HRG Assessment:Comparing IBM PureSystems and Cisco UCS


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HRG Assessment:Comparing IBM PureSystems and Cisco UCS

  1. 1. HRG Assessment:Comparing IBM PureSystems and Cisco UCSToday customers and employees have increasingly more bi-directional interactions with companies than at anyprevious time and all of these transactions have to be served up and supported by Information Technology.Business applications and services have to be developed and assimilated into the business quicker, faster, andwithout room for mistakes.CXOs and IT professionals are struggling to reconcile the increased complexity of business environments with anincrease in both the complexity and cost of operations. The available IT budget is increasingly consumed not byhardware costs but by management, administration, and other indirect non-technology costs.The current business environment is dynamic, highly competitive, increasingly fast paced, and global. Consumersof Information Technology products and services have higher expectations than ever before, placing increasingdemands on business IT capabilities which are measured on the ability to quickly deliver new and improvedservices. Large-scale projects cost millions, take months to plan and execute with no guarantee of success. Time,budget, skilled resources, organizational experience and expertise are critical constraints. Customers areincreasingly turning to Integrated Systems to help tackle these challenges.Several years ago Cisco brought their UCS 5108 Bladed Chassis based offering to market.On April 11, 2012 IBM introduced a family of Expert Integrated Systems called IBM PureSystems. This is aunique solution that combines IBM’s significant software, hardware, networking, security, and managementexperience, expertise, and capabilities into a single easy to order and implement solution. IBM PureSystems arearchitected and designed to help customers keep pace with unscheduled and unanticipated increases in demand bysimplifying the selection, purchase, installation, configuration, and implementation of IT solutions for business.IBM PureSystems customers should expect to benefit from improved ROI and faster time to revenue.IBM and Cisco each claim their particular solution uniquely meets today’s challenges. However, there areimportant differences between the two solutions and only one clear winner.  How will business and IT professionals keep pace?  Is IBM PureSystems or Cisco UCS the right solution the meet these challenges?In this paper, we provide an overview of IBM PureSystems and Cisco UCS and examine some of the majordifferences between these solutions. This document was developed with IBM funding. Although the document may utilize publicly available material from various vendors, including IBM, it does not necessarily reflect the positions of such vendors on the issues addressed in this document.Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc.
  2. 2. Harvard Research Group, Inc.IBM PureSystemsIBM PureSystems are assembled, integrated, and configured before they are shipped to the customer. Thisintegration includes servers, storage, networking, management, security, operating systems, and workload specificinfrastructure patterns.IBM PureSystems let customers stay focused on business and on serving customers. Computers, networks, storage,and software are tools to be used to facilitate the business by creating efficiencies, expediting, and acceleratingsensible business growth, return on assets and cash flow. Anything that makes the selection, purchase, installationand configuration of IT platforms simpler, faster, and more trouble free is good for business.IBM PureSystems have at their core the following 3 customer focused design precepts: Built-in expertise defined as “Capturing and automating what experts do – from the infrastructure to the application – to make IT easy to deploy and manage.” Integration by design defined as “Deeply integrating and tuning hardware and software in a ready-to-go, workload-optimized system.” Simplified experience defined as “Making every part of the IT lifecycle easier with integrated management of the entire system and a broad open ecosystem of optimized solutions”IBM PureSystems are fully integrated by design and tuned by IBM labs and factories. IBM PureSystems areassembled, integrated, and configured at IBM’s manufacturing and assembly facilities and delivered as a singletightly integrated unit in a shippable rack ready for rapid installation and production level use at the customer site.IBM PureSystems offer “scale-in” architecture by building on faster, denser components such as POWER7’s fasterand denser architecture and the latest generation Intel processors combined with integrated virtualizationmanagement and a unique networking design.IBM PureFlex SystemThe IBM PureFlex System is an expert integrated system that combines servers, storage, networking, virtualization,security, and management enabling organizations to rapidly deploy and manage virtualized hardware resources andworkloads. These systems deliver the simplicity of an integrated solution to customers who also need to be able totune and control middleware