Virtual Unified Communications on Unified Computing System (UC on UCS) FAQ

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Apr 6, 2010 3:37 PM
Apr 6th, 2010
Q: What is Virtual UC on UCS?

A: UC stands for Cisco Unified Communications. It is a set of communications and collaboration applications and appliances that offer Voice and Video over IP (VoIP), IP Communications, IP Telephony, mobile applications, customer care, Telepresence, conferencing, voicemail/messaging, presences and enterprise social software. UCS stands for Cisco Unified Computing System. It offers customers an integrated, unified and highly manageable computing infrastructure for running enterprise and service provider applications. "Virtual UC on UCS" refers to the solution of running Virtual UC applications on UCS infrastructure.

Q: When will "Virtual UC on UCS" be available?

A: "Virtual UC on UCS" is now available on both B-series (blade server) and C-series (rack-mount server) UCS servers. Support for B-series (B200M1) FCS'd in May 2010. The C-series (C210M1) FCS'd in June 2010.

The current (FCS'd June 2010) C210M1 supports running a single applications per server, which can be Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection or Unified Contact Center Express.

Q: What is a Hypervisor?

A: A hypervisor is a thin software system that runs directly on the server hardware to control the hardware, and it allows multiple operating systems (guests) to run on a server (host computer) concurrently. A guest operating system (such as that of Cisco Unified CM) thus runs on another level above the hypervisor. Hypervisors are one of the foundation elements in the cloud computing and virtualization technologies, and they consolidate applications onto fewer servers.

The VMware's ESXi and Microsoft's Hyper-V are some of the examples of Hypervisor available in the market today.

Q: Which Hypervisor is supported?

A: VMware vSphere 4 (ESXi 4.0) or later is supported hypervisor to run Virtual UC application.

Q: Is the VMware standard version required for support or is the free version allowed too?

A: Depending on how you plan to deploy and manage the VM will determine which version you use.  Yes, we do support the free version of EXSi, but you’ll find that you will be limited in management of this version (you get what you pay for).  For one or two hosts in a lab, then the free version will work just fine, but we expect customers will want the advanced management capability found in the standard and enterprise plus editions. Additionally, we are not mandating the use of vCenter for host management, but any customer that has multiple ESXi hosts to manage will find vCenter well worth the investment.

Q: Is UC supported without VMware on UCS?

A: All UC on UCS (B-series and C-series) deployments requires use of VMware vSphere 4 (ESXi 4.0 or later). ESXi is mandatory. Bare-metal installs are not supported on UCS servers. Bare-metal installs are supported on MCS servers only.

Q: One of the biggest value UCS brings it he 4x memory. Why Cisco is  not supporting the server that offers 4x memory (B250 & C250)?

A:  Very few of the UC applications are memory-bound and many of the UC  applications are 32-bit applications and have a limit to max memory they  can leverage. As such, the High Memory servers (384 GB) would be  underutilized.

Q: When will Cisco support B200M2 with 4 CPU cores?

A: Current plan is to support B200M2 with 4 cores is in Q4CY2010.

Q: Is Nexus 1000V mandatory for this solution?

A: Nexus 1000V is not required or mandatory in this solution. However, it is recommended for customers that expect the UCS system to be congested or overloaded. Nexus 1000V offers (beside many other features) rich QoS capabilities that are not available in VMware vSwitch or VMware dvSwitch.


Q: Can you mix MCS cluster with UCS servers?

A: Yes, you can mix UCS servers with an existing MCS cluster.

Q: When will Cisco Support non-UCS platforms for virtualization? (like IBM Blade servers or HP or DELL)

A: Cisco's long term vision is to support non-UCS platforms for  virtulization. But nothing is road-mapped, planned or committed at this  time.

Q: Will Cisco help troubleshoot or would a customer have to go to VMware?

A: There are different ways to buy VMware softwares and support. Based on your purchase the scenario could be different. But from very high level following is what a customer can anticipate

  • Buy VMware (or vCenter) from Cisco, buy VMware support from Cisco.
    • Cisco does L1/L2 before escalate to VMware
  • Buy VMware (or vCenter) from VMware, buy VMware support from VMware.
    • Cisco triages with VMware and they do L1/L2
  • For Cisco UC related issues, we expect calls to usually go to Voice TAC (UC apps) and then VMware TAC as needed
  • For Hardware/Network related issues, we expect calls to usually go to Server Virtualization TAC (VMware, MDS, UCS) and VMware TAC as needed

Q: If I buy a C210 M1, can I field upgrade it to an M2?

