Shorts: How to reboot a Cisco UCS 6100 series fabric interconnect

5 07 2011

I actually had this written down in my notes somewhere, and today a colleague of mine called me because he was having some issues. Since it’s not necessarily obvious, and others might be having the same problem, I thought I’d post a quick note here.

To reset the fabric interconnect on a Cisco UCS 6100 series, connect via your serial cable or use putty to ssh in to your fabric, and use the following commands:

connect local-mgmt [enter]
reboot [enter]

Obviously you leave out the space after the command, and the [enter] should be replaced by you actually pressing the enter key. Not sure if this is of help to folks out there, but I figured it’s more useful out here than in my private notes.

Update – July 10th:

Dan gave a good hint in the comments, that you might want check if the fabric interconnect you are trying to reboot is the primary or the subordinate, so here goes.

Connect to your fabric interconnect just like you did in the top example, and enter the local management:

connect local-mgmt
Now, check to see the state of the fabric interconnect you have attached to:
show cluster extended-state

This will give you a bunch of output, but there is one part that you are interested in more than anything else:
B: UP, SUBORDINATE
A: UP, PRIMARY

B: memb state UP, lead state SUBORDINATE, mgmt services state: UP
A: memb state UP, lead state PRIMARY, mgmt services state: UP
heartbeat state PRIMARY_OK

At the prompt, you can see (and hopefully you already knew to begin with) to what node or member you are connecting to. If you are at the node that is in a subordinate state, use the following command to change the state of the node you are rebooting to subordinate:
cluster lead a
or
cluster lead b
Where a or b is the node that you want to become subordinate. After that you can reboot the respective member





It’s all about change and passion

28 06 2010

Some of you who read the title of this post will already have a hunch what this is all about. Heraclitus seems to be the person who first stated:

Nothing endures but change.

And I can only agree with that. I remember reading a post from Nick Weaver about an important change in his professional life, and I love this quote:

By taking this position I am intentionally moving myself from the top man on the totem pole to the lowest man on the rung.

And I think that most people who have read Nick’s blog know that this wasn’t entirely the truth, especially when looking what he was able to do until now.

Well, Nick can be assured now. There’s actually on person on the team that is “lower on the rung”. That person would be me.

Time for a change!

I am joining EMC and taking on the role of vSpecialist, or as my new contract says “Technical Consultant VCE”.

I am also going to be leaving my comfort zone and leave a team of people behind that have been great to work with. I have been working at SAP for seven years now, and the choice to leave wasn’t easy. I was lucky enough to have worked with a multitude of technologies in an environment that was high paced and stressful, but very rewarding, and I want to thank all of my colleagues for making the journey interesting! Even so, it’s time for me to make a change.

I was lucky enough to get to know several people who already work in a similar role, and if there’s one thing that distinguishes them in my mind, then it would be the passion they have for their job. This was actually the main reason for me to make the switch to EMC. It’s not about making big bucks, it’s not about being a mindless drone in the Evil Machine Company or drinking the Kool-Aid, it’s about getting a chance to work with people that share a passion and are experts at what they do. It’s about the chance to prove myself and perhaps one day joining their ranks as experts.

So, while I wrap things up here at SAP, if all goes well I will be joining the vSpecialist team on October 1st, and hopefully you will bear with me while I find my way going through this change, and I do hope you drop by every now and then to read some new posts from me.

See you on the other side!





My “Follow, even if it’s not Friday” list

27 05 2010

There’s a meme on Twitter that can be witnessed each Friday. It’s called “Follow Friday” and can be found by searching for the #FollowFriday hash tag, or sometimes just simply abbreviated to #FF to save on space in a tweet.

Problem with a lot of those follow Friday tweets is that most of the time you have no idea why you are being given the advice to follow these people. If you are lucky you will see a remark in the tweet saying why you want to follow someone, or why I should follow all of these people, but in most cases it’s a matter of clicking on a person, going to their time line and hope that you can find a common denominator that gives you an indication of why you want to follow someone.

