Friday, February 13, 2009

"California" is deja vu all over again

Just in case you want a "preview" of what Cisco is expected to announce on March 16th, you might want to compare their unified computing model to Egenera's Infrastructure Orchestration technology it has been shipping for about 7 years.'s ServerWatch reported today some additional details about Cisco's "Project California." It all sounds pretty familiar to what Vern Brownell conceived-of back in 2001.

This reminds me of the famous spoof of Bill Gates' announcement of Vista, as well as a more highly-polished roasting by Apple of Vista's well-publicized, but trailing, technology. So, to pay homage to radical new innovation based on things that have been in the market for some time, permit me to highlight some historic factoids from the article by Andy Patrizio:
"According to a source familiar with the products, the blades will be based on Intel's Core i7 processors and come with up to 192GB of memory, well above the maximum capacity of 128GB in today's blades. Intel recently announced it would begin shipping Core i7 Xeon processors, codenamed Nehalem-EP, as part of its Xeon 5000 series.
Truth-be told, Egenera's own BladeFrame hardware already supports 128GB of memory, on 6-core, 4-way boards. And, our 192GB/Nehalem is coming soon too. A customer of ours has already indicated that in experiments, they have over 150 VMs running on a single blade in the chassis.
"The blades include a PCI-Express connection, allowing them to connect to Cisco's high-speed Unified Fabric architecture. These connections also give the blades very fast Ethernet access to both the network and storage devices and eliminate the need for a storage-area network (SAN). Instead, the blades would talk directly to the storage servers.
Similarly, Egenera BladeFrame Frabric architecture inherently eliminated the need for NICs and HBAs, and permitted unified/consolidated I/O to travel between blades at 2.5GB, or out to data center switches and storage. By abstracting away the I/O, it allows our management software to instantly provision any number/type of I/O onto Bare metal.
"The blade servers are believed to come with Cisco's Nexus 5000 switches embedded in the chassis, which support the Unified Fabric and is built to be virtualization-ready. The servers will also feature tight integration with and support for VMware software.
As above, a switching fabric is already built into the Egenera system. And for years, Egenera blades have been available with vmBuilder , a module which embeds VMs within the system. In that way, administators have the option of provisioning a full physical blade, or dicing-it-up into many virtual blades.
"This would put computing and networking power all in a single box. 'It's more of making the computer part of the network, thus Unified Computing,' said the source... The term "Unified Computing" was first floated by Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior in a January blog post, where she described it as 'the advancement toward the next generation data center that links all resources together in a common architecture to reduce the barrier to entry for data center virtualization'. In other words, the compute and storage platform is architecturally 'unified' with the network and the virtualization platform....
"Computing and networking power in a single box"? Again, that sounds alot like the Egenera BladeFrame + PAN (Processing Area Network) Manager software, or like the Dell PAN System. Take a look at these demos.

Don't want to buy a high-performance Egenera BladeFrame? Well, you can also consider the Dell PAN System, which takes all of these "unified computing" Infrastructure Orchestration features, and runs them on Dell hardware, too.

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