REVIEW: Cisco Unified Computing System Is a Robust Platform for Physical, Virtual Data Center Ops - Page 4

Equipment-Real Physical Devices

The physical Cisco UCS devices are managed in the equipment tab-one of the chief features that enables a Cisco UCS installation to grow in size without adding much in the way of management overhead.

When I installed and removed physical server blades from the chassis, I could see the change reflected on the management screen. I was able to monitor power supplies, fans, and temperature and power consumption from the UCS Manager interface. If a subsequent chassis was added, it would be managed in the same screen without adding another management IP address.

IT managers should pay special attention to the firmware management capabilities of UCS Manager. In contrast with the underdeveloped configuration backup system, considerable effort was spent on ensuring that firmware rollouts are handled in a graceful and efficient manner. The firmware deployment system allowed me to see the running, startup and backup versions of the firmware for all the components in the Cisco UCS.

UCS Manager also provides extensive information about the hardware components installed in the rack, and all of this data is discovered automatically. Because Cisco makes all of the physical components and has welded the whole thing together with a fairly elegant management system, hardware enumeration and monitoring of power and temperature are easy to access and well-presented so that problems can be immediately diagnosed.

Servers-Logical Devices

Service Profiles define and provision UCS resources. The MAC address, WWPN, firmware version, BIOS boot order and network attributes are all programmable.

I used Service Profiles to pre-position configuration settings for rapid deployment within my UCS Manager domain, based on the application I wanted to use. I could force servers to use an older version of firmware and pull "burned in" identification information from resource pools that were ready for use without the need to further consult with network or storage staff.

Similarly, I was able to configure LAN and SAN resources so that applications running on my UCS management domain were correctly provisioned without manual intervention on my part to configure the server.

Taken all together, Cisco UCS tied the compute, network and storage management components into a neat bundle of productivity delivered as a server in the management tool.

Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at