and run-time environments.IBM PureFlex System recommends workload placement based on virtual machine compatibility and resourceavailability. Using built-in virtualization across servers, storage and networking, the infrastructure system enablesautomated scaling of resources and workload mobility. The IBM PureFlex System is an infrastructure system withexpertise for sensing and anticipating resource needs in order to optimize the virtualized infrastructure. IBMPureFlex System is available in Express, Standard, and Enterprise configurations.IBM Flex System ManagerIBM Flex System Manager (FSM) is a systems management appliance compute node that configures, monitors, andmanages IBM PureFlex System resources. IBM Flex System Manager (FSM) provides a real-time single pane ofglass GUI for managing all chassis components. The chassis maps which comprise the FSM top level GUI showfront and rear views of the IBM Flex System chassis and installed components. By mousing and hovering over aCopyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 2
  3. 3. Harvard Research Group, Inc.component information on that component is displayed in a pop up window and by selecting and clicking on acomponent the administrator can drill down to manage the system at a granular level providing control of resourcepools in support of workload related QOS and SLA requirements and policies. Furthermore, this graphical view ofthe chassis also provides a series of management overlays which show system policies related to SLA compliance.Additionally, FSM provides easy to understand representations of system and individual component status as anoverlay on the chassis map. FSM is used to optimize the physical and virtual resources of the IBM PureFlexSystem infrastructure while simplifying and automating repetitive tasks.IBM PureSystem CentreThrough IBM PureSystems Centre, a portal to the PureSystems partner ecosystem, IBM enables ISVs and BusinessPartners to package and sell solutions ( This catalogue of software from IBMand partners allows customers to select, download, and deploy new software functionality - tailored through the useof deployment patterns - to deliver reduced set up and implementation time. ISVs can sell their applications orpatterns through the IBM PureSystems Centre. IBM offers warm transfer for certified Ready for PureSystemsapplications. IBM also promotes the creation of further ISV patterns with a development toolkit, along with a trialof IBM PureApplication System . You can see these at PureSystems “patterns of expertise”combine operational know how, experience, and knowledge aboutcommon infrastructure resource management (IRM), data center infrastructure management (DCIM), and otherrepeatable processes, practices and workflows like provisioning. Common patterns of activity and expertise forroutine or other time-consuming tasks enable policy driven automation. Time-consuming and repetitive tasks likeprovisioning, configuration, upgrades, IRM, DCIM, data protection, storage, and application management activitiesall benefit from IBM PureSystems automation. IBM’s architecture for building patterns of expertise is open.Patterns of expertise can be created for PHP ,Ruby, C++, and custom applications. Open architectures are key todriving new technology adoption. This also includes support across both x86 and POWER-processor basedoperating and hypervisor environments.The re-factoring of applications for use in a cloud environment is done via the IBM Virtual Appliance Factory(VAF) which produces Cloud services (images), in an industry standard format. In this way traditional applicationsolutions can be transformed into new Cloud images (services) for rapid customer deployment using IBMPureSystem’s advanced unified management capabilities. These can be deployed on IBM PureApplication Systemor on IBM PureFlex System. IBM’s Virtual Appliance Factory (VAF) is a collection of tools, technologies,processes and methodologies. VAF helps developers and ISVs prepackage applications and solutions fordeployment into Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) on Intel and IBM PowerVM virtualized environments that aresupported by IBM PureSystems. VAF technologies include tools for combing operating systems, middleware, andsolution software into a delivery package or a virtual appliance.On IBM PureFlex System, built-in systems pooling expertise enables policy-driven optimization of compute,storage and networking resources to drive high system utilization, rapid provisioning, and efficient resourceallocation. System pools can be optimized for performance or availability as required. IBM PureFlex System alsooffers storage optimization expertise through virtualization and intelligent tiering to maximize the storageinfrastructure performance and control.The re-factoring of applications for use in a cloud environment is done via the IBM Virtual Appliance Factory(VAF) which produces Cloud services (images), in an industry standard format. In this way traditional applicationsolutions can be transformed into new Cloud images (services) for rapid customer deployment using IBMPureSystem’s advanced unified management capabilities.Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 3
