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August 2009

Define the cloud video

Saturday, August 29, 2009 Category : 0

This was too good to not share. Video with people defining cloud computing.


P.S. Thanks twitter fiends for pointing it out

How to ask questions at VMworld

Friday, August 28, 2009 Category : , 6

Okay, you are heading to VMworld and its your first time. You need to know how to behave in a crowd of over 10 thousand people and interact with the hoards.

Here are some of the possible questions/statements you might ask whilst you are there. There are also some things NOT to say.

The good ones are at the top, the fail ones are at the bottom, try to avoid the fail ones!

  1. What does your product/service do for me in my role as [insert job title here]?
  2. What customers have benefited from your product/service?
  3. Why would my CIO/CFO/CEO and/or my end users like your product or service?
  4. Do you have any ROI/TCO case studies I can review?
  5. I last looked at your product service [insert time here], what has been change/updated/removed since then?
  6. Can you give me a quick demonstration of your product/service?
  7. Do you support all versions and forms of VMware and its related product set? Are there any limits or restrictions I should be aware of?
  8. How do you service people in my city/state/region/country?
  9. What is your support policy?
  10. What is your pricing model?
  11. How are you different from your competitors?
  12. Here is my business card, could you send me some details after the show?
  13. Have you seen Chad Sakac anywhere?
  14. Do you have any free T-shirts?
  15. I have no relationship with you or your company and don't want to but do you have a free party on and can I have a ticket?
  16. Do you have anything thats free?
  17. Twitter is for my little sister.
  18. Can you send me something thats free?
  19. That vExpert had no idea what he/she was talking about, I sucker punched them with a question on the 3rd command line option for a depreciated function from 2.5, looser!
  20. Do I have to be here for the draw to win?
  21. I follow the yellow brick road, do you?
  22. Do you know where there is a booth that does have free stuff?
  23. Oh, I am sorry, I thought you were Scott Lowe. Anyhoo, have you seen Chad Sakac anywhere?
  24. No I did not bring business cards because I am not really interested in after show interaction and value, I am just here for the free stuff on the stands.
  25. I am looking for Gabe, well I was actually hoping he would have Brenda with him.
  26. Who is Foreigner?
  27. Well you are wearing a T-Shirt, can I have that one?
Add any of your own to the comments.


Is the Cloud the new Microsoft Access of IT?

Category : 0

At the Australian Architecture Forum this week I asked the panel the following question.

Given the ease of singing up to Software as a Service Cloud offerings, combined with eager business unit managers with a credit card, does this leave any room for Enterprise Architecture within IT? Is the only role for Enterprise Architects to come along afterwards and clean up the mess?
It was a leading question but I was surprised by the answer, the panel generally thought it was not that big a deal, EA would still be involved and they need to stay engaged with the business. However one of the panelists made the statement that the Cloud (and we are referring mainly to SaaS here) could be the new Microsoft Access of IT. I felt at the time the panel may have had their head in the clouds a little bit and not quite see the fearful reality of eager credit card holders within the enterprise spinning up new services because they could just not be bothered with Internal IT who always want to turn everything into a hard and complicated effort.

Then last night at CloudCamp Sydney someone asked essentially the same question. What do we do about people inside the Enterprise consuming Cloud outside of the controls of IT. Now I know that this person works for one of the largest Enterprises and IT consumers in this country, so if they are thinking about it then it really is a reality. So I might be onto something here. There was a little bit of interesting discussion around it, again coming back to the idea that users would get so far but would then come back to IT for help eventaully. However with the increasing ease of mashups etc this may take longer than people think.

I sent a twit on this topic.
Is the #cloud the new MS Access of Enterprise IT? Crack for users to start with and final headache for Enterprise Arch in the end.

@rodos disagree if done properly, people need to architect first, build second vs. the typical opposite approach

@rodos make your own DB -> write your own reports -> create your own SharePoint site -> provision your own cloud server - god help us!

I am certainly of the view that EA needs to be involved in Cloud initiatives inside the Enterprise. My fear is they are never going to know or be involved until its to late. Cloud will be like the MS Access of IT in the early days, but eventually people will come to their senses, using it as useful took inside EA. Hopefully it will also force IT to deliver in ways that their userbase requires.

What do you think? Post in the comments.


