If you looked around my TV room a few years ago, you might commiserate with me about the number of remote controls: TV, cable box, VCR, sound bar, Roku, and our ancient VHS player. Playing back a recorded episode of 24 wasn’t for the faint of heart. As an engineer (can’t help myself), I saw the problem in having to orchestrate multiple devices, each with its own management interface.

I’m sure that sounds familiar to anyone who’s had to deploy and manage traditional remote office infrastructure, as well. At Cisco we use on-premises servers and storage in approximately 76 sales and manufacturing sites, for core services (DNS, DHCP, etc.) and for quality control and testing software in the manufacturing locations. Until recently, each office needed three infrastructure components that had to be deployed and managed separately: rack servers, storage, and VMware ESX. Deployment took eight hours, with two or three admins having to coordinate their schedules.

We’re customer zero for HyperFlex Edge

I’m pleased to report that both my TV setup and our remote infrastructure are much simpler today. The reason for the latter is HyperFlex Edge, which combines Cisco UCS compute, storage, and VMware ESX in one package. Cisco IT is “customer zero” for HyperFlex, meaning that we’re putting it through its paces before our customers do. We give feedback to the business unit about bugs, new feature suggestions, etc. Some of the features in the latest HyperFlex release are direct results of our suggestions, including an all-flash storage and NVMe cache option, support for containers on VMware and bare metal, and availability zones.

Eleven weeks of found time

So far we’ve deployed HyperFlex Edge in seven offices on three continents. My team’s favorite change is faster deployment: deploying a 3-node HyperFlex Edge system takes us just two hours, down from eight with traditional infrastructure. Multiply the six hours saved by 76 offices and you get 456 man-hours. That’s the equivalent of 56 extra days—11 weeks—that we’ve freed up for strategic IT initiatives.

Personally, I’m looking forward to when we start managing HyperFlex Edge from Cisco Intersight, the cloud service. Then we’ll have one place to go to monitor and manage any kind of server, anywhere—whether it’s a HyperFlex in an Amsterdam sales office or a blade server in San Jose. Universal remote, anyone?

What plans do you have for HyperFlex Edge? I invite you to leave your ideas in the comment box.