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Unified Computing – The Evolution of Computing as a Platform

November 2, 2010 - 1 Comment

[Part II of our blog series on Cisco Data Center Business Advantage. Part I, III, IV, V, VI]

One of the great things about being a market disruptor is that you don’t need to carry along all of the baggage that slow down other companies as technology or market transitions occur. Of course, one of the frequent challenges to being a disruptor is that you often have to ask customers to adopt an entirely new technology standard in order to realize the benefits of your product.

With the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), we actually deliver the best of both worlds.

At its foundation, UCS is built on the Intel x86 architecture that so many customers rely on for their server environment. UCS supports both bare-metal (physical) and virtual machine (virtualized) workloads, allowing customers to run existing applications or easily move to a more efficient Data Center infrastructure. Interconnecting that infrastructure is a standards-based 10 Gigabit Ethernet network that delivers enough bandwidth for even the most demanding application environment.

  • Industry Standard Computing Architecture
  • Application compatibility for both Physical and Virtual workloads
  • Industry standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure

Beyond those fundamental server capabilities, UCS introduces a set of Innovations that rethink how applications should be deployed within the Data Center.

Virtualizing the Hardware: The concept of virtualization has been around for decades, with various aspects being used in mainframes (LPAR), networks (VLAN, VPN) and Operating Systems (Hypervisor). Cisco UCS extends this concept to the Server, NIC/HBA and I/O of the computing platform. By virtualizing elements of the computing platform, customers gain tremendous flexibility for applications, data protection and disaster recovery.

Deliver World-Record Performance: While operational excellence is critical for IT administrators, user-experience often plays a greater role in the acceptance of new applications for the business. And in today’s fast-pace world, users expect near instantaneous response with each click of the mouse, whether it’s for shopping, searching, collaborating or analyzing data. Working closely with Intel’s latest CPU processors and then adding Cisco’s innovative memory-extension architecture, Cisco UCS has been able to set numerous world-records for application performance. This performance means you can get the best out of applications you use today (Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, VMware, Citrix) as well as applications you’ll use in the future. Better performance means happier customers. Happier customers means more sales, faster time to productivity and better collaboration.

Reduce or Eliminate Data Center Silos: Technologies such as virtualization have changed the landscape of the Data Center such that yesterday’s architectures and silos can be barriers to progress. Application silos, Storage Silos, Network Silos – all built to support a static environment that was over provisioned and under utilized. Cisco UCS introduces the ability to integrate Computing, Networking, Storage and Applications into a unified system, all managed from a single management system and API (UCS Manager). This integration of technologies extends to both physical server AND virtual machine environments. By unifying these four elements, IT organizations will be able to more efficiently plan and utilize IT assets.

Separate Management from Infrastructure: With legacy computing systems, management was built into the computing platform at the chassis level. And built in, and built it and built in. This meant that as your computing needs grew, so too did the management overhead. More management means longer lead times to deliver services to end-users and more opportunities for IT to make mistakes. Cisco UCS reduces the management burden by centralizing around a system that scales to dozens of chassis (hundreds of servers, thousands of cores). This means your business needs can grow without the burden of additional layers of management. Simpler, more powerful, more scalable.

Create a better Data Center beyond the Server: Today’s Data Centers are the 21st century equivalent of 20th century factors, but instead of making widgets they are creating bits and bytes. And all those 1s and 0s need pampering; they need to be heated (electricity), cooled (air-conditioning) and cabled. All that pampering costs money, money that takes away from IT applying budget to innovation. Cisco UCS delivers a unified design that creates a more efficient use of heating/cooling and cabling that delivers dollars back to IT. So while Cisco UCS advanced virtualization capabilities might disrupt the “server huggers” at your company, its environment efficiency will help you make friends with the “tree huggers” that are tasked with driving Corporate Sustainability within your company.

Future-Proofing for Cloud Computing: Yep, you knew we’d get here eventually. There is it, the “C” word….cloud. Is Cisco UCS a cloud? No. A box does not a cloud make. But if you’re going to build a Private Cloud, or provide Cloud Services, you had better have every one of these foundational elements in place:

  • High performance and massively scalable
  • Highly efficient use of resources
  • Outstanding support and integration with virtualization (when needed)
  • Programmable via an open API
  • Based on open-standards to allow flexibility and choice for integration

I hope you’re starting to get the bigger picture now. As part of Data Center Business Advantage, Unified Computing provides a foundation for a better way to deploy applications within your business.

OK, so enough with the technical details…

….so why should you care about Unified Computing as a Business Decision Maker?

  • Because today’s most powerful and influential companies leverage IT as a core competency to drive new business models and new interactions with customers. Are you one of those companies?
  • Because responsiveness to your users and customers matters. Delivering information at the right time is the difference between someone clicking the “Buy” button and leaving items in the shopping cart.
  • Because saving money on the operational side of IT allows you to allocate money to the Innovation that IT can deliver.

Now that you know where to deploy your applications, let’s take a look at how to best deliver those applications to your users.

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  1. Outstanding recap of the myriad advantages of UCS. It is obvious why both EMC and NetApp chose to build their respective virtualization stack strategies around UCS.