  4. 4. Harvard Research Group, Inc.With IBM Virtualization Appliance Factory customers can repurpose and package their unique expertise asdownloadable solutions (patterns of expertise). IBM’s Virtual Appliance Factory (VAF) is a collection of tools,technologies, processes and methodologies. VAF helps developers and ISVs prepackage applications and solutionsfor deployment into Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) on Intel and IBM PowerVM virtualized environments that aresupported by IBM PureSystems. VAF technologies include tools for combing operating systems, middleware, andsolution software into a delivery package or a virtual appliance.Cloud ReadyIBM PureFlex System offerings with SmartCloud Entry are cloud ready right out of the box on day one. IBMSmartCloud Entry is a fully integrated end-to-end Cloud solution that provides usage accounting, budgeting, andapprovals/denials functions. With the SmartCloud administrative interface the cloud administrator and end usersuse the same GUI only with certain functions ‘grayed out’ for end users.IBM provides complete cloud solutions, hardware, software technologies and services for implementing privatecloud and added value on top of virtualized infrastructure – both x86 and POWER based - with IBM SmartCloud™Entry. The product provides a comprehensive cloud software stack and enables customers to quickly deploy theirCloud environment.SecurityThe improved security measures implemented in the IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis at the heart of the IBMPureFlex System include tighter security standards and integration. Virtualization brings with it the requirement forimproved security, as mission critical workloads are consolidated to fewer and more powerful servers. The IBMFlex System Enterprise Chassis management is designed to leverage current and future Trusted Computing Group(TCG) security standards.Security at the firmware, virtual machine, component, and system management level is integrated into the IBMPureFlex System and IBM Flex System Manager. This level of integrated security establishes a unique and secureTrusted Computing Base (TCB) which is a central benefit of the foundation that under pins all of the new IBMPureSystems. These enhancements to systems security provide a significantly reduced attack surface as comparedto other commercially available systems on the market todayNetworkingIBM PureFlex System’s network architecture provides unified network management, optimized and simplifiednetwork infrastructure. This architecture supports a range of adapters, switches, and key network protocols.Network resources are virtualized and managed by workload. The networking resources in IBM PureSystems arevirtualized, automated, optimized, managed by workload, standards-based, and fully integrated into the system.StorageIBM PureSystems come with factory installed and integrated storage. IBM Storwize V7000 virtualizes andmanages IBM storage as well as third party storage from vendors such as EMC and NetApp. The V7000 providesstorage tiering functionality so that the data that requires the fastest access and response times is placed on SSDwhile other less latency sensitive data can be placed on rotating disk. IBM test results show that with tiered storagesupport available through the IBM V7000 the dynamic relocation of data can improve performance by more than afactor of two. Management of the V7000 is integrated under the IBM Flex System Manager as are all of the factoryCopyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 4
  5. 5. Harvard Research Group, Inc.integrated PureSystem components. The IBM Storwize V7000 delivers significant benefit to customers in terms ofvirtualization, overall system performance, and improved efficiency for both IBM and non-IBM storage.Compute nodesAvailable with either IBM POWER7® processors or Intel Xeon processors, IBM Flex System compute nodes areoptimized for efficiency, density, performance, reliability, and security. The IO capabilities of these nodes supportsup to 16 x 10 GB lanes per node. Taking advantage of the full capabilities of IBM POWER7® processors and / orIntel Xeon processors, the IBM Flex System compute nodes are designed to deliver performance for businesscritical applications. Cisco UCS provides no comparable advantage to that provided by IBM integrated pre-configured POWER7 & x86 compute nodes and V7000 storage. IBM is clearly ahead when it comes to integratingtechnologies. IBM Pure System offers Intel and Power7 Nodes which can be run side-by-side within the same IBMPureFlex chassis.Cisco UCSCisco UCS Manager is a device manager that only manages Cisco Blades, Rack Mount Servers, and other UCScomponents. Cisco embeds their UCS Manager software in the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect switches.Currently, the only way to get UCS Manager is to buy one of these switches. UCS is limited to actively managingonly those servers which are attached to the single pair of Fabric Interconnects that are running a unique instance ofUCS Manager. Cisco servers are Intel only and Cisco UCS Manager can only manage Cisco Switches, Blades,Rack Mount servers, CNAs, and in chassis FEX (Fabric Extenders).The Cisco UCS solution only offers converged Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) within the Cisco UCS 5100chassis and not native Fibre Channel. Cisco UCS Manager does enable Fibre Channel over Ethernet in the UCSinternal fabric and preserves traditional Ethernet and Fibre Channel connectivity to LAN and SAN environmentsnorth of the Fabric Interconnect. However, there is no true Fibre Channel connectivity south of the FiberInterconnect and there is no true Fibre Channel connectivity within the UCS Blade system chassis.If a customer is currently running native Fibre Channel for SAN connectivity from individual rack mount or bladeservers they will need to migrate to the converged 10 GB FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) Cisco fabric.However, for those customers doing net new installations, this lack of native Fibre Channel connectivity may notpose a problem.Due to the architectural differences between IBM PureFlex System and Cisco’s UCS Blade System, it may takelonger to evacuate VM’s from a failing UCS Blade or Rack Mount server to a healthy server than it would takewith IBM PureFlex System. This is because all blade-to-blade and chassis to chassis traffic within a Cisco UCSmanagement domain is routed through the Fabric Interconnect top of rack switch.For a pure play Cisco IT shop, this approach may reduce the time spent in software and hardware deliberation,selection, installation, and implementation. However, if the IT infrastructure is heterogeneous, and based on openstandards, customers should consider how a system like the UCS Blade System will be integrated and managed aspart of a heterogeneous data center environment.Cisco UCS and CloudCisco has recently released and started promoting CloudVerse® which is not a stand-alone out of the box solutionbut rather a framework comprised of several discrete offerings: Unified Data Center, Cloud Intelligent Network,Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 5
  6. 6. Harvard Research Group, Inc.Cloud Applications, and Services. Cisco has stated that they are supporting CloudVerse with new cloudenablement services that combine Ciscos professional and technical services with those of partners.With Cisco UCS in order have even basic cloud capabilities customers have to purchase additional software fromother vendors and either do the integration themselves, or have a value added reseller of system integrator providethat service. In our opinion this does not represent a rapid deployment easy to use cloud solution.Scalability and AvailabilityFor the UCS Blade system to deliver its maximum throughput, all uplink ports on each of the two Fabric Extenders(FEX) in the UCS 5108 chassis must be connected to one or the other of the Cisco Top of Rack Fabric Interconnectswitches. However, this type of maximum throughput configuration brings with it the unfortunate result ofeffectively limiting UCS Blade System scalability.If a Cisco UCS customer requires maximum scale out of capacity, an option is to use only one of the availableuplinks on each FEX. In this type configuration customers run the risk of unacceptable levels of transactionallatency, over subscription of ports, and bottlenecking on the south side of the Top of Rack Fabric InterconnectSwitch.The Cisco Blade servers within the 5108 chassis run the risk of increased latency at the Top of Rack FabricInterconnect Switch. For this reason the Cisco UCS 5108 based solution is not a good fit for many highperformance and high transaction rate workloads nor is it appropriate for VM based high transaction rate workloadsas, in such a scenario, a customer could run the very real risk of over subscription and increased transactionallatency occurring simultaneously.Customers should be aware that there is no native Fibre Channel connectivity available within the Cisco UCS 5108chassis or within the rack that contains the chassis. However, there is Native Fibre Channel connectivity that isavailable on the north side of the Top of Rack Fabric Interconnect switch if an appropriate expansion module ispurchased.Cisco UCS may not be good fit for mission critical workloads where reduced transactional latency is a requirement.Cisco’s Intel centric approach to the Blade market, while highly simplified and easy to understand, is not aparticularly good fit for applications requiring collaboration and messaging between compute nodes. Additionally,if the IT infrastructure is heterogeneous, and based on open standards, customers should consider how a system likeUCS will be integrated and managed as part of a heterogeneous data center environment.MessagingWith Cisco UCS for one blade to communicate with any other blade in the same chassis or another blade in anotherchassis in the same physical rack, that traffic has to be routed from the first blade up to the Top of Rack FI switchand then from that switch, it is routed to the second blade. In this manner, the Cisco UCS architecture introducesadditional latency during blade-to-blade and chassis-to-chassis messaging.Cisco UCS does not permit direct blade-to-blade communications within the same chassis or within the same rackbut on different chassis. Any increase in latency is of interest when moving VMs from one physical server toanother physical server as in the case of the evacuation of VMs from a failing server to a healthy server. In thiscase increases in latency have a direct impact on the level of service provided by VMs being migrated whilehandling workloads and in-flight transactions.Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 6