First Australian Cloudcamp

Category : 2

Tonight was the first Australian Cloudcamp. I rocked along not really knowing what to expect but with an open mind.

Here is a run down.

It was directed by Dave Nielsen who flew in for the day, great effort. It was held at the Google offices and was organised by Samuel Yeats of Rejila Cloud Services and Milinda Kotelawele of Longscale.

There was a bunch of Lighting Talks which occur for 5 minutes only. These were (in the wrong order)

  • Alan Noble, Google
  • Milinda Kotelawele, LongScale
  • George Reese, enStratus
  • Samuel Yeats, Ultra Serve / Rejila Cloud Servers
  • Dr. Anna Liu, UNSW
  • Dr. James Broburg, University of Melbourne
  • someone, Unisys
  • Stu Andrews
The talks were fine. Some were to marketing based, especially the Unisys one, not the crowd for such a pitch.

Stuart sang a song about the cloud which you can see below.

After this was the unpanel time. It started with selecting a panel and then throwing up a question. Dave asked for people who were cloud experts to start with to come up for the panel, like anyone is going to offer themselves up for that. Then he said okay, if people come to you to ask cloud questions then put your hand up. Well not being shy and it being true I had to jump in at this stage.

The questions thrown up were (thanks @artr for noting them down).
  • Is the OS still relevant in the cloud?
  • How should dev tools change to be optimised to the cloud?
  • What are people willing to pay for in the cloud?
  • Why do we use security as an excuse for not adopting cloud?
  • What jurisidctions are relevant to the cloud?
  • What should devs tell the Rugby Player?
  • How long until it all gets insourced again?
The panel could then choose a topic to answer in 60 seconds. I took the what will people pay for question. My answer was that people would pay for something that was less than what they were paying now. That is if they were currently paying $X to run something not in the cloud, and they could move it to the cloud for 20% less, that that is something that they would pay for. Also people would pay for things then need on the cloud. Examples of things they need are security, SLA, those higher level services. Did have not much time to think of the answer and it sounded okay as it got referred to a few more times during the night and on twitter.

Here are some bad photos of me in the unpanel.

George Reese on the #cloudcampsyd unpanel on Twitpic

Fuzzy @rodos talking commercialism. #cloudcampsyd unpanel on Twitpic

After this topics were suggest and breakout rooms decided. People then went off to their topics of choice and discussed. There were two rounds of topics at 45 minutes each. At the end there was bit of a summation and then off to the pub.

So what did I think of the event?
  • It was good to see so many people there, I think it was about 100.
  • There was a variety of communities represented, developers, vendors, end users, enterprise. Yes I was wearing a suit but I came straight from work.
  • There are a lot of people still trying to get their head around cloud. I think a few of the people who are a bit longer in the tooth around cloud would have liked some deeper discussion, however with the whole unconference method or whatever it is I suppose its majority rules, speak up or suggest a topic thats really relevant to you.
  • I do think the format works, Dave had to do a bit of explaining of the process which probably annoyed any people who had been to other events like this but helped us newbies. Now that the first one has been run this part can probably get a lot less as more will be familuar with the process.
  • It was good to talk to some interesting people who are working in the space.
  • Was amazed that three people said they knew me from my blog, never expected that to ever happen! Ran into one guy who works for the same company I do. Also ran into a customer who was at an event the other week which I was the speaker for, on Cloud.
  • Next time I should take a notepad and take notes (which I normally do) as there were some interesting statements which are now lost.
Some linkages. Twitter search. Evernote summary from @artr. Kate's blog post Camping in the clouds #cloudcampsyd. Some good photos.

My recomendation. Find a http://www.cloudcamp.com/ in your area and give one a try!


P.S. Its now 1:30am. This is a great test of me being at VMworld next week. Full days, out at night and then trying to get some interesting record of whats occurred out before I forget it all. However next week I will have my computer with me, my camera and my flip video so content should be a lot better. Lets see how it goes.

Reflex achieve first VMsafe certification

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 Category : 0

Reflex Systems have become the first vendor to achieve the technical certification for VMsafe.

Aaron Bawcom revealed the achievement on his blog and other details can be found in their press release.

Certification is important to such products. You do want that assurance that VMsafe integrated products have undergone a rigorous testing scheme and controls, after all they operate in a privileged manner underneath your workloads.

