Cisco launches dual-purpose North Carolina data center

Fully virtualized facility to support application development and act as DR site

9 September 2011 by Yevgeniy Sverdlik - DatacenterDynamics

Cisco has completed retrofitting one of the buildings on its Research Triangle Park campus near Raleigh, North Carolina, into a data center that will support application development and, when necessary, serve as a disaster-recovery (DR) site.

James Cribari, program manager for IT services at Cisco, said launch of the facility was another step in the company's most recent data center strategy, which includes data center consolidation, as well as "application transformation".

"We're rewriting all our applications to take advantage of Cloud, Nexus, UCS," Cribari said. As applications have been rewritten, they have been migrated to two of the company's Texas sites in Allen and Richardson.

Cisco launched the Allen facility in April.

Application-development workloads will now be migrated to the Raleigh data center, which can also act as a DR site for the about 1,300 production applications running in Texas.

"Our goal is to get to a smaller number of data centers that support production and application development," Cribari said. The company currently has about 90 data centers worldwide.

In addition to being a destination for consolidation, the facility will serve as a showcase for Cisco's technology, including Unified Computing System, Nexus switches, MDS storage switches and more.

So far, eight UCS clusters (320 blade servers) have been installed in the facility. Cisco says the data center is capable of supporting more than 5,000 blades – enough to run more than 125,000 virtual machines.

One of Cisco's goals is for the new RTP data center to be fully virtualized, Cribari said.

The site is also a showcase for Cisco's recently launched containerized data center product. One of the company's containers is deployed there – mostly as a place to show the product to representatives of government agencies.

Its dual purpose – application development and DR – is a unique feature, owed to the ability of UCS to switch between "service profiles" on demand. This allows the data center to be flipped into DR mode in case of an outage at another site.

Cisco is launching the RTP site at 25% of its full capacity, which is 18,500 sq ft of data center floor and 2.8MW of power. Cribari expects it to take three to five years to reach full capacity.

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