You wanted the best and you got the Best! – Nutanix on UCS

Today marks a proud day for Nutanix and our customers. As we further extend our lead in the hyperconverged space, it is now fully supported to deploy the Nutanix platform on Cisco UCS servers. Customers now have an additional hardware option to choose from. The current options are NX on Supermicro hardware, XC on Dell hardware as OEM relation or HX on Lenovo hardware as OEM relationship. Outside of these Nutanix currently offers software-only deployments on Crystal ruggedized hardware, open compute project (OCP) hardware and now Cisco UCS.

KISS-cover

The hottest platform in the world, Nutanix on UCS!

Offering the stability, reliability and performance of the Nutanix platform on Cisco UCS has been a regular request from many of our large customers and partners. Customers no longer have to accept other hardware platforms if they are heavily invested in UCS or deploy half-baked or immature HCI solutions that were previously available on UCS.

 

Nutanix on Cisco UCS

Starting today customers can deploy Nutanix on UCS through a meet our meet in the field process. This allows customers to purchase Cisco UCS servers through their normal channels and maintain their Cisco UCS relationships. The hardware and software will be deployed at the customer’s location using the standard Nutanix procedures. The foundation process has been updated to support UCS hardware.

In this initial phase of UCS support, Nutanix will be supporting the C220 and C240 rack mount servers. There will be two models of the C240 to allow for the use of 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives. Also we support deploying with or without Fabric Interconnects (FI), this allows maximum flexibility. These models and config to order flexibility will cover the vast majority of existing use cases. Nutanix will take first call on all support issues and if determined it’s a hardware issue can open a support case with Cisco for customer via TSAnet. Hardware alerts, we can open CiscoTAC cases via TSAnet for customers.

ntnx-ucs-models

 

When deployed with Fabric Interconnects, the foundation process will auto create the necessary identify pools, service profile templates and templates to allow for the normal automated Nutanix deployment process that has been available for years on other hardware platforms.

 

Misc. Faqs

Here are several more details about the release that I won’t dive into at this time.

  • Hypervisor Support ESXi 6.0/5.5, AHV and Hyper-V
  • Regular and self-encrypting drives supported on C240 with 3.5″ drives
  • Haswell and Broadwell CPU’s supported

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VCE is caught in the middle of a War of the Roses

I always enjoy trying to connect things in life to something that others can relate to. Often this is something like a movie, book or music. In this case it’s the War of the Roses movie that comes to mind when I think of the current state of VCE and its founding members. I’m going to only reference information, articles and rumors that are publicly available. I’m sure to catch a lot of crap for this but I know others are asking the same questions.

The summary of the movie plot is listed below. I think you can insert the players names here for the VCE story and get the point I’m making. Is each company wondering what it might be like without the other?

The Roses, Barbara and Oliver, live happily as a married couple. Then she starts to wonder what life would be like without Oliver, and likes what she sees. Both want to stay in the house, and so they begin a campaign to force each other to leave. In the middle of the fighting is D’Amato, the divorce lawyer. He gets to see how far both will go to get rid of the other, and boy do they go far..

From the sounds of things lately I think we can assume that the part of Oliver is played by Cisco and Barbara is EMC/VMware. The part of D’Amato will not be played by Danny DeVito but VCE. I don’t like it when Mom and Dad fight…

thewarofroses_zps5b61fca5

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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My experience with 642-982 Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Design Specialist exam

I recently took and passed the Cisco UCS Design Specialist exam 642-982. There was not a lot of information out there on this exam so I thought that I would write a short summary of my thoughts. To start off I was not sure what to expect out of the exam because there is very little information to tell you what you should study and there are no books targeted towards this exam.

I am not surprised by the lack of prep material since it’s a design based exam. In my opinion this is one of the exams that you just need the real world experience of working with the product over time to be confident that you have the knowledge to pass the test.

Of course I’m not going to spit out a bunch of questions that you should study. The test does present a bunch of different design scenarios that might cover things like environmental variables, security questions or technical requirements. You then must make your choice based upon the given parameters. The part that I was least happy with was how little content there was about actual UCS design decisions. Sure there were things like converged networking and cabling, but actual questions that required you to build a design were somewhat limited. The exam seemed to focus more on the overall Cisco data center methodology rather than just UCS as you would think.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Some little things that make Cisco UCS awesome

I was recently introduced to Cisco UCS and have been really enjoying working with the product. After working with HP, Dell and IBM products for almost 20 years it has been a refreshing change. Sure I was keeping an eye on what Cisco was doing with UCS and reading what others have been writing. But after working with the UCS and sitting for the UCS class I am a firm believer in what they have created now.

