Since the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) first debuted in early 2009, I’ve written several articles on this site and for other venues extolling its unique value as a purposefully designed platform for hosting virtual infrastructure. Despite the previous lack of any server experience, Cisco is now tied IBM as the world’s #2 provider of x86 blade servers. Cisco upped the ante this morning with three new announcements enabling consolidated management of data center operations across the globe.
Cisco UCS Manager 2.1
The Cisco UCS B (blade) Series, despite initial widespread skepticism, now has a 15% market share for all blade servers by revenues. Designed under the direction of VMware co-founder Ed Bugnion, the UCS was built over a period of 5 years as a superior platform for hosting virtualized data centers. But the continuing evolution of virtualization and big data technology demands ever more memory, multiple adapters, specialized adapters and high disk spindle counts in local storage. These needs are better served by rack mount form factors.
UCS Manager 2.1 extends the unified fabric capabilities of UCS to provide “single-wire” connectivity to Cisco UCS C-Series rack servers. This enables a significant reduction of switch infrastructure and cabling requirements along with physical NICs and HBAs. Cisco says that its solution offers around a 50% per-node savings over a deployment of 100 typical rack servers.
UCS Manager 2.1 brings the operational benefits of blades such as rapid deployment, cable reduction, and common access to rack-mount servers. Virtualization architects now can focus on server resource requirements such as the ratio of cores to memory, spindle quantities, type of IO, etc. without concern for the shape of the sheet metal.
Another element of UCS Manager 2.1 is integration with a new Meta management product, Cisco UCS Central.
Cisco UCS Central
The many unique attributes of Cisco UCS have contributed to the propagation of virtualization as the data center standard at even the largest enterprises. But this success has driven a demand for new capabilities.
Large organizations may require multiple UCS units due to geographical or departmental considerations, or because of the scalability limitation of 160 servers per UCS. Each unit includes UCS Manager which enables policy-based control, but which inevitably overlaps with other UCS Manager instances.
Cisco UCS Central acts as a manager of managers. It provides a policy repository that sits above the UCS Manager instances, creating global policies that can then be managed locally. UCS Central provides a single pane of glass into visibility across all global systems allowing centralize inventory, faults, logs and server consoles.
Administrative settings are configured as global policies to which individual UCS Managers can subscribe. This guarantees consistent configurations for all domains.
The next release of UCS Central will introduce global service profiles. Applying service profiles from one geographic domain to another provides the foundation for a global disaster recovery solution.
UCS Central is free for the first 5 domains, and then is licensed on a per domain basis for the sixth domain onwards.
Storage Innovations and Ecosystem Support
Cisco UCS now supports three new storage capabilities: Multi-Hop FCoE from UCS environment to the Array, FC Zoning as part of UCS Manager 2.1, and Unified Connect to support multiple protocols (FCoE, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS) on a single port.
Accompanying system management enhancements and integrations are provided by UCS ecopartners such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle, EMC, IBM, Cloupia and Splunk among many others.
UCS Central, UCS Manager 2.1 and the growing ecosystem support enable unified management of UCS domains and of thousands of servers across disparate data centers. This positions UCS as an optimized platform not just for hosting virtual infrastructure, but for hosting virtualized data centers and cloud computing on a global scale.
Yes,Cisco UCS Servers are that Good. 09/27/2012. Bill Shields. Cisco Blog.
UCS spurs shared virtualized data center vision for VMware, Cisco. 05/21/2009. Steve Kaplan. SearchVMware.com
Cisco UCS – a Disruptive Platform. 05/05/2009. Steve Kaplan. DABCC.