In an attempt to do some things differently, I decided to create this post and list some of the folks that I think are worth following. And I’ll try and add a description of what someone (or a list of people) do that make them worth following in my opinion. And if you are not on this list please don’t be offended, I will try to update it every now and then, but it would be impossible for me to pick out every single one of you on the first attempt.

So here goes nothing! I’m starting off this post with people that offer a great deal of info on things related to VMware, and I will try to follow up with other topics as time goes buy. Check back every now and then to see some new people to follow.

Focus on VMware:

  • @sakacc – Besides being the VP for the VMware Technology Alliance at EMC, Chad is still a true geek and is a great source of knowledge when it comes to things VMware and EMC. Also, very helpful in regards to try and help people who have questions in those areas. Be sure to check out his blog as it is a great source of information!
  • @Kiwi_Si – Simon is a great guy, and can tell you a lot about VMware and home labs. Because of the home labs he is also very strong when it comes to finding out more about HP’s x86 platform, and once again I highly recommend reading his TechHead blog.
  • @alanrenouf – This French sounding guy is actually hiding in the UK and is considered by many to be a PowerCLI demi-god. Follow his tweets and you will find out why people think of him that way.
  • @stevie_chambers – You want to find out more about Cisco UCS? Steve is the man to follow on Twitter, also for finding out more about UCS combined with VMware.
  • @DuncanYB – Duncan started the Yellow Bricks blog, which emphasizes on all things VMware, and also is a great source of info on VMware HA.
  • @scott_lowe – Scott is an ace when it comes to VMware.
  • @jtroyer – John is the online evangelist and enterprise community builder at VMware. For anything new regarding VMware and it’s community you should follow John.
  • @lynxbat – I would call it something else, but Nick is a genius. He started tweaking the EMC Celerra VSA and has worked wonders with it. I highly recommend following him!
  • @jasonboche – Virtualization evangelist extraordinaire. Jason has the biggest home lab setup that I know of, I’d like to see someone trump that setup.
  • @gabvirtualworld – Gabrie is a virtualization architect and has a great blog with lot’s of resources on VMware.
  • @daniel_eason – Daniel is an architect for a large British airline and knows his way around VMware quite well, but is also quite knowledgeable in other areas.
  • @SimonLong_ – With a load of certifications and an excellent blog, Simon is definitely someone to follow on Twitter.

Focus on storage:

  • @StorageNerve – Devang is the go-to-guy on all things EMC Symmetrix.
  • @storageanarchy – Our friendly neighborhood storage anarchist is known to have an opinion, but Barry is also great when it comes to finding out more about EMC’s storage technology.
  • @valb00 – Val is a great source of info on things NetApp, and you can find a lot of good retweets with useful information from him.
  • @storagebod – If you want someone to tell it to you like it is, you should follow Martin.
  • @Storagezilla – Mark is an EMC guy with great storage knowledge. Also, if you find any videos of him cursing, tell me about it because I could just listen to him go on and on for hours with that accent he has.
  • @nigelpoulton – Nigel is the guy to talk to when you want to know more about data centre, storage and I/O virtualisation. He’s also great on all areas Hitachi/HDS.
  • @esignoretti – If you are (planning on) using Compellent storage, be sure to add Enrico to your list.
  • @chrismevans – The storage architect, or just Chris, knows his way around most storage platforms, and I highly recommend you read his blog for all things storage, virtualization and cloud computing.
  • @HPStorageGuy – For all things related to HP and their storage products you should follow Calvin.
  • @ianhf – “Don’t trust any of the vendors” is almost how I would sum up Ian’s tweets. Known to be grumpy at times, but a great source when it comes to asking the storage vendors the right questions.
  • @rootwyrm – As with Ian, rootwyrm also knows how to ask hard questions. Also, he isn’t afraid to fire up big Bertha to put the numbers to the test that were given by a vendor.
  • @sfoskett – Stephen is an original blogger and can probably be placed under any of the categories here. Lot’s of good information and founder of Gestalt IT
  • @Alextangent – The office of the CTO is where Alex is located inside of NetApp. As such you can expect deep technical knowledge on all things NetApp when you follow him.
  • @StorageMojo – I was lucky to have met Robin in person. A great guy working as an analyst, and you will find refreshing takes and articles by following his tweets. A definite recommendation!
  • @mpyeager – Since Matthew is working for IT service provider Computacenter, he has a lot of experience with different environments and has great insight on various storage solutions as well as a concern about getting customers more bang for their buck.

