When customers talk about why they like UCS they often sum it up in very concise terms. “It makes things a lot easier,” is a common refrain. But if you ask a Cisco technologist what’s good about UCS you’ll get a much more lengthy reply, probably more than you wanted to hear. That’s because when anyone fully describes all of the innovations in the solution, “under the covers,” so to speak, which conspire to bring about UCS benefits, they quickly find themselves reciting a rather long list of complex advancements. As I spend time in our booth at VMworld this week I hear both of these accounts of UCS. The long (how it rocks) and the short (why it rocks.) As luck would have it, some intrepid UCS product marketers have taken it upon themselves to bridge this yawning gap in the UCS lexicon.
First, remember that UCS is an outcome of starting with a clean sheet of paper and designing a system to rectify all the random acts of system architecture that had come before it. It’s also an outcome of a completely revolutionary way of approaching computing: not from the perspective of the constituent technologies but from the perspective of fusing them all together. UCS was expressly designed to eliminate the DIY integration that customers have been faced with for years. It was designed for a world of virtualization, automation and cloud. Fundamentally, UCS was designed to connect all the dots.
With the connections in mind, we’re introducing a technology ingredient brand into the UCS lexicon: Cisco SingleConnect Technology.
Each of these deeply sophisticated products plays a specific role, but taken altogether they create an elegant result: a simplified, uniform and extremely powerful connectivity model for servers and virtual machines. SingleConnect is way for us to describe how all of these together result in one connection for:
• LAN, SAN, and systems management
• Rack servers and blade servers
• Physical servers and virtual machines
SingleConnect, very simply, is the easiest, most intelligent and efficient way to connect and manage computing in the data center.
SingleConnect is Easy: UCS is a “wire once and walk away” solution that eliminates many of the traditional time-consuming, manual and error-prone tasks required to connect servers and virtual machines in the data center. UCS with SingleConnect is self-integrating, with automated and dynamic configuration of server I/O and networking components over a common connection. UCS centralizes administration, eliminating dozens of switching and server management points found in traditional environments while radically reducing cable management complexity.
SingleConnect is Efficient: SingleConnect Technology combines three network layers into one: top of rack, blade chassis and hypervisor switching. It also combines LAN, SAN and server systems management networks on a single fabric. Modular fabric extenders deliver capacity from a centralized fabric interconnect (single point of management) to as many as 160 servers, replacing all the Ethernet and FibreChannel switches typically deployed in much smaller server increments. Server I/O adapters (NICs, and HBA’s) are consolidated onto a single Virtual Interface Card, eliminating cost and simplifying administration.
SingleConnect is Intelligent: SingleConnect technology creates a virtualization-aware system, providing seamless VM mobility and advanced security capabilities for multi-tenant environments. I/O capacity is dynamically allocated across physical and virtual machines in the system in accordance with QOS policies, eliminating the need for manual administrator intervention and simplifying troubleshooting. Deterministic, low latency switching delivers industry leading bare metal and virtualized performance for traditional multi-tier application environments and cloud workloads alike.
Cisco SingleConnect Technology is not a specific product or feature, it is a way to describe how a deliberate roadmap of innovation solves against one of the oldest computing problems in the data center: “how do I connect all this stuff together?”
If you’re at VMworld in San Francisco this week, stop by the Cisco booth and we can give you demo of how SingleConnect brings it all together.
The OpenStack community recently reached a major milestone and celebrated its third birthday! The flagship open-source compute, storage and networking cloud platform has come a long way since the initial draft. Cisco is proud to be part of this community including participating as Vice Chair of the OpenStack Foundation and as Core Developer for Networking (Neutron).
Back in July, we celebrated OpenStack’s birthday with cake and the release of the Cisco OpenStack Installer for Grizzly. The Cisco OpenStack Installer makes it easy for customers to install, deploy and monitor OpenStack on Cisco UCS servers with networking plugins to the Nexus product line including the Nexus 3k, Nexus 5k, Nexus 6k and Nexus 7k. Watch this demo of how the Cisco Nexus plugin for Grizzly automates the upstream Cisco Nexus Top-of-Rack (ToR) switch:
More information on the Cisco OpenStack Installer for Grizzly can be found here.
