What is a Cisco UCS Director?

    Cisco UCS Director

    Cisco UCS Director is a software product that automates the management of heterogeneous data center IT infrastructure. In this post I will briefly describe what this product is intended for and what tasks it solves.

    Perhaps not everyone knows the decoding of the acronym UCS. UCS (Unified Computing System) is a Cisco server platform based on the Rack and Blade product lines. Naturally, CISCO positions UCS Director as a solution that, although universal, most fully reveals its functionality in combination with the equipment of the UCS line. Therefore, first we say a few words about the CISCO UCS server.

    Cisco UCS Servers

    The peculiarity of the Cisco UCS server platform is that the configuration has one blade basket and a certain set of servers. There is no gradation of solutions and there is an internal switch - model 62 series, Fabric Interconnect.

    The Cisco product line is shown in the figure below.

    Cisco Product Line

    The traditional approach to building infrastructure is that switches such as LAN, SAN, or Management are placed in each blade basket. From this approach, we get many control points and complex cabling. Further, all this is transferred to the Top of Rack switch and as a result, excessive piling is obtained.

    The traditional scheme of building infrastructure

    Cisco UCS Director enables you to solve the problem of such a complex infrastructure organization. Initially, this product was introduced to the market by Cloupia, then after its purchase Cisco was rebranded and now this product is called Cisco UCS Director.

    The Cisco UCS server solution differs from the traditional infrastructure construction scheme in that Fabric Interconnected builds a single internal switch that has external ports in each blade basket. Thanks to this, we reduce the number of connecting lines between the central switches and the blades themselves. We get great scalability and easily scale up resources.

    A pair of interconnects can support up to 20 blade chassis. On such interconnects, System Manager is installed, which interacts with the UCS Director, so we can manage server pools and enforce policies on them.

    Cisco Unified System

    Manage physical infrastructure and virtual environments

    As you know, modern requirements for IT are growing, you need to constantly increase the efficiency of deployment of a particular infrastructure. Traditionally, large companies have a division of system administrators in different directions: virtual infrastructure administration, server administration, storage systems or network part administration.

    Traditional management approach

    We get many participants who need to be united among themselves and to establish their effective interaction. It is also necessary to organize the effective implementation of routine operations, such as prescribing vLAN, physical switching of something, etc. All this leads to a common problem - the lack of effective control. Due to the inconsistency in the work of various specialists, implementation times sometimes increase from several hours to several weeks, or even months. As a result, business projects are idle.

    At Cisco UCS Director, it comes down to a single point of management. It allows us to manage all four levels from a single point: virtualization, computing, storage, network.

    Single point management

    Cisco UCS Director Architecture

    Let's start with the physical environment.
    • Servers: Cisco UCS, HP, IBM, Dell. They are required to have server management management.
    • Storage systems: EMC, VNX, VNX2, NetApp, the entire FAS line.
    • Network part: Cisco Nexus v1000 switches, iron Nexus, ASA and Brocade.

    Virtual environment: supported by Hyper-V, VMware. There is also integration with public clouds.

    All management is based on roles. There are three main roles:
    • The end user, the one who uses the self-service panel.
    • IT administrator.
    • An operator who is engaged in monitoring and basic operations with infrastructure

    The system is modular, therefore it is possible to integrate into a virtual infrastructure without requiring additional computing power.

    Cisco UCS Director Architecture

    Using Cisco UCS Director, we get global monitoring of all four components: virtualization, servers, network and storage systems. All this is done through a user portal. The user portal provides a set of templates that are already configured, and the ability to track the progress of requests. Through the user portal, you can create a request to create a virtual virtual machine. Requests may require prior approval, or they may be completed automatically. It is possible to create a virtual machine as quickly as possible, without waiting for action from a technical specialist.

    The need to approve the request depends on the pool in which the requested machine will be located. There are computing pools that are controlled by the administrator, and there are pools with which the user interacts directly, and the administrator receives a notification only upon completion.

    Cisco UCS Director is a product that manages and consolidates all four areas of infrastructure administration. However, there is no need to switch between different control systems and use the console. Cisco UCS Director is a ready-made boxed product, its setup takes about an hour or two, depending on the depth of setup. Basic functionality becomes available in just 1 hour of deployment.

    Cisco UCS Director Self-Service Portal

    This is what the Cisco UCS Director Self-Service Portal interface looks like. Below is the workspace as seen by the system administrator. There are several tabs here, the main Dashboard, which shows the general status of the system. Here you can switch between different display options.

    Cisco UCS Director User Portal Dashboard

    A more detailed demonstration of the Cisco UCS Director self-service portal can be seen in the video with a fragment of a webinar entry about UCSD.

    The functionality of the self-service portal, among other things, differs from similar solutions, for example, from VMware vCloud Director, in that Cisco UCS Director supports hypervisors of various vendors, in particular VMware, Hyper-V, and also has the ability to integrate with the resources of cloud providers.

    In the next post, I’ll talk about setting up the Cisco UCS Director Self-Service Portal.

    Source: IT-GRAD

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