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Keeping It Simple While Keeping It Fresh

- February 5, 2016 - 2 Comments

When you read the headline, you may think this blog is about a new restaurant or cuisine, but this post is about UCS management. The description may not sound like it has much to do with software, but stay with me. One of the challenges you encounter when you have more than 50,000 customers and hundreds of thousands of end users that use your software every day to manage millions of systems is providing significant enhancements (keeping it fresh) while still making it easy to use (keeping it simple). This is the challenge we faced when we made the latest upgrades to UCS management.

Here’s an example. In the new release of UCS Manager, version 3.1, we have added a new HTML 5 user interface (UI) to keep it fresh. Our customers have been using the Java UI in UCS Manager for years, so we had to make sure it was simple for them to transition. Our developers replicated the screens in HTML 5, so there is virtually no difference from the same screens in the Java UI. The layout, colors, icons and text are almost identical between the Java and HTML5 UI to provide a seamless user transition.

(There’s an example of the new HTML 5 UI in the screen captures below.) The new release supports both the HTML 5 and Java UI, so customers can transition in a way that works best for them without the hassle of having to learn new screens or modifying any of their processes.

Figure 1  Example of the new HTML 5 UI in UCS Manager

UCS Manager Screenshots 2

There are many new enhancements in the latest updates to UCS management.

Unify and Simplify

Cisco has been very successful with our B-Series products and many of our customers are expanding their use of UCS to include models from other UCS series. We wanted to make it easier for them to implement UCS management, so we have unified the latest version of UCS Manager, release 3.1., into a single code base. This makes it easier to deploy and upgrade UCS Manager at your site. As we consolidated the code, we did more thorough testing on all UCS models and a wide variety of additional use cases to ensure quality and consistency while supporting additional platforms. At the same time we will continue to support and upgrade the UCS Manager 2.2 code train for customers who are focused on UCS B-Series and C-Series servers and want minor, incremental upgrades such as new server support for their environment.

Scale with Simplicity

One of the greatest challenges in IT is significantly increasing scale without adding complexity. As we explained in the first blog in this series, UCS management enables remote operation, automation and policy enforcement across massive multi-site footprints. The new release of UCS Central Software, version 1.4, now supports up to 10,000 servers. This is an increase in scaling of more than 50% from the prior release. While it’s great that the new release supports many more devices, we wanted to make it easier to use.  We added a HTML 5 UI to an earlier release of UCS Central, but now we’ve made it simpler and more efficient to use. We’ve improved the search and browsing capabilities, enhanced the dashboard and inventory overview, unified the KVM launcher and made improvements to the reporting. This video shows you some of the ways UCS Central Software keeps it fresh while still keeping it simple.

UCS Central LogInIn addition to enhancing the user experience, we improved UCS Central to make the policy management more efficient by adding the following:

  • Advanced host firmware pack
  • Equipment policy – chassis discover, etc.
  • vNIC adaptor policies – USNic, VMQ, CDN, etc
  • Adaptor policies – PVLAN, RDMA for SMB Direct, etc.
  • Direct Attached Storage

These enhancements allow you to manage at greater scale while still making it easier for you to do day to day activities. We’ve also implemented per server Smart Licensing on UCS Central to make it more affordable as you scale.

Innovation and Simplicity

Another example of keeping it fresh while keeping it simple is implementing new innovations without increasing complexity. We’ve added support for the new 6300 Series  Fabric Interconnects and new third generation Virtual Interface Cards (VICs) to UCS management. Cisco UCS now supports end-to-end 40GbE and 16Gb FC across B-Series and C-Series servers. These additions along with support for many other new products and features are made with only minimal modifications to UCS Manager and UCS Central Software. This is keeping it fresh while keeping it simple.

There are many other improvements and support for new UCS product features and upgrades. We’ve posted blogs on our UCS Communities site with more details.

 

Ken

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2 Comments

  1. Totally agreed with you! Looks like you have covered everything. Thank you for the share and terrific informative.

    Fresh and simple is a really good design approach to keep in mind because user friendly interfaces get the job done quicker and keep customers happy.