I know that many of you are interested in seeing how Cisco's UC (Unified Communications) applications can be virtualized on their UCS (Unified Computing System) platform. Virtualization yields many benefits to an enterprise and is one of the top three hot topics for every Fortune 500 company out there. However, this isn't really a discussion of the benefits of virtualization or how UCS compares to other competing cloud virtualization solutions. I'm focusing on how Cisco is supporting UC on UCS now - consult your sales team if you'd like to see their materials on how they compare with the competition.
The UCS platform is still relatively new and as a result, it's rapidly developing. New features are being added frequently and, at the same time, Unified Communications continues to improve. This combination of factors can leave an engineer or CIO wondering - "what can we really do RIGHT NOW?"
To assist everyone with keeping tabs on these developments, I've compiled a list of the following documents that are being updated by Cisco frequently. I strongly suggest bookmarking this page and periodically reviewing!
UC on UCS Documents and Important Facts From Each
Checklist for Design and Implementation
Non-virtualized (MCS 7800) deployments require submission of a Product Authorization Key (PAK) derived from the MCS 7800 physical MAC address.
Virtualized (UC on UCS) deployments require submission of a Product Authorization Key (PAK) derived from a "licensing MAC". For CUCM, you can generate a "licensing MAC" at http://www.cisco.com/web/cuc_afg/index.html
Unified Computing Systems Hardware
At this time on Cisco UCS, certain types of serviceability monitoring and alarming (such as hard drive failure) are only available via OS instrumentation. For UC on UCS this means alerts are generated by VMware in CIM format, and require VMware vCenter or equivalent CIM-compliant console. Refer to the UCS RAID Controller SMI-S Reference Guide for detailed information on this topic.
Unified Communications VMware Requirements
Cisco announced today limited support for ESXi 4.1 for eight of the applications in the Unified Communications Suite. VMware "Boot From SAN" is the only ESXi 4.1 feature that currently is supported, in addition to the subset of ESXi 4.0 features already supported.
- Unified Communications Manager: 8.0(3) and higher
- UCM Business Edition 3000: 8.5(1) and higher
- Session Manager Edition: 8.5(1) and higher
- UC Management Suite: 7.1 and higher
- Cisco Unity Connection: 8.0(3) and higher
- Cisco Unity: 7.x and higher
- Cisco Unified Presence: 8.0(2) and higher
- Unified Contact Center Express IP/IVR: 8.0(2) SU2, 8.5(1) and higher
An instructional video is available at VMware that shows the process of upgrading from ESXi 4.0 to ESXi 4.1.
VMware ESXi is sold in different editions with different levels of support. Review the various options here.
Unified Communications Virtualization Supported Applications
All applications must use a supported Virtual Machine OVA template as described in Unified Communications Virtualization Downloads (including OVA/OVF Templates)
Application co-residency is supported as described in Unified Communications Virtualization Sizing Guidelines
Unified Communications Virtualization Downloads (OVA/OVF Templates)
A virtual machine template defines the configuration of the virtual machine's virtual hardware. Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open standard for describing a virtual machine template, and Open Virtualization Archive (OVA) is an open standard to package and distribute these templates. Files in OVA format have an extension of ".ova".
Cisco Unified Communications applications must use one of the supported virtual machine templates in the table below. For most applications, a preconfigured OVA file is provided by Cisco and must be used. Otherwise the customer must manually build OVA files that meet the indicated requirements.
Unified Communications on UCS Sizing Guidelines
Fibre Channel SAN is currently mandatory for UC on UCS B200, optional for UC on UCS C210 and not supported for UC on UCS C200.
To get the IOPS per virtual machine OVA and other information required to properly design SAN connectivity and array, see IOPS.
For more information on supported storage arrays, see the UCS page at http://www.cisco.com/go/swonly
Unified Communications on UCS Upgrade, Migration, and Best Practices
Disaster recovery for Cisco Unified Communications application virtual machines supports the same in-host techniques as Cisco Unified Communications applications on physical servers: the same backup options are available with Cisco Unified Communications running on ESXi as on physical servers.
Virtualization and storage networks allow for new out-of-host disaster-recovery techniques. Examples include snapshots, entire virtual machine backups, and multisite recovery scripts with products such as VMware Site Recovery Manager.
UCS Manager Developer Network
The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) includes an innovative XML API which offers you a programmatic way to integrate or interact with any of the over 9,000 managed objects in UCS. Managed objects are abstractions of UCS physical and logical components such as adaptors, chassis, blade servers, and fabric interconnects.
Developers can use any programming language to generate XML documents containing UCS API methods. The complete and standard structure of the UCS XML API makes it a powerful tool that is simple to learn and implement.
goUCS Automation Tool
goUCS is a toolkit that was created as a proof of concept to show how a UCS systems administrator could easily automate tasks across multiple UCS domains. Since the advent of UCS’s singular API, it has been clear to UCS admins the inherent power of being able to utilize and take advantage of this single API for use cases like auto-populating data in a central CMDB with the physical inventory of an entire UCS domain with one query; creating or modifying objects across multiple UCS domains like VLANs, policies, pools, etc.; and gathering data about a specific set of objects across UCS domains.
goUCS was designed for a UCS sysadmin as an example of a flexible and extensible command line style interface that provides the basic framework for managing multiple UCS sessions and the communication to and from UCS via the XMLAPI; and parsing and displaying any returned XML data into multiple output formats like CSV, tables, indented hierarchical lists, and raw XML.
Other Good Information
UC on UCS Update - February 2011