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Some very good thoughts about Why should you care about Cisco UCS


I wanted to share a few very good articles and web documents coming from friends into one condensed updated post about all the great things that Cisco UCS can provide to your organization :

Last performances update about our solution :

In the three years since its introduction, Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS™) powered by Intel® Xeon® processors captured 63 world performance records,UCS and Intel Xeon Processors: so, please check this out : 63 World-Record Performance Results

In response to what skeptics were saying 3 years ago :

Cisco as a server vendor! Ha!

Remember back when the company first unveiled its “Unified Computing System” (UCS)? At the time, the thought of Cisco being in the server market seemed almost laughable. But, this was a journey that we had seen before. Similar guffawing was heard when Cisco jumped into the voice market. Way back in the day, when I was in internal IT, Cisco acquired its way into the VoIP market and rode the IP wave to market leadership in only about a decade. When you think about how, historically, extremely difficult voice share was to gain, the fact that Cisco managed to grab as much share as it did, and as fast as it did, was remarkable…

more to read, here…

Some good tips to bear in mind if you want to do an apples to apples cost comparison ?

…therefore evaluate the real cost of implementing Cisco UCS solutions

The Service-Profile concept :

In this post Marcel will try to explain what a service profile template is within Cisco UCS. However to start with the basics let’s start with a service profile. I assume you are aware of the Cisco UCS Emulator. if not you can download it from here using your CCO account: http://developer.cisco.com/web/unifiedcomputing/home

So what is a service profile within Cisco UCS?
A service profile defines a single server and its storage and networking characteristics and are stored in the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects. Each server connected to the Fabric Interconnects are specified with a service profile. The advantage of service profiles are mainly automation of your physical hardware configuration like BIOS settings, firmware levels, network interface cards (NICs), host bus adapters (HBAs) etcetera…

Cisco Unified Computing System Ethernet Switching Modes

Great paper to understand end-host & switch modes and when to use the most appropriate option.

What You Will Learn ?

In Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS™) environments, two Ethernet switching modes determine the way that the fabric interconnects behave as switching devices between the servers and the network. In end-host mode, the fabric interconnects appear to the upstream devices as end hosts with multiple links. In end-host mode, the switch does not run Spanning Tree Protocol and avoids loops by following a set of rules for traffic forwarding. In switch mode, the switch runs Spanning Tree Protocol to avoid loops, and broadcast and multicast packets are handled in the traditional way. This document describes these two switching modes and discusses how and when to implement each mode.

 Cisco UCS Manager Configuration Common Practices and Quick-Start Guide

The introduction of the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS™) in June 2009 presented a new paradigm for data center and server management. Today Cisco UCS is used by more than 10,000 unique customers. While the paradigm is no longer new, many customers are deploying Cisco UCS for the first time. This guide provides a concise overview of Cisco UCS essentials and common practices. This guide also covers the most direct path to working in a stateless-server SAN boot environment, upon which much of the Cisco UCS core value is predicated. In support of a utility or cloud computing model, this guide presents a number of concepts and elements within the Cisco UCS Management Model that will hopefully help data center operators increase responsiveness and efficiency by improving data center automation.
read more here
Cisco UCS and Storage Connectivity Options and Best Practices with Netapp Storage : 
This paper will provide an overview of the various storage features, connectivity options, and best practices when using the Unified Computing System (UCS) with NetApp storage. This document will focus on storage in detail, both block and file protocols and all the best practices for using these features exposed in UCS with NetApp storage. There will not be an application or specific use case focus to this paper. There are existing Cisco Validated Designs that should be referenced for a deeper understanding of how to configure the UCS and NetApp systems in detail for various application centric use cases. These documents treat the combination of UCS and NetApp from a more holistic or, end to end approach and include the design details and options for the various elements of UCS and NetApp systems. The reader is encouraged to review these documents which are referenced below.
 So what does is it mean for you, proven by real business cases..? There you go !
Citrix and Cisco virtualizing your workspace through cisco VXI implementation :
Awesome 8min demo
KPIT deploys VDI/VXI for 800 users and saves 75% desktop management & 60% desktop energy thanks to VCE and its vBlock Architecture :
read the details here
Banco Azteca deploys 500 user VDI/VXI pilot in just 3 weeks using VCE and its vBlock architecture :
read the details here
Novis sees 25% increase in its SAP applications per blade with Cisco UCS and Nexus Architecture :
Read this article speaking about how cisco helped out to deliver Cloud services for less
Hierro Barquisimeto expects 70% reduction in hardware, power, cooling, and space with Cisco UCS implementation :
read the details here
NTT Data reduces TCO and provisioning time by 50%, CO2 emissions by 79% with Cisco Unified Computing Systems :
read the details here
Training institute reduces infrastructure costs by upto 50%, energy consumption by 18%, provisioning by 90% with Cisco UCS :
read the details here
Hoping this article, through the initial writers posts of course, could help you to access as much relevant info as possible, I invite you to reach me out and let me know what sort of info and desired topic you would like to see more on this blog.
Happy reading, and I sincerely hope I helped you, just a bit, to gain more confidence into our Fabric Computing solutions.

