As we come to the end of 2013, there is a lot to look back at, and still more to look forward to in 2014.  Last year I speculated whether 2012 was the year of converged infrastructure and all indications are that it was true.  I was at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, where they referred to converged infrastructure as Fabric-based infrastructure, and expect it to become mainstream within 2-5 years.

As I look back at 2013, some of the big events, from a UCS and management perspective were:

  1. Cisco entered the ranks of the top 5 server vendors with the UCS.
  2. The virtual UCS community started a monthly UCS Tech talk series.
  3. Cloupia was renamed Cisco UCS Director, and won the Storage, Virtualization and Cloud (SVC) 2013 product of the year award
  4. Cisco extended the innovative concept of the UCS Service profiles and introduced Application Centric Infrastructure.
  5. Updated version of the Cisco UCS Manager (2.2) was released this month

Interestingly at the Gartner conference, data center automation was a topic of great interest and many sessions were dedicated to it. The Cisco UCS Management portfolio products are designed specifically to automate data center operations, increase operating efficiencies and provide business agility.  The UCS Management products expose open APIs for integrations with other IT Service management tools.

The Cisco UCS Manager version 2.2 has a long list of enhancements including

  • Increased scale for network elements such as VLANs and network adapters
  • IPV6 management support
  • Low latency converged network adapter support with User Space NIC (usNIC)
  • Improved security with 2 factor authentication for login and Secure-boot
  • VM-FEX for Hyper-V management with Microsoft SCVMM
  • Direct connect of C-Series servers to the fabric interconnects
  • And more …..This blog on the UCS community enumerates the exhaustive list.

Looking forward we can expect the following mega trends to influence UCS management in data centers:

  1. Increased IT focus on security
  2. A renewed effort by IT organizations to deliver business services
  3. Organizational changes needed to deliver business services

The recent credit card thefts at Target are an eye opener. With more devices connected over the network, they become targets for the bad guys. As the network becomes ubiquitous with the use of cloud services, the focus will be on vulnerabilities and api’s which expose the hardware.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to discuss IT as a service with a customer’s IT organization.  It was clear that they wanted to deliver services to the business like service providers.  The use of a service catalog and the notion of “IT as a Service broker” will become very relevant.

How and why should IT departments morph to deliver services? An interesting webinar on optimizing operations of Cisco Data Center environments with Converged Infrastructure management explored this topic.  The reorganization of Molina healthcare IT department to deliver services was fascinating.

All in all 2013 was a exciting year, and all indications are that 2014 will also be a great one!!