Cisco® VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1 is a data center automation tool that provides flexibility to industry-standard server environments and their associated input/output (I/O) interfaces. Cisco VFrame software programs and coordinates Cisco server fabric switches to dynamically change how a server is provisioned by mapping a physical server to a logical server identity stored in the fabric, complete with virtual I/O subsystem. Cisco VFrame software is part of the Cisco VFrame solution that interconnects servers into a high-speed unified fabric with shared I/O.
Cisco® VFrame Software dynamically associates server, storage, and networking hardware together as virtualized application services. Cisco VFrame software, as part of the Cisco VFrame solution, specifically integrates with Cisco SFS 7000 Series InfiniBand Server Switches as the server switching technology and the Cisco SFS 3000 Series Multifabric Server Switches for Fibre Channel access to storage, and Ethernet access to the clients. Cisco VFrame software automatically assigns servers to different network, storage, and application services using customer-configured policies. These policies can be extended to enable servers to be dynamically reassigned based upon server utilization, high availability, heat consumption, and time-of-day definitions.
Cisco VFrame software provides tight integration with x86-class servers, including those from Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun. These servers are assigned to specific applications by mapping the server to a particular application service policy. Cisco VFrame software orchestrates server provisioning by configuring the Cisco SFS 3000 Series such that when the server is rebooted, the server loads the correct OS and application. The server inherits the correct identity using the SAN boot protocol, which is emulated over the InfiniBand network using the server's Host Channel Adapter (HCA) drivers. To reassign a server to a different application, you can easily drop the server into another application group using the Cisco VFrame software and repeat the procedure. The Cisco SFS 3000 Series gateway appears as the initiator to storage arrays and the target to the servers. High-availability, multi-pathing software such as EMC's PowerPath and IBM's RDAC is supported across the Cisco SFS 3000 Series Fiber Channel gateway modules. The Fibre Channel storage arrays see the Cisco SFS 3000 Series gateway as the multi-path initiator.
Table 1. Features
Physical Server Virtualization
Cisco VFrame software enables administrators to deploy pools of stateless, anonymous servers that can be dynamically assigned to pre-provisioned server images, called "virtual servers." The software creates this virtual server independently of the physical server by storing the OS image and virtual I/O subsystem (Worldwide Name [WWN] for storage and IP address) in the fabric. This virtual server can be mapped to physical resources using the software's GUI.
By creating virtual IP interfaces and host bus adapters (HBAs) on the host and mapping them to gateways ports on the InfiniBand-to-Ethernet and InfiniBand-to-Fiber Channel gateways, Cisco VFrame software can dynamically allocate I/O capability to a virtual server, and can centrally manage that I/O resource, including resizing available I/O bandwidth without affecting servers.
Cisco VFrame software maintains a library of golden images for Windows 2000/2003 and Red Hat or SUSE Linux operating systems. These generic golden images can be created by installing the OS the conventional way or by taking a snapshot of an existing running server.
Through a combination of triggers and actions, Cisco VFrame software provides the capability to add, remove, failover, and reassign virtual servers based on application needs or physical server health. Using these policies, administrators can share generic pools of failover servers across multiple applications, dynamically allocate servers based on changing demand, and quickly provision and migrate servers.
Cisco VFrame software is available in High Availability mode where two servers back each other up with coordinated failover between them. In a critical data center environment, this provides vital continuity for server management.
Cisco VFrame software interfaces with all major power-management schemes offered by server partners through their out-of-band management interfaces. Cisco VFrame software uses these interfaces over a management network to control how a server boots and reboots.
The software works with the InfiniBand subnet manager to dynamically discover servers that are plugged into the server fabric. Cisco VFrame software presents the unique ID of the discovered servers, switch port location, and available physical servers in the resource pool.
Cisco VFrame software monitors a range of variables available from servers such as CPU or memory load, and is capable of creating triggers for business policies based on changes to those variables. The software can monitor via standard Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) agents, network alerts, or XML for external integration.
The software provides two interfaces for troubleshooting operations: a GUI-based event manager that displays all major system events, and log files in standard syslog format.
Cisco VFrame software supports secure authentication and file transfer protocols including Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, HTTPS, Secure Copy (SCP), and SNMPv3. Virtual server groups can be mapped to InfiniBand partitions within the server fabric. This functionality allows secure isolation of virtual server groups from one another.
Through standard interfaces such as SOAP and XML, Cisco VFrame software can integrate with third-party management tools in the data center, allowing customers to maintain their operational model.
New features in Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1 include the following:
• Expanded server integration: Cisco VFrame software now offers integration with AMD Opteron processor-based Sun x64 servers, including the Sun Fire V20z, V40z, X4100, and X4200. Additionally, Cisco VFrame software continues to support the most popular x86 server models from Dell, IBM, and HP.
• OS compatibility: Cisco VFrame software offers integration within Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell SUSE Linux, Windows Server, and Sun Solaris 10 on x86 AMD Opteron processors.
• High-availability enhancements: Cisco VFrame software adds primary and secondary multi-path SAN server booting with a newly added Boot LUN multi-pathing feature. Active/Active and Active/Passive storage modes are supported.
• Interoperability testing with server-to-storage multi-pathing host software products: Cisco VFrame software is undergoing testing and qualification with the most widely used host-to-storage multi-pathing products including EMC's PowerPath, IBM's Redundant Dual Access Controller (RDAC), and the VERITAS Volume Manager with Dynamic Multi-Pathing (DMP). As these qualifications are completed, Cisco Systems® will update the interoperability matrix with these Cisco Service Provider Solutions Ecosystem Program partners.
• InfiniBand infrastructure upgrade: Cisco VFrame software has been tested and is supported with the following software releases: Topspin OS v2.8.0, Linux InfiniBand host drivers v3.2, and Windows InfiniBand host drivers v2.0.4. Although VFrame 3.1 does not require it, it is recommended that Cisco Server Fabric Switch Element Manager 2.8.0 is installed to create IP subnet and partition attributes, etc that are used by the Cisco VFrame 3.1 software to provision services, and to assist in installation verification and troubleshooting of the Cisco VFrame solution.
• Bulk server creation: Cisco VFrame software can create multiple gold server boot images within the same application group with this feature. Cisco VFrame software automatically creates unique virtual names and storage mappings of these images created in bulk.
• Enhanced policy: Cisco VFrame software offers a time-of-month policy enhancement whereby servers can be re-provisioned to a different application group, or moved back into a server utility group, based on the start or end of every month. This policy setting has been added to the hourly, daily, and weekly settings within the software.
• Designated storage LUNs within Cisco VFrame software: Cisco VFrame software offers a logical unit number (LUN) assignment enhancement whereby a LUN can be dedicated or shared within each defined virtual server group. This functionality is offered through a well-defined radio button in the software GUI.
• Cisco VFrame software runtime OS requirements: Release 3.1 specifically requires Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 Update 7 as the OS on which to install the Cisco VFrame runtime application. Previous updates are not compatible.
• Administration management: The Log Management feature allows administrators to control the output of the Cisco VFrame software logs. The Jobs-in-Queue feature allows administrators to stop a job in queue prior to the action. Apply, Cancel, and Refresh options have been added to the GUI.
Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1 is a follow-on code development to Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.0.1. Release 3.1 offers enhancements in the areas of usability, high availability, expanded server and storage device integration, and integration with the most current Cisco SFS 7000 and 3000 Series operating system releases.
First customer shipment (FCS) date is July 31, 2006.
Table 2. Ordering Information for Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1
Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1, base image and 10-node license
Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1, high-availability image
Cisco VFrame Server Fabric Virtualization Software 3.1, one additional node license