THE ROLE OF VBLOCK INFRASTRUCTURE PLATFORMS IN THE EANTC CLOUD MEGA TEST

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1 THE ROLE OF VBLOCK INFRASTRUCTURE PLATFORMS IN THE EANTC CLOUD MEGA TEST March VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary... 3 Overview of EANTC Cloud Mega Test... 3 Role of the Vblock Platform... 5 Why the Vblock Platform Was Used... 7 Conclusion... 8 Next Steps VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 2

3 Executive Summary In its Mega Test series, Light Reading is causing a stir in the technology industry by testing the end-to-end infrastructure that is required to deliver a wide range of services. It has tested media infrastructure. It has tested mobile infrastructure. And now in its third installment, it is testing the infrastructure for the cloud. Vblock Infrastructure Platforms are at the heart of this test. With the release of its EANTC Cloud Mega Test, Light Reading documents performance of an end-to-end cloud infrastructure that delivers a variety of functionality to end-users. There are enterprise- and business-oriented services such as CRM software in the cloud. In addition, there are consumer-oriented services such as mobile video in the cloud. Light Reading tests application users experience directly, and it tests esoteric necessities of the cloud, such as DHCPv6, that most end-users don t even know exist. One thing is consistent in the Cloud Mega Test, however. That consistency is the presence of the Vblock platform at the center of the largest data center in the test. It is used to run the software applications that create the tremendously diverse set of workloads in the test, all in a highly virtualized environment. It is literally the only converged infrastructure platform that could have been used to fill this role. From a simple, pre-engineered and pre-tested design that enables rapid deployment, to management capabilities that automate routine tasks across all its components, to its virtualization awareness that transforms the notion of what it means to virtualize applications, all of these factors made the Vblock platform essential to the success of the Cloud Mega Test. Overview of EANTC Cloud Mega Test The EANTC Cloud Mega Test was a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive test of the broad collection of elements required to deliver services from the cloud. The program tested not only cloud-based data center infrastructure but also the applications that run in the cloud, as well as the network required to deliver cloud-based functionality to end-users. Figure 1 on the next page shows a high-level architectural representation of the functions and elements that comprised the Cloud Mega Test. The test itself was conducted by a third-party testing agency, the European Application and Network Testing Center (EANTC), which is an independent technology validation laboratory and consultancy based in Germany. EANTC was engaged by Light Reading, which coordinated the test and published results. Cisco Systems was a major participant in the test, along with a number of other manufacturers of infrastructure and applications, including VCE. As stated before, the overall goal of the test was to demonstrate the most effective ways in which cloud-based services could be delivered to end-users. As a result, individual elements were not explicitly tested or evaluated. Rather, the main focus of the test was the functionality required by the end-to-end combination of elements needed to deliver cloud-based services. As such, readers of the EANTC test results as published by Light Reading are not going to find detailed reports on the individual elements in the test. Instead, the test results discuss how various functions performed in the delivery of cloud services. Examples include policy control, quality of service, business applications, consumer video, security, and location-identifier separation VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 3

4 Figure 1. EANTC Cloud Mega Test Architectural Overview Naturally, in order to test application functionality, EANTC had to have infrastructure on which to instantiate those applications. As any seasoned IT professional knows, what an end-user perceives as an application or a service is typically comprised of dozens of discrete functions executing across a variety of platforms. Some of those functions run in the network, and others run in the data center. Some functionality is delivered to the application pre-packaged in an appliance or system format, whereas others are more flexibly packaged as software to be installed on general-purpose compute platforms. When it came to the general-purpose compute platforms, Cisco had an obvious choice on hand. As the provider of a large majority of equipment for the Cloud Mega Test, Cisco suggested that its Unified Computing System, or UCS, be used as the platform on which to run the software-based applications in the data center. And as a natural extension of that, Cisco further suggested that the Vblock platform from VCE be deployed as the converged infrastructure solution in the largest data center evaluated in the test VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 4

