Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Data Center

‘Tis the Season for Events, Trade Shows & Cisco UCS Servers

‘Tis the Season – for Events and Trade Shows

Make sure to visit the Cisco booth and talk to the team about Cisco UCS Servers

Well, we are officially deep into the IT and Data Center event and trade show season. 

This is a great time for Cisco and a tremendous opportunity for us to meet and talk with IT professionals about what is important to them.  The discussions range from deployment challenges, to management, networking, collaboration and even failover and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO).  It is very rewarding when new customers stop by to say how great Cisco UCS is, how easy it was to integrate into their data center, and how they are using Cisco solutions (including Cisco UCS) to deliver superior performance for their organizations.  The most fun is when they tell me what server(s) there were using and then evangelize to me the benefits of UCS, wishing they hadn’t waited so long to make the move up to Cisco servers and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

One of the most compelling conversations I have ever had was at VMworld.  A visitor to the Cisco booth (from a major mid-west university) came by to praise UCS and to ask some technical questions.  The most important question for him was the need to verify the correct NIC failover settings for his VMware environment.  {Cisco UCS Manager lets you programmatically specify how failover is handled, either at the individual Service Profile level or at the Service Profile Template level, depending on your setup.}  The customer did not remember what his current settings were and did not have his VPN information with him, but he still needed help.  While he was calling his team to get the access information he needed, I called over one the Technical Matter Experts staffing our booth.  From the event floor, we actually logged into the university’s UCS deployment, inside the data center (view only mode of course), accessed UCS Manager and drilled down into the Service Profile Template for the VMware servers. The end of the story is that the UCS B-Series server NIC failover settings were optimized for his VMware deployment, which in this case was to let VMware handle it.  UCS adapter policies were set to “VMware”.  Even better was the ability that Cisco UCS delivers which enables this degree of visibility and management.  I can tell you it impressed a number of folks that were watching the process and had multiple questions afterward. {For step by step guidance to set the UCS Service Profile and Templates policies discussed above, see Cisco Virtualization Solution for EMC VSPEX with VMware vSphere 5.1 for 250 Virtual Machines.  Figures 71 through 76 are great illustrations of this capability.  They are located in the section titled:  VSPEX Configuration Guidelines – Physical setup – Create Service Profile Template}

The “hands on” story above was a one-time experience for me.  The truly amazing thing is that it is an absolutely normal occurrence to be talking with someone about Cisco Unified Computing System, and have an existing customer, who is just walking by, join the conversation.  When this happens it typically kicks off a 10 minute “customer and visitor” discussion.  The UCS customer goes into detail about how much they like UCS and the Cisco partnership, the benefits they are getting from their UCS Solution, and how much better it is than their old (always named) vendor. This is not an unusual occurrence, and the depth of customer appreciation for the UCS solution is amazing.

Cisco UCS Manager

Cisco UCS Manager

The most prevalent reason to switch (but not the only one) I have been hearing from customers who have adopted UCS could be best summarized this way:  Cisco UCS is Cisco Unified Computing System. UCS truly does deliver a solution that unifies data center computing.  The key ingredient, the thing that everyone “digs the most” (1960’s flashback), is management – try out the UCS Manager Test Drive. Cisco UCS abstracts the server identity (over 120+ configuration parameters) to reside in UCS Manager, so that any like UCS server can easily be designated the host for that specific server identity – and with UCS it could be a Rack or Blade server.  Not only that, you can use a pre-defined Service Profile and duplicate it to generate a UCS Service Profile Template for broader use.  See this excellent blog by my colleague Ranjit Nayak for a brief intro to UCS Service Profiles – Cisco UCS – Quintessential Fabric-based computing Part 2.  Using UCS Service Profiles drive rapid deployment and potentially more important, screaming fast recovery time objectives (RTO) so data centers stay up and running with the best possible SLA.  It all happens inside a single redundant management tool that enables collaboration and that can span data centers and geographies (Cisco UCS Central) with a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

It is hard for me to leave UCS TCO out of any blog or conversation.  So here you go.  Below is a very short video from EMC World 2012 booth.  It is very relevant to UCS Manager and the IT economic environment, both then and now.

 

We hope to see you at the next event and definitely encourage you to come to Cisco Live.

