Cisco's new management system simplifies control of thousands of servers

Cisco this week unveiled a new management system for its UCS servers that is designed to simplify management of thousands of servers spread across geographies and data centers, from a single pane of glass.

UCS Central lets IT managers control a globally distributed UCS infrastructure comprised of multiple domains, with the ability to ensure service and configure service profiles, ID pools, policies and firmware, Cisco says. UCS Central also has an XML API for integration with third-party systems management and cloud orchestration tools.

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Cisco's existing UCS Manger product governs a single domain, made up of UCS Manager and all the UCS server and network access components it manages. UCS Central requires UCS Manager for local domain management while UCS Central provides tiered management for the global infrastructure.

UCS Central also aggregates server inventory, fault information and notifications across multiple domains to facilitate service assurance of the UCS infrastructure. The XML API also integrates Cisco's Intelligent Automation application with UCS Central for the creation of global UCS service profile templates across data centers.

Third parties writing to the UCS Central API include Compuware, for control of application performance across data centers, private, public, and hybrid clouds; Cloupia, for the ability to replicate between multiple sites for disaster recovery; Zenoss, for discovery, monitoring and managing UCS performance and capacity utilization; ScienceLogic, for surveillance of multi-tenant data centers; and Splunk, for gleaning operational intelligence from Big Data generated by thousands of UCS servers.

Cisco also enhanced the single-domain UCS Manager with a new version of the product. Release 2.1 of UCS Manager allows for more simplified connectivity of Cisco C-series rack servers by adding features previously available only to blade form factors, such as reduced cabling and rapid application deployment, Cisco says.

UCS Manager 2.1 with the Cisco Virtual Interface Card (VIC) 1225 reduces the number of cables for virtual servers from nine down to two, Cisco says. The number of switches and adapters can also be reduced, the company says.

UCS Manager 2.1 also gives customers new storage topology choices, Cisco says. It supports multi-hop FCoE, for consolidation of LAN and SAN. FibreChannel zoning in UCS Manager 2.1 provides incremental scaling path with "pod" deployments requiring no SAN switches, Cisco says. And NetApp storage users can consolidate FCoE, iSCSI and NAS traffic on the same port and cable, the company says.

As of August 2012, there are more than 15,800 UCS customers, and more than half of the Fortune 500 have invested in the product, Cisco says.

Lastly, Cisco also enhanced its Intelligent Automation for Cloud management software with release 3.1. The 3.1 version of IAC features CloudSync, for cloud infrastructure discovery and resource tracking so administrators can assess resources and make necessary changes to optimize service delivery.

Another feature is Virtual Data Centers, designed for self-service provisioning and management of multiple virtual data centers -- not just virtual machines. These data centers span virtual and physical compute, through UCS Manager, and networking resources, and can be provisioned according to infrastructure consumption limits.

Version 3.1 also includes Network Services Manager, which lets customers order network resources -- like VLANs -- from a self-service portal. Cisco says NSM provides the foundation for network-as-a-service in future releases of IAC.

Version 3.1 of IAC is consistent with Cisco's intent to manage multiple cloud environments such as OpenStack, Amazon EC2 and VMware vCloud Director.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Cisco's new management system simplifies control of thousands of servers" was originally published by Network World.

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