If you haven’t already found your way into Cisco’s new online UCS Build and Price portal, there are some very interesting “Smart Plays” awaiting you. You can check our new UCS promotions page regularly to find the latest UCS Server Smart Plays such as the UCS B200 M3 Value Smart Play, currently offered (limited time) at only $7600. This includes two Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2650′s with 16 cores, 64 GB of memory, one VIC 1240 and one VIC 1280 virtual interface card offering a combined 80Gb of IO throughput in a half-width blade server. This blade server is a real powerhouse in a compact package and now it’s offered at an exceptional price through Cisco Build and Price.
See the new line-up of Cisco UCS blade servers and rack servers with Intel Xeon processors that just claimed another eight new world-record industry benchmarks.
Cisco UCS Performance Brief
Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server
These same servers are now available at competitive prices as Smart Plays on Cisco’s new Build and Price portal. Download specifications, performance reports and compare blade server prices on these popular servers while they last.
It’s no secret that Cisco Unified Computing Sytem (UCS) has had some tremendous success in terms of customer adoption. In just three short years, UCS is nipping at the heals of IBM for the #2 spot for Worldwide x86 blade server revenue with 15.2% market share, compared to IBM’s 15.4%. In fact, Cisco now has over 15,000 customers that have moved from legacy architectures to a more “Unified” approach, combining compute, network and storage access into a single, easy to manage solution.
So what’s missing?
Well, believe it or not, until now it was relatively hard to do business with Cisco. Quoting and ordering took days instead of minutes. Well Cisco is changing that with the release of its new online presence called “Cisco Build and Price“, offering direct access to blade server pricing and rack server pricing.
A Simple Approach to Building and Pricing Cisco UCS Servers
Cisco UCS Servers and Blade Server Evolution, part 1, as the title suggests, discussed blade server evolution and why Cisco UCS is a game changer. Now let’s talk about what the implications are for blade server TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and how Cisco Unified Computing System scales vs. legacy blade architectures.
Blade Server TCO and Scale
Scale is the crux of the problem that has historically been the barrier for blade servers to deliver on their initial promise. Scale for I/O. Scale for Servers. Scale for Management. Cisco identified these shortfalls in the traditional legacy blade architecture and came to the marketplace with an innovative, game changing redefined architecture – Cisco UCS.
As discussed in “part 1”, to move the bar for blade chassis, we to better consolidate I/O, management and scale. Enter Cisco UCS. Deliver everything at scale: servers and I/O and blade chassis and management etc. Deliver a new design, rather than retreading an old dead end chassis ‘building block’ design.
Efficiency and Scale by Design
The requisite new design is what Cisco delivered. Cisco UCS is a variable chassis count, variable server count, variable I/O capacity, smart scaling architecture.
Figure 1 is the Cisco design, a converged I/O (FCoE – lossless FC and Enet combined) that scales. It provides easy, efficient infrastructure scaling across: multiple chassis, multiple servers, racks, rows and yes, it even includes the integration of rack servers into the solution.
Figure 1: Cisco UCS architecture – 10 x 8 blade chassis = 80 blade servers, 20 cables (add more I/O by simply adding cables – easy scaling)
Figure 2 is a Non-Converged legacy blade chassis I/O architecture. More = more… of everything. More chassis to hold more blades is OK, that makes sense. But more Switches? More cables? More points of Management? More complexity? Not too good.
Arguably the place to begin a Cisco UCS blade server journey would be with “Why Blade Servers”. ‘Blades’ are cool. There was “Blade Runner” (a cult classic) and the Wesley Snipes “Blade” movies, several TV series with ‘blade’ in the name, on and on; but for data centers and servers? