Fujitsu Teams With Cisco and VMWare for Virtualized Data Center

Fujitsu says it plans to "virtualize everything feasible," and to that end it has put together a mix of familiar Cisco interfaces and VMWare technology for virtualized data centers.

By Drew Robb | Posted Oct 26, 2010
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Fujitsu is a company with irons in many fires. It sells low cost servers, high availability machines, storage, PCs, laptops, peripherals as well as software and a variety of components. It also has a large services arm. As such, it operates data centers to deliver IT services to a wide range of internal and external customers. Like many organizations, Fujitsu elected to virtualize its IT operations.

"We plan to virtualize everything feasible," said Algie Seat, principal enterprise systems consultant for Fujitsu. "We aim for a 30 to 1 ratio for virtualization."

It designed a system using a combination of technologies from Cisco, Fujitsu and VMware.

On the virtual switch side, Fujitsu had to decide between the VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch and the Cisco Nexus 1000V (N1KV). The VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch offers a centralized point of control for cluster-level networking as a means of moving beyond per host network configuration in virtual environments. The Cisco Nexus 1000V (N1KV) virtual machine access switches, on the other hand, work within VMware vSphere environments running the Cisco NX-OS operating system. They are designed to run inside the VMware ESX hypervisor, thus virtualizing the network switch. They also support Cisco VN-Link server virtualization technology to provide policy-based virtual machine (VM) connectivity, and mobile VM security and network policy. One of the big advantages of these Cisco switches is consistency in terms of provisioning from the VM access layer to the core of the network infrastructure. That simplifies things greatly as VMs can take advantage of the same network configuration, security policy, diagnostic tools, and operational models as their physical server counterparts. The N1KV consists of the Virtual Ethernet Module (VEM) to run inside the hypervisor and the external Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM) to manage VEMs.

Seat allowed the network team to compare both tools.

"I showed them the VMware distributed switch versus the N1kV side by side," he said. "As a result, the networking team recommended the latter."

He lists the benefits as better switching, upstream connectivity, traffic management, security and overall ease of management. He also liked the fact that it provided the familiar Cisco look and feel.

"Our network team is Cisco-centric and they were already very comfortable with physical Cisco switches," said Seat. "80 percent of the command lines are the same as for physical switches. The rest are new commands due to the new interface with Virtual Center."

Another plus, he said, was being able to externalize the management of the VMware network. This gave the network team a lot more visibility into VMware-based systems.

Seven months into production, Seat reports that the implementation has been going well. Networking staff took to it from Day One.

A few issues on the software side, said Seat, were largely handled by upgrading to release 1.3 of N1KV.

The NK1Vs are backed up by several Cisco core switches and routers. In addition, Fujitsu 10 Gb and 1 Gb switches are being used at the network edge and for distribution. The Fujitsu XG2600 10Gb Ethernet switch has 26 ports and utilizes optical modules for use with twinax copper cables. It is reported to reduce overall networking costs while lowering latency and reducing power consumption by more than 30 percent to less than five watts per port. The Fujitsu XG0448 is also used as an aggregating switch with a 1RU form factor

These are backed up by Fujitsu Primergy RX300 servers with a 144 GB of RAM running mainly Windows as well as some Linux. This is a dual-socket 2U server with Intel Xeon 5500 processors. Cool-safe technology allows the RX300 to combine performance with efficiency. The VMs and N1KV VEMs run inside the RX300 servers.

"The benefits of the Rx300 are low space footprint, efficient cooling and attractive licensing," said Seat. "All user access runs through the Nexus."

With all this gear in place and virtualization rolling out, Seat experienced challenges in selling the benefits of the virtual world to end users who were used to physical boxes.

"We realized we needed to translate our established best practices for physical servers over to VMs," said Seat. "We had to show our user community and customers operational excellence in our new virtual environment."

The initial project is in Dallas using a new space with brand new servers and switches. Seat said that 5 Fujitsu servers host 125 VMs used for retail point of sale systems.

"In future, we will ramp up to 400 or 500 VMs and two data centers - one in Dallas and the other in Sunnyvale," said Seat. "We will replicate between them across the network for DR purposes."

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