We also celebrated OpenStack’s birthday by releasing the Cisco Reference Architecture for RedHat RDO OpenStack with UCS and Nexus. The Cisco OpenStack RDO Reference Architecture can be downloaded here.
Puppet is a key component of the Cisco OpenStack Installer. Cisco will be presenting an overview of Puppet and the Cisco OpenStack Installer at PuppetConf. Cisco will also be presenting details on how Puppet and OpenStack are key components of WebEx. PuppetConf will be held at the San Francisco Fairmont on August 22-23. Check out Cisco sessions at Puppet Conf here.
We would also like to thank everyone for the great interest and support in OpenStack at Cisco Live. David Yen’s keynote featured a demo of the new Dynamic Fabric Automation spine-and-leaf integration with OpenStack. Watch for the Dynamic Fabric Automation mention starting at 30:19 on this video.
The next OpenStack Summit is just around the corner! The OpenStack Summit will be held in Hong Kong on 11/5-11/9. Registration for the OpenStack Summit here.
We are looking forward to seeing everyone at PuppetConf and the OpenStack Summit.
With just a week ahead of VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, there’s a lot of planning to do. For example:
Saying “thank goodness it’s not Vegas”
Finding a suitable bacon-themed party to attend (I’ll explain)
Checking out some useful VDI content at VMworld
So if you’re earning your trip to SF by doing some VDI fact-finding footwork whilst there, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to save you a ton of wasted time trekking across the Moscone center, and spell everything out right here. But before we go there, some backdrop…
This has been an incredibly busy year for Cisco, and its VDI technology ecosystem, and certainly VMware. Yes, I know it’s only August. With the help of our ecosystem and channel partners, we took aim at the most important VDI hurdles that prevent IT from embracing this technology, including:
The cost and performance bottleneck associated with VDI storage
Expanding the addressable use cases into which VDI nicely fits
The complexity of putting a cost-effective yet scalable solution together
Now you may be saying “Pretend like I’ve been asleep for 8 months, and remind me what you’re talking about, and make it quick or I’ll find another blog to read”. Ok then testy reader, here goes:
We’ve raised the bar on VDI storage performance, while reducing the overall TCO. With the help of our expanding, best-of-breed ecosystem including solutions from Nimble Storage, Fusion-io, Nexenta, Tegile, and Atlantis Computing, we offer prescriptive design guidance on how to build solutions based on these technologies, combined with Cisco Unified Computing. These solutions are available as a complete suite of reference architectures and validated designs, here. These solutions are making the reality of doing floating or PERSISTENT desktops in an affordable way, a reality.
When you think of VDI, it’s traditionally been around the low-hanging fruit that’s easily addressable, ie: task workers, such as call center ops and those who have a minimal set of apps they need to use at any given time. But what about graphics-intensive workstations that aren’t adequately addressed by VDI display protocols? Employing Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack Server with the NVIDIA GRID™ solution, we can do virtualized GPU, offloading CPU resources while delivering higher quality graphics rendering at distance.
We’re de-risked getting into VDI, especially for pilot / proof-of-concept environments where your organization wants to get their feet wet, quickly, and affordably. How? The UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View, that’s how. These promo bundles begin with a starter for 30, 100 or 300 users, and offer expansion options, as well as storage upgrades like UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io). We call this the “Accelerated Path to ROI with VDI”.
In case you missed it, I cover some of this in my previous post, here. Now back to VMworld… coincidentally, the stuff I mentioned above, are BIG focus areas for Cisco and its partners at the show, ie: if you want to see these solutions in action, read further.
Also coincidentally, these are the very same technology trends that Brian Madden recently wrote about, associated with the increasing feasibility of doing VDI for “persistent 1-to-1 desktop images” as he puts it, leveraging the storage technologies we’ve incorporated in our reference architectures. He also makes reference to the importance of virtualized GPU solutions that are making VDI an increasingly good option for CAD, photo/video editing and similar environments.
