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UCS E-Series: The Survivability Guide | Inside the Branch

Free Cisco learningIt goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): reliability is important, as well as ensuring that you have a backup plan to continue that reliability. Just yesterday as I was embarking on my 50-mile commute into the office, I discovered that one of my car tires was completely flat. A spare tire, a standard feature in most cars here in the States, came to the rescue. Knowing how to change the tire myself, now that’s a different story…

In all seriousness, reliability and high availability are especially critical when it comes to keeping your business – including your branch locations – up and running. After all, downtime has disastrous consequences on your day-to-day operations, productivity, customer experience, and revenue. Imagine you’re in a retail environment and the WAN goes down, even for 10 minutes: the Point of Sale (POS) system is kaput, thus transactions are halted, customers are upset, and you’ve just lost thousands of dollars or more in revenue!

So what happens if your server, WAN, or worse, total system, fails? Read More »

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Automation and Application-Centric Infrastructure

If you have been following the news, I’m sure you saw that Cisco just introduced Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Combine ACI with Cisco UCS Director and you can provision and deliver application-centric infrastructure automatically.

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Over the past 11 months, I have discussed how Cisco UCS Director reduces data center complexity with unified automation and management of multi-vendor converged and integrated infrastructure systems. But the provisioning of compute, storage and network resources is just the start. IT needs to deliver infrastructure that is tailor-made for the specific applications their users need. Together with ACI, Cisco UCS Director has key capabilities to make this happen.

Read More »

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Three Years On, FlexPod is Smarter, Faster, and Better.

This month marks the three year anniversary of Cisco’s partnership with NetApp and our development of FlexPod.  Over the years, we’ve experienced some tremendous growth, more than doubling new installations year-over-year, and now we have more than 3,000 customers globally.

Following the success of FlexPod Datacenter, FlexPod Express and FlexPod Select the solution is capping off the year with several technology enhancements. These include the automation of integrated infrastructure, business continuity solutions, and validation of new products and reference architectures.

Together, Cisco and NetApp are introducing four new FlexPod components that enable our customers’ continuing journey to the cloud:

  1. UCS Director 4.1 deeply integrated with clustered Data ONTAP.
  2. The addition of Citrix to the FlexPod Cooperative Support program.
  3. FlexPod Datacenter with NetApp MetroCluster
  4. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 2.3

I encourage you to take a look at the short video we’ve created that gives more details of all the new components we’re announcing today.

Our friends at NetApp have written a great  blog post outlining the last two offerings, but I’d like to focus on the first two components – UCS Director and the addition of Citrix capabilities.

UCS Director Integration

New integrations with UCS Director and Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) provide automation and service catalogues, which help customers move toward delivering cloud services. Corporate IT maximizes benefits when its infrastructure can be commissioned within minutes in response to changes in demand. Cisco UCS Director views FlexPod as a single system and allows customers to rapidly deploy FlexPod by leveraging single element managers. UCS Director, in turn, will soon be natively integrated into Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud for a more comprehensive FlexPod cloud management solution.

With the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) cloud accelerator, UCS Director and FlexPod are integrated as a “node” in the cloud that can be used by cloud administrators to provision NetApp storage into virtual data centers.

Faster with Intel

Rapid deployment will be used to harness tremendous increases in FlexPod computing power. The newest FlexPod deployments will feature Cisco UCS built on Intel’s Ivy Bridge chipset.  We’ve introduced the Intel Xeon Process E5-2600 v2 product family on several servers.

“We like to say that Cisco and Intel are “Joined at the Chip,” because the innovation each company brings is incredibly complimentary. Cisco’s innovation in the data center is an extension of the company’s historic focus: connecting things. Cisco Unified Data Center and products like UCS are the outcomes of our drive to connect the pieces. When we join forces with Intel’s leadership at the computing core, customers see an unbeatable combination.”  -  Todd Brannon, Tick Tock Goes the Server Clock

Coupled with other UCS innovations, the solution has demonstrated great performance versatility and has set record-breaking industry benchmarks.

For enterprises that want to scale out this capacity, Cisco delivers UCS Central. UCS Central software manages multiple, globally distributed Cisco UCS domains with thousands of servers from a single pane.

