New Features in Cisco UCS Version 3.1 and 3.2
The Cisco UCS platform has proven to be a leading enterprise solution for converging network and compute into one manageable system. The UCS Manager Graphical User Interface (GUI) allows users to manage an entire UCS domain, including the chassis, servers, and interconnects, from one central place, all while using a state of the art java-based UI. Wait, did you say java?
Like most vendors at the time, Cisco chose java as the basis for their management GUI. Now, I don't know about you, but I haven't come across anyone in the IT world that likes dealing with java. Incompatibilities between different architectures and versions have created an IT nightmare.
Thankfully, now comes UCS Manager 3. Let’s look at some of the new features that have arrived in both 3.1 and 3.2:
3.1 New Features:
Graphical User Interface
The biggest news in the 3.1 release is the new HTML5 GUI. Finally feature-complete, the new GUI includes HTML5 support for KVM connections, making this the first fully functional UCS Manager GUI. For integration with Cisco UCS Central, it requires release 1.4 or higher.
This feature relies on the latest web browsers, so only the following are supported:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 or higher
- Mozilla Firefox 45 or higher
- Google Chrome 45 or higher
- Apple Safari version 9 or higher
- Opera version 35 or higher
Beginning with Cisco UCS Manager Release 3.1(3a), the Cisco UCS Manager GUI is no longer available as a Java-based application.
UCS Manager 3.1 supports many new hardware items. Some noteworthy additions are:
- 32Gb Fibre Channel
- Support for 4K format disk drives as bootable drives on blade servers
- Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) support
- Support for 3rd Generation Fabric Interconnects (UCS 6332 FI, UCS 6332–16UP FI) and UCS IOM 2304
- Support for Cisco Nexus 2348UPQ FEX
- Support for 3rd Generation Cisco VIC 1385
- Support for 3rd Generation VIC 1387 (40G PCIe/mLOM VIC Adapter)
- Many others
Integrated Server Diagnostics: The Cisco UCS Manager diagnostics tool enables users to verify the health of the hardware components. It also provides a variety of tests to exercise and stress the various hardware subsystems on the servers, such as memory and CPU.
Smart SSD. The Cisco UCS Manager Release 3.1(3) introduces support for monitoring SSD health. This feature provides statistical information about various SSD properties. For each property, a minimum, maximum and average value is recorded and displayed. This feature also allows users to provide a threshold limit for each property.
Cisco UCS Manager Database Health Monitoring: The Cisco UCS Manager provides proactive health checks and recovery mechanisms to improve the integrity of the Cisco UCS Manager database. These mechanisms enable active monitoring of the database health.
Factory Reset of Servers: The Cisco UCS Manager enables users to reset a server to its original factory settings. By default, the factory reset operation affects only the BIOS and not the storage drives or FlexFlash drives. This is set in place to prevent any loss of data. However, users can opt to reset these devices to a known state instead.
Locator LED support for server hard-disks in 3.1(1e)
3.2 New Features:
The UCS Manager 3.2, while not as big of a change as 3.1, does adds some interesting new features. For UCS Central integration a Cisco UCS Central Release 2.0(1b) or higher is required.
New hardware support is modest, with the biggest changes being:
- Support for M5 servers
- Support for new NVMe devices with relevant UCS M5 servers
Cisco Intersight Service aka UCS Starship
Cisco Intersight Service, known by its codename UCS Starship, is the next generation cloud-based management option from Cisco. Currently in a preview state, Starship supports:
- UCS B-Series servers
- UCS C-Series servers