Focus on cloud computing:

  • @Beaker – Christofer Hoff is the director of Cloud & Virtualization Solutions at Cisco and has a strong focus on all things cloud related. His tweets can be a bit noisy, but I would consider his tweets worth the noise in exchange for the good info you get by following him. Oh, and by the way… Squirrel!!
  • @ruv – Reuven is one of the people behind CloudCamp and is a good source of information on cloud and on CloudCamp.
  • @ShlomoSwidler – Good cloud stuff is being (re)tweeted and commented on by Shlomo.

So, this is my list for now, but be sure to check back every once in a while to see what new people have been added!


Created: May 27th 2010
Updated: May 28th 2010 – Added storage focused bloggers
Updated: July 23rd 2010 – Added some storage focused bloggers and some folks that center on cloud computing
Updated:





My take on the stack wars

26 04 2010

As some of you might have read, the stack wars have started. One of the bigger coalitions announced in November 2009 was that between VMware, Cisco and EMC, aptly named VCE. Hitachi Data Systems announced something similar and partnered up with Microsoft, but left everyone puzzled about the partner that will be providing the networking technology in it’s stack. Companies like IBM have been able to provide customers with a complete solution stack for some time now, and IBM will be sure to tell it’s customers that they did so and offered the management tools in form of anything branded Tivoli. To me, IBM’s main weakness is not so much the stack that they offer, as the sheer number of solutions and the lack of one tool to manage it all, let alone getting an overview of all possible combinations.

So, what is this thing called the stack?

Actually the stack is just that, a stack. A stack of what you say? A stack of solutions, bound together by one or more management tools, offered to you as a happy meal that allows you to run the desired workloads on this stack. Or to put things more simply and quote from the Gestalt IT stack wars post:

  • Standard hardware configurations are specified for ease of purchasing and support
  • The hardware stack includes blade servers, integrated I/O technology, Ethernet networking for connectivity, and SAN or NAS storage
  • Unifying software is included to manage the hardware components in one interface
  • A joint services organization is available to help in selection, architecture, and deployment
  • Higher-level software, from the virtualization hypervisor through application platforms, will be included as well

Until now, we have usually seen a standardized form of hardware, including storage and connectivity. Vendors mix that up with one or multiple management tools and tend to target some form of virtualization. Finally a service offering is included to allow the customer to get service and support from one source.

This strategy has it’s advantages.

Compatibility is one of my favorite ones. You no longer need to work trough compatibility guides that are 1400 pages long and will burn you for installing a firmware version that was just one digit off and is now no longer supported in combination with one of your favorite storage arrays. You no longer have to juggle different release notes from your business warehouse provider, your hardware provider, your storage and network provider, your operating system and tomorrow’s weather forecast. Trying to find the lowest common denominator through all of this is still something magical. It’s actually a form of dark magic that usually means working long hours to find out if your configuration is even supported by all the vendors you are dealing with.

This is no longer the case with these stacks. Usually they are purpose or workload built and you have one central source where you get your support from. This source will tell you that you need at least firmware version X.Y on these parts to be eligible for support and you are pretty much set after that. And because you are working with a federated solution and received management tools for the entire stack, your admins can pretty much manage everything from this one console or GUI and be done with it. Or, if you don’t want to that you can use the service offering and have it done for you.

So far so good, right?