Scalable Cloud Network with Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches and VXLAN

Many customers are building private or public clouds. Intrinsic to cloud computing is having multiple tenants with numerous applications using the cloud infrastructure. Each of these tenants and applications needs to be logically isolated from each other, even at the networking level. For example, a three-tier application can have multiple virtual machines requiring logically isolated networks between the virtual machines. Traditional network isolation techniques such as IEEE 802.1Q VLAN provide 4096 LAN segments (via a 12-bit VLAN identifier) and may not provide enough segments for large cloud deployments. Cisco and a group of industry vendors are working together to address new requirements of scalable LAN segmentation as well as transporting virtual machines across a broader diameter. The underlying technology, referred to as virtual extended LAN (or VXLAN), defines a 24-bit LAN segment identifier to provide segmentation at cloud scale. In addition, VXLAN provides an architecture for customers to grow their cloud deployments with repeatable pods in different subnets. VXLAN can also enable virtual machines to be migrated between servers in different subnets. With Cisco Nexus® 1000V Series Switches supporting VXLAN, customers can quickly and confidently deploy their applications to the cloud.

Cloud Computing Demands More Logical Networks

Traditional servers have unique network addresses to help ensure proper communication. Network isolation techniques, such as VLANs, typically are used to isolate different logical parts of the network, such as a management VLAN, production VLAN, or DMZ VLAN.

In a cloud environment, each tenant requires a logical network isolated from all other tenants. Furthermore, each application from a tenant demands its own logical network, to isolate itself from other applications. To provide instant provisioning, cloud management tools, such as VMware vCloud Director, even duplicate the application’s virtual machines, including the virtual machines’ network addresses, with the result that a logical network is required for each instance of the application.

Challenges with Existing Network Isolation Techniques

The VLAN has been the traditional mechanism for providing logical network isolation. Because of the ubiquity of the IEEE 802.1Q standard, there are numerous switches and tools that provide robust network troubleshooting and monitoring capabilities, enabling mission-critical applications to depend on the network. Unfortunately, the IEEE 802.1Q standard specifies a 12-bit VLAN identifier, which hinders the scalability of cloud networks beyond 4K VLANs. Some in the industry have proposed incorporation of a longer logical network identifier in a MAC-in-MAC or MAC in Generic Route Encapsulation (MAC-in-GRE) encapsulation as a way to scale. Unfortunately, these techniques cannot make use of all the links in a port channel, which is often found in the data center network or in some cases do not behave well with Network Address Translation (NAT). In addition, because of the encapsulation, monitoring capabilities are lost, preventing troubleshooting and monitoring. Hence, customers are no longer confident in deploying Tier 1 applications or applications requiring regulatory compliance in the cloud.

VXLAN Solution

VXLAN solves these challenges with a MAC in User Datagram Protocol (MAC-in-UDP) encapsulation technique. VXLAN uses a 24-bit segment identifier to scale (Figure 1). In addition, the UDP encapsulation enables the logical network to be extended to different subnets and helps ensure high utilization of port channel links (Figure 2). Instead of broadcasting a frame as in a case of unknown unicast, the UDP packet is multicasted to the set of servers that have virtual machines on the same segment. Within each segment, traditional switching takes place and can therefore provide a much larger number of logical networks.
VXLAN Format

As shown in the Figures , the Cisco® VXLAN solution enables:

• Logical networks to be extended among virtual machines placed in different subnets

• Flexible, scalable cloud architecture in which new servers can be added in different subnets

• Migration of virtual machines between servers in different subnets

 Scalability with VXLAN

In conclusion, Cloud computing requires significantly more logical networks than traditional models. Traditional network isolation techniques such as the VLAN cannot scale adequately for the cloud. VXLAN resolves these challenges with a MAC-in-UDP approach and a 24-bit segment identifier. This solution enables a scalable cloud architecture with replicated server pods in different subnets. Because of the Layer 3 approach of UDP, virtual machine migration extends even to different subnets. Cisco Nexus 1000V Series switch with VXLAN support provides numerous advantages for customers, enabling customers to use LAN segments in a robust and customizable way without disrupting existing operational models. The unique capabilities of the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series with VXLAN help ensure that customers can deploy mission-critical applications in the cloud with confidence.

Cisco buys cloud service provider software newScale

Cisco this week announced its intent to acquire privately-held newScale, a provider of software that delivers a self service portal for IT organisations to select and deploy cloud services within their businesses. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Cloud computing represents a major shift in the evolution of the Internet, and as more customers migrate from traditional IT infrastructures, the need for rapid self-provisioning and efficient management becomes increasingly critical,” said Parvesh Sethi, senior vice president of Cisco Services.  “With the acquisition of newScale, Cisco will be able to accelerate the deployment of cloud services through a service catalog and self-service portal that allows customers to easily manage their IT infrastructures.”

