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Myths and Restrictions of the Cisco UCS

In statistics courses, we learn about the perils of using very small sample sizes to extrapolate possible trends or predictions. But in today’s fast paced, 24x7, 140 character world, we know that “information” spreads and morphs quickly. So spotting trends from small samples and small bits of information maybe a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s also a critical skill if you want to properly educate the market. I put information in quotes because there is a difference between FACTUAL information and speculative/FUD-driven information. Nevertheless it’s all information.

This week’s “trend” is the recent misperception that Cisco UCS only works with VMware and VCE Vblocks. I’ve heard this at least a half-dozen times this week, while qualifies as a trend in my world. Let’s correct this right now -- CISCO UCS is NOT RESTRICTED to only VMware and VCE Vblock. I can imagine where this misinformation may have come from, but today I only want to focus on the FACTS.

Myth #1: Cisco UCS only works in virtual environments

FACT: While the Cisco UCS architect does have distinct advantages vs. other products in the industry for virtualized workloads, the value of Memory Extension, Service Profiles, Unified Fabric and Unified Architecture extends to workloads (eg. Oracle RAC) that require physical servers as well. 

Myth #2: Cisco UCS only works with VMware

FACT: Dating back several years, Cisco has had a very strong relationship with VMware that includes deep technology integration (Nexus 1000v, VN-Link, “Palo” vNIC) and knowledge of VMware architecture. Cisco UCS leverages the open architecture that is available with VMware.

But the extendability and interoperability of Cisco UCS with virtualized workloads doesn’t stop with VMware. It extends to Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Oracle VM and Red Hat KVM as well. And these partnerships extend beyond just press-releases and roadmaps. It extends into the labs with Cisco Validated Designs (eg. Exchange 2010, Sharepoint) that customers can deploy today.

Is the functionality all exactly the same across all solutions? No, because not every Cisco UCS partner provides the same model for management, computing or network integration. In some cases this might be on the roadmap for a hypervisor or management platform, and in other cases it’s provided via alternative functionality within the solution.

Myth #3: Cisco UCS can only be bought in a VCE Vblock package

FACT: Ever since Cisco UCS was announced in early 2009 (about 1000 customers deployments ago), the market place has been coming to the conclusion that a unified approach will be the foundation for next generation data centers. We’ve seen traditional computing competitors “rejigger” their product plans, or attempt to announce similar functionality (sometimes even similar naming). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Beyond that, we’ve also seen an accelerated understanding that technology and foundational building blocks needs to be taken to the next level, wrapped with services and operational models. Integrated at a management layer, reinforced with ongoing R&D activities. Cisco UCS is a foundational piece of that type of model with VCE Vblock. It’s also foundational to the Secure Multi-Tenancy solution. 

Are these “Block” architectures going to be the only way that UCS will be deployable in the future? No. There will always be customers that decide they have the technical expertise in-house to create best-of-breed solutions for their business that aren’t pre-packaged or pre-integrated. The trade-off of complete flexibility vs. business-risk aligns with their business needs.

Will these “Block” architectures gain traction in the market in the future? That’s for the market to decide. There are definitely trends and forecasts that point towards greater use of Cloud Computing models (Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud) in the future.

Myth #4: The world of IT doesn’t change very fast

FACT: Innovation is an incredible force in our industry. In very short periods of time, with the right products and execution, previously unimaginable shifts can occur in the market. But the key is to combine INNOVATION + SPEED. We believe that Cisco UCS has that innovation embedded within its DNA, significantly improving how computing environments will be deployed and operated in the future. We believe that a strong, open partnership model, rather than a vertical approach, provides us with the speed necessary to adjust to changes and opportunities in the market.

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6 Comments.


  1. UCS Memory Extension presents a few memory modules as a single one. Let’s assume one 8Gb ucket”" is a set of 4 modules, does not mean x4 times more chances for a memory failure?”

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  2. nice post, another myth that I encounter sometimes is that the two 6120s are active/passive on the data plane and management plane and i have to explain to them that only the management plane is active/passive.

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  3. Brian Gracely

    @jeremy – Yes, there are also many technical myths about Cisco UCS that have been directly propagated as FUD (uplink bandwidth, power/cooling levels, etc.). Thanks for pointing them out and helping to drive the facts for your customers. You guys have obvi

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  4. The entirety of Eos, Cisco’s Web 2.0 platform for large media companies, is run on UCS. We don’t use any virtualization but instead run a pure LAMP stack. UCS has given us a serious performance boost over our legacy stack and is much easier to manage and scale than other solutions I’ve used through my career.

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  5. Hi Brian,According to Cisco’s Q3 2010 earnings call transcript:http://seekingalpha.com/article/204851-cisco-systems-q3-2010-earnings-call-transcriptSimply put, Nexus sales pull through UCS. UCS sales pull through Nexus. Vblock sales pull Nexus, UCS, VMware and EMC sales. Key takeaway: Cisco’s momentum in the data center is rapidly accelerating.”"Sincerely,Brad Reese”

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  6. I am really proud of doing cisco

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