Today is a great day to introduce some new Data Center terms I want everyone familiar with before I get into my new blog series, Cisco’s Unified Computing Services, or UCS.
As its name implies, UCS Manager provides unified, integrated management of all software and hardware components in the Cisco UCS. It controls multiple chassis and manages resources for thousands of virtual machines. Through its unified, embedded, policy-based, and eco-friendly approach, Cisco UCS Manager helps reduce management and administration expenses, which happen to be among the costliest items in most IT budgets.
The UCS Manager can manage up to 160 servers and thousands of Cisco UCS components in multiple chassis. The integrated management software and all the managed components are part of a UCS domain. And with management can be extended globally to thousands of servers in multiple domains.
I’ve been talking and writing about Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WAN)s and how they work for years. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy on Ethernet and TCP/IP and this type of networking is key to most companies—even the internet itself. You have probably heard about how blindingly fast the amount of data and information is increasing these days. Well, then it follows that this stratospheric rise has resulted in a huge, intense demand for the capacity to store and access that data efficiently right?
To meet our soaring secure storage needs, things called ‘storage arrays’ were created, which not only have a legion of disk drives, they’re also intelligent. Now for these storage arrays to communicate with servers and other devices a new type of network was also created called Storage Area Network, or SAN, not to be confused with a Network Attached Storage, which uses traditional Ethernet/TCPIP methods for communications. Nope, a SAN is a completely different type of network with different interfaces and even different kinds of switches known as Fibre Channel, which allows for the rapid and reliable transfer of data in the data center.
For years, data centers have maintained two separate networks; one for Ethernet traffic, one for Fibre Channel traffic, and they usually have separate groups administer them. Cisco has two product lines, and SAN-OS, with IOS devices for dealing with Ethernet and IP traffic and SAN-OS devices to handle fibre channel traffic.
As Ethernet began going faster and faster (10GB+) someone figured out how to send fibre channel traffic over very high speed Ethernet. This is called Fibre channel over Ethernet.
Basically, FCoE takes two separate networks and marries them into one. For a single device to be capable of handling both, it would need the capabilities of both IOS and SAN-OS and Cisco worked hard for years to develop exactly such a device–Meet the Nexus NX-OS! Sort of like a hybrid car, this savvy device handles both types of traffic and has special ports that can accept either an Ethernet connection or Native fibre channel connection.
The Nexus really does represent the next step in the evolution of the network– the successful consolidation of the SAN and LAN into one. It’s a seriously huge development and it’s changing the very way datacenters are deployed!
Check back next week when we’ll check out even more new hardware that Cisco has introduced along with the UCS.