  7. 7. Harvard Research Group, Inc.IBM PureSystems are a good fit for those applications and workloads requiring node-to-node messaging such as,collaboration and analytics (Big Data). Cisco UCS is limited regarding its performance on these types ofworkloads due to the very nature of its architecture.StorageCisco UCS Manager enables Fibre Channel over Ethernet in the UCS internal fabric and preserves traditionalEthernet and Fibre Channel connectivity to LAN and SAN environments north of the Fabric Interconnect.However, there is no true Fibre Channel connectivity south of the Fiber Interconnect and there is no true FibreChannel connectivity within the UCS Blade system chassis.Cisco relies on other vendors like NetApp and EMC for storage and storage management. However, Cisco doesprovide a highly customizable set of XML APIs so that developers and system level software, tools, and utilitiesproviders can integrate their offerings with Cisco UCS Manager. UCS does not manage storage resources.However, with additional user effort storage tools can export the definitions of pools of storage resources to theUCS Manager for use in allocating storage resources to UCS servers using the UCS Service Profiling capability.When running in End Host Mode Cisco UCS Manager allows the use of FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) toconnect a storage array directly to the Fabric Interconnect by pinning a north side Fabric Interconnect port to aVSAN (Virtual Storage Area Network). However, due to the nature of End Host Mode it is not possible to performeither LUN (Logical Unit Number) masking nor do normal storage Zoning as would be the case if the FabricInterconnect Top of Rack switch operating in Layer 2 switch mode with STP enabled. Caveat - configuring theFabric Interconnect to run as a Layer 2 switch running STP could serve to exacerbate the effect of transactionallatency due to additional loading on the switch based CPU, as it would be required to generate, send, and receiveBPDUs.LatencyCisco UCS provides predictable levels of latency or predictable performance regardless of the physical location of aworkload or blade server as long as they are in the same rack because it takes a predictable amount of time (latency)to be accessed through the Fabric Interconnect. Customers are advised to consider whether predictable latency isappropriate for their workloads or if what they really need is reduced (low) latency.Cisco UCS ManagerCisco UCS Manager’s embedded device management software manages the software and hardware components ofthe Cisco Unified Computing System ™ across multiple chassis and virtual machines through a Java based GUI, aCLI (command-line interface), or an XML (Extensible Markup Language) Application Programming Interface(API). Service Profiles in the UCS Manager application can be used to set up and configure stateless Intel Xeonbased Cisco Blades, Rack mount servers, and virtual machines. Service Profile settings can be ‘moved’ with avirtual machine when it is moved using VMware’s VMotion (an additional tool) in the case of a server failure orwhen reallocating capacity to satisfy changing workload requirements.Cisco UCS Manager Service Profiles are created by server, network, and storage administrators and stored on theUCS Fabric Interconnect in an object based data store. Cisco UCS Manager discovers UCS devices that are added,moved, or removed from the UCS system. This information, added to the UCS Manager’s inventory (a light weightCMDB), is saved on the Fabric Interconnect switch. UCS Manager uses this information when deploying ServiceProfiles to newly discovered resources. When a Service Profile is deployed UCS Manager configures the server,adapters, fabric extenders, fabric interconnects, NICs, HBAs, LAN, and SAN switches. Service Profiles can alsobe used to enable Virtual Network Link (VN-Link) capabilities for VN-Link supported hypervisors.Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 7
  8. 8. Harvard Research Group, Inc.IBM PureSystems provide the same level of profiling capabilities in the current release with significantenhancements cited in their product road map.BMC software can work through Cisco UCS Manager to stand up, provision, and manage UCS Blade and Rackmount servers as well as Virtual Machines on those servers. Cisco does not sell system level management andmonitoring software instead relying on BMC, EMC, CA, IBM and others to fill this void. UCS by itself does notdo bare metal operating system installations or application software installations. Cisco UCS relies on third partytools that do, like Altiris, BMC BladeLogic and Cisco’s own Cisco Server Provisioner (acquired via the Tidalacquisition). IBM Flex System Manager does include these types of capabilities for systems management for bothphysical and virtual