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Things You Can Do in 16 Minutes: Pushing the VDI Performance Envelope with Cisco UCS, VMware Horizon View and EMC VSPEX

So what exactly can you do in 16 minutes?  Well, you can:

  • Download and install your preferred tax prep software, because (if you're in the US or Canada) April is coming
  • Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, then reminisce and/or lament about it for exactly 1 minute.
  • Save 15% on your car insurance (you can supposedly get this done in 15 vs. 16 min.)
  • Do some really unsavory things not suitable for mentioning on a nice blog post like this one.

Don’t care about any of those things?  Neither do I.  Let me come back to this in a moment…

If you’re familiar with our architecture portfolio for desktop virtualization, you may be aware that we’re continuing to invest in VSPEX-based reference architectures for Cisco Desktop Virtualization.  This week, we just announced the latest addition to the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) portfolio – our solution for VMware Horizon View 5.3 with Cisco UCS and EMC VSPEX available here.

If you’re not already familiar with them, CVD’s provide prescriptive design guidance around how to build solutions with specific outcomes (performance) as documented through a testing/documentation discipline that Cisco’s been doing for years.  You’ll find our repository of desktop virtualization CVD’s here.

So now let’s talk about the CVD itself.  Our principal author is Ramesh Guduru – he’s a Virtualization Systems Engineer in Cisco’s Data Center Business Group and has extensive experience in Horizon View, virtualization infrastructure and management, Cisco UCS and storage.  Ramesh assembled a test platform based on the setup shown in Figure 1. 

Cisco UCS VDI VSPEX with View

Figure 1: Cisco CVD Validation Platform

As you can see the core pillars of the solution are:

Key things we wanted to expose/profile in this effort included:

  • More with less – more powerful processors and faster memory
  • System footprint for delivering 2,000 Horizon View desktops, while still retaining room to expand as demand increases
  • Leverage more economical processors – ex: a 57% lower list price for the Intel E5-2680 v2 10-core processors vs. top bin processors tested in the past = lower server cost = lower per desktop CAPEX
  • Hosting density leadership (# desktops per compute blade)
  • End user experience as exercised using LoginVSI with medium workload with Flash
  • Boot-up and login performance (simulating the Monday-morning boot storm dilemma all VDI implementations face and daily login storms)·

From a design perspective we also wanted to ensure our system provided:

  • Full n+1 fault tolerance across the stack
  • Fully virtualized platform, inclusive of the virtual desktops, as well as the infrastructure componentry like vCenter, AD, SQL servers etc.

I’ll leave it to you the explore the methodology Ramesh followed for the CVD, but let me point to a couple interesting things gained from this effort:

  • With our B200 M3 blade, we increased our desktop workload capacity (across the system) by 30% compared with full-width blades used in prior analyses
  • We collapsed the footprint from 30 RU down to just 12 RU.
  • The combined effect of the selected CPU (Intel Ivy Bridge), high-bandwidth, low-latency unified fabric, and our VIC 1240 converged networking adapter yielded exceptional user experience at under 1.75 sec at full load.
  • The EMC VNX5600 provided outstanding storage performance for both file and block, using EMC Fast Cache technology.
  • VMware Horizon View 5.3 with Sparse Virtual Disk gave us better disk performance and disk space efficiency.

And as for the 16 minute thing?

  • That's how long it took for the full population of 2,000 virtual desktops to get booted and ready to login (under 16 minutes).  And in an additional 14 we had all of them running user workload with no sign of exhausting the system.

Get the details by digging into the CVD posted here

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Automated Provisioning of Application Stacks

Whether working with bare-metal servers or virtual machines; provisioning applications and infrastructure traditionally are independent tasks that are completed by different data center teams. Infrastructure is usually provisioned manually. Applications are customarily provisioned via golden templates. As customers look to move automation beyond infrastructure to include applications, the maintenance complexity and manual “last mile” configuration associated with application golden templates is no longer a sustainable solution.

The situation has made Puppet and Chef popular. Both assist with automating the infrastructure life cycle as well as rapid application deployment. But some system admins prefer to use Puppet. Some prefer Chef. Cloud admins want to use Amazon, vCloud Director or OpenStack. What to do?

Cisco lets you use either or both and makes it easier to automate application delivery thanks to the Cisco Application Stack Accelerator for Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC). With this cloud accelerator, those “last mile” deficiencies are practically eliminated.

Bringing together the knowledge of infrastructure and application specialists, this solution automates the design and configuration of application stack components. The result is an application blueprint that consistently delivers applications within minutes, across multiple cloud platforms, to the exact design and specification of the application architect.

Watch these two videos to better understand application blueprints as well as how they can be consumed by Cisco IAC.

Video #1 clarifies what an application blueprint does and how to design and configure them

Video #2 walks you through how to deliver fully configured multi-tier cloud applications with Cisco IAC

Why is this important? Customers tell us that they struggle with multiple requests for virtually the same application. One particular customer, discovered that they had 250 requests for the same application in a two month period. Each one of these requests took IT four to six weeks to deliver before the project could begin. This not only shows down IT but your business as well.

