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What Will UCS Mean For Your Job?

Yesterday morning I got around to catching up on 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

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?


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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Microsoft and Cisco UCS

Many of you reading Cisco’s Data Center blog know that UCS is all about virtualization, and many of you have also read about our partnership with VMWare.  While that’s been (and continues to be) a fruitful partnership, It’s important to highlight the great work we do with our other partners.  I work with a team of folks focused on continuing to build the alignment between Cisco and Microsoft.  Since the launch of UCS, we’ve had first-class support for Microsoft and their software portfolio, but sometimes that message is lost in the shuffle.  I look forward to using this blog as a venue to amplify our message around the Microsoft+Cisco partnership.

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The Journey to the Cloud

While there is more and more talk of cloud computing lately,  it’s not clear how data center managers can integrate this into their capacity planning in a standardized way. Most of the various approaches to both internal and external cloud computing offered today work differently from vendor to vendor, and vary by the type of application problem being solved or cloud service required. For example a business may choose to access an application in the cloud such as, or choose to move a particular infrastructure or platform stack to an internal cloud technology or external cloud provider.  And for cloud computing to be truly valuable, it needs to offer the data center manager a range of technologies that work seamlessly together, deploying services as required to meet business needs.

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