Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cisco Catalyst 3750 and 3560 Switches Go End of Life

Did you know? As of yesterday, January 30th, 2013, you are no longer able to purchase new Cisco Catalyst 3750G, 3560G, 3750-E, and 3560-E switches. And I don’t just mean direct from the manufacturer, but anywhere in the market. And since these are popular Cisco Catalyst switches, this will cause some dismay for those currently standardized on 3750G, 3560G, 3750-E, and 3560-E switches.

Anyone standardized on Cisco Catalyst 3750G, 3560G, 3750E, and 3560E switches will now be forced to upgrade their environment.  Since Cisco will still support these switches, upgrading is an unnecessary expense for many companies who don’t need to make the jump to the latest and greatest Cisco switch technologies.

While the manufacturer might be pushing you to upgrade, the secondary market still allows you to get used and refurbished Cisco Catalyst 3750G, 3560G, 3750-E, and 3560-E switches. And this means that you’ll benefit anyways, because refurbished equipment costs significantly less than new equipment, while offering the same technology and performance, and often the same warranty and support.

So while January 30th, 2013 may have come and gone as the deadline for new Cisco 3750G, 3560G, 3750-E, and 3560-E switches, remember that you aren’t backed into a corner – refurbished switches are still a viable option.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

VMware vs Microsoft: Who's the Rightful Virtualization King?

As the two leading virtualization platforms, VMware and Microsoft often get stacked up against each other. As a result, VMware’s vSphere 5.1 and Microsoft’s Hyper-V R3 are constantly being compared and tested to see whose technology comes out on top. Taking a look at some of the testing and research that’s been done in recent months, we feel pretty confident that we’re ready to answer the question of: who’s the real king of the virtualization realm?

As it turns out; VMware’s recent vSphere 5.1 release has given VMware the extra functionality and performance they needed to secure the crown.  One key enhancement is VMware’s enhanced live migration capability. With the new live migration capability, VMware vSphere 5.1 has eliminated one of the major hurdles tied to VM movement; they no longer need to share the same storage. This means that VM’s can be moved or replicated from one machine and storage space to another, even to foreign hosts (as long as they are licensed). 

Two other major improvements that the vSphere 5.1 release brought to the VMware virtualization platform include enhanced specs and a simplified licensing model. With vSphere 5.1, VMware now offers the ability to control SMP with a max of 64 processors or a 1TB VM. Also, since the vSphere 5.0 licensing model got a little confusing, VMware decided to simplify their licensing with vSphere 5.1 and eliminate any core count or vRam entitlement restrictions. Now it is licensed strictly by socket.

Some of the drawbacks of using Microsoft Hyper-V R3 versus VMware vSphere 5.1 are: Hyper-V R3 requires a Windows Server OS, while vSphere 5.1 doesn’t rely on a general-purpose OS; Hyper-V R3 is subject to unrelated Windows patching, while vSphere 5.1 is not subject to any unrelated patching; a full install of Hyper-V R3 takes up 8GB, while vSphere 5.1 only takes up a 144MB disk footprint; and Hyper-V R3 offers nothing that compares to vSphere 5.1’s integration with software-defined security.

The small footprint of ESXi 5.1 results in a significantly reduced vulnerability to malicious attacks. A couple of other features that truly set VMware apart as the king of virtualization are the Native Distributed Switch and the Distributed Resource Scheduling for Storage.

Not that Microsoft Hyper-V R3 is a bad virtualization platform. In fact, it has many benefits to offer, especially with the Windows Server 2012 release that includes a new virtual switch and enhanced Hyper-V features. However, from what we’ve seen/read, VMware vSphere 5. 1 does a better job at alleviating any barriers on the path to virtualization, making it all-around an easier fit for most environments.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How Microsoft Licensing Impacts Gen8 and M4 Servers

The latest generational release of HP ProLiant and IBM System x features a major overhaul in both server design and technology. One key challenge arose from changes in Microsoft’s licensing of SQL Server 2012. This is because the licensing for these has changed to a per-core basis versus the per-processor licensing offered by previous editions.

This has caused a financial disadvantage. For example, the Microsoft SQL 2008 licensing for 6-core HP ProLiant DL380 G7 or G6 server has a list price of $7,600. In order to run a comparative 6-core HP ProLiant Gen8 server with the required 2012 enterprise edition, the list price is $82,488. You will see the same drastic price difference with IBM M4 versus M3 servers and SQL licensing, which will undoubtedly cause problems for any IT budget.

If you would like to run a version prior to 2012, you will need to purchase the licensing for the 2012 version, then roll back to an earlier edition (the earliest edition you can roll back to is 2008). If you have an earlier version such as 2003, then there is no upgrade path to the 2012 version – meaning that you will pretty much have to start out fresh or wait until they figure out a way to successfully migrate.

So why upgrade to HP ProLiant Gen8 or IBM System x M4 servers? In G7 or M3 servers, the fastest quad-core processor available is the X5687, which has a clock speed of 3.60GHz 4-cores and a 12MB cache. If you can find them, the fastest quad-core processor available for a Gen8 or M4 server is the E5-2643, which has a clock speed of 3.30GHz 4-cores and a 10MB cache. If you want to save time and money on licensing and can get by with 4 or 8 cores (dual CPU) in your SQL server, it may make more sense for you to go with G7 or M3 servers instead of the latest generation.

The Gen8 and M4 servers, however, offer many more 6-core processor options, as well as new 8-core processor options. However, since the new licensing is on a core per-core basis, it will be costly. So, if you are running 6-core or 8-core processors, then the HP ProLiant Gen8 and IBM Systemx M4 servers do have an edge performance-wise, if not price-wise. And with approximately $75,000 in savings, price-wise will likely be the key decision-maker.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Keeping Cool with IBM: Why Your Datacenter Will Thank You

While keeping cool certainly isn’t a concern in Michigan right now with the winter season in full force, it is a surprisingly hot topic for IBM. And, a little closer to home, it can be a critical topic for you as well if your busy datacenter has experienced delays due to being overworked during the business-heavy holiday season.  Luckily enough for you, IBM has developed some new technologies that can keep your datacenter crisply cool no matter how hard you work them.

Developed while working on a project for the U.S Department of Energy, IBM has introduced cooling systems to their servers that exchanges heat in much the same way as a car radiator. Relying on cool water, the cooling system places the water in piping near the semiconductor microchips within the servers in order to transfer its cooler temperature and carry away the heat generated by the microchips.

Upon the completion of the U.S Department of Energy project, IBM has released these cooling techniques to their general business customers. Since an average of 25% of datacenter energy bills are currently devoted to cooling expenses alone, the introduction of this new, more efficient, and cost-effective method of cooling is already developing quite the fan base.