Cisco’s cloud strategy is to harness the network as a platform for building and using clouds and cloud services.  newScale will complement and expand existing Cisco and partner software offerings in IT and cloud management and automation. Cisco remains committed to supporting flexibility and choice in management through a broad ecosystem of technology partners, and newScale delivers an additional option the company can provide to its customers.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of Cisco’s fiscal year 2011. The newScale team will report into Cisco’s Advanced Services organisation.

Oh Crystal Ball …

As an IT department, you are asked to be ready to enable future business directions and related changing end user requirements, enabling productivity increases and efficiency improvements.  But what are those upcoming requirements? What do you need to prepare your IT infrastructure for? When asking the question to your business departments, it might appear that they also have difficulties answering this.

Still, there are already some tendencies appearing that will underpin these business direction changes and, in one way or another, will fundamentally change the IT infrastructure you need to provide. These tendencies all have a direct impact on either or both Cost Reduction/Productivity Improvement or driving Innovation/increasing Differentiation, fundamental forces that will always keep on driving change in companies.

Mobility for sure is one of them. Your company’s workforce is only sitting a low amount of their time behind a fixed desk. They spend more time in meeting rooms, in a virtual desk environment, in flexible workspaces within changing project teams, on the road or even increasingly from their home office. Your companies’ workforce might even go beyond the corporate borders due to increased collaboration with external teams and partners. So, you will need to be able to provide an IT experience wherever the end user would like to connect. The border of location, previously tied to the fixed desk, has disappeared and you will need to provide the end user with a Borderless experience.

Cloud computing is entering the IT landscape. Companies are still figuring out up to what level they need to integrate and take advantage of cloud based applications and business models. Whatever the outcome, IT departments will need to enable high quality and secure access to both applications in the datacenter and applications out in the cloud. So, the location border, both of the end user AND of the application that he wants to access, has gone. IT departments even need to check whether they are still in the path between the end user and the application, especially since the IT department will still be requested to guarantee security and data integrity.

More and more devices of different types will connect onto the network: The Internet of things. Where once an IT department needed to foresee a standard corporate desktop PC and a mobile telephone, it is now faced with an increasing amount of diverse devices connected to the network. Sometimes, these devices are controlled by IT; sometimes they are brought in by the end user and are less IT controlled. The Blackberry was one of the first devices requested directly by end users, imposing IT to support it on their network. This user-driven evolution only increased with the rising popularity of the iPhone, Blackberry devices, Symbian devices, Android devices, the iPad, the Cisco CIUS, … Cisco’s IT, for example, acknowledged that a standard desktop and mobile was not maintainable anymore, and moved to the support of a full catalogue of devices, allowing people to use devices that optimally support their personal business requirements. Beyond that, new non-user based devices are becoming IP based: access control devices, physical security camera’s, building management sensors. In short, the device border is disappearing. IT needs to adapt to these increasing demands in supported devices and non-user devices on the network, while of course maintaining a coherent and uniform network access control policy.

Finally, after decades of productivity improvement through process optimization, companies are now seeking the next wave of productivity improvement through increased collaboration. Being able to flexibly bring the right people and specialists together to solve problems or accelerate innovative ideas, being able to take advantage of the knowledge in a globalised world, drive richer interaction with customers to increase their customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty will all be important drivers behind collaboration. So, IT departments need to be ready to support the next wave of collaboration tools. Where today this translates into the movement from telephony to IP telephony to Unified Collaboration, this will increasingly mean the usage of rich video to increase the impact. Get the expert – from wherever in the world – in front of your customer in a High Definition real live experience, bring teams dispersed worldwide together in a seemingly same meeting room, drive video rich messages to your customers, … The result : a much higher level of impact and interaction. Based upon my own experience with several collaboration tools, I can only confirm that the level of attention and efficiency of a video based Telepresence meeting approaches the one of a live meeting, and is way above the impact of a voice-based conference call. The IT impact: an important increase in bandwidth requirements (video is already more than 50% of the bandwidth on Cisco’s network), and a network that needs to be aware and be able to cope with rich media and video.

Can we see into a Crystal Ball … not really. However, you will have recognized several of the above mentioned changes starting to play into your IT environment. We can help you to move forward in this challenging journey through our Borderless Networks architecture. This architectural approach goes beyond switch ports, access points, speeds and feeds; but will combine these network infrastructure building blocks to interoperate together to drive infrastructure functionality that addresses above mentioned IT challenges :

– Mobility: Cisco Motion & CleanAir, Cisco AnyConnect and Cisco TrustSec

– Cloud: Cisco AnyConnect and Cisco Application Velocity

– Internet of Things: Cisco TrustSec and Cisco EnergyWise

– Unfied Collaboration and Video: Cisco Medianet

For more details on each of these functionalities, please visit: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/ns1015/solutions.html

Let’s confidently start the journey …

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