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Cisco UCS vs HP Virtual Connect


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This document provides a list of competing features from the HP BladeSystem and Cisco UCS solutions. The objective of the document is to highlight weaknesses and strengths as a starting point for an enhanced competition to UCS in the Data Center area.

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Cisco UCS vs HP Virtual Connect

  1. 1. CISCO UCS vs HP Virtual Connect/BladeSystem Stefano SOLIANI November 2013 Introduction This document provides a list of competing features from the HP BladeSystem and Cisco UCS solutions. The objective of the document is to highlight weaknesses and strengths as a starting point for an enhanced competition to UCS in the Data Center area. Weaknesses should be considered from both the customer perspective (to create the proper message and perspective) and HP internal development and technical marketing (to plan for future features release, partnership or marketing material). Legenda: GREEN: HP advantage RED: Cisco advantage
  2. 2. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach Chassis c3000 – 8 blades c7000 – 16 blades (or up to 32 servers if the double-dense option is enabled) 16/32 servers is the upper limit to one BladeSystem, scalability is achieved with replication of entire enclosure. 5108 – 8 half width blades – up to 20 (potentially 40) chassis under one UCS-> up to 160 (potentially 320) servers → higher scalability, lower total number of switching components Compare entire architecture according to the required number of servers (see below) System Manager Virtual Connect Manager runs on Fabric module. VCEM is a plug in for HP System Insight Manager and benefits from the rich feature set of HP-SIM. UCS Manager runs on fabric module. UCS Central SW consolidates management of a number of UCS Managers. UCS Director extends management, automation and orchestration across the entire DC, including UCS, Nexus, Storage (ex: Vblock, FlexPod) UCM integrates with third-party management tools (from BMC, CA, EMC, IBM, Microsoft, Vmware) through open XML API. VCEM is part of an architecture of management tools from HP OneView simplifies some operations vrt UCSM/UCS Central GGnkzk Equipment discovery Don't know UCSM automatically perform an inventory and deep discovery of any attached equipment, without manual intervention, in around 10 minutes, regardless of number of chassis. Captured info are under Equipment tab. Profiles Server Connection Profile content: MAC address WWN SAN boot PXE boot UUID BIOS settings VLAN assignment VSAN assignment Service Profile content: MAC address (from pool in template, per fabric) WWPN address (from pool in template, per fabric) VLAN VSAN UUID (server id, from pool in template) WWNN (storage node id, from pool in template) Boot Policy For every missing component of a server Connection Profile define its necessity and value (simpler profile but still well scoped facilitates operations)
  3. 3. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach PXE boot settings iSCSI boot settings NO template or cloning ? Power control policy BIOS settings Firmware version Adapter policy QoS Policy Network Control Policy Pin Group Policy RAID settings - templates and cloning to replicate profiles - more settings than in SCP - support « stateless server » Server deployment Difference is pretty significant (47% in time). Mostly due to installing firmware updates on Proliant blades. llateral/ns340/ns517/ns224/ns944/ucs_vs _hp_deployment.pdf Time to deploy a new server is shorter with UCM than VC Q Fabric VC FlexFabric module (24 ports) 61xx – 62xx (up to 96 ports) enables larger scalability in single domain Compare whole architecture and multi- domain. Type of Fabric ports - uplink - downlink - stacking - uplink - server - sync - appliance ports Does BladeSystem consider a single L2 domain north of fabric switches? If not, this is not an issue. If yes, how is an appliance connected ? Switching mode – Loop avoidance VC loop avoidance and no STP on DC LAN side. VC modules present themselves as endpoints. Loop avoidance blocks uplinks to avoid loop. End-Host mode, no switching on DC LAN side. Elements present themselves as endpoints. Switch mode and EH mode can be used independently on Ethernet and FC fabric. Switching Architecture HP BladeSystem is flatter, as the 2 fabrics are connected also to transport Switch fabrics do not transport traffic F2F, they need another L2 switch for comm between: Fewer hops for HP