5 The Vblock platform integrates computing technology from Cisco UCS servers, storage technology from EMC Symmetrix VMAX or VNX arrays, networking from the Cisco Nexus family of switches, virtualization technology from VMware ESX and vsphere, and management technology from all three VCE parent companies: VMware, Cisco, and EMC. This tightly integrated, pre-engineered, and pre-tested packaging of components enabled the test-bed engineers to quickly and easily implement a gamut of technologies in a single converged infrastructure solution. This approach meant that the engineers could move on to the business of testing the functionality of the cloud without delay or complication. Figure 2. Vblock Platform in the Mega Test Lab Role of the Vblock Platform The Vblock platform performed a number of roles within the EANTC Cloud Mega Test as the converged infrastructure solution for the primary data center created for the test. Because the Vblock platform has been designed from the ground up to handle virtualized workloads, it made the ideal solution to manage the mix of workloads that the Cloud Mega Test required. Those workloads are noted below: Cisco Media Suite. An explosion of rich media experiences, and video in particular, has been a trend that has emerged simultaneously with the arrival of the cloud. In fact, the two are often closely tied together. Companies such as Netflix offer a cloud-based alternative to the bricks-and-mortar video rental store. The Cisco Media Suite allows a provider of cloud-based consumer video services to automate the workflow involved in acquiring, transforming, delivering, and monetizing the high volumes of large media assets involved in such a service. It includes not only the workflow engine itself, but also specific functionality within the workflow, such as encoding, transcoding, entitlement, etc., that are required by any provider of this type of service. The Cisco Media Suite (CMS), along with the Cisco Media Processor (CMP) and Cisco Transcode Manager (CTM), was all implemented on the Vblock platform. Cisco Content Distribution System. Continuing to strengthen the ties between the cloud and media, the Cisco Content Distribution System (CDS) provides a simple way for providers of cloud-based services to implement a content delivery network, or CDN. This CDN can support any number of services, but it is 2012 VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 5

6 particularly suited to the delivery of video services for consumers or enterprises. The system is designed to efficiently store, cache, and stream large volumes of content, as would be required by online, mobile, or set-top-based video-on-demand services focused on Internet-based content. In the data center, the Content Adaptation Engine (CAE) component of the CDS system was run on the Vblock platform. The CAE software running on the Vblock platform performed all of the near-line functions required to feed the content delivery network, including content retrieval, bulk transcoding and transrating, rewrapping, and dynamic catalog creation. Siebel Customer Relationship Management Software. Media is not the only driver for the cloud. Whether a cloud is implemented by a service provider as a revenue-generating offer or by an enterprise looking to more effectively deliver IT services, there is a good chance that enterprise business applications including but certainly not limited to customer relationship management (CRM) software is likely to run on that cloud. The EANTC Cloud Mega Test team chose Siebel CRM as a representative enterprise-class business application to provide a test environment that precisely matched real-world business applications. The Web and presentation tiers for the entire Siebel CRM suite used in the Cloud Mega Test were deployed on the Vblock platform. This system emulated a 1,200-seat call center running on the Vblock platform, against which the test engineers ran simulated transactions to a cloned copy of a real CRM database to test both performance and reliability. BMC Software Cloud Lifecycle Manager. In order to effectively implement a cloud, automation of the individual infrastructure platforms is not enough. It is also necessary to implement an overarching management and orchestration (M&O) system for the entire data center and network environments. Often, these systems run on the very cloud they are going to be orchestrating. For the Cloud Mega Test, the Cloud Lifecycle Manager (CLM) from BMC Software was used. The entire BMC CLM system was deployed on the Vblock platform, which included not only the CLM components that interact with the discrete elements in the network and data center, but also those that create the end-user or subscriber portal used for self-service ordering and automated fulfillment. DHCPv6 Servers. IPv6 is one of those nitty-gritty details that no one likes to think about. In fact, the industry s reluctance to do exactly that has led to the situation in which it now finds itself, where IP (v4) address space is quickly becoming exhausted and a new solution is needed quickly. Especially as mobile devices and machine-to-machine communications proliferate, IPv6 is going to be a critical element of any successful cloud implementation. That means that it is critical to test whether the cloud can quickly and efficiently assign and reclaim those IPv6 addresses as devices arrive, leave, and move around in the cloud. Just like everyone prefers to think about the paint and paper that go into a house, it s the lumber and nails that need the most testing. The DHCP servers that handed out those IPv6 addresses to the large number of emulated IPv6 devices in the Cloud Mega Test were all implemented on the Vblock platform running the Cisco Network Registrar (CNR) in VMware-based virtual machines. Ixia IxNetwork and IxLoad Network and Application Simulation Software. Of course, it s important to test that the cloud infrastructure is capable of handling the volumes of traffic, applications, and data created by the industry s steady and relentless march to the cloud. In the context of a test, it s naturally not possible to deploy the number of actual devices or applications that would provide a realistic load on the cloud infrastructure. The media, business, and management applications tested in the Mega Test were just a small sample of the possibilities. Any real cloud is likely to have orders of magnitude that are much more. Ixia Corporation provides the next best thing: a simulated application and network load generator that a testing agency can use to mimic real-world conditions under a variety of circumstances. Ixia s IxLoad and IxNetwork applications were also deployed on the Vblock platform. Diversity is the key fact to note about the workloads listed above and deployed on the Vblock platform for the EANTC Cloud Mega Test. There are consumer-focused, entertainment-centric applications, and enterprisefocused business applications. There are batch processes, transaction-oriented processes, and near-real-time processes. There are user-facing workloads and back-office workloads. And the Vblock platform was able to handle all of these workloads effortlessly, deployed under tight time frames, and tested to rigorous standards VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 6

