Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cisco Unveils Unified Computing System

Cisco unveiled its Unified Computing System -- a data center architecture that integrates compute, networking and storage resource using the virtualized "cloud" paradigm. The system integrates a low-latency, lossless 10GE unified network fabric with enterprise-class, x86-architecture servers.

Cisco's Unified Computing System leverages a "wire once" unified fabric with an industry standard computing platform to optimize virtualization, reduce data center total overall cost, and provide dynamic resource provisioning. While Cisco has always provided networking gear, the Unified Computing System model builds on its more recent Data Center switching products to include server and storage capabilities.

Key Unified Computing System elements include:

Compute - Cisco is introducing a scalable chassis server that incorporates new Cisco UCS B-Series blades based on the future Intel Nehalem processor families (the next generation Intel Xeon processor). The Cisco blades offer patented extended memory technology to support applications with large data sets and allow significantly more Virtual Machines per server.

Network - The Cisco Unified Computing System provides support for a unified fabric over a low-latency, lossless, 10 Gbps Ethernet foundation. This network foundation consolidates what today are three separate networks: LANs, storage area networks (SANs) and high performance computing networks. This lowers costs by reducing the number of network adapters, switches, and cables and by decreasing power and cooling requirements.

Virtualization - Cisco security, policy enforcement, and diagnostics features are now extended into dynamic virtualized environments to better support changing business and IT requirements.

Storage Access - The Cisco Unified Computing System provides consolidated access to both storage area networks (SANs) and to network attached storage (NAS). Support for a unified fabric means that the Unified Computing System can access storage over Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet or iSCSI, providing customers with choices and investment protection. In addition, IT staff can pre-assign storage access policies for system connectivity to storage resources, simplifying storage connectivity and management, and helping to increase IT productivity.

Management - Management is uniquely integrated into all the components of the system, enabling the entire solution to be managed as a single entity through the Cisco UCS Manager. The Cisco UCS Manager provides an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), a command line interface (CLI), and a robust application programming interface (API) to manage all system configuration and operations. Cisco UCS Manager helps to increase IT staff productivity, enabling IT managers of storage, networking, compute and applications to collaborate on defining service profiles for applications. Service profiles help to automate provisioning and increase business agility, allowing data center managers to provision applications in minutes instead of days.

Energy Efficiency - IT managers can achieve more energy efficient data centers with the Cisco Unified Computing System - it uses one- half the components, and requires less cabling and power/cooling than legacy server installations.

Cisco said its Unified Computing System will scale to up to 320 discrete servers and thousands of virtual machines, with the ability to scale I/O bandwidth to match demand

Some other notable points:

  • Cisco estimates that 31,103,864,053 kilowatt hours of electricity per year could be saved by unifying aging traditional servers and supporting infrastructure. This is equivalent to the energy output of more than 15 U.S. coal fired electric plants and 35 million tons of C02.

  • The memory of one Cisco Unified Computing System could contain all 138,893,908 Individual Tax returns filed last year in the United States

  • U.S. Wikipedia would consume less than 50% of the memory in one Cisco Unified Computing System. It takes only 40% of the Cisco Cuss's system resources to host all of the US Wikipedia.

Some additional product specifics:

  • Cisco UCS 6100 Series Fabric Interconnects is a family of line-rate, low-latency, lossless, 10-Gbps Cisco Data Center Ethernet and FCoE interconnect switches that consolidate I/O within the system. Both 20-port 1RU and 40-port 2RU versions accommodate expansion modules that provide Fibre Channel and/or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

  • Cisco UCS 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis supports up to eight blade servers and up to two fabric extenders in a 6RU enclosure without the need for additional management modules.

  • Cisco UCS 2100 Series Fabric Extenders bring unified fabric into the blade-server chassis, providing up to four 10-Gbps connections each between blade servers and the fabric interconnect, simplifying diagnostics, cabling, and management.

  • Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers based on next generation Intel Xeon processors adapt to application demands, intelligently scale energy use, and offer best-in-class virtualization. Each blade server utilizes network adapters for access to the unified fabric. Cisco's unique memory-expansion technology substantially increases the memory footprint, maximizing performance and capacity for demanding virtualization and large-dataset workloads. In addition, the technology offers a more cost-effective memory footprint for less-demanding workloads.

  • Cisco UCS Network Adapters are offered in a mezzanine-card form factor. Three types of adapters offer a range of options to meet application requirements, including adapters optimized for virtualization, compatibility with existing driver stacks, or efficient, high-performance Ethernet.

  • Cisco UCS Manager provides centralized management capabilities that serve as the central nervous system of the Cisco Unified Computing System. Cisco UCS Manager is the embedded software that unifies system components into a seamless, cohesive, system.
  • In January 2008, Cisco introduced its Nexus 7000 series, a massive and ultra-fast networking switch that will be the main brain for coordinating data center traffic. The product, which was developed by start-up Nuova Systems, serves as Cisco's flagship data center-class switching platform for combining Ethernet, IP, and storage capabilities across one unified network fabric. The Cisco Nexus 7000 Series sets forth the company's Data Center 3.0 vision. The platform is designed for next generation data center infrastructure deployments of virtualized servers, storage, networks and applications. Using a unified fabric would eliminate the need for parallel storage and computational networks, reducing the number of server interfaces and significantly reducing the cabling and switching infrastructure required in the data center. At the heart of the network is a lossless unified switching fabric capable of simultaneously forwarding storage, Ethernet, and IP traffic. Cisco's Nexus 7000 is a scalable modular platform that delivers up to 15 terabits per second (Tbps_ of switching capacity in a single chassis, supporting up to 512 10 Gbps Ethernet and future delivery of 40- and 100-Gbps Ethernet. Its unified fabric architecture combines Ethernet and storage capabilities into a single platform, designed to provide all servers with access to all network and storage resources. Key components of the unified fabric architecture include unified I/O interfaces and Fibre Channel over Ethernet support. Nuova's founders include Ed Bugnion, Luca Cafiero, Prem Jain, Soni Jiandani, Tom Lyon and Mario Mazzola. Bugnion is a former co-founder of VMware and Lyon formerly founded Ipsilion Networks. Cafiero, Jain, Jiandani and Mazzola are all former Cisco executives.

  • In July 2007, Cisco announced a strategic investment in Vmware. The company said its purchase was intended to strengthen inter-company collaboration towards accelerating customer adoption of VMware virtualization products with Cisco networking infrastructure and the development of customer solutions that address the intersection of virtualization and networking technologies.

See also