Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cisco UCS Just Made VMware VMmark Very Interesting

So, it's time for me to eat a little humble pie...  A little while back I posted how VMware's VMmark has become increasingly less valuable.  This wasn't a knock against the tool, it was a knock against the vendors all using the exact same configurations with some slight tweaks to stay on top.  Cisco UCS in particular took a middle of the road route by not using the things we really care about that make Cisco UCS unique, namely the Extended Memory Technology and the Virtual Network Adapter (Palo card).

Well, that time has come.  Cisco just published a VMware VMmark score based on Intel's new Westmere 6-core processors and.... wait for it...  the Extended Memory Technology and the Palo adapter!!

Here is the link, take a look.  None of the other major vendors have published Westmere processors (that I have seen) so I'm not sure how the scores will stack up.  But, Cisco has done something truly different, because of the nature of Cisco's disruptive technology; they have taken a new road based on their unique technology.  Kudos to them!

Some highlights of the report:
  • Cisco is using the Extended Memory Technology, 192 GB in a 48x4GB configuration
  • Cisco is using the Palo adapter and split one port as one vNIC to the all virtual machine traffic except the web servers
  • The other port on the Palo adapter is split into 27 vNICs.  26 vNICs were presented to the 26 web server vm's.  I assume the 27th was used for the uplink out.
  • I couldn't find anything in the report of where or how the vHBA's were used off the Palo adapter, I wish that would have been included.
Many will say, this is just a "Lab Queen"!! (A Lab Queen is an unrealistic configuration that is dressed up for a benchmark test and would never be used in the real world).  The answer to that question is of course it is!!  But, the fact that this is a DIFFERENT Lab Queen is very cool.  Using a configuration like this is something other vendors won't be able to accomplish and really highlights the ways in which UCS is different.


craig said...

the palo adaptor might be new thing for Cisco, but if you do know a product call Xsigo, you will find that this is not new thing to the market, which Xsigo had been capable of doing this for quite some times ago and the performance is impressive on both NIC and HBA level. I am more impress with their Menlo VS Palo

afidel said...

I wish VMMark required financial disclosure and required data reliability like SPEC does. It would make the comparisons to a real world environment a LOT easier.

Aaron Delp said...

@craig - I agree with everything you say but I just doubt you will see a Xsigo solution in a server vendor benchmark score. Sad but true I know...

@afidel - I agree with you. In my mind up until now the results have all been close enough from all the vendors that the only thing the VMmark scores are good for is comparing a generation of products vs. another generation, NOT a vendor to vendor within a generation.