Using Cisco IAC and the Application Stack Accelerator, you can automate the design, configuration and consumption of applications via the Cisco IAC portal. The result? Customers get their application within 30-40 minutes instead of four to six weeks resulting in projects starting sooner. IT spends less time spinning up multiple versions of virtually the same application allowing them to focus on new innovative services. Bottom line: your business experiences agility, speed, and efficiency.

Industry analysts forecast that four out of every 10 companies will be utilizing a private cloud by the end of 2014. With cloud automation becoming this prevalent, you owe it to yourself to learn how Cisco IAC and the Application Stack Accelerator can speed up the design, configuration and consumption of applications within your organization.

Together, this solution can help you deploy applications efficiently; reduce complexity and ensure that applications are deployed to the architect's exact design and specification.

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Join the Conversation: Cisco and Forrester Webcast

Cloud is changing the way businesses deploy and manage IT and business services. Industry analysts estimate that by the end of 2014, four out of 10 companies will have deployed a private cloud.

But where do you start?

Join Cisco and Forrester on February 18th, for this live webcast entitled: Cloud Management: It's More than Just IaaS. Check out this promotional video then register today.

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Use Cloud to Execute Your Business Vision

Major change and growth is happening in the way data centers are functioning. This change is being led by cloud technology.

IT's role is changing from an infrastructure provider to strategic business partner. The new role for IT is to align you with the services you need, when you need them, from a portfolio of internal or external services.

Once viewed as your organization’s virtual machine dispenser, cloud is quickly maturing. You have expectations beyond virtual machines. You need applications along with the underlying components that support that application. You need an automated way to manage application life cycles as well as integrate business financials.

Cisco has lived this data center evolution and has been surfing the sea of change. It has the tools for you to accelerate cloud delivery in your organization as well.

Introduced last week at CiscoLive Milan, Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) 4.0 is a game changing solution that extends cloud beyond the data center. It is a great choice if you:

• Want a single modern business portal that acts as your central order point for IT or any business service. Cisco IAC delivers. With a modern, on-line shopping experience, you can order data center services, applications, development platforms and telephony or collaboration services with a single-click order experience.

Service Portal

• Require your cloud management to be heterogeneous not homogeneous. Cisco IAC 4.0 operates in concert with UCS Director to deliver a solid multi-vendor private cloud platform that spans physical and virtual infrastructure components. With this unique combination, you can shift your focus from “how to build” to delivering differentiated services for your organization to consume.

• Understand that networking is hard and a vendor with domain dominance is essential. Network services in the cloud are difficult and as a result the network team is rarely included in the cloud conversation. Cisco IAC’s out-of-box templates for network services, such as firewalls, load balancers, and VPNs, allows your network team to once again participate in the conversation.

Network Topology

• Want cloud governance that goes beyond basic health and status. With advanced financial management across multiple tenants and platforms, you can tailor prices per tenant, or geography, or application type. When you order a service, Cisco IAC automatically delivers a price quote which becomes a threshold to which consumption, by budget or actual resource, can be tracked. When this threshold is reached, you will be notified that additional funds or resources are required or the service will be terminated.

There is a sea of change occurring in data centers today. You need a strategic partner who has the
vision to successfully navigate this change. Dive in and learn how Cisco IAC can support your business – like it supports Cisco’s data centers.

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Check out what’s new in the latest release of UCS Director!

Cisco’s award winning converged infrastructure management software solution just got even better!  In the latest release of Cisco UCS Director, we've added broader and deeper infrastructure support across the compute, network, storage and virtualization layers, as well making the product even more scalable.  The latest release also comes with new software development kits (SDKs) for partners to provide extensibility and interoperability and a northbound API for integration with Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) as well as other cloud management systems.  Let’s take a closer look at these enhancements in detail.

SDKs and APIs

UCS Director’s new SDKs and APIs were recently made available to give our partners the following functionality:

  • Northbound API which integrates into higher platforms like Cisco IAC.  This API enables you to perform operations on Cisco UCS Director resources and to integrate those operations into applications so that they can provide API-supported functionality and features.
  • SDK  available on cisco.com & DevNet (CDN), which provides open automation for partners looking to create new device connector

Compute

                                                            compute   Compute Enhancements

UCS Manager 2.1 (Delmar); KVM console; SAN zoning through UCS   Manager; standalone management of UCS C-SeriesUCS Integration -Local disk provisioning and policies

-Workflow tasks for vNIC templates and service profile

-Assign blade or server pool to group

-Cloning of profile and profile template

 

Whiptail – application acceleration

  •   Invicta, Acella API Version 1.5 support
  •   Inventory reports
  •   CRUD actions,    workflows, and reports
  •   Converged and stack views

 

UCS Central Integration

-Multi-domain Manager concept

-Inventory for UCS-M elements

-Local/global service profile and templates

-Pools and policies for network and storage equivalent to UCS-M

-Select/deselect UCS domain assigned to POD

 

Read More »

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