How Cisco Services Helped EMC IT Get Plaudits from their End Users – Exploiting Cisco UCS for EMC’s Cloud Enabled Oracle Databases

April 20, 2011 - 0 Comments

As an IT manager or as a network designer, how often do your end users call you up and praise the improvements you’ve just delivered?  How often do they say “Wow, the system is screaming” and “this is such a productivity increase for us?  How often to you transform “go for a coffee break” type reporting tasks into “less than a minute” execution times?

Last year, Cisco Services, with our Unified Computing Services Application Migration specialists, engaged with EMC IT to help them transition from a legacy RISC platform to Cisco Unified Computing System, and the above user “rave reviews” and feedback were the result. In this blog, I’ll look at a different area of our services portfolio from my previous blogs , that of Cisco UCS Application Migration Services. Read on to find out more how our UCS Application Services helped drive success for EMC IT.  I’ll also point you to the upcoming May 3rd webinar on this topic and some white paper resources and a VoD…… EMC IT with Cisco Services transform Oracle Solution Performance with Cisco UCS

 The Customer Problem

Going back a year or so, EMC’s legacy RISC server system was not keeping up with demand as the EMC business continued to grow. EMC IT evaluated several options, and decided on UCS.  You can find out more on why Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is such an appropriate choice – see my Cisco colleague, Tim Stack’s blog entry  on why UCS is a good replacement strategy for legacy processor-based server replacements.

This decision, you could argue, was the easy part – the complex part was to follow: how did EMC IT migrate from the legacy server to Cisco UCS without impacting their business?  This is where Cisco Services was called in to help. 

How Cisco Can Help

Cisco Services offers a comprehensive Cisco UCS Migration and Transition Service – a key component of which is helping customers with application migration to UCS.  Within our Unified Computing Architecture practice, the Cisco Services team includes multiple experts who are experts in both Oracle and UCS (as well as experts in other major applications including SAP and Microsoft Exchange).  This enables Cisco Services to be trusted advisors to help customers extract the maximum performance and resilience from their applications running on UCS.  Cisco Services will complement partner services (e.g. Oracle) and bring unique expertise to the customer to help them design and optimize their UCS deployment to extract the maximum value from their business applications.

Some of the Challenges 

In this engagement, Cisco Services team worked with the customer to ensure a resilient design was put in place.  To ensure no single point of failure when deploying Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters), careful design of the UCS deployment, particularly the network and storage integration, is critical.  Working with the Cisco Validated Design for Oracle RAC, the Cisco Services team ensured ongoing customer resiliency and formal certification of their Oracle RAC deployment.  The Cisco Services team also designed appropriate UCS service profiles to allow for future re-purposing of hardware if necessary.

One of the major Cisco Services deliverables was a comprehensive test plan, designed to enable the customer to indeed prove in advance of Cisco UCS rollout that they had a fully resilient deployment. There is significant depth in the test cast analysis, a task that customers new to UCS may find complex, being new to the system.  In fact, a worst case scenario here is that some customers, executing on their own, may miss key test cases.  Such ommisions in testing may, unfortunately, result in system outages after an operational “go-live”, a risk that can be mitigated if Cisco Services is engaged on your migration project.   This is an example of where Cisco Services, working collaboratively with the Cisco UCS R&D team, gains unique internal Cisco insight into the underlying technology, and is able to exploit this for customer benefit.  This in my experience is the most important value proposition of our Cisco Services customer engagements.

 The Results

The 2-20 times transaction rate throughput, the reduction from 80-100% down to 10% average CPU utilization, are hard statistics that speak volumes of the capabilities and performance of Cisco UCS compared to the legacy RISC platform.  However, for me, it was the reaction of some of the EMC IT end users that shows you the productivity benefits that EMC will enjoy for years to come, for example, “Thanks you and your team…this is a serious efficiency gain for the field. Wow. I just printed the consolidated quote and it took less than a minute. Seriously, this one was a “go get coffee” break before.”

In summary, Cisco Services and our Application Migration services expertise enabled our consultants to bring unique technical insights to EMC that accelerated their adoption of Cisco UCS.  More importantly, in this case, the Cisco Services consultants were able to advise the customer with application insights throughout this complex migration process, reducing the risk of the project, as well as leveraging features of UCS to help this complex application environment run in a far more resilient and high performance manner. 

For more information, please register for the upcoming May 3rd (2011) webinar  on this major migration project, presented by EMC themselves. You can also read more in our white paper  or view our the VoD of EMC talking about their migration experience – you can find the VoD on this page.

So …… do you have any application challenges where Cisco UCS and Cisco Services can help you?  What are your big concerns?  What is holding you back? – the opportunity is clear! Let us know here!

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