UCS Boot Camp – Day 5

The last day of boot camp went at a nice (relatively) slow pace, but not any less mind-bending.  We started with an open-ended lab where our goal was to get ESX up and running on our blades.  The process was pretty easy (as it should have been at this point).  The interface doesn’t make it entirely intuitive, but isn’t difficult once you learn it.

Today, Cisco officially announced the B250 full-width blade, Palo adapter and rack-mounted servers.  Rodos has summarized the news release well on his site: http://rodos.haywood.org/2009/10/ucs-palo-and-c-series.html.  Several points that stood out to me:

  • The production name of the Palo adapter has been named the Virtual Interface Card, or VIC, which is a rather poor choice given the emphasis Cisco has given to the virtualization capabilities of the system.  I am of course referring to the acronym they share with the Virtual Infrastructure Client. I suspect that it may continue to be referred to as Palo.
  • The Palo adapter will be made for both blade (mezzanine) and rack mount server (PCI-Express x16).  I wonder if it would work or be supported in non-Cisco servers.  Could open up a whole new arena for Cisco to dive into.
  • The C Series of rack-mount servers will not initially be able to tie into the UCS 6100 Fabric Interconnects.  This one surprised me, but confirmed a suspicion I had that they would not require the Fabric Interconnects (like UCS blade chassis do).

We then had a web meeting with Netformx to cover the DesignXpert product that Cisco has decided to use as their exclusive UCS
configuration tool.  It is a nice tool with no major surprises, other than the fact it indicates to me that I’ll have to do more sales-y functions.  That I don’t look forward to, but I guess that’s life.

After that, we did a quick whiteboarding session to explain Fibre Channel and the differences and similarities to FCoE.  We didn’t cover anything that hadn’t already been covered at some point in the week, but helped to clarify and cement the concepts in all our minds.  The main diagram we centered the discussion around can be found in my first day’s report.

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • Only QoS can be defined on the Palo vNICs, but you can define minimum guaranteed bandwith.  This is a difference with HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 that has you configure the specific bandwidth for each vNIC .  This is definitely to Cisco’s advantage (imagine that coming from a networking company) as it does a better job of not wasting bandwidth and guaranteeing services.
  • Multi-hop FCoE in the Nexus line is currently scheduled to arrive about the same time as northbound FCOE in the UCS 6100 Fabric Interconnects.  This will solve the two roadblocks to end-to-end FCoE for the UCS system.
  • NPV is F-port virtualization on the switches, which currently can participate in only a single VSAN.  NPIV is N-port virtualization on the HBA/CNA.  The two together allow multiple WWNs talk through a single FC connection, which was traditionally limited to a single WWN.

That finished up our week at UCS Boot Camp, a very aptly named training course.  It was very intense, but extremely educational, entertaining and insightful.  A big thanks go to our instructors and the developers, product managers, engineers and technical marketers who stopped by.  They were all very gracious to take the time to explain to us the components, philosophies and deep technical details, and put up with our many questions, some of which may have seemed heated at times.  They were always willing to keep at a topic until we understood it, and would pull in another resource to help deliver the message.  I’d also like to thank my fellow classmates for their open exchanges and willingness to share their experiences and thoughts.  It was one of those precious moments that bring several very intelligent people from different backgrounds and expertise together into a single room to hash out a new and technically innovative platform.  I believe that good things will come from this week to all of us who were involved.

Please provide comments below to let me know your thoughts, questions or concerns.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Dan Brinkmann says:
    Brian, any word on when northbound or multi-hop on the 6100 would be coming? do the new rack-mount servers tie in at all to UCS manager?
  2. knudt says:
    Didn’t get a definitive answer, but northbound + multi-hop FCoE didn’t sound like it would be soon.

    As far as I can tell, there will be no integration between C-Series and UCSM upon release, but should tie together sometime after that.