Yes, but things get more complicated from here on. For one there is one major problem, and that is flexibility. One of the bigger concerns came up during the Gestalt IT tech field day vBlock session at Cisco. With the vBlock, I have a fixed configuration and it will run smoothly and within certain performance boundaries as long as I stick to the specifications. In the case of a vBlock this was a quite obvious example, where if I add more RAM to a server blade then is specified, I no longer have a vBlock and basically no longer have those advantages previously stated.

Solution stacks force me to think about the future. I might be a Oracle shop now as far as my database goes. And Oracle will run fine on newly purchased stack. But what if I want to switch to Microsoft SQL Server in 3 years, because Mr. Ellison decided that he needs a new yacht and I no longer want to use Oracle? Is my stack also certified to run a different SQL server or am I no longer within my stack boundaries and lost my single service source or the guaranteed workload it could hold?

What about updates for features that are important to me as a single customer? Or what about the fact that these solution stacks work great for new landscapes, or in a highly homogeneous environment? But what about those other Cisco switches that I would love to manage from the tools that are offered within my vBlock, but are outside of the vBlock scope, even if they are the same models?

What about something simple as a “stack lock-in”? I don’t really have a vendor lock-in since only very few companies have the option of offering everything first hand. Microsoft doesn’t make server blades, Cisco doesn’t make SAN storage and that list goes on and on. But with my choice of stack, I am now locked in to a set of vendors, and I certainly have some tools to migrate in to that stack, but migrating out is an entirely different story.

The trend is the stack, it’s as simple as that. But for how long?

We can see the trend clearly. Every vendor seems to be working on a stack offering. I’m still missing Fujitsu as a big hardware vendor in this area, but I am absolutely certain we will see something coming from them. Smaller companies will probably offer part of their portfolio under some sort of OEM license or perhaps features will just be re-branded. And if they are successful enough, they will most likely be swallowed by the bigger vendors at some point.

But as with all in the IT, this is just a trend. Anyone who has been in the business longer than me can probably confirm this. We’ve seen a start with centralized systems, then moving towards a de-centralized environment. Now we are on the move again, centralizing everything.

I’m actually much more interested to see how long this trend will continue. I’m am certain that we will be seeing some more companies offer a complete solution stack, or joining in coalitions to offer said stack. I still think that Oracle was one of the first that pointed in this direction, but they were not the first to offer the complete stack.

So, how do you think this is going to continue? Do you agree with us? What companies do you think are likely to be swallowed, or will we see more coalitions from smaller companies? What are your takes on the advantages and disadvantages?

I’m curious to hear your take on this so let me know. I’m looking forward to what you have to say!





Gestalt IT Tech Field Day – On Cisco and UCS

14 04 2010

There are a couple of words that are high on my list as being the buzzwords for 2010. The previous year brought us things like “green computing”, but the new hip seems to be “federation”, “unification”. And let’s not forget the one that seems to last longer then just one year, it’s the problem solving term “cloud”.

Last Friday (April 9th), I and the rest of the Gestalt IT tech field day delegates were invited by Cisco to get a briefing on Cisco’s Unified Computing System or in short “UCS”. Basically this is Cisco’s view that builds on the notion that we are currently viewing a server as being tied to the application, instead of seeing the server as a resource that allows us to run that application.

Anyone in marketing will know that the next question being asked is “What is your suggestion to change all that?”, and Cisco’s marketing department didn’t disappoint us and tried to answer that question for us. The key, in their opinion, is using a system consisting of building blocks that allow me to to give customers a solution stack.

As the trend can be spotted to go towards commodity hardware, Cisco is following suit by using industry standard servers that are equipped with Intel Xeon processors. Other key elements are a virtualization of services, a focus on automated provisioning and unification of the fabric by means of FCoE.