To me VMsafe brings two important things. First it allows security at scale, which may be critical for Cloud implementations. Second and more importantly, its yet another thing (and a big one at that) which make a virtual machine better than a physical machine. You can do things with VMsafe that are not possible with a physical server, making the virtual machine no longer the second class player of data center workloads. Now we are starting the see the virtual machine being the best and potentially safest way to deploy a workload.

I would recommend dropping by the Reflex System stand at VMworld and seeing what all the fuss is about, I know I am.


PXE boot of ESXi on Cisco UCS

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 Category : , , 7

Recored a video today of vSphere ESXi doing a PXE boot on Cisco UCS



Australian Architecture Forum 09 and CloudCamp

Friday, August 21, 2009 Category : 0

As excited as I am that VMworld is only a few sleeps away a man has to keep the normal activities going. On Monday I am attending the Australian Architecture Forum (AAF) and on Thursday night is CloudCamp in Sydney.

Cloud camp is free so if you are in Sydney go an register and rock up. Its just for a few hours on Thursday night.

The main reason I am off to AAF is to hear Anna Liu again. She is giving the keynote. I have commented on her speaking on Cloud at a previous Cloud conference, back then she was at Microsoft.

Here are the sessions I am going to.

  • Anna Liu, UNSW : Architecting cloud applications - the essential checklist
  • Gianpaolo Carraro, Microsoft : Head in the cloud, feet on the ground
  • Lincoln Cheung, Object Consulting : Cloud computing: everyone wants to be in it, no-one knows what it means
  • Brett McDowall, Object Consulting : Cloud sounds great - but not at my company
  • Matt Wright, Oracle : How to use App Grid to create a private cloud
  • Tim Ruben, Oracle : Impact of the rise of the Cloud on Enterprise Architecture
  • Radek Cerny, expanz : The ultimate cloud architecture
  • Neil Belford, base2Services : HA and DR in the cloud
As a Cloud geek I am very keen to hear and critique the messages and ideas presented.

Be interesting to see what Lincoln presents for his session. The description is
“Cloud computing: everyone wants to be in it, no-one knows what it means”
  • Gartner predicts that cloud computing is one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2009.
  • A recent paper published by ACM this year says that there are over 20 definitions of cloud computing on the Internet.
  • What does cloud computing mean?
  • What are the benefits and challenges for your organisation to adopt cloud computing?
That outline is very close to one of the presentations I give. This could go one of two ways. I am going to think its great and be able to borrow (okay steal with permission) some great ideas to enhance my messaging. Alternatively, I am going to be cringing at the wishy washy, difficult to catch, impractical messaging, without any concrete steps or metrics to walk away with.

You will be able to follow on twitter, follow @rodos or I will post on hashtag #aaf09. I will also try to write up a report with any really interesting stuff.


vSphere on UCS screenshots

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 Category : , , 0

Its not every day you get to see VMware running on a new bit of hardware, especially a new hardware manufacturer. There will be lots of VMware on Cisco UCS happing at VMworld in a few weeks but for those who can't wait to see some exciting new stuff, here is what it looks like.

The weirdest part is the splash screen as the blade boots!

Here is the BIOS page where various options can be turned on/off for the Nehalem 5540 processors.

One thing I have found so far is that the service profiles (the personality associated with a blade) does not include all of the BIOS settings, this is expected for the future. The service profile does currently include things like the versions of various firmware, boot order and local RAID settings. Therefore putting a new service profile on a blade will reconfigure the local RAID controller etc, but it won't update the processor settings in the BIOS. It has not caused me a problem yet but its something to be aware of because it could cause you some pain if an incorrect BIOS setting went unnoticed.

Here is what the summary page for the hardware looks like inside of vSphere.

Notice the hardware manufacturer is Cisco Systems Inc. Don't get confused by the model number being "N20-B6620-1", thats the actual Cisco part number for a "UCS B200 M1 Blade Server". If you look in the UCS Manager (UCSM) its the PID or Product ID for the device.

Here is what the Ethernet adapters look like.

By the time I get to VMworld I hope to have some further insights as to what its like to run VMware on UCS from a VMware administrator perspective. Maybe even some performance tests.

Feel free to hunt me down and have a chat at VMworld for some early insights from the field.


