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UCS And Your Management Universe

I’ve mentioned our diverse management partner ecosystem more than a few times. This naturally leads to a couple of different questions for a lot of people:

1.       Why does Cisco rely on 3rd party software providers for monitoring, provisioning/configuration, and service orchestration? And

2.       Which tool does Cisco recommend?

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“Cisco should have made this version 2.0”

As you may have already noticed, we released UCS Manager v1.4 in late December. While I was busy cooking and eating my way through the holidays, others were less fatteningly and more productively engaged with checking it out. Here’s what they had to say:

First, our own Sean McGee provided an excellent overview of the new features on his personal blog.

Cisco partner Dave Alexander talked about the implications of direct-attach storage capabilities

Customer Michael Heil was upgrading to 1.3 in mid-December, and then promptly did another upgrade to 1.4 a couple of weeks later.  His in-the-moment reaction is here.

Cisco partner Jeremy Waldrop posted about his favorite features, too--different things than Mike.

And thanks to v1.4, we already have a customer signing on to UCS for a blade/rackmount combo architecture.

What Will UCS Mean For Your Job?

Yesterday morning I got around to catching up on Gartner.com and came across an article (G00209080) about staffing needs before and after server consolidation.  Interestingly, the first point they make is that there may be many reasons IT leaders won’t actually let anybody go, from legal reasons in some locales to the practical reality that there are always more and better things to throw staff at, if only they could be freed up from the firefighting that classically consumes 70% of their time.

That doesn’t mean that consolidation projects are pointless or won’t save money.  The key is framing the objective of such projects in terms that are meaningful to a CEO: to paraphrase John Chambers at Gartner Symposium, “revenue per employee and cost per unit served”.  If your leadership can get more services spun up more quickly and supported well with an essentially flat IT budget, the CIO has contributed net value to the organization.

What UCS brings to IT is just that: in the remarkably short term, you can spin up and support IT services much more easily. People measure this differently: Slumberland reduced per server management costs from $1575 to $80 with Cisco UCS; ExamWorks expects to support 250 employees per IT head, vs 50 at a similar size firm. But pretty consistently if anecdotally, our customers are seeing about an 80% reduction in ongoing operational costs, which translates into new opportunities to scale their businesses with existing resources.

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Holiday Gifts from the UCS Elves

December 21, 2010 at 9:05 am PST

So the UCS elves have been busy and just released version 1.4 of our UCS firmware.  Instead of summarizing the elements of 1.4 here, I’ll refer you to a most excellent post by my cohort M. Sean McGee (@mseanmcgee) which you can read here.  A couple of my favorite new features include integration of the C-Series rack servers into UCS Manager, chassis and multi-chassis power capping on the B-Series, and a number of networking enhancements.  You can find the full release notes here, but I’d suggest you start with the blog post first--kinda the Cliff Notes version.

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Do You Really Want a Nanny?

December 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm PST

14%

If you are a Cisco customer, or thinking about becoming a Cisco customer, that number should help you get a good night’s sleep.  Why? Because it represents the percent of our revenue we devoted to R&D in 2009 -- essentially towards developing solutions to the business and IT problems that you’re dealing with today or we expect you to see down the road.  As a percent of revenue, that puts us in pretty good company between Microsoft (14.6%) and Google (12%) and well ahead of some other IT folks such as IBM (6.1%), HP (2.4%) and Dell (1.2%).  Even in terms of absolute dollars, at $5B we are just behind IBM ($5.8B) and well ahead of HP ($2.77B) and Dell ($0.62B). (Source)

The customer benefit to this R&D spend is investment protection (i.e. we can afford to continue to invest in Nexus, Catalyst and MDS concurrently) and innovation with the development of new technologies such as extended memory on the UCS.  In short, it reduces customers’ risk and allows us to act on their asks.

So, you would think all this R&D and the resulting products and technologies are a good thing, but recently I have been pulled into a couple of conversations where we were accused of hurting the market for some interesting reasoning.

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