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Building a Cisco UCS Director (UCSD) Test Lab Environment

May 21, 2014

Many of the customers I work with own VCE Vblock, NetApp Flexpod, and/or EMC VSPEX solutions.  Over the last few months several of my customers have asked if Cisco UCSD would make it easier to manage their block/pod based solution.  As a result I have decided to put together a Test Lab environment to illustrate the capabilities of UCSD.

Purchasing a VCE Vblock or any of the aforementioned solutions for a home lab would be cost prohibitive.  A more economically feasible solution would be to to simulate Compute and Storage Hardware.  Fortunately Cisco, NetApp, and EMC offer simulators of their product offerings.  These mature simulators will form the basis of my UCSD Test Lab environment.   The simulators will be hosted on a single Cisco UCS C220 M3 Rack Server with an Intel Xeon E5-2620V2 Six-core CPU and 64GB of RAM running VMware ESXi 5.5.  Storage for my lab environment consists of VMFS datastore on a local 512GB Samsung 840 Pro Series SSD.

With the majority of my customers using a Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) I decided that the Cisco UCS Platform Emulator (UCSPE) would be the first hardware simulator I would download.  The UCSPE was developed to enable the use of Cisco UCS Manager without requiring physical hardware and works well with the UCS Director Virtual Appliance Software.  I am using the latest version of the UCS Platform Emulator (UCSPE 2.2) which can be downloaded here.  If this is your first time working with the UCSPE read my article Installing the Cisco UCS Platform Emulator.

To illustrate many of the storage workflow orchestration tasks I also need a Storage Array.  Both NetApp and EMC currently offer Storage Array simulators that work successfully with the UCS Director Virtual Appliance Software. If you are a NetApp Customer or Advantage Partner you can download the Data ONTAP Simulator here. EMC doesn’t require you to be a partner or customer to access its VNX Simulator (VSA).  Simon Seagrave’s bLOG article EMC VNX Simulator (VSA) – How to download the latest version is a great place to get you started.  I will be using the VNX File Simulator (OE 8.1.0.15) Single Data Mover (OVA Package) released on August 26, 2013.

I would also like to illustrate the virtual machine provisioning and management abilities of UCS Director.  In my Test Lab Environment I plan on using VMware for these demonstrations.  VMware provides a 60 day trial of vSphere at the VMware vSphere Product Evaluation Center.  I will be using a single nested ESXi host and the vCenter Server Appliance, both will run on my Cisco UCS C220 M3 Rack Server.

With my hardware and virtual infrastructure complete it is time to download the Cisco UCS Director – Evaluation (EVAL) License at the Cisco Promotional Software Store.  Within 24-hours I should receive an e-mail from Cisco that includes the license and a link to download the software.  I will keep you posted!

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