Better together

At a concert, few years ago, the director spoke to the audience and said something that resonated in my mind for long time. His words went like this: the value of the ensemble is greater than the sum of the value of the individual musicians. The meaning was clear. He wanted to illustrate the significance of playing together, as an orchestra, rather than a group of individual sound musicians.

The same concept comes to my mind when I think of the combination of Cisco UCS, and Cisco MDS 9000 storage networking. You can use them independently, or connected to other products. But the combination of Cisco UCS and Cisco MDS delivers unique benefits that exceed the sum of the individual products. The pseudo-mathematical formula 1+1=3 can well express the concept. Alternatively, another way to describe it is the prosaic expression “better together”.

Cisco UCS + Cisco MDS synergy: 1+1=3

The joint adoption of Cisco UCS compute systems and Cisco MDS 9000 Series of storage networking switches provides a significant benefit to the enterprise. Over the years, I have collected information from the many customer opportunities I have been directly involved in. When reflecting on that, I identified a list of synergies and benefits coming from the joint adoption of Cisco UCS with Cisco MDS 9000. I also discovered those benefits can be grouped into three main categories: advanced design options, easier management and better support.

Key advantages

  • Multiprotocol flexibility allows organizations to deploy Fibre Channel and FCIP on a single chassis and more easily benefit from the advantages of both technologies. Support for SCSI, NVMe and FICON protocols is also available. Moreover, you have the advantage to be fully covered under a Cisco verified solution.
  • VSANs can logically segregate storage traffic and create multi-tenancy, and they are supported in the Fibre Channel fabric and within Cisco UCS. This capability is only available from Cisco.
  • VSAN trunking allows the use of the same link for carrying traffic from multiple VSANs, reducing the need for multiple links while segregating traffic. This is a unique Cisco capability.
  • F-port PortChannels provide link aggregation of multiple Cisco UCS to Cisco MDS 9000 physical links into a single logical channel, as well as fault tolerance and uniform traffic load balancing. This capability is only available from Cisco.
  • NVMe/FC can boost application performance by reducing latency and minimizing CPU usage for data transfer activities. You also have the advantage to be fully covered under a Cisco verified solution.
  • Common Operating System and management tools ease network implementation, maintenance, and troubleshooting by relying on the same skill set across SAN, LAN, and computing environments. This is a unique Cisco capability.
  • Cisco UCS visibility from Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller allows a single view for all networking elements in a Cisco data center architecture, including Cisco UCS fabric interconnects and server vNICs and vHBAs. This capability is only available from Cisco.
  • Cisco Intersight integration covering both compute and storage networking provides lifecycle management of Cisco UCS servers, as well as Cisco Nexus 9000 and Cisco MDS 9000 products. This is a unique Cisco capability.
  • Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator can be used to automate different technology domains with an easy-to-use and low-code workflow designer, enabling IT operations teams to move at the speed of the business. This is a unique Cisco capability.
  • Smart Zoning reduces the need to implement and maintain large zone databases and eases management and implementation tasks. You also have the advantage to be fully covered under a Cisco verified solution.
  • Assured interoperability and feature compatibility, avoiding tedious compatibility matrix verification and deployment delays. This capability is only available from Cisco.
  • Organizations can interact with a single vendor when troubleshooting problems across computing and networking environments. This is a unique Cisco capability.
  • A variety of support models are available across data center solutions to efficiently manage and coordinate partners to resolve problems. This capability is only available from Cisco.

Key business benefits

When we consider the business implications of the advantages listed above, we can discover that Cisco UCS plus Cisco MDS 9000 integrated solution delivers:

  • Operational savings from hassle-free firmware upgrades, solution automation with Cisco Intersight and operational simplification with smart zoning
  • Increased uptime with Cisco support and a single pane of glass for unified visibility, combined with deep traffic analysis and proactive troubleshooting
  • Application performance improvements from uniform traffic load balancing on uplinks and NVMe/FC end-to-end support, all combined with congestion prevention with MDS 9000 DIRL software.

In short, the Cisco MDS 9000 Series provides superior performance, high availability, and intelligent storage networking for Cisco UCS environments in small, medium and large organizations.

Get all the details from the new version of the Cisco UCS + Cisco MDS better together whitepaper.



Fausto Vaninetti

Technical Solutions Architect

EMEAR Specialists - Datacenter