Before You Buy or Deploy - Considerations for Design and Procurement

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See [[Shared Storage Considerations|'''Shared Storage Considerations''']] for support of NFS NAS or FC/FCoE/iSCSI SAN, including best practices guidelines for UC.  
See [[Shared Storage Considerations|'''Shared Storage Considerations''']] for support of NFS NAS or FC/FCoE/iSCSI SAN, including best practices guidelines for UC.  
See also the [[IO Operations Per Socket (IOPS)|'''IO Operations Per Second (IOPS) information here''']].
See also '''[[IO Operations Per Second (IOPS)]].'''  
= Procurement Considerations  =
= Procurement Considerations  =

Revision as of 19:45, 7 June 2011

Go to: Guidelines to Edit UC Virtualization Pages

Use this page prior to quoting, procuring, designing or deploying Virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications.


Useful Links

  • General Design Sizing

  • Application Support of Virtualization

  • Supported Compute, Storage, Network Hardware:

Pre-sales Design Considerations

For a design example case study, see Unified Communications Virtualization Sizing Guidelines.

Note Note: Mixed deployments of virtual, non-virtual, Cisco-provided, and customer-provided servers are supported provided you follow all rules listed below for sizing UC applications and sizing UC hardware. Use general requirements in UC application design; for example, do not make a backup node smaller than a primary node, and do not make a Publisher smaller than a Subscriber.

Sizing UC Applications for Virtualization

  • Verify the supported UC Application products and versions listed in Unified Communications Virtualization Supported Applications.
  • Sizing virtualized UC applications is the same as appliance sizing. Use the Cisco Unified Communications System Design Guidance and Unified Communications Sizing Tool. Instead of determining appliance size and count, determine Virtual Machine size and count.
  • Select an appropriate OVA/OVF template for each "Server" required for a UC application. Each UC application has one or more OVA/OVF template options. See Unified Communications Virtualization Downloads (including OVA/OVF Templates).
  • Follow the co-residency policy in Sizing Guidelinesto determine which OVAs can share physical servers. Which OVAs "should" share a physical server depends on customer placement logic, which include but are not limited to considerations for geographic distribution, minimizing server footprint, server/site redundancy, security domains, change management, service level agreements and assessed business criticality of the individual UC apps.
  • Verify alignment of virtualization support details (such as supported hardware or VMware features). These details may vary based on each UC application. Because UC applications  share physical resources, be sure to verify alignment of these details for all UC applications in your deployment--particularly for UC applications which share a physical server.

Selecting the VMware Product and Version

Sizing the Compute, Storage, and Network Hardware

Physical server count is dependent on VM quantity and size, customer placement logic, and the co-residency support policy (see Unified Communications Virtualization Sizing Guidelines).

General Rules

Decide if you will use:

Follow the rules for your selected approach; your allowed hardware options, design rules, procurement and TAC support are different for each.

Sizing Network Hardware and QOS Considerations

Virtualized deployments of Unified Communications have specific LAN and QoS considerations. See QoS Design Considerations for Virtual UC with UCS.

Sizing Shared Storage (SAN/NAS)

See Shared Storage Considerations for support of NFS NAS or FC/FCoE/iSCSI SAN, including best practices guidelines for UC.

See also IO Operations Per Second (IOPS).

Procurement Considerations

The following sections describe purchasing options for the various components of Virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications.

Purchasing Cisco Unified Communications Applications

There is no change to how UC applications are purchased. Cisco User Connect Licensing, Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing and Cisco UC Software Subscription are all the same for both virtualized and non-virtualized deployments.

License enforcement can differ from appliances when virtualized. See Licensing Model for Virtualized UC Applications for details.

Purchasing the Required VMware Software

VMware licenses software on a per-populated-physical-CPU-socket basis (not physical CPU cores or virtual CPUs or virtual CPU cores). Each populated CPU socket per server requires a VMware license (with VMware product and version that is supported by Cisco UC).

While VMware ESXi is mandatory for UC to run on UCS servers, customers may purchase this license from any of the following sources:

  • From Cisco, as a preset “per-server” Cisco Collaboration part number. This part number is separate from server hardware part numbers. You can use the same part number for Cisco UCS B-Series and C‑Series deployments. Note that for the Cisco UCS B-Series, you need to add this part number to a group of data center part numbers ordered through the Netformx DesignXpert ordering tool UCS Advisor. Only VMware vSphere ESXi 4 Standard Edition is available via this option. The part number is “hard-coded” for two CPU sockets (no more, no less) and one year service subscription (no multi-year or auto-renewals).
  • From Cisco, as an option under a build-to-order “per CPU socket” data center part number for the server: Note that for the Cisco UCS B-Series, you must order this option through the Netformx DesignXpert ordering tool UCS Advisor. Only VMware Advanced, Enterprise or Enterprise Plus Editions are available via this option. One year and three year service subscription options are available.
  • From VMware directly or other 3rd-party: With this option, you can order any VMware vSphere ESXi 4 Edition you want, as well as take advantage of any existing customer licensing arrangement with VMware (such as a site or enterprise license).
  • When running Virtual machines with more than 4 vCPUs, and/or when deploying Cisco Nexus 1000V, VMWare ESXi Enterprise Plus license is required by VMWare.

Cisco field and channel partners may also consult the "UC on UCS" chapter of the User Connect Licensing Ordering Guide at Cisco Partner Central.

For VMware product, version and feature support details, see VMware requirements.