If you have already been to one (or more) shows and stopped by the Cisco booth, that is fantastic and thanks for your support.

  • If you have upcoming trips on your calendar don’t forgot to stop and see the innovations Cisco is delivering for your IT organization and meet with one of the multiple experts we have staffing the booth. To mention just a few, Cisco is driving significant innovation in:  networking, management, servers (of course) and solutions based designs.  Something for everyone.
  • If you are still working on your schedule and are not sure which event will fit, take a look at our Cisco Global Events Calendar.  There are still multiple shows and events going on worldwide.  Cisco Live, US (late June in Orlando FL) is an incredible opportunity and is always a fantastic event.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cisco recognized as a bona fide server platform for SAP HANA by Vishal Sikka at SAP Sapphire

Over the past three years, Cisco has vaulted from the not only the leader in the networking industry, but they have become the number two blade vendor in the US and number three world-wide. This has caused some pause on the part of the top platform vendors in the industry.

Cisco is now making an impact on the application world as well. Last week at SAP Sapphire, the largest world-wide industry trade show for SAP in Orlando, Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP Executive Board, specifically called out Cisco as a SAP HANA Server Platform Vendor in addition to their world-wide leadership role in the networking space. This was significant because this clearly puts Cisco in a different category as they gain market share in the SAP Application and SAP HANA space.

The result of this announcement was clearly visible at the Cisco booth at Sapphire. Cisco was an Onyx sponsor at Sapphire and demonstrated the many solutions that Cisco has with SAP. In the booth there was SAP HANA, SAP on Vblock, SAP on FlexPod, IT Process Automation, Afaria, and Precision Retail. The Cisco UCS Server Platform, Fabric Extender and Nexus are the basis for all these solutions with SAP. The result is Lower Total Cost of Ownership on a standardized x86 platform.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Trends in the Oracle User Community

In April the largest conference for Oracle users, outside of Oracle OpenWorld, occurred in Denver.  With 6000 attendees “Collaborate”, the annual Oracle user conference sponsored by IOUG (Independent Oracle User Group), OAUG (Oracle Application User Group) and Quest International, is one of the best events For Oracle users, whether it is Oracle Database or any of the other Oracle software products, to learn, network, share and teach. Oh, and have some fun too.

But for companies like Cisco who exhibit and sponsor Collaborate, it is also a great chance to informally “take the pulse” of the Oracle user community. The questions they ask and the sessions they attend provide a clear indicator of where Oracle users are headed, what the trends are and and where they are putting their efforts in the future. Here is what I discovered at this year’s Collaborate.

 

Oracle Trends from Collaborate 13

So unlike past conferences, the Oracle community is actively looking at

a) Virtualization for their Oracle infrastructure, including Databases  and

b) Preconfigured/prevalidated hardware solutions (sometimes called converged infrastructure solutions) instead of just the old DIY custom system approach for hardware.

To me these are both major changes in the mindset of those using Oracle Database and applications. And the implications are significant.  As virtualization permeates the large Oracle install-base (largest business software vendor),  the hypervisor vendors will see significant growth and many operational aspects of Oracle infrastructures will change and improve. That virtualization push includes Oracle who is making inroads with their dramatically updated Oracle VM (virtual machine) product.

The move towards pretested hardware solutions is also a major directional shift which should drive an increased focus on reducing software and database upgrade/version cycle times and downplay the need to do extensive hardware testing.  In today’s environment of “do more with less”, pretested hardware solutions may be a great way to help the Oracle IT team address that conundrum.

Can Cisco help with these trends towards more Oracle virtualization and pretested hardware configurations? The answer is a resounding YES!  With our storage partners EMC and NetApp, and our software partners Oracle and VMware, we have developed an extensive array of pretested/prevalidated solutions with hypervisors (Oracle VM and vSphere), storage (EMC and NetApp) and software (Oracle Database and applications) all running on Cisco UCS servers and Cisco networking.  For more information on Cisco’s Oracle solutions and to see the available Cisco Validated Designs (CVD) for Oracle, go to  Cisco.com/go/oracle

Coming up in my next blog, more on the move to virtualize Oracle database and applications.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cisco UCS – Changing the Economics of the Datacenter

Cisco UCS has fantastic technology that technical decision makers are demanding. But what about business decision makers? It doesn’t matter how great the technology is, the question for BDMs is how will UCS save me money?

