The new cloud tool is called the Workload Optimization Manager, and it’s powered by cloud management software from Turbonomic. The product uses intent-based analytics to match workload demand to infrastructure supply across on-premise and multi-cloud environments.
It also compares costs of moving workloads from public clouds, older Cisco servers, and non-Cisco machines to the latest Unified Computing System (UCS) M5 servers announced today.
Cisco’s own IT department started using Turbonomic for data center management, and “they said, ‘you need to check this out,’” said Joann Starke, senior manager of Cisco Data Center Solutions.
The company used the software to manage 30 million watts of raised data center floor space. Eighteen months after installing the product, the IT department optimized half of their data center environments and downsized the data center footprint by one-quarter. This saved the company $17 million in equipment costs over the same time frame, and $2.8 million every month in rental costs for space.
The hybrid cloud management software also integrates with UCS infrastructure, which enables Cisco customers to identify idle machines and increase workload density.
New Automation Capabilities
Cisco also updated its UCS Director — the software that manages the UCS hardware.
The UCS Director 6.5 extends automation capabilities beyond infrastructure by automating native PowerShell functions, virtual machine mobility across vCenter data centers, and support for VMware VMRC console.
It also integrates with Workload Optimization Manager, which enables the automatic creation of a new virtual machine or configuration of a physical server by UCS Director. Workload Optimization Manager then reallocates resources. This ensures application performance and cost efficiency, Starke said.
“It is our plan and our vision to expand this across Cisco’s entire hybrid cloud stack,” she added.
The software updates and new workload management tool help IT departments modernize their data centers with automation, Starke said.
“Workloads are increasing by 26 percent, year over year, but IT budgets are only increasing by 3 percent,” she explained. “Clearly we have a gap and you can’t hire enough humans to fill it. You need automation. You’re letting software manage software.”
UCS M5 Servers
In addition to the software, Cisco today launched new UCS M5 servers. They are built on the Intel Xeon processors, also announced today. Of the five new Cisco machines, three are rack servers and two are blade servers.
The servers include up to double the memory capacity of previous systems and deliver up to 86 percent higher performance compared to the previous generation of UCS, Cisco claims.
“Our customers are telling us they want faster applications with fewer complications,” said Todd Brannon, director of product marketing, unified computing at Cisco. “The demand for real-time analytics – the trend there is certainly pointing upward.”
Customers want servers with more memory and more graphics processing units (GPUs), which accelerate machine learning algorithms, Brannon added. To this end, one of the new blade servers includes a half-width blade form factor, which allows it to support two GPUs. Cisco says this is an industry first.
Additionally, one of the new rack servers tripled its GPU support, so it now can support six.
The hardware’s key differentiator is really the software, Brannon said. “Where others warp their servers up in sheet metal, we’re warping them up in software,” he said. “It’s definitely all about the software for us in UCS.
When asked about the new servers and software, analyst Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy said, “I like what I see, particularly for current UCS customers. Their new hardware and software is focused at solving real problems and the automation is differentiated.”
But, he added, he’d like to hear more about Cisco’s server security. “The new attack point is server firmware, less so on the network and client device,” he explained.