For part number and SKU examples, see the UC on UCS page at, specifically Table 1 on

Please keep the following in mind when purchasing VMware from Cisco:

  • A vSphere license purchased from cisco entitles both ESX and ESXi, but remember that UC only supports ESXi.
  • A vSphere 4 license purchased from Cisco entitles either 4.0 or 4.1. License activation at will be for latest version unless you explicitly request a downgrade. For version compatibility amongst VMware products, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix.
  • VMware vCenter is mandatory for deployments on Specs-based Hardware Support. VMware vCenter is optional for deployments on Tested Reference Configurations.
  • provides Cisco-specific VMware builds for certain UCS servers. These UCS-specific builds are usually not required for UC on UCS, and the regular "off the shelf" builds of VMware are fine. Consult your server documentation to see which one you should use.
  • VMware Partner Activation Codes (PACs) are currently per-CPU. A dual-CPU physical server requires two of these per-CPU licenses to be "combined" prior to generating a license key file for upload to the physical server hosting VMware. For example see
  • Cisco channel partners should register VMware Partner Activation Codes (PACs) with the end-user customer (not the channel partner) as Primary License Administrator to ensure support contracts work right.
  • For additional details, please see License Activation for Cisco UC on UCS.

Purchasing Virtualization Hardware

This section provides details on server, storage, and network hardware requirements to implement virtualization.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Servers

Cisco UCS servers may be purchased via the following options:

  • Certain Tested Reference Configurations of Cisco UCS servers may be purchased as a single Cisco Collaboration part number. This purchase option supports only a single fixed-server configuration with no parts substitutions supported. For the Cisco UCS B200 it does not include any other components such as blade-server chassis, fabric extenders, or fabric interconnect switches (a certified Cisco channel partner must order these components using the Netformx DesignXpert ordering tool's UCS Advisor). This "single SKU" option provides simplicity of ordering for deployments that are predominately Cisco Unified Communications software. Note that some supported tested reference configurations, such as Cisco UCS C210 M2 Tested Reference Configuration 2, are not offered via this procurement option as they are only used for design guidance with Specification-Based Hardware Support. For mapping of Tested Reference Configurations to lists of equivalent Cisco Data Center part numbers, see the
  • Any Cisco UCS deployed as a Tested Reference Configuration or using Specification-Based Hardware Support may be purchased as a build-to-order set of "a la carte" Cisco Data Center part numbers. This option supports all Cisco Unified Computing System components, and for UC apps supporting Specification-Based Hardware Support provides a broader range of server and part options. A certified Cisco channel partner must order from Dynamic Configuration Tool (for UCS C-Series) or the Netformx DesignXpert ordering tool's UCS Advisor (for UCS B-Series). This option is appropriate for mixed software deployments in which the customer wants something different from the tested reference configurations offered as single Cisco Collaboration SKUs.

Cisco field and channel partners may also consult the "UC on UCS" chapter of the User Connect Licensing Ordering Guide.

Third-Party Servers

For a deployment of Specification-Based Hardware Support using supported third-party servers, the servers must be customer-provided and are not purchased from Cisco.

Shared Storage and Network Access Hardware

Shared storage arrays (for supported SAN or NAS deployments) are customer-provided and not purchased from Cisco. Network hardware for LAN and storage access may be Cisco-provided or third-party depending on deployment.

Key Differences between Appliances and Virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications

Deployments on Cisco 7800 Series Media Convergence Servers shifting to virtualization should prepare for the following:

  • Virtualization of Cisco Unified Communications is "not an appliance". You must independently configure, manage, and monitor the hardware, VMware software and virtualized UC applications.
  • Higher level of expertise with server administration, VMware vSphere/vCenter administration and storage administration is expected from whoever is managing the UC deployment. This is more for deployments of Specification-Based Hardware Support and UC on UCS B-series then for UC on UCS C-series Tested Reference Configurations.
  • If you are using Shared Storage (SAN or NAS), it is a critical solution component and if improperly configured, monitored or managed will cause significant performance and availability issues for UC apps. Ensure that whoever is managing the UC deployment is experienced and proficient with storage management.
  • Adhere to all licensing requirements for virtualized UC apps. For example, license keys may be different when virtualized vs. when on appliances.
  • UC application features dependent on physical USB ports are not supported. See the required UC Application documentation for alternatives and workarounds.

Considerations for Cisco TAC Support

This section is only for convenience and illustration purposes, and does not supersede any master support agreements or other support documents between Cisco and its partners/customers.

If you purchased your solution components from Cisco and have a service contract with Cisco, then Cisco TAC accepts the first call for virtualization issues, coordinates triage, and automatically escalates the issue to other vendors covered by Cisco service contracts as required.

If your solution components are self-sourced, then Cisco TAC does not take the first call, nor does Cisco provide triage coordination or escalation. In these cases, you may need to directly engage with your component vendors to escalate an issue and/or coordinate triage with Cisco TAC.

The following table identifies who takes the first call for each solution component.

Note Note: These support demarcations are similar to the appliance hardware demarcations provide by Cisco versus customer-self-sourced.

Deployment Scenario Server Hardware Shared Storage Hardware VMware Software Cisco Application Software
UCS + VMware purchased from Cisco Cisco Third-party1 Cisco Cisco
UCS + Customer-provided VMware Cisco Third-party1 Third-party1 Cisco
VCE Vblock Cisco
Customer-provided Server and VMware Third-party Third-party Third-party Cisco

1 A VCE Vblock may be leveraged to provide single source of support.

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