Adding CItrix

Agile deployment and scale-out performance need the backing of a best-in-class support model. The FlexPod Cooperative Support program brings together the technology expertise of Cisco, NetApp and now Citrix. Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix XenServer and Citrix CloudPlatform are frequently deployed workloads in enterprises today. Customers will have direct access to Cisco, NetApp and Citrix engineers trained to rapidly address any operational issues.  By adding Citrix, FlexPod has the broadest IT and cloud management support, including Citrix CloudPlatform, Microsoft System Center, VMWare vCenter Orchestrator, CA Automation Suite for Clouds, and BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager.

Combined, these advances in FlexPod technology will enable the platform to exceed the needs of the most demanding private and public cloud deployments.

We’re incredibly proud of the work that Cisco and NetApp have done over the past three years.  We are looking forward to an exciting future together as we use the FlexPod platform to continue delivering significant technology innovations to our customers.

 

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Big Picture Thinking Makes Tactics Easier

In order to provide important services and innovations that better align to business, data centers must deploy advancecd IT architectures. Who says? IDC. In fact, this month they reported that adoption of integrated systems has moved from evaluation to mainstream. And yet IT remains besieged.

What is the essence of the problem? Traditional management tools. While the conversation with IT professionals at all levels is about improving data center efficiency and responsiveness, without unified management and automation, converged infrastructures are only solving half of the problem. Basically IT is still managing the trees instead of the forest.

Let’s look at an example. One industry-leading converged infrastructure solution built around Cisco UCS and EMC storage is VCE Vblock. Standardizing on Vblock delivers scalability, agility and operational efficiencies that allow IT to move away from a tactical mindset toward delivering infrastruture services efficiently to better align with business priorities. BUT, Vblock alone can’t move IT from tactical to business alignment.

Cisco UCS Director is a vital companion to the Vblock data center architecture because it simplifies provisioning and management of physical and virtual resources. Cisco UCS Director lets you manage your entire standardized Vblock environment as a single entity, delivering operational efficiency and reducing costs.

Watch the following video to find out why

Together Cisco UCS Director and Vblock transform IT from a legacy model to a dynamic environment that delivers faster time-to-value, less risk and higher efficiency for today’s 24-hour-a-day business.

Intrigued? To see how Cisco UCS Director can escort you through the forest of innovation, try a free 60-day test drive through your trees toward workforce productivity and reduced operational costs.

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Why Risk Organizational Concussion?

We have to propel new use cases for cloud because customers want more than IaaS. And they don’t want to be tied to vendors’ annual product release cycles to get it. But, as they extend cloud-based service delivery beyond IaaS and aim higher in the sky, their heads smack into the ceiling of cloud management. Naturally, they want to prevent the ensuing organizational concussion—the confusion, the fuzziness, the regrouping. So they are turning to Cisco for more flexible and extensible cloud management capabilities. Ask and you shall receive.

In a previous blog I explained how Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) can scale from single to multi-cloud deployments in addition to expanding into the richer application sets. Our support for the why wait if you don’t have to philosophy has created the cloud accelerator program for Cisco IAC. Cloud accelerators prevent those concussions. They are content modules, or cartridges, that insert into the IAC framework. Developers use them to test new application capabilities and deploy them into production, all without costly architectural revisions.

Cisco now gives you two new cloud accelerators: Application Stack Accelerator and Cisco UCS Director Accelerator.

Application Stack Accelerator
This module provides a blueprint designer onto which stack designers create whole application stacks or platforms to their precise specification, allowing consumption through Cisco IAC. This accelerator mirrors the software development process, allowing:

o Blueprint creation
o Blueprint testing
o Blueprint revision based on test results
o Review and approval
o Publication for consumption

An edit-and-copy function is available when hypervisor-specific blueprints are required or new blueprints need to be created with servers in the same network zone.

Cisco UCS Director Accelerator
Managing infrastructure within the whole cloud context is a success factor for cloud. Therefore, this accelerator lets Cisco IAC discover Cisco UCS Director as a node in the cloud and then provision physical NAS storage into an existing virtual data center—specifically NetApp storage. When applications need additional capacity, cloud administrators can add it using the IAC management portal. You will hear about the integration between Cisco IAC and UCS Director and our unified management approach over the next 60 days.

Cisco has transformed cloud management and the new-release waiting game for the better.

Cisco IAC is proving that organizations no longer need to hit their head on the cloud management ceiling and risk concussion.

To learn about Cisco IAC, go here
Click here to learn more about cloud accelerators. First time visitors will need to register.

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