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Cisco and Microsoft SQL Server 2014

April 16, 2014 at 11:18 am PST

Fig 1 Overview

This week Microsoft launched SQL Server 2014, their data management and business intelligence platform. SQL Server at Microsoft has grown tremendously over the years; it is far from its origins as a simple relational database that Microsoft licensed from Sybase years ago. For the 2014 version of SQL Server, Microsoft has focused on continuing their drive to deliver mission critical performance, use that performance to provide for heterogeneous data access and insight, and finally delivering a data platform for customer’s private and hybrid cloud solutions.  At Cisco we believe that our Unified Data Center architecture provides an optimum compute, network, and management offering for your Microsoft SQL Server solutions:

Compute – Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS)

 Fig 2 Compute

Our Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) server family is an intelligent fabric-based computing infrastructure that simplifies operations and speeds application deployment in physical and cloud computing environments. UCS combines industry-standard x86 architecture blade and rack servers, networking, and enterprise-class management into a single cohesive system. UCS’s configuration is entirely programmable using unified, model-based management to simplify and accelerate deployment of Microsoft workloads, bare-metal or virtual, such as SQL Server 2014. Its unified I/O infrastructure uses a high-bandwidth, low-latency unified fabric to support networking, storage I/O, and management traffic. UCS unified fabric increases performance, security, and manageability by extending fabric directly to servers and virtual machines. UCS servers are 100% stateless, delivering a highly flexible server environment that allows for dynamic utilization of server hardware

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Managing Your Business Intelligence: Microsoft SQL Server on Integrated Infrastructures

February 27, 2014 at 9:53 am PST

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Business intelligence begets better, more informed decision making—and, ultimately, success. But how do you get effective business intelligence? It starts with your tools and infrastructure…

With the proliferation of database and virtualization sprawl and the growing requirement for business insight that has increased I/O performance demand and complexity in the datacenter, enterprises are asking for a simplified approach. Cisco UCS offers industry-leading performance along with the flexible infrastructure you need to deploy, manage, move to the cloud and scale your bare metal or virtual SQL Server workloads

On March 18, join Industry thought leaders from Cisco, Microsoft, NetApp, EMC, and DesignMind to explore how Microsoft SQL Server and integrated infrastructures such as FlexPod and VSPEX enable you to more effectively turn data into a valuable strategic asset for business decision makers.

Make plans today to join us and learn how these infrastructures can help you:

  • Make sure optimal access to mission-critical data is available
  • Enable greater business agility
  • Increase cost-efficiency and lower TCO for business intelligence initiatives

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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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#EngineersUnplugged S4|Ep8: VSPEX 101

December 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm PST

In this week’s episode, everything you wanted to know about VSPEX but were afraid to ask. We’re talking VSPEX 101 with Chris Romano and Chad Dunn. They why, the how, and the use cases to back it up. Complete with a VSPEX unicorn, let’s watch:

**The next shoot is last week of January at Cisco Live in Milan! If you want to be internet-famous, contact me ASAP to talk about being on the show.**

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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Cisco UCS Director is Nominated for a ‘Storage, Virtualisation and Cloud (SVC)’ Product of the Year Award!

October 24, 2013 at 4:55 am PST

I’m happy to report that Cisco UCS Director (formerly Cloupia) has been selected as a finalist for the 2013 Storage, Virtualisation & Cloud (SVC) Awards!  Please take a moment and vote for UCS Director at http://cs.co/SVCAward.

SVCThis finalist nomination recognizes the innovation and differentiation that Cisco UCS Director provides for end-to-end converged infrastructure management — including automation for both virtual and physical resources across compute, network, and storage.

The video below provides a good overview of Cisco UCS Director and its benefits for IT organizations:

 

The sweet spot for Cisco UCS Director is in managing converged infrastructure based on Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) with Cisco Nexus switches and third party storage — focusing on our market-leading integrated systems including the FlexPod solution with NetApp, as well as VCE’s Vblock Systems and our VSPEX solutions with EMC storage.

But the beauty of Cisco UCS Director is that it can also manage heterogeneous environments, including non-Cisco infrastructure and multiple hypervisors. Whether you call it your single-pane-of-glass or one ring to rule them all, it’s a highly innovative and comprehensive infrastructure management solution for your data center operations.  These capabilities and more are highlighted in the award nomination which you can read here.

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