So I figured that it would be good just to write down a few of the little things that have impressed me so far. I will be writing a lot more about UCS in the coming weeks. But these are just some UCS features that I thought were cool.

This is no surprise but does the back of your server rack look this clean? Unless you have a UCS blade chassis I doubt it does. Sure other vendors have been creating Blade Chassis for years and they have done many things to cut down on cable clutter. But nothing comes close to making things this simple and clean.

The next one is maybe not so much a technology innovation but it’s just something so simple that I can’t believe no one has done this before. On each UCS blade server that is a little paper card that flips out. This can be used to write server names, put asset tags or other labeling details. No more are the days were you are forced to paste labels on the front of servers reducing the air flow by partially covering up some of the vents. This seems so dang easy but I’ve not seen any other vendor do this yet.

This will probably have people split on if its good or bad. Every UCS blade and C series rack mount server has the console port on the front and you can use the dongle in the picture below to access. The UCS dongle provides you with a video port, 2 USB ports and a 9 pin serial connection. This gives you the ability to connect monitor, keyboard and mouse to any blade or server. You could also use it for a console connection to a nearby switch if your laptop like many does not have a serial port. Sure others will probably say why would you want this when I just cable up my chassis to a KVM and forget about it. But after years of working with remote data centers and having a wide variety of skilled and non-skilled works there to be your hands in a crisis. This makes things dead simple just connect this dongle to server 1 and what do you see on the screen. No more try to remotely talk someone through how to use a KVM and never really being sure if they are looking at the right screen.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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ESXi management network issues when using EtherChannel and NIC teaming

ESXi behavior with NIC trunking

Sometimes very challenging problems will arise.  Things that make you scratch your head, want to hurl your coffee cup, or just have a nice cold adult beverage.  Customers can change a projects requirements mid-way through, a vendor’s storage array code upgrade can go awry, or a two can creep into the ones and zeros.

In this section, we present examples of those crazy situations with the hopes of helping out our fellow engineers in the field before they become as frustrated as we have!

Recently in working with a customer, the request was for a new cluster comprised of ESXi 4.1 hosts.  They would be using just two onboard NICs for the vmkernel and virtual machine traffic.  These two NICs would feed into a pair of Cisco Nexus 5020’s, using virtual port channel (VPC).

Because of the use of VPC, the virtual switch load balancing needs to be set to IP Hash for the NIC teaming policy.  Okay, no sweat!  After installing ESXi and completing the initial configuration on the hosts, it was time to add the second NIC to vSwitch0 and plug it in.  (Note this configuration is all being done on the hosts directly as no vCenter server has been built yet).  After adding the second adapter to the active section of vSwitch0, and changing the NIC teaming policy to IP hash, we plugged in the second cable.

The host immediately lost connection from our vSphere client, and dropped off entirely from being able to be contacted.  No ping, no nothing!  This was most puzzling indeed:  we unplugged the second cable and the host started to ping again.  We thought maybe there was something wrong with the NIC itself, and so setup a separate NIC to take its place.  This had the same result, and we then thought to look at the switch.  After discussing the current configuration with the network engineer, we felt that his configuration was correct.  The configuration (and more!) can be found in the white paper put out by Cisco and VMware: “Deploying 10 Gigabit Ethernet on VMware vSphere 4.0 with Cisco Nexus 1000V and VMware vNetwork Standard and Distributed Switches – Version 1.0” This doc has been a very helpful during the implementation of this project.

So!  With the network being deemed not the problem and wearing a sheepish smile on my face after the network guy commented “it’s always the network isn’t it?” I returned to the host.  I then tried setting up both NICs on a non-nexus switch that is being used for out of band management, and they worked just fine using virtual port id for NIC teaming.  So at that point, I fired up the googalizer and did some checking.  I came across this KB article from VMware:

VMware KB 1022751:  NIC teaming using EtherChannel leads to intermittent network connectivity in ESXi

Details:

When trying to team NICs using EtherChannel, the network connectivity is disrupted on an ESXi host. This issue occurs because NIC teaming properties do not propagate to the Management Network portgroup in ESXi.
When you configure the ESXi host for NIC teaming by setting the Load Balancing to Route based on IP hash, this configuration is not propagated to Management Network portgroup.

So, based on this very helpful information, I followed the instructions listed in the KB and had great success.  Now my ESXi hosts are talking on both NICs via IP Hash and life is good.

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