Cisco Cloud update from Padmasree Warrior

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At CiscoLive early in July Padmasree Warrior detailed some of the cloud direction within Cisco. The Localtechwire site picked up on some more details given my Padmasree during the 25/7/08 earnings call.

Here is the transcript curtsy of SeekingAlpha.

Cloud as we believe is perhaps one of the most network centric architectural shift that we are going to see in the IT industry in a long time. And the reason we believe that to be the case is virtualization is going to be the foundation to drive that. And so UCS becomes a core element from an architectural perspective in how we can enable large enterprises to build their own private cloud as well as service providers to provide the capability of virtual private clouds to enterprises and small businesses. Our cloud strategy is to link from an infrastructure perspective what we are doing in the data center all the way to the application delivery through SaaS. With SaaS offerings that we currently have with WebEx conferencing, security as a service with IronPort and some of the other capabilities. The key differentiation that we are focused on with respect to the network enablement is in providing security, which is a key concern of most enterprises in the today architecture with cloud as well as enabling higher levels of service agreements and providing the interoperability between different cloud architecture.

Some good themes emerge here.

Network centric. As I repeat often, cloud relies heavily on networking and there is lots for organisations and vendors to do here to make it effective, seamless and cost effective.

Virtualisation. Well virtualisation enables the cloud, as VMware have stated. However one must be aware of the distinction between IaaS and say SaaS. Virtualisation is a much stronger play in the IaaS. However lets not limit the term to just the server workloads, Network virtulisation is a strong element too, hence the reference to UCS.

Security. Always one to come up. When I was speaking at an event last week on cloud the Security question was raised, surprisingly it was not the first question. Looks like the Hoff (Director, Cloud & Virtualization Solutions @ Cisco) who has a strong background in security has his work cut out for him for a while. Not surprising that the strongest skill Cisco put into this key position was security.

Interoperability. Openness and flexibility are key elements that many in the industry are pushing as well as customers. Being able to have interoperability between different cloud vendors and architectures is key to wide adoption and a competitive market.

Interesting stuff. Good to see such core themes come out of a single statement. I suppose thats why Padmasree has the job she does, if it was easy any one could do it!


VMworld T-shirts

Saturday, August 15, 2009 6

What is the T-Shirt going to look like this year for VMworld? The graphics on the shirt have always integrated the theme and imagery used on the conference materials and visual elements. Remember the big cartoon wall in 2007?

I have been the past three years and still have the conference T-shirts.




Does anyone have any images of the previous years shirts? I know Mike D from VMware has been to many more than I have, maybe he has the previous shirts lying around.

Lets see what the T-shirt and theme will be this year.


P.S. No jokes about a Foreigner theme? I will be there singing along!

Will the Cloud replace your job?

Friday, August 14, 2009 Category : , , 1

An article "The tech jobs that the cloud will eliminate" has been getting syndication around the trade mags.

The gist is that its going to take a while for the large scale shift to Cloud having an effect on IT workers.

The summary on how to prepare at the end of the article is

So what should today's IT employee do to protect his or her career? "Look for the skills the company is going to need five years from now, not now, and start building them," advises Forrester's Schadler. "These include vendor contract management, integration with the cloud, analytics, rich lightweight Internet workforce applications, mobile applications -- these are all skills for the next decade," he says.

"Try to get work with an infrastructure provider rather than an internal company system," advises Terrosa's Terry. "Develop an expertise on a particular high-end technology environment, such as virtualization or storage area networking. Or get some experience managing a SaaS provider. Embrace the cloud, don't fight it," he says.

What's that? Develop expertise in virtualisation and SANs. I think they left out networking. Given the network centric nature of Cloud services I believe the management, availability and optimisation of networks will also be critical (keep those Cisco cert's up).

Sounds like all the people in the circles I travel in are well set in their career path for the next few years.

"Embrace the cloud, don't fight it."


Cisco UCS indicator LEDs

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 Category : , 0

There are a lot of things to write up from my UCS bootcamp last week. Over time I will post up many of the interesting bits and pieces. I thought I would start with something interesting, the indicator LEDs because everyone loves flashing lights.

So here you go, a short video of the chassis and blade locators turned on.

Now that we have your attention (sorry, that's a bad pun) a bit more details.