  4. 4. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach traffic from fabric to fabric. – 2 servers pinned to different fabric switch – 2 VMs on different servers pinned to different fabric switch – 2 VMs on SAME host using VMFEX to bypass the vSwitch, because vNICS are pinned directly to fabric switch Rule to optimize : connect VMs/servers communicating with each other to the same fabric. Switching mode - pinning There is no Pinning mechanism to link blades port to uplink ports. The VC modules work in switching mode. Pinning simplifies operations in UCS, increasing switching speed. Pinning is done at server level. This means that all VMs running on a server will be pinned to the same uplink. This can bring some unbalance in load sharing on uplinks. No need to select VC modules mode, switching is on and loops are prevented. Switching mode change Not a problem. must change to Switch mode when attaching separate L2 domains, which is often the case when 2 already existing nw needs to talk to the apps on UCS (to be fixed in UCM after v1.4). Blade features Proliant BL460c Processor : 2 socket Intel Xeon E5 family - up to 12 core disks : 2 x SFF hot-plug SAS, SATA, SAS SDD, and SATA SSD hard drive Memory : up to 384GB Adapters : 2 on board adapters + additional cards - see below B230 M2 Processor : 2 socket Intel Xeon E7-2800 Disk : 2 SSD drive Memory : up to 512 GB Adapters : 2 CNA (see below) B230 has more memory and newer processor. Need to deep dive to discover more, or highlight other features/future releases. HP is Gartner's #1 for Blade Servers in 2013 1FGKRJ6&ct=130506&st=sb Network FlexFabric adapter. Cisco VIC or 3rd parties adapter. Cisco closes some doors refusing
  5. 5. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach Adapter VC Flex-10 Gb Eth module transforms each blade port into 4 NICs, managed individually. Up to 24 connections per blade. These are physical interfaces, therefore applies also to physical server (with hypervisor you can set bw limits at VM level). Minimum and maximum BW can be set. HP supports Netqueue for I/O virtualization and performance optimization. HP supports SR/IOV for direct attach to VMs to bypass vSwitch Cisco VIC 1280 supports up to 256 virtual interfaces. With UCM and Cisco VIC you can set CoS using % of the total link BW as a minimum (you can also set the maximum). This is done per vNIC or per port group (group of vNICs). Cisco vNIC does not support Netqueue UCS does not need SR/IOV as it supports VN- Tag, but some VICs support SR/IOV Netqueue support. I/O performance can be in favor of HP. Better BW allocation for HP. Port Aggregation Link Aggregation Control Protocol (IRF?) Equivalent in HP? LACP and Port Channel/Virtual Port Channel for Ethernet F_Port Channeling and Trunking for FC ports between UCS and N5K/MDS for resiliency and load balancing NW Virtualization VC-Flex 10 does not support VEPA Cisco VIC supports VN-Tag layer-network-virtualization-vn-tag-and- vepa/ Performance - 2x10Gb/server with embedded dual port - up to 100Gbps/server in full-duplex with additional adapters - up to 5Tbps across enclosure midplan - minimum 1Gbps up to 80Gbps/server (depends on # of FEX-Fabric cables and VIC – VIC1280 supports up to 8x10Gbp) - 8 x 10Gb/FEX - Midplan : 160Gb/chassis (1:1 oversubscription) FEX to fabric is full duplex (x2 in BW) Over-subscription ratio may grow in UCS with full server deployment per system
  6. 6. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach Scalability & Components 16 blades scenario : 1 VCM 2 Fabric modules 16 blades 16 Flex-10 20Gb/blade (embedded dual port, no additional adapter) 128 blades scenario : 1 VCEM (1 domain with VCM) 16 Fabric modules (8 with double-dense) 128 blades (4 c7000 enclosures is upper limit for one VCEM domain) 128 Flex 10 20Gb/blade (embedded dual port, no additional adapter) 32 SAN cables (2 cables/enclosure and SAN) 1 UCM 2 Fabric modules 16 blades (2 chassis) 16 VIC 4 FEX (part of the 2 chassis, automatic management) 34 cables (16/chassis, 20Gb/blade - automatic management) 160 blades scenario : 1 UCM 2 Fabric