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UCS Gotchas? and how much time does it take day to day?

I was talking to a group in Chicago over the phone last week about Cisco UCS and they asked the question, “were there any gotchas when we implemented UCS”?  I had to stop and think about the question.  At first I thought it would be strange if I said no . . . but I could not think of anything that I would consider a gotcha.

In my mind I would define a gotcha as something that came up during implementation that required us to stop and change the way we were going to do something.  It would be something significant.  From this perspective I drew a blank.

The implementation and the use of UCS is not perfect  However, the only issues or stumbling blocks we encountered had to do with either understanding the concepts in the correct context or minor known bugs in the UCS Manager (well they became known to us as we went along 🙂 ).  Yes, there are a few bugs, like when you click on a vHBA template and try to navigate out of that tab it will prompt you to save your changes.  This is every time, even when you did NOT make a change, you have to save it or else you can not leave that page.  Or the strange thing that happens every once in a while (~5% of the time) when you have a KVM session to a blade and perform a reboot the screen will stay black.  You then have to do a few key strokes (I do not recall what they are right now) to get the KVM to display the actual screen again.  I believe both of this items are know to Cisco and probably will be corrected in the next UCS Manager update.

So during my call when I was asked that question, the only thing I could come up with was describing the confusion in terms used for “native VLAN”.  On the 6500 it is referred to as native, on the 6120 it is referred to as default and then on the blade service profile it is referred to as native.  Once that was understood we could move on.

Another question that is typically asked is how much time is my staff spending on managing UCS on average?  Good question . . . so I asked my 4 staff members.  Turns out that 2 of the guys have been busy on other projects and have not had the need to go into UCS manager.  They have been performing all of their daily and project work in vSphere, no need to get into UCS Manager.  They both indicated once it was setup they had no need.

Ok, so I went to my 2 server admins.  It turns out the new guy has been in UCS Manager the most, this guys is excited and motivated about his new role.  He logs in to check for errors and I have had him open a ticket for a bug that we saw.  Other than that it is quite.

Now this week I do have the 2 server admins building 2 blades with Windows 2008 Enterprise to run Oracle for a new application.  So they are getting back into the Manager for those tasks.  However, from a day to day standpoint there is no more hands on required than any other server or blade system.

Yes, we still need to setup more email and SNMP alerts so we are proactive if and when there is an issue.  Those things will come as time permits, etc.

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January 20, 2010 - Posted by | Cisco UCS |

4 Comments »

  1. Michael, found your blog here http://blog.scottlowe.org/2010/02/18/a-collection-of-ucs-posts/ and your posts are very informative. If you can disclose, what type of applications are you running on UCS or are you that far along?

    I’m interested in the level of support/adoption by the ISV community which I believe is needed to drive UCS adoption in healthcare. Best Regards, Bob

    The overall UCS architecture.

    Comment by bobolwig | February 20, 2010 | Reply

    • Bob,
      We are running VMware ESX 4.x on most UCS blades as well as W2K8 64 bit and W2K3 32 bit OS. Now on the Windows servers we have Oracle running on 2 blades and then vCenter with SQL running on a blade. These are all boot from SAN, so with the hardware abstraction, I can move a workload from one blade to another with a reboot (done by moving the service profile).
      Then on the guest servers running on top of the ESX we have a wide variety of systems. Really anything we would normally be running under VMware; MS SQL, web servers, AD controllers, a lot of Citrix XenApp 5 servers, etc.
      From a performance standpoint the UCS gear is the high end of my VMWare environment.
      Mike

      Comment by healthitguy | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Mike. I’m looking forward to following your posts and your progress with UCS–it sounds like your are off to a great start. I’m off to Atlanta on Friday to HIMSS…

    Comment by bobolwig | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. I’m hearing this echoed by customers all over Europe. What starts out pre-UCS as “ooer, this is all new and a bit scary” quickly becomes “I love this, it’s easy and I don’t need to be an uber expert”. A bit like VMotion, now everyone takes it for granted but it wasn’t always thus…

    Comment by Steve Chambers | March 17, 2010 | Reply


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