I am often asked by customers why UCS has been so successful in such a short amount of time. My response is always the same in that it comes down to two things – 1) Cisco and our partners’ ability to understand and execute against customer needs and 2) A fundamental difference in the underlying architecture.
You may know that Cisco invented UCS service profiles and built the entire system around the notion of hardware state abstraction. Cisco’s approach has been so successful because every element of the system was designed from the beginning to have its configuration set through software, without any licensing requirements. Whether customers are running bare-metal, virtualized, or any combination therein, Cisco UCS service profiles have revolutionized computing and have challenged competitors to try and replicate the simplicity and increased productivity that UCS Manager policies and templates provide. It’s no secret that Cisco UCS Manager has revolutionized the way customers deploy and manage servers, but here are a few things about UCS Manager that you may not be aware of.
Did you know that Cisco UCS Manager is embedded software running within the Fabric Interconnects in a highly available clustered configuration? This is an important distinction from traditional architectures as Cisco UCS Manager is a fully redundant management engine right out of the box the moment the system receives power, without special clustering software or additional licensing fees. UCS Manager not only orchestrates and automates hardware server provisioning, but provides device discovery, inventory, configuration, power management, diagnostics, monitoring, fault detection, auditing, and statistics collection.
Did you know that Cisco UCS uses a model-based management approach? Cisco UCS Manager performs an exhaustive automated discovery and inventory of all system components, combines that with user defined configuration data (pools/policies/profiles/templates) and applies it to the hardware. This means that server configuration occurs by manipulating the object model through Cisco UCS Manager’s GUI, CLI, or XML API. This also allows all elements of the model to be continuously adaptive to the environment and is the reason why Cisco UCS Manager has the ability to manage both Cisco blade and rack servers, regardless of server type or generation. This is the true essence of hardware state abstraction. This approach contrasts to the traditional use of multiple element managers to configure every component separately and (hopefully) accurately. Even bundling these element managers into a single interface doesn’t create an adaptive model, where for example, you can apply the same service profile to any blade or rack server and have it automatically adjust state. With converged management as an add-on, traditional approaches are hamstrung by the limitations of software scripting of commonly used commands out to the hardware.
Did you know that Cisco UCS enables secure access to all Cisco UCS Manager functionality through the XML API? It provides a single point of integration for developers and system administrators to utilize the API to further customize and automate the system according to their unique requirements. Cisco embraces industry standard toolkits like PowerShell, Python and Java to create Software Developer Kits (SDKs) that enable straightforward integration into the Cisco UCS Manager XML API. Imagine using these SDKs to orchestrate a private cloud, to manage OpenStack/open source environments, or to automate a virtualized solution to provision and manage all hardware compute elements. UCS Manager also provides system visibility to higher-level systems management and lifecycle tools from ISVs including Microsoft, BMC, CA, HP, IBM, Zenoss and others.
Did you know that UCS Central is actually an extension of the model-based UCS Manager XML API, aggregating multiple UCS domains into a common architecture that fundamentally shares the same hardware abstraction properties and programmatic API? UCS Central not only provides capabilities around shared global service profiles, templates, policies and pools, but it aggregates local domain configurations and policies without cutting off control. This provides further availability and flexibility by not tying multi-system management of potentially thousands of servers to a single non-redundant entity. By enabling automation of processes, Cisco UCS unified management allows data center managers to achieve greater efficiency, agility, and scale in their server operations while reducing complexity and risk.
Cisco revolutionized system management with UCS Manager and truly changed the way customers simplify, deploy and maintain their environments. As traditional vendors strive to achieve profile and template functionality, Cisco embraces the competition and looks forward to continuing innovation leadership in the server management arena.
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