resources.Cisco UCS Manager is a device or element management application that is only available from Cisco with thepurchase of a Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect. UCS Manager handles hardware provisioning, configuration, andmanagement but only for UCS certified components such as Cisco B series blades and Cisco C series rack mountservers. UCS manages these servers as stateless devices and uses XML to configure these stateless devices usingUCS specific Service Profiles.Cisco UCS Manager ecosystem partners include BMC, CA, Compuware, Dynamic Ops, EMC, HP, IBM,Microsoft, SolarWinds, Symantec, VMware, and Zenoss.The XML APIs for the UCS Manager application can be used by 3rd party management tools. Using these APIsData Center Management software from BMC, CA, EMC, and IBM can provision and decommission servers basedon demand. Currently, only BMC and EMC use these APIs to this extent. However, IBM Tivoli will soon havethis capability (currently in beta testing) allowing Cisco UCS compute pods or islands of computing to beintegrated into a broader, more heterogeneous, Converged Data Center environment. IBM PureSystems useREST(Representational State Transfer) APIs which are more functionally rich than, and a higher level superset of,the XML (Extensible Markup Language) APIs used by Cisco (read as you can do more with REST that XML andwith less work).HypervisorsCisco UCS supports the VMware ESX, ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM, OVM, and Xen hypervisors. Cisco’simplementation of VMware virtualization ESX and ESXi run directly on the UCS system hardware, withoutadditional software, providing hypervisor functionality to host guest operating systems such as Windows or Linuxon the physical server. IBM PureSystems support “off the shelf” VMWare ESX and ESXi, Microsoft Hyper V, andKVM for x86, and PowerVM for POWER-based environments like AIX, IBM i and Linux.VCE Vblock and NetApp FlexPodVCE Vblock and NetApp Flex pod are basically partner focused repackaging of the underlying Cisco UCS 5108bladed system. VCE Vblock solution stack and NetApp FlexPod solution framework are in essence variations on atheme with the theme being building a loosely integrated system around the Cisco UCS 5108 chassis and B seriesBlades. In the case of NetApp FlexPod the offer integrates Cisco UCS, Net App FAS storage, and a hypervisorusing an integration framework with application solution and management software being added in much the sameway that you would install software on a PC after you have purchased it and set it up.In the case of VCE Vblock Cisco UCS is the core compute element, storage is provided by EMC and virtualizationby VMware. However, just like with FlexPod the management software still needs to be added. In the case ofVblock the system is assembled, integrated, and tested by VCE at their facilities. With FlexPod NetApp relies onCopyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 8
  9. 9. Harvard Research Group, Inc.third party channel partners and system integrators to provide the assembly and integration of components andsoftware per the NetApp FlexPod framework.With FlexPod support is provided by each of the individual contributing vendors. With VCE they provide a singlepoint of contact for service and warrantee related issues and handle escalation to partner teams internally shieldingcustomers from that hand off.The comparison with IBM PureFlex System shows the true meaning and benefit of expert integration and patternsof expertise. IBM PureFlex is designed as a system, rather than a stack of components or an integration framework,from the ground up with all of the essential components tightly integrated including storage, networking,virtualization, management, and security. The key difference at the most basic level is that IBM PureFlex is asystem while Vblock a stack of partner components and software and FlexPod a framework for integrating partnercomponents and software are not. Vblock is a more complete solution than FlexPod. However, on the overall levelof integration alone both of these offerings pale by comparison to IBM PureFlex System. Unfortunately most ofthe limitations and dependencies cited earlier in this paper for Cisco UCS 5108 bladed systems have been inheritedby Vblock and FlexPod.ComparisonFor the purposes of evaluating and comparing vendors of integrated converged systems HRG has listed a number ofcontributing factors in the table that follows as a way to evaluate and rate competing vendors on their effectivenessin meeting customer requirements for simplifying the selection, purchase, installation, configuration,implementation, and management of IT solutions for business. 