world of many clouds. Read More »

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Cisco Announces IT Process Automation for SAP HANA

Cisco Introduces IT Process Automation for SAP HANA

Cisco and SAP are again flexing their partnership muscles with another joint endeavor. This week Cisco announced the general availability of Cisco IT Process Automation for SAP HANA. This software automates key aspects of SAP HANA management, enabling customers to transition to SAP HANA smoothly and manage it more efficiently once adopted.

SAP IT Process Automation

Cisco ITPA for SAP HANA saves SAP administrators time and makes it easier for them to manage the solution because of its unique and powerful capabilities. Gone are the days of reactive monitoring solutions. Cisco ITPA for SAP HANA combines a knowledge base of SAP HANA best practice operations with automated corrective actions, which enable it to fix problems before they can impede the business. No other product on the market does this.

Cisco ITPA for SAP HANA is essential for any company deploying SAP HANA because it:

· Helps companies implement SAP HANA best practices right from the start
· Performs system and infrastructure health checks for increased availability and better user experience
· Performs automated corrective actions, with IT checkpoints and full audit tracking
· Enables full management visibility across SAP HANA operations
· Automates routine operations tasks for SAP HANA
· Enhances low-touch plug-and-play SAP HANA operations

When implemented along with other Cisco ITPA automation packs, Cisco ITPA for SAP HANA makes it possible for companies to introduce SAP HANA while lowering administration costs, freeing time to focus on expediting new services for the enterprise.
Customers can purchase this product through Cisco or SAP.

For more information visit, www.sap.com/it-process-automation or contact automatesap@cisco.com.

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Xerox uses Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) as a Foundation for Cloud

November 29, 2012 at 9:22 am PST

Who doesn’t know the Xerox company ? As long as I can remember, Xerox products have always been part of my professional life . In fact, even before working for a company, I used a Xerox machine.

Originally known worldwide as a print and copier innovator, Xerox today has established itself as a leading business process and document services company, delivering popular solutions that include Xerox Managed Print Services (MPS) and Xerox Cloud Services.

On December 6 , at 9:00 am PST , Xerox Delivery Officer, MPS Technology Tom Force will join Forrester Analyst James Staten (@Staten7) as well as Jeff Hanson  and Rick Schlander , IT engineering leads at FICO Corporation to discuss with Cisco VPs Satinder  Sethi and Jim McHugh(@JimMcHugh) how to maximize the value of cloud by making the right architectural choice. You don’t want to miss this one hour highly educational webcast ! 

In fact, after registering, and before joining us for this unique webcast, you may want to have a quick look at the Xerox cloud story , which is pretty remarkable!

“The Xerox MPS global delivery centers consisted of static rack servers that were difficult to scale due to multiple hardware configurations. The centers were also reaching capacity, causing concerns about poor response speed that could slow transactions and worsen system reliability resulting in outages. As a service relied on by businesses worldwide, Xerox MPS needs to offer a 24-hour service and could not afford downtime. “ Sounds familiar ?

“With its years of experience providing outsourcing services to customers, Xerox also expanded into the cloud with services beyond printing and print management. Xerox Cloud Services started with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) before adding backup, disaster recovery, and mobile device management. With excellent features and services, Xerox Cloud Services is growing rapidly as a service that not only provides backup and storage, but also runs mission-critical applications for customers.”

So did you like this story ? Are you interested in getting more details on infrastructure capabilities that will allow you to achieve the full potential of your cloud deployment ?

Read More »

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Upgrading Five UC Clusters to Cisco UCS Reduces Servers and Costs

In an earlier post, my colleague Reid Bourdet described how we migrated our largest Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM) cluster to a virtual machine environment running on Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) servers.  This was the 19-node (server) Cisco UCM cluster that serves the Cisco headquarters campus in San Jose, California; and we completed the migration over a weekend.

What makes that move even more interesting is that we’re nearly done consolidating 5 separate clusters into one virtual environment, and reducing the total number of servers by a factor of four. Virtualization on the Cisco UCS hardware allows us to consolidate multiple UCM nodes on a single blade.  In this post, I’ll provide more details about the scope of this migration, the results we’ve gained, and how we’ll continue migrating other Cisco UCM clusters to Cisco UCS servers around the world.

Read More »

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