I set out to answer that question, connecting UCS technology innovations to TCO improvement, for the Unifying Your Data Center Roadshow (running through late June) and wanted to share the presentation with a larger audience so it has been posted to SlideShare.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS): Changing the Economics of the Datacenter from Cisco Data Center

The savings are grouped into two overall buckets: Unified Fabric (servers, networking, cabling, power & cooling) and Unified Management (provisioning, ongoing administration, and systems management software). Each sub-section discuss Cisco’s differentiation at a high level and shows how they impact the value of a UCS solution. The savings categories are validated by customer case studies, some of which you may remember from my first series of blog posts, Yes, Cisco Servers are that good. Lastly there are two real world TCO/ROI examples including Loughborough University who are cutting their costs ~50% over five years.

Would you like to learn more about how Cisco UCS can help you? There are more than 250 published datacenter case studies on Cisco.com. Additionally, there is a TCO/ROI tool that will allow you to compare your existing environment to a new UCS Solution. For a more in-depth TCO/ROI analysis, contact your Cisco partner

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

I recently had the opportunity to host several customers in a roundtable discussion, exploring their experiences in deploying desktop and application virtualization, the challenges encountered, and the benefits they’ve reaped.  It was an engaging dialog with organizations spanning mid-market, enterprise to large service prVirt_during Webinar w_Jim Mchughovider environments deploying either Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View desktop virtualization software.  In case you missed it, you can check out the event here.  I mention this because it provides a valuable backdrop to some important news Cisco is sharing today, centered on helping IT organizations (like those I met with) more quickly achieve success in VDI.

Over the last few years, Cisco UCS has rapidly established itself as a leader among competitors with a much longer history in the server marketplace.  Why is that?  If you talk with anyone who’s implemented UCS in their data center, they’ll instantly tell you about the operational streamlining and simplification that UCS Service Profile Templates offer, the value of a unified data center fabric for LAN and SAN, and the performance derived from a platform that was purpose built for highly scalable, virtualized environments.

It shouldVirt_info graphic_UDC to End User be no surprise then, that when organizations evaluate their options for server infrastructure to host virtual desktop workloads, the same UCS core value proposition extends nicely to desktop virtualization – the benefits of which are multiplied, in fact, given that virtual desktops can consume infrastructure resources and capacity in unique ways compared to other mission critical enterprise applications.  We’ve therefore seen great response from our customers (as demonstrated in our webinar/panel discussion) when it comes to the fitness of UCS in hosting virtual desktops.

What we’ve come to find through our customer’s experiences, is that the vendor marketplace has traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all mentality around VDI architectures that either forces organizations to overspend CAPEX on approaches that are tuned for much larger environments, or wrestle with an economized approach that results in poor desktop user experience.  Clearly, there’s a spectrum of IT implementation use cases that apply, when we’re talking VDI.  Persistent desktops vs. floating, SAN in place vs. greenfield, one-hundred seats vs. tens of thousands, etc. so one size will never adequately fit all!

For this very reason, we’re expanding our portfolio of desktop virtualization solution architectures, along with the ecosystem of technology partners who are helping us accelerate the path to VDI success for environments of all sizes.  While Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with NetApp and EMC, we’re now  offering desktop virtualization solutions that also include technologies from partners such as Nimble Storage, Nexenta, Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, Tegile and others in process.

With these partners’ technologies come new capabilities that exploit key trends in the VDI and data center marketplace, including the proliferation of flash-based storage solutions, and appliance based approaches that mitigate the need for embedded SAN infrastructure and expertise (especially in smaller environments).  Additionally, unlike our competitors who are narrowly focused on their own storage portfolio, Cisco can offer our customers the flexibility and choice they desire in selecting the storage technology and solution for VDI, that best fits their environment.

I encourage you to learn more about this exciting new portfolio of architectures by checking out the assets below.

Please also check out the webinar “Customer Insights: Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms

Our featured guests include:

  • Mark Balch, Director UCS Product Management, Cisco
  • David Johnson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Charles Rosse, Baptist Memorial HealthCare
  • Udaya Kiran, WiPro Technologies
  • Robert Dixon, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • And myself (Jim McHugh) as your Host/Moderator

Check it out and let me know what you think in the Comments section!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,