UCS has an indicator light on the top right of each chassis, shown below. Note the bit of masking tape which during shipping covers the button to protect it and prevent it snagging on things, very nice touch Cisco!

If the indicator light is already on, when you push the button it goes off and the state change is reflected inside UCSM. When you press the button it will start flashing and is reflected inside of UCSM. We found it takes about 5 to 10 seconds for the change is state to appear inside UCSM, however you don't need to hit refresh.

Its all essentially scenarios for the blade. Its a different shapped button, being clear and round. The blade button is not protected during shipping but I doubt it would be damaged.

I would show you an image that had the indicator light within UCSM but I forgot to take screen.

The one thing I have not figured out yet is how to find a device that has had its indicator light enabled inside UCSM. Its easy when you only have a few chassis, there is to many devices to drill down through. If you are looking for a blade you can't view the overall chassis picture (which would cut down the hunt) as it does not show live indicator light status on the overall chassis picture, you need to go into each blade! There may be a simple way in the interface to find whats turned on, I may have not look hard enough yet. There may be a summary screen which may have a column for indicator light. Otherwise this could be one of the early UCSM XML API scripts written, tell me the Service Profile name, Chassis and Blade number off all blades which have their indicator light turned on.


P.S. I have a heaps more stuff, so post in the comments if their is anything you are interested in, I may be able to bump it up the busy schedule.

VMware enters the PaaS market

Category : , 6

Very interesting to see Steve Herrod, CTO at VMware put out the announcement and details today of VMware's intention to acquire SpringSource.

You can read the details of SpringSource in the announcement as well as at the SpringSource website. Also some good cloud thinkers like Reuven have shared their thoughts on this acquisition.

Eight months ago I wrote about where VMware was playing in the various stacks of Cloud, Saas, Paas, and IaaS. I wrote how VMware fits into the SaaS through the virtual appliance market place and encouraging ISVs to create their wares as virtual machines for the Enterprise to run internally. The play for IaaS is obvious with what was then call the VDC-OS, now vSphere, being the OS for the Cloud along with vCloud.

PaaS was the interesting one. Here is what I wrote way back then.

The PaaS space is where VMware has the challenge. What VMware want here is everyone to build their systems on open standards. This allows them to be packaged into IaaS workloads that can be run anywhere (internally or externally) without lockin to propriety providers, such as Microsoft Azure. An example here is writing in Ruby and deploying in Ruby On Rails.
With the purchase of SpringSource VMware have jumped boots and all into the PaaS space, filling a hole in their amour. They have gone beyond my view of Open Standards and decided that they want to control the market more, drive investment to create competition to what the other PaaS players are providing. I guess you can do that when you have big pockets, forget waiting for the market, make the market.

Why was I so keen on PaaS being Open Source? Its the value of being able to execute a workload where you want it, choice. With SpringSource you can develop software and decide where you want to execute it. Internal or External, thats choice. With the PaaS stack being more open and available, even if it costs some form of licensing fee for a provider to offer the platform, means a breadth of available providers, each adding their own differentation. Compare that to Microsoft Azure, run it in a limited set of cloud locations with a single provider (who may just up and move all of your data). Microsoft have been consistant in their view the Azure is for Microsoft datacenters only (see my thoughts on this from March).

I think this is a really exciting development. Its going to take a lot of time, its not going to save the world. However over the longer term Enterprises do need to look at how they move above the IaaS and below the SaaS (the low hanging fruits) and look at how they build their applications. Yesterday a strong force in that space was Microsoft Visual Studio and Azure. Who knows, tomorrow it may be technologies from SpringSource, through VMware backing, that runs on hundreds of Cloud providers.

Exciting times and it will be great to see and discuss this more with people at VMworld. See you there.


UCS Schematic Sketch

Thursday, August 06, 2009 Category : , 3

Well, last day of the UCS bootcamp today. Tomorrow is a day full of labs. Its been great going through it all with some smart people to bounce things off, thanks guys!

At the end of the day I redrew by own version of how UCS hangs together that summarises a lot of the diagrams in the course. It makes it all a lot simpler. The main area of simplifcation is for what occurs inside the IOM inside the Chassis. This layout is something you could easily remember and whiteboard in front of someone. I doubt you could remember the ones in the course notes.

Here is the sketch I whiteboarded.