0% Within the following table HRG uses a graphic device which comprises 5 elements that 25% indicate a rating on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is the worst possible rating and 100 is the 50% best possible rating. One additional dimension of this rating scheme is that these graphic elements can also be understood to indicate the level of completeness of a feature or 75% function where 0 would indicate that a function is totally lacking and 100 would indicate that the function is currently complete as regards all requirements from a customer 100% perspective.The vendor offerings that are compared in the following table are: IBM PureFlex, Cisco UCS, VCE’s Vblock, andNetApp’s FlexPod. Vblock and FlexPod are included here in this analysis as they are based in large part on CiscoUCS. The factors each offering is compared on were selected based on their clarity and applicability across theselected solutions.The following evaluation criteria were used to build the comparison table on page 11.Automation:  Automation of repetitive tasks  Automation of basis system management and administrative functions  Advanced automation or unattended automation such that the system will self-manage minimal human operator intervention  Automation provides advanced management functionality such as unattended system failover, VM migration, security and other system level updates.Cloud:  Cloud readiness – is the system cloud ready on initial power up?Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 9
  10. 10. Harvard Research Group, Inc.  Cloud Functionality – is the system delivered with all of the functionality required to launch a private cloud implementation?  Is the Cloud implementation scalable with little or no direct human intervention?Configuration:  Does the system arrive at the customer site fully configured and ready to do useful work?  What is the level of completeness of configuration?  Does the system require installation and set up at the customer site by a value added reseller or systems integrator?  Is the configuration process flexible providing a broad enough range of configuration to meet most normal customer requirements?Factory Assembly & Integration:  Is the system fully assembled at the factory or does the customer have to install blades and other components on delivery so that the system is ready to work in a production environment?  What level of component and software integration is part of the assembly process?  Are all components and software certified by the vendor to work as advertised?Management & Administration:  What is the level of usability of system management software by minimally trained administrators?  How intuitive is the graphical user interface of the system management software?  Is fully functional full capability management software provided by the vendor or does the customer have to purchase and install additional 3rd party software?  Is the management software that the vendor installs able to learn and automate system management tasks?Network:  Does the system arrive as a network ready system that is ready to integrate into existing network infrastructure with minimal human intervention?  Does the system come preconfigured with all required networking functionality and switching capability integrated, certified, and factory tested?  Does the system’s internal network architecture facilitate optimal VM migration to accommodate changing workload requirements and or compute node fail over?Ordering & Installation:  How easy is the system to order?  Is the system available in standard easy to consume configurations?  Is the system orderable as a single part number or does the customer have to invoke a cumbersome configuration process when placing an order?  When the system arrives at the customer site what level of support is required to unpack, setup, install, and operate the system?Patterns of Expertise  Does the system come with preintegrated patterns of expertise which are applied to system management?  Is the system assembled and preconfigured leveraging vendor experience and patterns of expertise?  Does the system support the creation and implementation of customer derived patterns of expertise?Security  Does the system come with security software pre integrated and preinstalled so that it boots into a secure configuration on initial power up?  Does the integrated system security capability include automatic vulnerability profile update and application of system patches?  Does the system come in a prehardened configuration with security functionality that protects firmware and virtual machines from evolving vulnerabilities and attack vectors?Storage  Does the system come with preintegrated storage installed?  Does the system management software support full storage virtualization?  Does the system management software support the integration and virtualization of third party storage?Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 10