A: It is not possible to field upgrade a C210 M1 to C210 M2 because M2 has different motherboard, drives, CPU etc.

Q: Is Cisco planning on supporting ESX?

A: Cisco is not planning to support ESX. ESXi provides better support for realtime applications.
ESXi is the next generation architecture as compare to ESX.

Q: Why VMware-only for UCS (B-series and C-series)?

A: It allows faster time to market, rapid progress on customer request for virtualized UC, insulation from historical challenges with bare-metal MCS (longer certification lag, HW/SW incompatibilities etc.)

Q: Are there any plans to support local storage for VM on the B-Series?

A: Currently, there are no plans to support local storage for VM on the B-series. UCS B2xx only supports 2 disks, B4xx only supports 4 disks. There is not enough room to store multiple virtual UC applications.

Q: Is USB port avaialbe in UC Virtual Machines?

A: ESXi 4.0 doesn't allow access to the USB port hence USB port is not supported

Q: Can we use external USB DAT Tape Drive with CUCM Virtual Machine?

A: External USB drives (DAT-USB-EXT-72=) are not supported with ESXi 4.0 version. One can take network backup via DRS though.

Q: How can we use USB security token in CUCM virtual machine if USB port is not available in ESXi 4.0?

A: The security tokens are used on the client PC, not on the server, so this is not an issue. You can enable authentication/encryption using USB eTokens without a problem even if your CUCM is running in VMWare. As long as your client PC has a USB port, you're fine.

Q: What other resources are available if I would like to know more about this solution in details?

A: You should be familiar with at least following resources

http://www.cisco.com/go/uc-virtualized

http://www.cisco.com/go/ucsrnd

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Comments

chips1999 Thu, 07/22/2010 - 14:52

I have some more questions,for the UCS C210 M2,are we restricted to one application for server as well?


Is there any USB support roadmap?

Thanks,

Chips-Lusaka

syali Thu, 07/22/2010 - 15:02 (reply to chips1999)

C210 M2 won't be restricted to just one application. We are planning to support more than one VM (the number will depend on the type of UC VM you are going to deploy and on the vCPU requirements per VM) on that server.

Although USB support was recently added/fixed just few weeks ago by VMware with ESXi 4.1 (http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1022290), right now we don't have any plans to support it for Cisco Virtual UC applications.

chips1999 Thu, 07/22/2010 - 15:09 (reply to syali)

Thank you very much Syed for the response, I'm desiging a project which requires Call Manager,Unity and IPCC,and I wanted to get the minimum possible number of servers by using virtualization.

Why does the C210 M1 have limitation when it does have enough specs to handle multiple applications?

Do you have any timelines for when the C210 M2 will start supporting UC virtualization? Im very eager to put them in my proposal

syali Thu, 07/22/2010 - 17:14 (reply to chips1999)

You are welcome.

Like I mentioned above, the C210 M2 support is planned for Q4 this year. Which means around Nov./Dec time frame you will be able to run more virtual applications per C210 M2.

C210 M1 definitely has enough power to handle, but at the same time we want stable and successful customer deployments and support servers after through testing. Which no just include performance or load testing but also a solution level testing involving all other UC applications, non-UC Cisco components like router, switches and third part components like ESXi and many many more.

ahochau_2 Thu, 03/31/2011 - 22:39 (reply to syali)

Is there any update as to when UC will be supported on non-UCS hardware?  Virtualizing the machine removes the hardware dependancies, and as long as the proper resources reservations are made the VM will be able to handle the load.  I can see the need to say "once we determine it is a hardware problem you are on your own", but the software portionshould be uniform no matter who the vendor is as long as it is running on a supported ESX/ESXi platform.

rjohnson@tfe-wa... Fri, 01/06/2012 - 03:33

Syed - is it possible/recommended to mix ESXi Enterprise Plus and ESXi Standard on one UCS B-Series chassis.  In other words, if we have a requirement for the 20K OVA for Unity Connection which requires Ent. Plus but all other blades require Standard, do I mix/match or do I license Ent. Plus for all blades?

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