7 The role of the Vblock platform in the EANTC Cloud Mega Test was to provide a converged infrastructure platform capable of running a wide variety of workloads with a broad range of performance requirements in a highly virtualized environment. The platform had to be quick to deploy, simple to manage, and stable in operation so as to not interfere with the actual tests. The fact that the Vblock platform is barely mentioned in any of the test reports is a testament that it filled its role precisely as required. Why the Vblock Platform Was Used The previous section hints at a few of the reasons that the Vblock platform was used in the EANTC Cloud Mega Test. However, there were more reasons. Specifically, the Vblock platform provided many benefits to the large, extended team of both technical and business leaders responsible for making the EANTC Cloud Mega Test happen. On the technical side, designers, deployment specialists, equipment operators, test engineers, and others had to place a large amount of equipment and software into service in a short amount of time. It all had to work properly from the outset, or else the test would be of their implementation and operations skills, not of the functionality of the cloud. Moreover, it had to be easy to manage as EANTC progressed through its tests, with various applications being deployed and decommissioned for different phases of the test. On the business side, managers were concerned with the time frames too, because extended deployment translated into either increased cost or reduced scope. This concern was not only true of deployment but also of the test itself. The longer the downtime between test phases, the more costly the overall test would be as well. Therefore, nimbleness was a critical factor for business success. In addition, stability factored into the business equation. Any glitches related to the infrastructure not specifically under test would mean further delays and repeats, or possible forfeiture of the opportunity to complete a particular test phase. In slightly greater detail, what follows are just a few of the reasons that Cisco suggested the Vblock platform for the converged infrastructure solution in the EANTC Cloud Mega Test: Time to Service. Getting the cloud up and running was critical for the Cloud Mega Test. As mentioned previously, the focus of the test was on the end-to-end cloud infrastructure and services. The time it took to build and QA the infrastructure was not part of the test. Thus, any delays in implementation, integration, or quality assurance would take away from and add expense to the program without adding to its value. The Vblock platform was the best way to implement a fully functional cloud data center in the shortest possible time. Design Simplicity. The team responsible for the test was able to rely on the fact that the Vblock platform is pre-integrated and pre-tested to a stringent set of constraints. These restrictions could be taken as a given in the test design process, freeing designers to focus on more important elements of the actual Cloud Mega Test instead of repeating design and integration processes common and well established throughout the data center infrastructure industry. Platform Stability. The test team knew that integration and quality-control issues can often arise when various elements of compute, storage, data center networking, virtualization, and element management systems are brought together. Due in part to design simplicity, but also largely a result of the enormous effort invested by VCE to thoroughly engineer and test every Vblock platform, the test team was able to largely avoid those issues, relying on the stability of the platform to perform as specified. Virtualization Awareness. For the broad range of mixed workloads to successfully coexist in a highly virtualized environment, the compute, network, and storage elements of the converged infrastructure solution had to be virtualization-aware. Because the Vblock platform includes the Cisco UCS servers and Cisco Nexus family of switches, as well as the VMAX platform from VCE, the test team knew they were getting a converged infrastructure solution tightly integrated with virtualization technology from VMware. Capacity. Large-scale enterprise-class and carrier-class storage arrays were required to house the tremendous volume of application data being used in the test. These storage arrays included video assets that consume substantial amounts of storage capacity as well as a sizable amount of structured data from 2012 VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 7