  11. 11. Harvard Research Group, Inc.Virtualization  Does the system support key industry standard hypervisors?  Can the management software that comes with the system manage all aspects of virtualization?  Can the management software manage and optimize virtualized workloads to meet evolving SLA and QOS requirements?Rating IBM Cisco VCE – NetApp - CommentFactor PureSystem UCS Vblock FlexPodAutomation Cisco relies on partners for system level functionality like automation. IBM has in-house expertise and solutions that have been integrated into PureSystems IBM Pureflex Systems include IBM Smart Cloud Entry (SCE) offering forCloud building and manage private clouds securely, efficiently and quickly. PureFlex comes with Lab ”free” services hours which can be used to configure SCE. IBM PureFlex is available in one of 3 standardized and optimized configurations:Configuration Express, Standard, and Enterprise and each of these can be customized, configured, and tuned at the IBM factory instead of in customer’s data centerFactory IBM delivers a complete factory assembled and integrated solution in a singleAssembly & shippable container with all components mounted and ready to run in a single true turnkey foot print. Cisco comes in an assortment of boxes and shippingIntegration container requiring assembly and integration at the customer siteMgmt. & IBM has in-house expertise, experience and software that has been integratedAdmin into and optimized for IBM PureSystems. Cisco relies on third parties providing this capability through xml APIs. PureSystems in chassis (East/West) messaging is superior in heavy workload situations to Cisco’s latency prone North South oriented architecture. Cisco isNetwork market share leader in networking and Cisco UCS clearly benefits from this expertise. IBM has made some recent acquisitions but has a way to go to reach parity with Cisco whose principal business is Networking.Ordering & One price, one part number, one shipping container – it will be hard for Cisco toInstallation catch up with IBM PureSystems in this area.Patterns of Clearly IBM benefits from the years spent honing system development,expertise customization, deployment, and custom consulting skills. A clear win for IBM. IBM has built in system security at the chassis level. IBM PureSystems areSecurity designed to boot in a security integrated and optimized configuration. Cisco provides some level of access control and here again relies on third parties to provide the needed functionality integrated through XML APIs. IBM’s V7000 which is factory integrated and optimized in the IBM PureSystem rack can integrated, virtualize, and manage IBM and 3rd party storage like EMC.Storage Cisco has a close relationship with EMC and leverages this to provide third part integrated storage. Cisco does not have their own storage management offering and relies on third parties for this.. There are differences between Cisco and IBM regarding virtualization – IBM hasVirtualization excellent virtualization capabilities through Power VM and KVM – Cisco has equivalent benefit through tight VMware integration.Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 11
  12. 12. Harvard Research Group, Inc.ConclusionWith the recent introduction of IBM PureSystems IBM earns high marks meeting the challenges that face mostbusiness and IT CXOs and managers today. IBM once again demonstrates that they are in touch with theircustomers and are aggressively working to provide solutions and benefits for customers who need to reduce theirTCO and accelerate time to value. The new IBM PureSystems are flexible, agile and easy to implement businesscentric IT solutions.IBM PureSystems combine industry leading server, enterprise storage, networking, virtualization and managementexperience, expertise, and capabilities into a single physical and logical structure that simplifies management,delivers on the promise of responsive and flexible business driven deployment, and integrates real-world basedpatterns of virtual and hardware resources through a “single pane of glass” unified management view.The new IBM PureSystem offerings; IBM PureFlex infrastructure systems, IBM PureApplication platform system,and associated partner programs, deliver significant business system and solution value to customers looking forpositive business impact and results.Based on our analysis and comparison we conclude that IBM has a broader more complete offering than CiscoUCS even though Cisco has been in the converged systems market longer. The integrated expertise embodied inthe new IBM PureFlex Systems goes beyond the basic management and functionality of the underlyingcomponents. By building in and tightly integrating good management practices and automation designed tostreamline systems management with the expertise that IBM has gained through decades of running and deployingthousands of business critical applications IBM is delivering significant experience, expertise, technologyinnovation and business knowledge in a single easy to consume offering.The new IBM PureSystems with built-in expertise represent the next step in the evolution of InformationTechnology. This new offering provides what executives and business owners have been looking for – an easy touse system that delivers functional richness without the complexity of previous generation systems.We recommend that you a give these new systems a closer look!Copyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. Page 12
  13. 13. Harvard Research Group, Inc.Harvard Research Group is an information technology market research and consulting company. The companyprovides highly focused market research and consulting services to vendors and users of computer hardware,software, and services. For more information please contact Harvard Research Group: Harvard Research Group Harvard, MA 01451 USA Tel. (978) 456-3939 e-mail: http://www.hrgresearch.comCopyright © 2012 Harvard Research Group, Inc. WAL12350-USEN-01 Page 13