When I get some time I will put it into Viso and annotate it. However everyone in the class grabbed their cameras so some will try and beat me to it. I hope they do, will save me the effort.

I would like to add a little table that shows the pinning of the IO ports from the MUX to the blades dependent on the number of uplinks (1,2,4).

Hope you find it helpful.

For those UCS architects out there, if you notice any mistakes (we went through it quite a bit to make sure it was right) post in the comments.


Our instructor David Chapman drew this up in Visio this afternoon. We have a few changes but this is a long way along.]

[UPDATE 2 22/Sept/09
Now has the blade details. Need to make it look nice for Networkers next week]

Cisco UCS Dictionary

Wednesday, August 05, 2009 Category : , 2

There are a lot of terms to come to grip with when learning and talking about UCS. So many new TLAs. Here is a Dictionary to fast track your learning and give you something to quickly lookup.

  • AG – Application Gateway
  • BMC – Baseboard Management controller (on blade)
  • Chassis - The enclosure (5108) that contains the one or two IOMs and the blades.
  • CMC – Chassis Management Controller (in the IOM)
  • CMS - Chassis Management Switch (in the IOM)
  • CNA - Converged Network Adapter
  • CLP - Command Line Protocol
  • CMP – Connectivity Management Processor
  • DCOS - Data Center Operating Center
  • DCOS System Manager - starts and manages the processes in the UCSM Controller on both primary and secondary.
  • DME – Database Management Engine (Primary Active)
  • Expansion Module - Provides connectivity into the Northbound Ethernet LAN and FC SAN networks. There is a FC only, Ethernet only or a combo module available.
  • FEX - Fabric Extender (now referred to as the IO Module or IOM)
  • Fabric A/B -
  • Fabric Interconnect - The head unit or switch which the Chassis all connect into. The UCSM runs within the Fabric Interconnect.
  • FSM - Finite State Machine, logical abstractions in the information model for hardware, software and workflows
  • GEM - General Expansion Module
  • Group - A set of two Fabric Interconnects. Individually called a node and each is identified by a unique ID.
  • I2C - Inter-Integrated Circuit (BMC)
  • IOM - I/O Module (FEX)
  • IO Mux - A part of the IOM which multiplexes the IO ports and BMC from the blades (8) along with the the CMS and CMC from the IOM into the North bound ports (1,2 or 4) going to the Fabric Interconnect.
  • LACP - Link Aggregation Protocol
  • Menlo - Code name for one of the Mezz adapters. A CNA with 2 10GE and 2 FC ports.
  • Mezz - Mezzanine card within a blade that provides the IO interface to the IOM
  • Mid-Plane - The element within the Chassis that the blades connect into to obtain power and IO connectivity as well as access to the SEEPROM
  • MO - Managed Object
  • Node - A node is one of your two Fabric Interconnects. The set of two are called a group. Each node is identified by a unique ID.
  • NXOS - Nexus Operating System
  • Oplin - Code name for one of the Mezz adapters. 2 10GE ports, no failover functionality
  • Palo - Code name for one of the Mezz adapters. Not released yet. Provides up to 128 Ethernet vNICs or FC vHBAs (limits apply)
  • Pin Group - If you are doing manual pinning of Northbound traffic (rather than round robin) through uplinks you can create Pin Groups which you can apply to multiple service profiles. So you are chosing which uplink or port channel will be used for the selected interface (vNIC or pNIC).
  • PNuOS – Processor Node Utility Operating System, serves as a "pre-OS configuration agent" for the blade, now named UCSuOS.
  • SEEPROM - Serial EEPROM, contain in the mid-plane, half of which is maintained by each IOM in the Chassis.
  • SEL - System Event Log (BMC)
  • Service Profile - represents a logical server and will be associated with one blade at a time. Contains Identity/Personality, LAN/SAN config and various policies
  • SoL - Serial Over LAN
  • Stateless Computing -
  • UCSM - UCS Manager, the management service for all of the UCS components which runs on the Fabric Interconnects.
  • UCSM Controller - a distributed application running on both th primary and subordinate UCSM and decides which is primary and which is subordinate.
  • UCSuOS - UCS Utility Operating System, serves as a "pre-OS configuration agent" for the blade, previously named PNuOS.
  • UUID - A 128-bit number to uniquely identify a component worldwide.
  • vNIC - a software configured NIC which is presented to the OS as a pNIC on the blade.
  • VNTag - A virtual network tag.
  • vHBA - a software configured HBA which is presented to the OS as a pHBA on the blade.
If you have any new items, corrections or further details post in the comments and I will update.


