In my first blog post, I highlighted some of the benefits being seen by customers using Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS) from Case Studies. In posts two and three, I discussed reduction in cabling and provisioning times in more detail. Today I will drill down on power and cooling.
Why are customers seeing a 52% reduction in their power and cooling costs? Through virtualization, reducing overall server counts, but also through a paradigm shift in what constitutes a server solution with the unification of compute, network, storage access, and management. Cisco’s Unified Fabric condenses up to three parallel networks into one, reducing the number of I/O interfaces, cables, and switch ports.
For blade servers, instead of going with a “mini-rack” chassis architecture, Cisco replaced the intra-chassis switches and management modules with Fabric Extenders (FEX) to transfer the unified fabric from the chassis to the Fabric Interconnects. A FEX is a remote line card and does not act as a switch. Compare this simplicity with a common chassis configuration for a competitor: a pair of Ethernet switches, a pair of Fibre Channel switches, and a pair of chassis management modules.
A reduction in time to provision and deploy servers is the benefit most often cited by customers. This is accomplished with UCS Manager. Cisco UCS Manager integrates the management interfaces for server, network, and storage access into a single unified tool. UCS Manager uses a building block approach combing pools, polices, and templates into Service Profiles. Service Profiles allow you to configure over 120 settings that make up a server’s “personality” enabling one-click deployment.
Here are three customer examples.
Basefarm – The crucial feature of Cisco UCS Manager is its use of service profiles to provision server resources, enabling infrastructure to be provisioned in minutes instead of days. “What Cisco has done with server profiles is brilliant,” says Månsby. “You can’t have a server online without storage and network, so it makes perfect sense to package all three administrative functions into a single interface. It’s all about resource efficiency: if server, storage, and network are three different phases, then you spend three times as long on a deployment or change as you would using Cisco UCS. And time is money.” Stefan Månsby, Chief Business Development Officer
Why are customers seeing an 80% reduction in cabling and 75% in associated costs? Using a 10 Gigabit Ethernet unified network fabric – Cisco’s unified fabric technology reduces cost by consolidating Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and management. This “unification” eliminates the need for multiple separate sets of adapters, cables, and switches for LANs, SANs, and high performance computing networks. Cisco’s Unified Fabric uses a low-latency, lossless 10-Gbps Ethernet/FCoE foundation that enables a “wire-once” deployment model in which changing I/O configurations no longer means installing adapters and re-cabling racks and switches. With Cisco UCS you just add cables.
Here are three customer examples.
Hay Group – “With the Cisco UCS, we consolidated from 540 to 12 cables, a 44-to-1 ratio,” says Butler. [Robert Butler, Global CIO Hay Group]
Galliker Transport AG – “Where we previously needed 80 cables, we now only need eight: a reduction by the factor of ten. This not only cuts down the investment required, it also simplifies scalability. Installation and maintenance work are also substantially reduced.”
NetApp – In addition, using the converged network adapter on the Cisco UCS instead of separate Ethernet and Fibre Channel adapters enabled the company to decrease the cable count by 78 percent, from 1440 to 250.
For more information on how Cisco UCS is delivering on Cisco’s Unified Computing Vision, see the At-A-Glance.
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.
Cisco publishes a large number of customer references in the forms of Case Studies, Solution Briefs, etc. It can be a very time consuming task to read through all of them to find out just how much Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS®) is helping our current customers, and how it might also help you. I decided to take on the task of trying to quantify the savings our customers told us they achieved with UCS versus their old legacy environment. The list below summarizes the average of these tangible results. These results are limited to where the customers specifically stated a savings or where the savings is easily derived from the numbers stated.
When Cisco announced its new data center architecture in 2009, among the stated goals were: reducing the total cost of ownership, improving business agility and energy efficiency, and less cabling. Now on our third generation of servers, it is clear Cisco exceeded its own expectations.
Would you like to learn more about how Cisco UCS can help you? There are more than 250 published data center 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.
Back in March we announced the third generation of UCS, with significant expansions to the I/O and systems management capabilities of the platform as well as a new lineup of servers. This month we’re continuing to expand the UCS server lineup with the addition of four new models. The latest batch of M3 systems are comprised of three Intel Xeon “EN” class machines (E5-2400 series processors) as well as a four socket “EP” (E5-2600 series) blade server. Specifically: the UCS B22 and B420 M3 blades and the C22 and C24 M3 rack servers. These new servers round out the UCS portfolio with an even stronger set of products optimized for scale-out and light general-purpose computing as well as a new price/performance 4S category in the mid-range.
If you prefer watching than reading , here is a nice conversation between Intel Boyd Davis , VP & GM, Data Center Infrastructure group, Cisco Jim McHugh, VP UCS Marketing, and Scott Ciccone, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, highlighting the key benefits of these new models.
To figure out how these fit in, let’s step back and consider the broader evolution of server technology in play here:
1) Cisco has made server I/O more powerful and much simpler.
One of the key differentiators of UCS is the way in which high-capacity server network access has been aggregated through Cisco Virtual Interface Cards and infused with built-in high performance virtual networking capabilities. In “pre-UCS” server system architectures, one of the main design considerations was the type and quantity of physical network adapters required. Networking, combined with computing sockets/cores/frequency/cache, system memory, and local disk are historically the primary resources considered in the balancing act of cost, physical space and power consumption, all of which are manifested in the various permutations of server designs required to cover the myriad of workloads most efficiently. Think of these as your four server subsystem food groups. Architecture purists will remind us that everything outside the processors and their cache falls into the category of “I/O” but let’s not get pedantic because that will mess up my food group analogy. In UCS, I/O is effectively taken off the table as a design worry because every server gets its full USRDA of networking through the VIC: helping portions of bandwidth, rich with Fabric Extender technology vitamins that yield hundreds of Ethernet and FC adapters through one physical device. Gone are the days of hemming and hawing over how many mezz card slots your blade has or how many cards you’re going to need to feed that hungry stack of VM’s on your rack server. This simplification changes things for the better because it takes a lot of complication out of the equation.