Paul Sudlow

Automating SmartStack Provisioning… Latest UCS Director 5.4 and what is around the corner for the Nimble Plugin..

Blog Post created by Paul Sudlow Employee on Jan 25, 2016

~ Paul Sudlow EMEA Director Alliances Nimble Storage  - January 2016


In the alliances team at Nimble we are working everyday with SmartStack customers and partners who are looking to design solutions that encompass best of breed technology at every layer of the stack. When I talk to our customers about their data centre strategy and what they are trying to achieve from an infrastructure perspective, it typically distils down into 3 x key attributes: I/O workload independence, a capability to scale non disruptively, and to drive towards a managed automated environment! It’s this last aspiration of many customers that leads me to talk about our

latest developments for our UCS Director (UCSD) plugin!Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 09.24.54.png


I first heard about UCS Director in 2011, (At the time it was called Cloupia, and was acquired by Cisco in 2012). I got to know the founder and CEO Raju Penmetsa pretty well who described with great excitement what UCS Director was really aimed at, “Replacing manual data centre provisioning with automated workflows to increase IT consistency and speed!” What does that really mean to our customers? Let’s face it, today’s infrastructure teams are increasingly used to an “On Demand” provisioning model just as customers have become used to for their own personal consumption, e.g. If I find a new song on iTunes I can click and download it straight away, if I want a new wireless router for home I’ll just go on Amazon and order it, or if I want a new case for my guitar I’ll jump on EBay and click and go! Simple, on-demand, click and go practice is what many business IT users are now wanting to bring to the data centre workplace.


The key advantages of UCSD are exactly this, to streamline repeatable provisioning tasks using model-based orchestration which enables IT administrators to customize and automate infrastructure administrative and operational tasks with workflow designer, thereby eliminating the need for scripting or software development. Secondly UCSD provides a library of approx. 1,800 built-in tasks and ‘out-of-the-box’ workflows which enable administrators to extend and customize the system to meet their individual needs. UCS Director was designed to work across multi-vendor deployments and in both a virtual and physical environment. The ability to have both a unified element manager as well as an infrastructure orchestration / automation tool really drove our first nimble plugin implementation, tasks.jpgwhere we focused on “Day 1” provisioning features.

By predefining basic Nimble supplied storage tasks and using UCSD cloud admin, an administrator could create custom workflows using the following basic automated storage tasks:


This has been well documented and articles can be found on both Nimble Connect and You Tube detailing our plugin features. In

November 2015, Cisco released UCSD 5.4 to the market. With an increased focus on Application Centric Networking (ACI), the release also contained many enhancements to UCSD Orchestrator including Tasks, Workflows, Service requests and Input / Output variables. (The release notes can be found here) .



Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 09.26.48.png


Cisco UCS Director Release 5.4 moved to a new version of the CentOS operating system and Java, CentOS version 5.4 to version 6.7 and Java version 1.6 to version 1.8. Due to this, the currenttly released Nimble plugin would not work with UCSD 5.4, however… We have an updated version of the Nimble plugin for UCSD 5.4 just around the corner, with an addiitonal module! ( below sneak peak from one of our SmartStack labs! )                       



        Soon to be released Nimble plugin for UCSD5.4

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 09.24.04.png

Additionally, one of the great features of UCSD is the extensibility of the framework, the ability to leverage device API’s to make a more programmable infrastructure that enables customers to take fututre growth into consideration or design custom workflows for new and emerging application deployment models such as the Internet of Things (IoT)! Check out the following links which can be used as a guide to leverage the Nimble RestAPI:

Cisco UCS Director API Integration and Customization Guide, Release 5.4

Cisco UCS Director REST API Cookbook, Release 5.4


Creating custom workflows is one of the powerful capabilities of UCSD! One of the key people testing this capability with Nimble has been Russ Whitear @ Cisco. He has created some cool workflow tasks that include inventory and rollback functionality and are publicly available. These can be downloaded here

Cisco (Russ Whitear) Custom Nimble Workflows tested with UCSD 5.4


So what’s new? With this latest  Nimble plugin for UCSD 5.4 we will also deliver a new “Inventory Module” to report into UCSD’s asset database and provide persitance of information for the latest status and configuration of the array, whether changes were made via UCSD or not. This is a key feature for managing a dynamic and changing IT infrastructure and delivers one more feature integration with UCSD!





Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite @openBerlin

So in summary, whilst this article has been brief, I hope the information will be useful to customers and partners

looking to deploy and manage SmartStack with UCSD 5.4. and the forth coming Nimble Plugin. Here in the EMEA region we have been involved with many projects and customers who are looking to leverage these kinds of capabilities with UCSD. Our latest project has been with the openBerlin IoT innovation centre in Germany where Cisco have been working with customers looking to deploy new IoT applications into the automotive and manufacturing verticals. Nimble Storage is powering the openBerlin framework to enable rapid prototyping methodology for cloud-scale applications.. The future is really interesting…!

Please come and see us at Cisco Live Berlin 2015 15th – 19th February, where we will be running live SmartStack demos with Cisco’s openBerlin IoT team, as well as showcasing our award winning Adaptive Flash platform, application integration and Infosight! My thanks to Russ Whitear & Alan Gerrish from Cisco, and Narayan Kumar Nimble Storage. Paul Sudlow is EMEA Director of Alliances at Nimble Storage