What this basically means is that you order building blocks from Cisco in the form of blade servers, blade chassis, fabric interconnects and virtual adapters. But instead of connecting this stuff up and expanding my connectivity like I do in a standard scenario, I instead wire my hardware depending on the bandwidth requirements and that’s pretty much it. Once I am done with that, I can assign virtual interfaces as I need them on a per blade basis, which in term removes the hassle of plugging in physical adapters and cabling all that stuff up. In a sense it reminded me of the take that Xsigo offered with their I/O director, but with the difference that Cisco uses FCoE instead of Infiniband, and with Cisco you add the I/O virtualization to a more complete management stack.

The management stack

This is in my opinion the key difference. I can bolt together my own pieces of hardware and use the Xsigo I/O director in combination with VMware and have a similar set-up, but I will be missing out on one important element. A central management utility.

This UCS unified management offers me some advantages that I have not seen from other vendors. I can now tie the properties to the resources that I want, meaning that I can set up properties tied to a blade, but can also tie them to the VM or application running on that blade in form of service profiles. Things like MAC, WWN or QoS profiles are defined inside of these service profiles in an XML format and then applied to my resources as I see fit.

Sounds good, but…..?

There is always a but, that’s something that is almost impossible to avoid. Even though Cisco offers a solution that seems to offer some technical advantages, there are some potential drawbacks.

  • Vendor lock in:
    This is something that is quite easy to see. The benefit of getting everything from one vendor also means that my experience is only as good as the vendors support is in case of trouble. Same thing applies when ordering new hardware and there are unexpected problems somewhere in the ordering/delivery chain
  • The price tag:
    Cisco is not know to be cheap. Some would even say that Cisco is very expensive, and it will all boil down to one thing. Is the investment that I need to make for a UCS solution going to give me the return on invest? And is it going to do that anytime soon? Sure it can reduce my management overhead and complexity, sure it can lower my operational expense, but I want to see something in return for the money I gave Cisco and preferably today, not tomorrow.
  • Interoperability with my existing environment:
    This sort of stuff works great when you are lucky enough to create something new. A new landscape, a new data center or something along those lines. Truth is that usually we will end up adding something new to our existing environment. It’s great that I can manage all of my UCS stack with one management interface. But what about the other stuff? What if I already have other Cisco switches that are not connected to this new UCS landscape? Can I manage those using the built in UCS features? Or is this another thing that my admins have to learn?
  • The fact that UCS is unified does not mean that my company is:
    In smaller companies, you have a couple of sysadmins that do everything. They install hardware, configure the operating system, upload firewall policies to their routers and zone some new storage. So far so good, I’ll give them my new UCS gear and they usually know what goes where and will get going. Now I end up in the enterprise segment where I talk to one department to change my kernel parameters, a different to configure my switch port to auto-negotiate and the third one will check on the WWN of my fibre-channel HBA to see if this is matching to the one configured on the storage side. Now I need to get all of them together to work on creating the service profiles, although not all will be able to work outside of their knowledge silo. The other alternative would be to create a completely new team that just does UCS, but do I want that?

Besides the things that are fairly obvious and not necessarily Cisco’s fault, I think that Cisco was actually one of the first companies to go this way and one of the first to show an actual example of a federated and consolidated solution. Because that is what this is all about, it’s not about offering a piece of hardware, it’s about offering a solution. Initiatives like VCE and VCN only show us that Cisco is moving forward and is actually pushing towards offering complete solution stacks.

My opinion? I like it. I think Cisco have delivered something that is a usable showcase, and although unfortunately I have not been able to actually test it so far, I do really like the potential it offers and the way it was designed. If I ever get the chance to do some testing on a complete UCS stack, I’ll be sure to let you know more, but until then I at least hope that this post has made things a bit clearer and removed some of the questions you might have. And if that’s not the case, leave a comment and I will be sure to ask some more questions on your behalf.

Disclaimer:
The sponsors are each paying their share for this non-profit event. We, the delegates, are not paid to attend. Most of us will take some days off from our regular job to attend. What is paid for us is the flight, something to eat and the stay at a hotel. However as stated in the above post, we are not forced to write about anything that happens during the event, or to only write positive things.








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