I’m a long time Cisco UCS Manager user, and I’ve always used the Java interface. Why? Good question, and it doesn’t have a very good answer, other than that’s what I’m used to using. I will admit, I did give the HTML client a go again with the 3.1.1 release last year, and I reverted back to the Java client, since, well, the appearance was very similar, and that is what I was familiar with. This, of course was by design to ensure that if you, as an administrator are accessing UCS Manager from either client, you have a similar experience. It makes sense.
Before I mention the one thing that bothers me about UCS Manager, I first want to mention how much I actually like UCS Manager. To me, the manageability UCS Manager brings to the table is a huge selling point. Sure, you can use the Cisco Integrated Management Controller with UCS rack mount servers, but the experience is pretty similar to that of, well, a rack mount server. This configuration is often called “Unmanaged UCS” (there are ways to enhance this experiences as well, but that’s another topic). When you add the Fabric Interconnects to the picture, and introduce that new management layer, things get much, much easier from an administrative prospective. At this point, you are able to manage your infrastructure from UCS Manager, which enables one of my favorite Cisco UCS features, hardware abstraction using service profiles.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the downside of this. The downside is that you’re creating quite a large failure domain, since all of your servers need to connect through the Fabric Interconnects. This is why Fabric Interconnects are deployed in pairs. Though UCS Manager, you can create configurations that will survive the failure of a single fabric interconnect, but never both. If you lose both Fabric Interconnects for some reason (like a hoard of zombies enter your datacenter, and they really have an affinity for Cisco equipment), unfortunately, you’re going to have a very bad time.
While we’re on this negative streak, let me mention the one thing that bothers me about UCS Manager. This is the way you use the left navigation pane when you’re logged in. In the 3.1.(1e) release and earlier, it was basically the same thing, regardless of if you were using the HTML or Java UCS Manager Clients.
This means if you’re bouncing around, there’s lots of clicking up at that top navigation pane on the left. Certainly not a big deal, but it could be improved. Luckily, it was in UCS Manager 3.1(2b), but only if you’re using the HTML5 web interface. In this update of UCS Manager, the HTML 5 interface has been completely revamped.
Just look at those awesome icons on the far left! No more clicking through tabs! While I also really like the way it looks, I’m looking forward to less clicking around when I’m setting up a new Cisco UCS system. Beyond the awesome left navigation pane, the whole look and feel of UCS Manager has changed, and I really think it is for the better. If you’ve spent a lot of time in UCS Manager, I’m sure you’ve noticed everything is sort of drab and grey. This has been replaced with the blue and white color scheme which looks quite nice. All in all, I haven’t found any issues with the HTML5 web interface yet, and it hasn’t been difficult to adapt to from the Java interface.
While the appearance does slightly change from the Java version, it is worth taking for a spin. Java sometimes has a tendency to be a bit…finicky at times, and HTML5 just pretty much works. Want to get your hands on the new and improved HTML5 interface, but not about to roll out an UCS Manager upgrade in production to do it? No problem. The Cisco UCS Platform Emulator is a great tool to kick the tires and wreak havoc on a UCS System running emulated hardware on your laptop. If you’re new to the UCS Platform Emulator, be sure to read Setup and Use of the Cisco UCS Platform Emulator. If you’re looking to update to a newer version of the UCS Platform Emulator to take advantage of the new HTML5 interface, and want to bring your existing configuration with you, check out Updating Your Cisco UCS Platform Emulator.