The Cisco Invicta Platform: Taking Convergence to a New Level

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The data center is changing. The proliferation of cloud computing, modern data center optimizations, and the vast increase in data traversing the WAN has placed new demands on infrastructure. Administrators are actively trying to increase density while still maintaining optimal performance. More organizations and user are entering the data center and are requesting resources. Entire applications, desktops, workloads and data points are being delivered directly from the data center platform.

In fact, according to the latest Cisco Cloud Index Report, the data center virtualization and cloud computing transition is pretty significant:

  • The ratio of workloads to non-virtualized traditional servers will increase from 1.7 in 2012 to 2.3 by 2017.
  • The ratio of workloads to non-virtualized cloud servers will increase from 6.5 in 2012 to 16.7 by 2017.
  • By 2017, nearly two-thirds of all workloads will be processed in the cloud.

At this point, it’s safe to say that the data center is the central hub of all modern technology. Amidst all of this convergence, there’s been an evolution inside of the data center. Major technological vendors quickly realized that infrastructure density is key to ruling the cloud and data kingdom.

The idea behind convergence isn’t new. What is new and exciting are all of the new types of features and solutions being placed into the modern converged infrastructure. The recent acquisition of Whiptail by Cisco was certainly exciting news. However, the interesting part has been the rapid pace of integration into the existing UCS platform and some of the new features already added. To better support next-generation data center and user demands, Cisco did some interesting things around optimizing their converged offering.

  • Complete Network, Storage, Compute Integration. This is pretty significant. If you look under the hood of this platform, you’ll quickly realize that Cisco isn’t in the traditional “storage” business. In fact, it doesn’t want to be. Cisco is interested in creating a next-generation data center model by controlling and helping you manipulate how data traverses both your cloud and your internal resources. This means improving application, desktop, user, and even data performance within a converged platform. Basically, this model allows for a complete software defined solution. This can now happen at the server, network, and data layer where Cisco logically abstracts functionality of key services to allow for greater control of that virtual layer. Ultimately, this means apps launch faster, desktops are accessed quicker, and data can be delivered truly on demand to a distributed user base.
  • The UCS Invicta Operating System. The idea here is actually the creation of that software-defined data layer. Basically, the Cisco Invicta OS is designed to use NAND flash memory to sustain high throughput, a high rate of I/O operations per second (IOPS), and ultra-low latency while overcoming the write performance and longevity challenges typically associated with multilevel-cell (MLC) flash memory. The Cisco UCS Invicta OS accelerates the delivery of enterprise data by 10 times while using flash memory to reduce energy costs in a platform that consumes less data floor space. Furthermore, this OS integrates with the overall UCS platform to create that true software-defined layer. Logical abstraction of physical resources allows Cisco and this platform to create greater control over data, its flow, and how it impacts the overall environment.
  • UCS Director Integration. Here’s the really cool part: you don’t have a stand-alone data control appliance. Rather, you have a powerful data management platform that can directly integrate into the rest of your converged infrastructure. This means that administrators can use the Cisco UCS management suite (Cisco UCS Central Software, Manager, and Director) to deploy, organize, and monitor Cisco UCS resources to best meet their business requirements. Furthermore, organizations can create intelligent workflow policies around hardware and software profiles which live on the UCS converged platform. This means that policies can intelligently utilize new types of resources being presented by the Invicta infrastructure.
  • Creating the Next-Generation Data Center. So much is run through the modern data center that optimization and proactive control is absolutely necessary. The Invicta platform was just an addition to an already powerful UCS infrastructure. In utilizing SDx technologies and by intelligently integrating key components into their platform, Cisco was able to make an environment capable of handling organizational needs both today, and in the near future.

Data center delivery goes far beyond just applications and desktops. By integrating a powerful NAND flash infrastructure and complete profile control, you’re able to do a lot more with your data center than ever before. This includes:

  • Analytics and intelligence.
  • Batch processing.
  • Email archiving and data control.
  • Online transaction processing optimization.
  • Video compression and delivery.
  • Complete workload delivery (VDI, applications).
  • Database querying and loading.
  • High-performance computing.

There are some pretty direct benefits when working with a converged system. Remember, vendors are actively trying to improve performance around several key factors within the data center model. In deploying these converged systems, you’re aiming to improve key data center functionality as well. This includes:

  • Reduced power consumption
  • Reduced overall energy costs
  • Reduced data center floor space consumption
  • Lower operating expenses

A good workflow automation and orchestration infrastructure can create a powerful data center engine. This environment would proactively work for you to optimize existing workloads and gauge the need for additional resources. Moving forward, creating an intelligent system which can work for you without administrator interaction will be the go-to model. Remember, we’re only increasing the amount of devices that connect into the modern data center. So, when you create your corporate platform, look at convergence as a viable option for a next-gen-ready data center infrastructure.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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