ViewYonder.com recently posted a great write up on some things that Cisco’s UCS can do that IBM, Dell or HP really can’t. You can go to ViewYonder.com to read the full article, but here are 10 things that Cisco’s UCS Polices do:
Chassis Discovery – allows you to decide how many links you should use from the FEX (2104) to the FI (6100). This affects the path from blades to FI and the oversubscription rate. If you’ve cabled 4 I can just use 2 if you want, or even 1.
MAC Aging – helps you manage your MAC table? This affects ability to scale, as bigger MAC tables need more management.
Autoconfig – when you insert a blade, depending on its hardware config enables you to apply a specific template for you and put it in a organization automatically.
Inheritence – when you insert a blade, allows you to automatically create a logical version (Service Profile) by coping the UUID, MAC, WWNs etc.
vHBA Templates – helps you to determine how you want _every_ vmhba2 to look like (i.e. Fabric, VSAN, QoS, Pin to a border port)
Dynamic vNICs – helps you determine how to distribute the VIFs on a VIC
Host Firmware – enables you to determine what firmware to apply to the CNA, the HBA, HBA ROM, BIOS, LSI
Scrub – provides you with the ability to wipe the local disks on association
Server Pool Qualification – enables you to determine which hardware configurations live in which pool
vNIC/vHBA Placement – helps you to determine how to distribute VIFs over one/two CNAs?
For more on this topic, visit Steve’s blog at ViewYonder.com. Nice job, Steve!
Emulex and IBM announced today the availability of a new Emulex expansion card for blade servers that allows for up to 8 virtual nics to be assigned for each physical NIC. The “Emulex Virtual Fabric Adapter for IBM BladeCenter(IBM part # 49Y4235)” is a CFF-H expansion card is based on industry-standard PCIe architecture and can operate as a “Virtual NIC Fabric Adapter” or as a dual-port 10 Gb or 1 Gb Ethernet card.
When operating as a Virtual NIC (vNIC) each of the 2 physical ports appear to the blade server as 4 virtual NICs for a total of 8 virtual NICs per card. According to IBM, the default bandwidth for each vNIC is 2.5 Gbps. The cool feature about this mode is that the bandwidth for each vNIC can be configured from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps, up to a maximum of 10 Gb per virtual port. The one catch with this mode is that it ONLY operates with the BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module, which provides independent control for each vNIC. This means no connection to Cisco Nexus…yet. According to Emulex, firmware updates coming later (Q1 2010??) will allow for this adapter to be able to handle FCoE and iSCSI as a feature upgrade. Not sure if that means compatibility with Cisco Nexus 5000 or not. We’ll have to wait and see.
When used as a normal Ethernet Adapter (10Gb or 1Gb), aka “pNIC mode“, the card can is viewed as a standard 10 Gbps or 1 Gbps 2-port Ethernet expansion card. The big difference here is that it will work with any available 10 Gb switch or 10 Gb pass-thru module installed in I/O module bays 7 and 9.
So What? I’ve known about this adapter since VMworld, but I haven’t blogged about it because I just don’t see a lot of value. HP has had this functionality for over a year now in their VirtualConnect Flex-10 offering so this technology is nothing new. Yes, it would be nice to set up a NIC in VMware ESX that only uses 200MB of a pipe, but what’s the difference in having a fake NIC that “thinks” he’s only able to use 200MB vs a big fat 10Gb pipe for all of your I/O traffic. I’m just not sure, but am open to any comments or thoughts.