Cisco Launches 'Powerful' Meraki-Like Data Center Platform For UCS, HyperFlex


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Cisco is bringing its wildly successful Meraki cloud-based management strategy to the data center with the launch of Cisco Intersight, an automation and management platform for UCS and HyperFlex that, Cisco claims, is unmatched in the server and hyper-converged market today.

"None of our current competitors in the server or hyper-converged infrastructure market offer the advantage of cloud-based management and extensibility for their compute systems that Intersight provides," said Scott Mohr, director of data center and cloud for Cisco's Global Partner Organization, in an interview with CRN. "What Intersight provides is the simplicity and saving that customers appreciate about the Cisco Meraki platform for networks. We're now applying that to the worlds of system management."

Intersight aims to simplify data center operations by delivering systems-management-as-a-service, cutting out the need to maintain islands of on-premises management infrastructure. The platform is designed to be intuitive from the start and will continue to learn and evolve over time, according to Mohr.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Cisco Launches 3 New Certifications And Training Programs For Partners]

The platform automates and continuously optimize operations by analyzing systems' telemetry across the entire customer base, making use of capabilities such as predictive analytics, proactive support, autonomic optimization and orchestration.

Intersight features a user interface that can be customized by the customer's role, with new functionality delivered via portal updates.

"We're going to do customized interfaces for these different users and make it very dynamic in terms of what information is presented to them that the system believes is going to be the most relevant to the users," said Todd Brannon, Cisco's director of product marketing for UCS. "As we collect telemetry data, it will be very easy for us to build features like capacity planning."

The solution combines analytics and tight integration with the Cisco Technical Assistance Center to constantly improve the system through the recommendation engine.

Brent Collins, head of global data center infrastructure for World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based top Cisco partner ranked No. 8 on CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500 list, said one the of the key aspects of Intersight is gaining critical insights from various data centers that can be leveraged "across the board."

"So instead of getting insights from just your data center they're going to pull … things that are working well with certain customers that they can then apply to other customers using data analytics, machine learning, things like that. I think that's going to be really powerful," said Collins. "So instead of just getting insight of one data center, you could spread that across every customer that is using that technology and enable them to take advantage of whatever insights you see across the board."

By having a multi-tenant approach, Cisco is enabling partners to pull data from multiple customers and in essence provide a consolidation approach to analytics, according to Brannon.

"The more data you can give a machine learning environment, the more productive it can become in terms of giving recommendations. So today, all the incumbents in this industry are leaving customers on their own," he said. "With Intersight, we're going to be collecting operational telemetry data from tens-of-thousands of customer environments and we can use that data, look for patterns and understand behaviors at that global level, and then use that to create recommendations to create best practices to our individual customers. It's essentially crowd-sourcing."

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