As I move through my CCNP Data Center studies, I’ll be writing short posts summarizing various exam blueprint topics. This weekend I spent a bit of time learning about the C-Series rack mount servers from Cisco. Part 1 will focus on information from CBTNuggets. Part 2 will follow up with more details from the book Cisco Unified Computing Systems.
[alert-announce]This post is another in my series about the 642-999 DCUCI CCNP Data Center exam. It is not intended to be an all encompassing post, however a collection of the notes I have gathered during my studies. [/alert-announce]
Cisco UCS C-Series
The Cisco UCS C-Series server is a rack mounted, horizontal server. They come in a variety of models and configurations, ranging from 192 GB RAM capacities to over 1 TB of RAM capacity. The C-Series are unique in the fact that they do not require Cisco UCS Manager. Each C-Series server has a CIMC (Cisco Integrated Management Controller) to assist with various tasks.
C-Series CIMC and NIC Modes
After getting the C-Series server racked and cabled, we will need to boot up the server. During the boot process press F8 to launch the CIMC Utility. In this utility we find a handful of settings, most important are the NIC Mode and NIC Redundancy options.
By default NIC Mode is set to Shared LoM (LAN on Motherboard), with a redundancy mode of Active/Active. Additional NIC modes include Dedicated in which only the 10/100 management port is used (no redundancy), or Cisco Card mode which requires the P81E VIC to be installed in PCI slot six. Cisco Card mode allows you to choose your own redundancy.
Speaking of NIC Redundancy, there are also 3 possible redundancy modes – None, Active/Standby, Active/Active. None implies there is no NIC redundancy, while Active/Active (the default) port-channels two separate NIC connections to ensure redundancy. Active/Standby is another form of redundancy, but in this case the standby NIC does not pass traffic until a failure occurs.
Finally we are able to configure DHCP and VLAN options for the server. By default the C-Series server will use DHCP and not perform VLAN tagging.
C-Series Firmware Upgrades
Firmware upgrades on the C-Series Server can be performed in two different ways. If you are using UCS Manager, the c-series can be upgraded automatically through that particular GUI (just like the B-Series). If you do not have UCS Manager, we will upgrade using the Host Upgrade Utility available on Cisco.com
The Host Upgrade Utility is used to upgrade the following –
- RAID Controllers
- Some 3rd party firmware (Intel and Broadcom NICs)
To use the Host Upgrade Utility, we must attach the ISO to the server via the CIMC. This can be done by mounting the ISO from the KVM. Once the ISO is mounted, the server will boot into the Host Upgrade Utility and walk through the upgrade process using a wizard.
C-Series UCS Manager Integration
We are able to integrate the C-Series blades with UCS Manager. Doing this gives a single management interface for all UCS servers, allowing for the use of Service Profiles. To integrate the C-Series server with UCSM we need to be aware of the following –
- The CIMC will be disabled
- Certain firmware is required
- 10Gbps capability must be available on the C-Series server
- 2 links will be used – one for data and one for management
The guides for cabling the C-Series are on Cisco.com. Once the server is cabled to the Fabric Interconnect we must take a look out our equipment policy. In particular, we need to set whether or not to automatically discover the server. If automatic discover is enabled, the server will be discovered by UCS Manager as soon as it is connected to the Fabric Interconnect. Otherwise a user must acknowledge the presence of this server.
Additionally we can set the scrub policy. This policy decides whether or not to reset components when the server is moved from UCS.
That wraps up part 1 of my notes on C-Series UCS Servers. Part 2 will come just as soon as I finish reading the Cisco Unified Computing Systems book. I would be happy to answer any questions in the comments below.