P.S. Thanks to Dave the instructor on my UCS bootcamp who started provided a list of UCS terms. His only had 13, I expanded into the ones I have come across in the course so far.

HA in Cisco UCS Menlo Card

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 Category : , 1

Like Scott Lowe I am doing the Cisco UCS bootcamp. Scott did a nice writeup of his notes. I will also write up my notes but here is a summary of something that has been a bit confusing, so I wanted to put out some clarity.

There are the three types of adapter cards for the UCS blade. A Oplin, Menlo or Palo. The Oplin has no FC ports, it only provides two 10GE.

The Menlo card provides two FC and two 10GE and is currently shipping. The details of the card are :

The Menlo adapter is a converged network adapter (CNA) with 2 host-side 10GE ports and 2 FC ports to the backplane. The 2 network ports can run either native Ethernet or FCoE protocols and can be configured for failover. This failover is performed by the Menlo ASIC and does not require multipathing sofrware on the host. The Menlo ASIC is a Cisco-designed multiplexor and FCoE protocol offload engine with a 350MHz 24K MIPS processor. There are 2 versions of this card: Menlo-E (with an Emulex chipset) and Menlo-Q (with a Qlogic chipset), thereby supporting existing proven driver stacks to the customer.

The interesting thing here is the statement about failover. On your first reading you would think that there is some great functionality here. People have been sprouting this failover without any diving into what it really means.

To cut to the chase, this is for the vNICs only and NOT for the vHBAs. A lot of the documentation is not that clear and its easy to just assume it works for all virtual interface types.

You can see it on the dialog for creating a vNIC for a server. Notice the "Enable Failover" check box. Its actually disabled in this shot because the lab environment I am connected to does not have redundant Fabric-Interconnects and IO Modules. If you enable this feature only one two vNICs will appear to the OS and the Menlo card will handle the failover internally, routing the failed vNIC via a path on the other IOM.

When you have a look at the dialog for creating a vHBA you can see there is no redundancy option.

For some further details the Frequently Asked Questions for UCS - Ciscowiki has an the following.
Q: If the fabric extender is connected to fabric interconnect using 4 links and one of the links fail, what will happen?
Ans: The server interfaces that are affected will either lose connectivity or fail over to another fabric extender, depending if interface is created as a HA interface. Menlo has the capability to fail over Ethernet interfaces if so configured. Oplin does not have this capability. Fibre Channel interfaces that are pinned to failing fabric extender link will just fail and their HA capability depends purely on host side multipathing driver. If HA/mutipathing is not configured for Ethernet/Fibre Channel then servers connected to the failed link will loose connectivity but the other three links will be working as usual. Remember that no automatic re-pinning will happen. You can manually re-pin the servers using two link topology, since three link topology is not supported.
Also note that to restore connectivity you need to re-pin the IO Module that had a failed link. To do this you need to reset it. From the CLI it would look like this.
carrot-A# scope chassis 1
carrot-A /chassis # scope iom 1
carrot-A /chassis/iom # where
Mode: /chassis/iom
Mode Data:
scope chassis 1
scope iom 1
carrot-A /chassis/iom # reset
carrot-A /chassis/iom* # commit
carrot-A /chassis/iom #
However this is UCS and the GUI for UCSM is just as powerful as the CLI, so here is where you do it in the GUI.

Of course smart people like Brad Hedlund get this already, he wrote
The vHBA’s do not support the UCS fault tolerant feature and therefore a standard HBA multi-pathing configuration is still required in the operating system (ESX kernel) for Fibre Channel high availability.


P.S. Thanks to everyone in the class today who put up with me asking endless questions about this, to Glenn from Cisco in Australia who answered some stuff over chat and our Instructor David. Any errors are all mine, post in the comments if you have any fixes or further insights.

[UPDATE : Brad Hedlund and I had a conversation over Twitter about how the redundant Ethernet is presented to the blade and how the fail over occurs. Turns out it is slightly different and better than everyone thought, but even Brad had to do some digging to be 100% sure. Thanks Brad!]

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