8 business applications. All of this capacity was required for the applications tested within the scope of the program, and the Vblock Series 700MX that was used included an EMC Symmetrix VMAX storage array to provide ample capacity with plenty of room to demonstrate growth capabilities. Automated Management. The test plan called for a large number of tests to be performed in a short period that the budget for the program allocated to the actual testing. Any delays in changing the test-bed configuration from one test phase to another would extend the time required for testing. That would mean either fewer tests would be performed, or the tests would take longer and therefore cost more. The management solutions integrated into every Vblock platform helped the test team to automate these processes as much as possible, enabling them to maximize the testing time allocated within the project scope. The above is just a sampling of the benefits that the EANTC Cloud Mega Test team derived from using a Vblock platform as the heart of the largest data center in their test infrastructure. Individual participants might cite details such as the convenience of knowing that specific compute blades have been tested with the certain storage firmware revisions, eliminating that task from their to-do list. Or they might cite the technical proficiency of the VCE engineering team that stood behind the Vblock platform to ensure smooth and rapid deployment. Regardless, the Cloud Mega Test had at its heart a Vblock platform, and that one simple factor was a critical element in the overwhelming success of the test. Conclusion The EANTC Cloud Mega Test was a tremendously complex undertaking. It tested infrastructure from the data center, across the network, and all the way out to the end-user. The test didn t focus on only one narrow definition of the cloud, such as a certain business application or a specific way of delivering video to consumers. Rather, it tested a broad swath of applications that might run in the cloud and it ran them all together. It was a grueling test for the infrastructure on which clouds are built. Naturally, a large number of these very diverse workloads run in the primary data center from which the cloud services are delivered. At the heart of that data center, running these workloads in a highly virtualized environment, was the Vblock platform. Everything from near-real-time applications to transaction-based applications to batch workloads ran in a virtual environment on the Vblock platform. The benefits that the Vblock platform provided to the test team were clear. It simplified the test environment, reducing time to service and the cost. It automated operations, ensuring that the full and tightly scheduled test plan could be executed in the limited time frame provided. Moreover, it transformed the way that the test team designed and implemented the test, providing a converged infrastructure platform that was pre-tested and preintegrated to maximize capabilities in the virtualized environment. While the end-to-end cloud infrastructure was clearly the superstar of the EANTC Cloud Mega Test, as intended by Light Reading, the Vblock platform performed quietly, effectively, and flawlessly behind the scenes in support of a very complex and demanding operation. Next Steps To learn more about the EANTC Cloud Mega Test, visit the VCE Mega Test site at To learn more about how to enjoy the benefits of pervasive virtualization with Vblock Infrastructure Platforms, visit or contact an authorized VCE reseller. THE INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION IS PROVIDED AS IS. VCE MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WITH RESPECT TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION, AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 8

9 ABOUT VCE VCE, the Virtual Computing Environment Company formed by Cisco and EMC with investments from VMware and Intel, accelerates the adoption of converged infrastructure and cloud-based computing models that dramatically reduce the cost of IT while improving time to market for our customers. VCE, through the Vblock platform, delivers the industry's first completely integrated IT offering with end-to-end vendor accountability. VCE's prepackaged solutions are available through an extensive partner network, and cover horizontal applications, vertical industry offerings, and application development environments, allowing customers to focus on business innovation instead of integrating, validating and managing IT infrastructure. For more information, go to Copyright 2012 VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. Vblock and the VCE logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of VCE Company, LLC. and/or its affiliates in the United States or other countries. All other trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners VCE Company, LLC. All rights reserved. 9

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