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UCS 1.4 Code: What is cool so far.

Here are a few things that have jumped out so far that I like with the 1.4 code:

— Support for the new B230 blades; half size blade with 2 sockets and 32 DIMM slots (16 cores and 256 GB memory!!)

— Able to manage the C-Series servers via UCS Manager (the rack servers)

—  Power capping to cover groups of chassis; this is very powerful now.  Think about it, you can have 4 chassis in 1 rack all sharing 2 or 4 – 220 circuits.  Now you can cap, monitor and manage the amount of power by groups of chassis not just per blade or chassis.

—  Software packaging for new server hardware that does NOT require the IO fabric upgrade to use the new servers.  Nice!

—  Bigger and Badder!  Support for up to 1024 VLANS and up to 20 UCS chassis (160 servers from 1 management point!!).

—  Fiber Channel connectivity options, now can do port channeling and FC trucking as well as some limited direct connection of FC based storage (no zoning ability . .  yet).

OK the list goes on and on, they have packed a lot into this release.

Checking out the new items in UCSM, I had to grab a few screen shots of the following:

Power!  You ever wonder how much power a server or chassis is using?  Now you know, check this out!  I am loving this.

This is cool stuff!


For those UCS users out there, it has not always been very clear what the impact of making various changes to a Service Profile might do to the workload.  They have improved with each release, but this is some great detail now:

Cool stuff in Cisco UCS 1.4 code, I hope to have more time to share with everyone as we continue to maximize our investment.  Time to go home . . .

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Cisco UCS, UCS Manager | , | 1 Comment

Cisco UCS 1.4 Code: Upgrade is done, this is cool stuff

I am geeked! We just completed the code
upgrade on our production Cisco UCS environment and it was

We have been in production on Cisco UCS for 1
year and 22 days now and have ran on 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and now 1.4
code. So today was our 3rd code upgrade process on a
production environment and each time things have gotten better and
cleaner. Why am I so excited? Think about it . . . with UCS
there are 2 Fabric Interconnects with some chassis hanging off of
them with a bunch of servers all using a single point of
management. Everything is connected with redundancy and if
all of that redundancy is operational and live you truly can reboot
half your IO fabric and not drop a ping or storage connection.
In a storage world this is standard and expected but in a
server blade world you would think to accomplish the same level of
high availability and uptime provided by a SAN, there
would have to be a lot of complexity. Enter Cisco UCS! An
hour ago we upgraded and rebooted half our IO infrastructure that
serves over 208 production VM Guest Servers running on 21 VMware
ESX hosts and another 8 Windows server (all running active SQL or
Oracle databases) blades without dropping a packet. Then I
did the same thing to the other IO infrastructure path with NO
ISSUES. This is just badass. I suspect in a year this
type of redundancy and HA level in a x86 server
environment will be an expectation and not an exception.

UCS Code Upgrade Experiences:

In March 2010 we
performed the first upgrade while in production to 1.2 code (you
can check out my blog post for all the details). The major
impact we experienced with this one was due to a human issue; we
forgot to enable spanning tree port fast for the EtherChannels
connecting our Fabric Interconnects. Our fault, issue fixed,
move on. In December 2010 we implemented 1.3 code for a few reasons
mainly related to ESX 4.1 and Nexus 1K. Our only issue here
was with 1 Windows 2003 64-bit server running on a B200 blade with
OS NIC Teaming which failed to work correctly. Again,
not a UCS code issue but a server OS teaming issue. We had 3
servers using NIC Teaming in the OS, so we decided to change these
servers to hardware failover mode provided in UCS instead of in the
OS. Changes made, ready to move on. It just so happened on
the same day we did the 1.3 upgrade Cisco released 1.4 code just in
time for Christmas (thanks SAVBU). This time we had all our
bases covered and each step worked as expected; no spanning tree
issues, no OS NIC Teaming problems, it was smooth! There was
some risk with moving to the new code so fast, but we have several
projects that are needing the new B230 blades ASAP. There are
several UCS users and partners that have already been going through
1.4 testing and things have been looking very good. Thanks to
all who provided me with feedback over the last week.

Features and Functions:

Now we get to dig into all the
new cool and functional features in the new code. I am
impressed already. I will put together a separate posts with
my first impressions. I do want to point out one key thing that I
referenced above; the need to upgrade the infrastructure to use new
hardware (B230 blades). Now that I am on 1.4 code this
requirement is gone. Yep, with 1.4 code, they have made
changes that will NOT require a upgrade of the IO infrastructure
(Fabric Interconnects and UCS Manager) to use new hardware like a
B230. So yes, things are sweet with Cisco UCS and it just got
even better.

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Cisco UCS, General, VMWare | , , | Leave a comment