8 Cool Features You May Not Know About in UCS Manager

So, you’ve probably heard about many of the cool features in our “Capitola” project (aka UCS Manager 2.0) that my colleague and good friend, Sean McGee, blogged about here: http://www.mseanmcgee.com/2011/07/ucs-2-0-cisco-stacks-the-deck-in-las-vegas/ . Sean covers many of the new hardware and software features in our 2.0 launch, and it is certainly worth the read. But what you may not know about are some of the small enhancements we make with each release that are handy when you find them and you think “hey, that wasn’t there before…”. I meant to do this article for the “Balboa” release (aka 1.4.x), but just failed to get it done in time. So, I thought now would be a good opportunity to cover both Balboa and Capitola in a single article. Keep in mind that the enhancements we do in each release, whether they be minor or major, are almost completely demand-driven. My team visits customers often and we try to get a better understanding of how they are using UCS and where it falls short in meeting their needs. We provide that feedback to our engineers, and they turn it into products and features. The direct customer interaction also allows us to share our upcoming ideas and concepts with customers before we build them to make sure we are hitting the mark.

So let’s take a look at some of those handy features you may not have seen that we added in the last 2 releases:

 

  • You can download tech-support and core files from the Admin tab in the GUI now. No more command line when you need to send a file to TAC.

 

  • You can upload firmware images from your local filesystem via the GUI (no more FTP/TFTP/SCP, etc).

 

 

  • We added visual guidance (graphics) to the Memory tab in Server Inventory screens to more easily identify dimm faults.

 

 

  • Nested groups in MS AD

CLI: set traversal recursive

 


  • “Impact Analysis”

Added the ability to show which Service Profiles use which Policies (Show Policy Usage) before a change is made.

 


  • Server Power Monitor

UCS Manager now lets you see in real-time what your power usage looks like for a given server. The graph is constantly updating to match actual server power usage.

 

  • Login Banner (Capitola)

Anyone that’s been in IT for a while knows of some mythical lawsuit where a company got hacked and the hacker got off because the login screen said “Welcome” on it. So companies all around the world started adding “If you don’t work here, back off!” messages to the company login screens. Microsoft even has one for a Windows login. UCS Manager now includes this option as well. You’ll find it on the Admin tab under User Services:

 

 

 

 

  • Virtual Media Windows Enhancement (Capitola)

This one is pretty slick. If you have ever used Virtual Media to install an OS (admit it, you have), you know how annoying the Virtual Media applet can be. It has to remain open the entire time and if you open two blades at once with Virtual Media things start to get confusing. So we have made Virtual Media part of the KVM Console window itself.


 

 

In addition to the features above, Capitola also includes some major enhancements like iSCSI boot, VMDirectPath with vMotion, support for disjoint L2 upstream connections, Port Channel support for the Fabric Interconnect-to-chassis connections, and VM-FEX support for RedHat KVM. You can read more about the new software features in our latest release in our UCS GUI Configuration Guide at: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/unified_computing/ucs/sw/gui/config/guide/2.0/b_UCSM_GUI_Configuration_Guide_2_0.pdf

If you found a new feature that you like and I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Jeff

7 thoughts on “8 Cool Features You May Not Know About in UCS Manager

  1. Hey Jeff,
    I face a constant battle where I work to justify firmware upgrades and such. We are still at 1.4 and well according to “Cisco” they tell you not to update firmware unless you are experiencing a particular issue related to the firmware or what not… Do you know with vSphere 5 thats here and now if its important to be running the latest greatest firmware of 2.0? How can I convince my current Team Lead over UCS to allow for us to move to the new Firmware? Do you think its particularly important? I know personally updating firmware for me has always been a big deal due to bug fixes and feature enhancements..

    Appreciate the feedback.

  2. I am personally a big supporter of keeping firmware current – or somewhat current. This is based on over 20 years of working with x86 servers (and most of that with the server vendor which makes me biased). I have seen the ROM developers fix real “hardware problems” in BIOS updates. So it’s something I firmly believe in, but I’m also not the first one to jump on every new release the day it comes out. Hardware vendors do a LOT of testing on a release before it goes out, but stuff happens. So if I were running a production facility, I would keep it somewhere between the fear of going out of style and the thrill of cool new features.

    We’re supporting vSphere5 on both 1.4 and 2.0, so you’re covered there. We don’t abandon customers on the previous code stream because we know everyone can’t upgrade at will. The 2.x release brings with it plenty of new features – so it’s worth your while. We added hardware support for the new 6200 series FI’s, the new 2208 FEX, and the upcoming VIC 1280 (aka Palo 2). On the software side, iSCSI boot was added and it sounds like you want that feature? Even though we support vSphere5 on 1.4, you cannot iSCSI boot in 1.4.

    Lastly, “Cisco” saying that you should not update unless you are having a problem is not a best practice, nor is it inline with our support policy – with one exception…minor releases. If they are talking about 1.4.3m to 1.4.3q, I totally agree. Look at the release notes and only do what makes sense for your environment. If it 1.3.1 to 1.4.3, you absolutely should look at upgrading. We do major releases like that only about 4 times a year. But we do lots of minor (dot) releases that need only be applied if we are addressing and issue you are seeing.

    I hope this helps you in your efforts. Thanks for being a customer – you’re in good hands with Cisco.

    -Jeff

  3. Hi,

    we’re running up our first UCS installation at the moment. Everything’s fairly straightforward, but I’ve found that the virtual media feature in the KVM doesn’t work well on OS X (Lion & Java 1.6.0_29). Nothing appears in the virtual media tab :-(. Sometimes the blade boots off the mounted CD anyway.
    Are there known issues in this area?

    Len

    • Hey Len – sorry fore the delay in response. Unfortunately, the KVM vmedia isn’t supported in OSX today. It’s filed as an enhancement already, but not committed.

  4. Jeff, what is the trick of mapping and unmapping (and for it to show up) during install of Windows 2008 OS to grab compatilbility drivers when working remote.

    I can map an initial Virtual Media session with an W2K8 ISO image, boot and begin to install Windows…at the point the install asks for ‘compatibility drivers’ just after launching Custom install, I attempt to unmap the W2k8 media and re-map the drivers ISO so the drivers can be installed allowing to select a partition to load windows onto. What I am finding is if I unmap the original virtual media and re-map the other image, it does not show up when trying to browse to grab the drivers.

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