So if you’re putting your VDI at VMworld SF checklist together, here are some things you MUST add:
1.) Cisco VDI Demos! (aka ”who doesn’t like hardware, software, and blinky lights?”)
Come by Booth 1005 for starters. Our VDI demos will include:
UCS C240 M3 running VMware Horizon View with…
UCS Storage Accelerator (built on Fusion-io) delivering low-latency, high-IOPS capacity for non-persistent View desktops
NVIDIA GRID™ cards installed so you can see virtualized GPU delivering accelerated graphics in action!
We’ll also have a single-wire managed (aka “Single Connect”) cluster of C220 M3’s running VMware Horizon View with EMC VNX5300 storage. This environment will show 500 desktops running (live) Login VSI 3.7 Medium workloads
CU Boulder deployed Nimble Storage for supportingVDI with Horizon View, built on Cisco UCS. This is a great case study in supporting hundreds of users, supporting BYOD and mobile users in a fully virtualized end-user computing environment. Check out the written version here.
We have a reference architecture (R/A) with Nimble you can review here.
and… because Inception is one of my favorite movies ever, you know this session with CU Boulder simply can’t miss!
5.) Nexenta VSA for View (NV4V) Demo Featuring Cisco UCS
check out this innovative storage appliance demo, built on Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Server. You can review our joint R/A here.
6.) Tegile VDI Passport Program
Tegile will be running a passport program that provides the opportunity to win an iPad mini by visiting: Tegile, Cisco, and other VDI ecosystem partners
We have a joint R/A featuring Tegile Zebi available here.
6.) Atlantis Computing ILIO with Cisco UCS
If you’re not familiar with it, the ILIO appliance built on Cisco UCS, provides scalable IOPS capacity without disks, leveraging UCS’s expansive memory footprint. Check this Glasshouse Whitepaper for more.
7.) #vBacon !
Ok, so what about the bacon thing? If you want to get in on probably the best bacon-themed party in SF, you need to be at the Cable Car City Pub by 10pm on Tuesday August 27th. You won’t be disappointed. Find out about this and other goodies @CommNinja and the Cisco Social Media Team are putting together, but checking this out.
Well for now, that’s it. I’ll have more to share next week at VMworld. Stop by, say hi, and let us help you knock some items off that VDI checklist. For more information on literally everything I mentioned above, see my handy bookshelf below:
Almost a year ago, I wrote my first blog post detailing what customers have been saying about their UCS experiences in our Case Studies, Solution Briefs, etc.
The findings have been updated with the latest studies. While the percentages haven’t changed much, the number of customers reporting similar results (like Cisco’s market share) has gone up dramatically.
These results are limited to where the customers specifically stated a savings or where the savings is easily derived from the numbers stated.
61% reduction of ongoing administrative/management costs based on 27 customers.
54% reduction in power & cooling based on 44 customers.
77% reduction in cabling with an average cost savings of 71% based on 21 & 6 customers respectively.
41% reduction in other operations costs based on 13 customers
84% reduction in provisioning times based on 71 customers.
Would you like to learn more about how Cisco UCS can help you? There are more than 270 datacenter case studies currently 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.
Cisco IT completely changed our voice and video infrastructure in the data center – and nobody noticed!
We changed the systems that Cisco IT uses to run ALL our voice and video supporting:
200,000 voice endpoints in 540 buildings around the world,
87,000 voicemail boxes
1600 TelePresence units
8.6 Million Webex meetings per year
Our customer contact centers handling 22M calls / year
It was a big job, migrating all these services off of 574 Cisco MCS servers, and onto new Virtual Machines running on 191 Cisco UCS servers in 12 different data centers. It took a while, but it was truly worth it, despite the fact that nobody noticed.
We reduced the amount of data center resources significantly – less space, less power, fewer cables. Even better, we now have all our voice and video running on virtual machines, making operations jobs and updates and growth a good deal easier, and faster. Best of all, though, we moved all our voice and video to a completely new server platform — and nobody noticed!