Earlier this year Cisco announced and has begun shipping the Cisco UCS 6454 Fabric Interconnect (FI). The Cisco UCS 6454 offers line-rate, low-latency, lossless 10/25/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and Fibre Channel functions. In this blog post I provide an overview of what you can expect in this fourth generation FI and provide some things you need to be aware of before migrating. Continue reading
Cisco’s own Omar Sultan and Brian Schwarz recently blogged about Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) Manager software and offered up a pair of videos demonstrating its capabilities. In my opinion, the management software of Cisco’s UCS is the magic that is going to push Cisco out of the Visionary quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Blade Servers to the “Leaders” quadrant.
The Cisco UCS Manager is the centralized management interface that integrates the entire set of Cisco Unified Computing System components. The management software not only participates in UCS blade server provisioning, but also in device discovery, inventory, configuration, diagnostics, onitoring, fault detection, auditing, and statistics collection.
On Omar’s Cisco blog, located at http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter, Omar and Brian created two videos. Part 1 of their video offers a general overview of the Management software, where as in Part 2 they highlight the capabilities of profiles.
I encourage you to check out the videos – they did a great job with them.
Previously known as “Palo”, Cisco’s virtualized adapter allows for a server to split up the 10Gb pipes into numerous virtual pipes (see below) like multiple NICs or multiple Fibre Channel HBAs. Although the card shown in the image to the left is a normal PCIe card, the initial launch of the card will be in the Cisco UCS blade server.
So, What’s the Big Deal?
When you look at server workloads, their needs vary – web servers need a pair of NICs, whereas database servers may need 4+ NICs and 2+HBAs. By having the ability to split the 10Gb pipe into virtual devices, you can set up profiles inside of Cisco’s UCS Manager to apply the profiles for a specific servers’ needs. An example of this would be a server being used for VMware VDI (6 NICs and 2 HBAs) during the day, and at night, it’s repurposed for a computational server needing only 4 NICs.
Another thing to note is although the image shows 128 virtual devices, that is only the theoretical limitation. The reality is that the # of virtual devices depends on the # of connections to the Fabric Interconnects. As I previously posted, the servers’ chassis has a pair of 4 port Fabric Extenders (aka FEX) that uplink to the UCS 6100 Fabric Interconnect. If only 1 of the 4 ports is uplinked to the UCS 6100, then only 13 virtual devices will be available. If 2 FEX ports are uplinked, then 28 virtual devices will be available. If 4 FEX uplink ports are used, then 58 virtual devices will be available.
Will the ability to carve up your 10Gb pipes into smaller ones make a difference? It’s hard to tell. I guess we’ll see when this card starts to ship in December of 2009.