Project California: Unveiled !

Besides the awesome bell bottom britches one of the coolest things about the United States Navy was all the countries I got to visit. Now, I am from a small town in Tennessee and just going to San Diego was a major league culture shock for me. But another country, well that was something all together different. I learned that just because something is cool or acceptable in the States it can get your butt kicked overseas. For example, when I first went over to the Middle East I would give folks a rousing good ole’ American thumbs up sign. Hey if it is good enough for the Fonz and pilots fixin’ to cat launch off a Carrier then this MUST be a universally accepted form of coolness. After noticing the shocked look on the locals faces or the jeers in Arabic, a resident I was scuba diving with asked me why I did not like that Dude, Lady or Kid. "What are you talking about?" I said. He replied; "Thumbs up over here means F.U"… oh man… A little knowledge goes a loooooong way. There has been a ton of press and statements from folks around the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). Now I expect silly goober statements to come from analyst who think an IP address is where they go to the bathroom at. But from competitors that really should know the technology well enough to NOT make a whanker statement, I did not expect that. Statements like: - Why is Cisco getting into the server market? - We have been doing this for years and believe servers in a switch is a great idea - Our solution will inter-op even with Cisco products Certainly I do not expect a competitor to say, "Wow this is cool! Our position is to recommend our entire installed base to purchase Cisco UCS" not at all. I think understanding the technology first is really the key here before exposing yourself as a knob that did not take the time to read the material and truthfully hurting your sales force answering to their customers about this. This is a MAJOR issue for me. As a former field pre sales engineer (SE), I just hated it when marketing would gave the field some half baked response to a sales rep and then the SE would spend hours researching and trying to clean it up. So what is UCS? I had a chance to work with the UCF team to build out an entire TechWiseTV show on this groundbreaking architecture. I was skeptical and truthfully if any other team approached us on this, I would have fought it hard to wait until version 2.0 comes out. The UCS team is unlike any team I have worked with at Cisco. When other Cisco groups are sipping wine and discussing the complexities of Kurt Vonnegut, the DC folks are eating chicken wings, drinking nickel beer and doing impressions of their favorite Family Guy lines. They are raw and they are not looking for minor changes or faster devices, they are looking to radically change the entire data center methodology and process. They are the single brightest group of folks I have worked with at Cisco. ANYTHING coming from this group is as different as a Ferrari is to a bicycle. Products like the Nexus series come from this group and there is still nothing even close to those devices. When it comes to UCS it is ALL about the architecture and not a single component or piece. Part of the misunderstanding with UCS is a procedural norm in releasing gear. Vendors release a switch or a router or a piece of software or a VOIP device so it makes sense to look at UCS as a server looking thru those glasses. You can not look at UCS with the same glasses you look thru to eval other products because this is a true honest to goodness brand new data center architecture from stem to stern and port to starboard. Here is a tiny bit of engineering milestones that are being overlooked on UCS that make it unlike any other product on the market today: - The chassis that holds the blades is not designed as an intelligent manager, it is designed to remove heat and increase airflow. Traditional blade centers are like expensive pizza ovens. The UCS chassis alone has 50-70% increase in backplane airflow over other blade systems. Heat is the killer of many data centers in cost and reliability. - This architecture was designed from the ground up for virtualization. Not just the traditional server virtualization, but it's architected in a three tier virtualized model. UCS virtualizes the compute, the network and the storage elements. Our design options here are amazing. Plus it is designed as an open model giving your data center maximum flexibility. In the spirit of keeping the data center open and flexible Cisco and VMWare submitted VN-Link to the IEEE as a proposed standard. In the system the UCS uses standardized protocols and APIs. - VN-Link. This is like Elvis at a pork chop fry! VN-Link allows me to have consistent security, QoS and traffic policies across the entire system. A Cisco switch is actually in the hypervisor which increases performance increases my visibility and troubleshooting tools. A true first and incredibly valuable. - Management. Data Centers have grown in more of a pod like fashion giving me a ton islands I have to manage. The UCS has ZERO management cards in the blade center itself the chassis just holds the blades and removes the heat. The management is embedded into the hardware itself. Consider this, policies like config automation, provisioning, auditing/compliance, release automation and change management all embedded. With traditional systems the more you add the more complexity this adds. With system wide embedded management we reduce parts, failure points, heat and complexity by instead of managing per server island, pod or rack, I am managing an entire system and assigning or moving resources as needed system wide. - The adaptor. Most vendors consider an adaptor with a TCP Offloader a data center grade card. Just like bad tires can make a BMW ride like a log wagon the UCS adaptor is designed as an architecture enabler. It supports 128 virtual NICs and they can be a mixture of Fiber Channel or Ethernet. It has two 10GB ports designed in a cut thru architecture to burn those wires up! Plus the additional intelligence to optimize virtualized devices is really something else. I could keep going here especially when it comes to the Fabric Extender but look folks, just like the old political statement; "It's all about the economy" UCS is all about the architecture. Not a single part or piece but an entire system. Hey, don’t take my word for it. I work for Cisco and they help pay my mortgage. I like to tell folks, I am an engineer first and employee second. From one engineer to another, take a look for yourself. Look at the entire architecture as a system. Wanna see it work close up and dig into the meat and tators of the system, then on 09April 2009 at 12CST tune into TechWiseTV for the episode "Dawn of the New Data Center" It is unlike anything Cisco has ever released but it is built upon a foundation of everything we have ever done. Jimmy Ray Purser Trivia File Transfer Protocol Indiana Jones and the Copper Scroll? According to the Dead Sea Scrolls there is a yet to be found copper scroll that is a detailed treasure map to secret tombs filled with gold, silver and spices. I'm heading out to go fedora shopping! OK it is for a copy of Red Hat...

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