Monday, April 11, 2011

Secure Multi-Tenancy and FlexPod

In my two previous postings, I highlighted the key features and benefits two industry leading private cloud architectures; the VCE VBlock Infrastructure Package and the HP BladeSystem Matrix. This posting will provide a brief overview of the Cisco/NetApp/VMware FlexPod Architecture.

The FlexPod Architecture is a Cisco Validated Design based on Cisco UCS Compute resources, Cisco Nexus, NetApp Storage, and VMware vSphere at the virtualization layer. The FlexPod architecture allows customers to adapt quickly and offers the needed flexibility to make fast changes without large amount of resources and processes.

Secure Multi-Tenancy

A shared cloud environment requires strict isolation between the different tenants that are resident within the infrastructure. The tenants can be different clients, business units, departments or security zones. Previously, customers with a shared cloud infrastructure were able to achieve “pockets” of isolation within the virtual server layer, the network layer, and storage, but never completely end-to-end.

Feature and Benefits of FlexPod

- Low-risk standardized shared infrastructure supporting a wide range of environments
- Highest possible Data Center efficiency
- IT flexibility giving business agility: scale out or up, but manage resource pools
- Complete Data Center in a single rack
- Flexibility in performance and capacity
- Fast setup for production
- Solutions guide for multiple environments
- Easy path for upgrading without fork lifting or data migrations
- Centralized management: NetApp OnCommand and Cisco UCS™ Manager
- VMs are isolated using vShield zone technology
- VMs connected and secured using Nexus products
- VMs on secure partitioned storage via MultiStore
- Service level assurance through VMware resource pools, Cisco QoS, and NetApp FlexShare

WWT and FlexPod
As a NetApp Star Partner with over 100 NetApp customers, combined with Cisco’s North American Partner of the Year, WWT is the leading FlexPod systems integrator. For example, WWT recently planned, designed, and implemented a FlexPod for a major financial institution based in New York and hosts a number of FlexPod demos throughout the United States.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The HP BladeSystem Matrix

"Thirty-nine years of my life had passed before I understood that clouds were not my enemy; that they were beautiful, and that I needed them. I suppose this, for me, marked the beginning of wisdom. Life is short." — Iimani David, author of literary fiction

Whether you are leveraging the public cloud or building out your own private cloud, Cloud Computing is on the minds of most of the customers that I talk with. DHS is certainly building out their own private cloud initiative. In my previous post, I briefly discussed the VCE Coalition and the Vblock Architecture for the private cloud. This post will briefly discuss the BladeSystem Matrix, which is HP's compelling vision for the private cloud infrastructure.

The HP BladeSystem Matrix is a converged infrastructure platform for shared services that is ideal for private cloud deployments. HP BladeSystem Matrix delivers one virtualized pool of network, storage, and compute resources that can be continuously optimized and instantly adjusted to meet dynamic business demands for any workload type. It unites the tools, processes, and architecture of the physical and virtual worlds to help cut costs and speed time to service delivery, while reducing Capital expenditures (CapEx) and operational expenditures (OpEx).

The HP BladeSystem Matrix Architecture at a High-Level

HP BladeSystem Matrix is comprised of one or more BladeSystem c7000 enclosures, server blades, and shared storage, sized to each customer’s requirements, as well as all of the management software needed to provision, optimize, and protect the infrastructure. Matrix arrives at the customer site as a factory-integrated solution. Each Matrix solution also includes HP on-site implementation services and training, enabling the customer to begin realizing the value of Matrix and the shared services model immediately.

Matrix supports the full range of HP ProLiant and Integrity full-height and half-height server blades and is scalable to over 1500 managed systems (virtual machine and physical machine instances). The StorageWorks 4400 Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA4400) can be factory integrated (recommended option) or Matrix can be connected to newly purchased or existing HP StorageWorks or supported third-party Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs).

The Matrix management console, built on HP Insight Dynamics, combines automated provisioning, capacity planning, disaster recovery, and a self-service portal. Matrix can be easily incorporated into existing data center environments: Virtual Connect modules in the BladeSystem enclosure enable Matrix to be connected to any standard Ethernet network or N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV)-capable Fibre Channel fabric and the platform is compatible with a range of operating systems and hypervisors.

With its open, extensible approach, BladeSystem Matrix runs any application workload out of the box and integrates seamlessly with storage and network infrastructure from HP StorageWorks and HP Networking, as well as infrastructure from other vendors such as EMC and Cisco. It is also integrated with the leading virtualization technologies from HP, Microsoft, and VMware.