modules 160 blades (20 chassis are supported so far) 160 VIC 40 FEX (part of the 20 chassis, automatic management) 82 cables (1/fabric+4/chassis, 5Gb/blade, automatic management) 4 SAN cables (2 cables/SAN) max scalability to keep max BW/blade and oversubscription to 1:1 : 10 chassis (8 uplinks/chassis to each fabric) → 80 blades Cisco seems more scalable on the switch fabric side. More components on UCS. Scalability issue on I/O performance for Cisco, as UCS can only scale to 40 blades to use adapters at 10Gb. VCEM can scale up to 1000 server in 250 domains. Cost ucs-hp-and-ibm-a-blade-architecture- comparison?utm_source=slideshow01&utm_me dium=ssemail&utm_campaign=share_slideshow To be verified Congestion control Priority-based Flow Control – Quantified Congestion Notification (not yet implemented) Data Center Bridging (PFC, but not QCN) (QCN not needed /ns340/ns517/ns224/ns945/ns1060/snia_whitepa per.pdf )
  7. 7. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach Fiber channel FCoE is great but requires new switches to support it. BladeSystem C7000 supports FCoE, and then extrapolates the traffic as Ethernet, Fiber Channel. UCS has IO Modules in fabric to provide FC connections. Blades can only use FCoE, which is then extrapolated to FC at fabric. In Switch mode Zoning is pretty basic (per VSAN zoning), unless MDS is connect to fabric switch, in which case fabric switch can download zoning tables. Similar for FCoE. iSCSI is routable across IP networks, while FCoE is not. SAN Up to 4 FC uplinks to SAN, therefore max 4 different SANs can be connected per switch. Servers are pinned automatically to SAN uplinks All ports configurable as 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet or 1/2/4/8-Gbps Fibre Channel NPIV supported supported Networking standard Ethernet Fiber Channel Fiber Channel over Ethernet iSCSI Infiniband Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) Ethernet FC FcoE iSCSI Infiniband is valuable for its ultra-low latency support Extended feature set HP 5900v is a virtual switch to facilitate VM migration and integrate switch management down to VM level (worldwide availability in October 2013) Cisco provides additional features either directly or through partnership with other major players. Ex : N1Kv for VM-FEX, VMware NSX for distributed virtual firewall, distributed L3 switching, etc Relationship Cisco/VMware is getting complex after deployment of NSX. Power Management Not found anything on this. Power can be controlled through power priority and capping, applied to power groups. Power consumption To be analyzed using available Cisco and HP power calculators. Traffic Don't know SPAN in UCS can be attached to logical
  8. 8. Domain HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect CISCO UCS with UCS Manager Competitive Approach Monitoring elements, not only physical. F.e., vNIC, vHBA, VM, VM-FEX IPv6 Supported UCS works with Ipv6. Only management is on IPv4 only (IPv6 in roadmap) Cisco DC technologies A fully competitive approach to Cisco in the server space should enlarge the vision to the entire DC technology. Cisco provides a large set of architectures, solutions, products and technologies to face every aspect of the life of a DC. A complete competitive analysis should be done to highlights areas of HP superiority, areas of improvements, and create customer messages while asking technical marketing and internal development to provide a counter action. The following summarizes Cisco DC capabilities.
  9. 9. Gartner gives HP the highest ranking for Completeness of vision in the DC Nw Infrastructure, and position HP as the best alternatives to Cisco, especially for the work done on SDN, network management and automation. Cisco launched on Nov 6, 2013 a series of products, technologies and partnership to fully support the Application-Centric Infrastructure
  10. 10. business-agility?source=email_rt_mc_body&app=n infrastructure.html?CAMPAIGN=Insieme&COUNTRY_SITE=us&POSITION=PR&REFERRING_SITE=Press_Release&CREATIVE=PR+to+ACI+ launch+landing The SDN concept has been taken to the extreme, with a new concept of controller capable of transforming an application set of requirements into computing, networking, storage and virtualization components, all managed centrally through both Open APIs and highly performing hardware.