WWT and HP BladeSystem Matrix

WWT is an HP Elite Partner and is certified to resell and deliver the HP BladeSystem Matrix. WWT is one of a handful of HP Elite Partners to have a fully installed and working HP BladeSystem Matrix demo unit in our Customer Briefing Center. With over 59 HP-certified Technical Architects and Pre-Sales engineers on staff, WWT can assist in the Planning, Design, and Implementation of HP BladeSystem Matrix and other HP solutions.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What is VCE and Vblock?

The Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition is a collaborative effort between Cisco, EMC, and VMware to deliver a complete IT infrastructure that integrates best-of-breed virtualization, networking, compute, storage, security, and management technologies. The concept is wrapped around VCE's Vblock Infrastructure Packages, composed of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), EMC storage, and VMware vSphere. The result is a reference architecture jointly created by EMC, VMware, and Cisco to create a modular building block architecture for cloud computing.

There are three Vblock Reference Architectures:

Vblock 0 (300 – 800 VMs): An entry-level configuration to meet the IT needs of small datacenters; test/development platform for Partners and customers.

1-2 Blade Chassis
6-30 ½-height Blades + 2 Management
32-128 Cores
48-GB Server Memory per Blade
46+ TB Storage Capacity
SATA drives
1 Rack

Vblock 1 (800 – 3,000 VMs):
A mid-sized configuration to deliver a broad range of IT capabilities to organizations of all sizes.

2-4 Blade Chassis
16-32 Blades
128-256 Cores
960-1,920-GB Server Memory
38-64-TB Storage Capacity
FC, SATA, & EFD drives
SAN, iSCSI, and optionally NAS
2 racks (min) or 3 racks (max)

Vblock 2 (3,000 – 6,000+ VMs): A high-end configuration that is completely extensible to meet the most demanding IT needs of large enterprises or service providers.

3,000-6,000 VMs
4-8 Blade Chassis
32-64 Blades
256-512 Cores
3-7TB Server Memory
96-146TB Storage Capacity
FC, SATA, & EFD drives
SAN, iSCSI, and optionally NAS
4 racks (min) or 5 racks (max)

WWT and Vblock

As Cisco largest UCS and Federal partner, WWT has successfully deployed the Vblock solutions a number of customers. For example, VCE was deployed for one customer to performance issues for their existing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution. After implementation, overall performance in creating and starting virtual machines was enhanced by 50% or more. Having reads from “delta” disks on SSD drives eliminated I/O issues. PCoIP was proven to display audio and video well enough to meet their needs.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cisco & The Private Cloud

In my previous post, I briefly discussed Cisco and Citrix Teaming up on the Desktop. While I suggested this was an exciting development, I failed to put the announcement in proper context of the overall evolving Private Cloud initiatives that I foresee on the horizon. First, let’s define Cloud Computing, based on NIST’s version 15 definition:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

NIST then defines three service models:

  1. Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)
  2. Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  3. Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

To a certain extent, many Federal Agencies have already dipped their toes in some or all three of these services models. For example, the Department of Homeland Security is in the process of developing their own Private Cloud and offering email-as-a service to many of its various sub-agencies. But, what other SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are available for consideration?

For example, perhaps deploying a Cisco Unified Communications Solution on the Cisco UCS platform in a virtual datacenter type of environment, providing true collaborative UC options across multiple agencies? How about thin client and VDI solutions on iPad and Android tablet devices, as I alluded to in my previous post, with imbedded VTC capabilities? Most importantly, how do you build out the virtual storage and cloud infrastructure to support these concepts and infinitives?

In upcoming posts I’ll touch on two other Cisco partnerships to support the Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): the Cisco/EMC/VMware Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) initiative and the Cisco/NetApp/VMware Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) concept.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cisco and Citrix Team up on the Desktop

This was a very interesting announcement which caught my attention a few weeks ago. It appears the Cisco and Citrix have teamed up to develop joint desktop virtualization solutions using Citrix XenDesktop and the Cisco USC Server Platform. I think a Citrix blog on the announcement hits the nail on the head perfect:

“Cisco has an amazing history of catching market trends right before they take off. Let's take a quick look at their track record:

1. From connectivity to communications - Cisco caught the voice transition as it went from analog to IP
2. From communications to collaboration - Cisco then capitalized on unified communications as the voice market transitioned
3. From collaboration to telepresence - Arguably its new hallmark, Cisco is now the king of video and high-def conferencing”

Coincidentally, many of my customers are asking more and more about multi-vendor OEM VDI solutions over platforms such as the iPad and Android. WWT’s Datacenter Practice is also developing various VDI solutions over both client platforms. For me, this is an exciting and promising announcement!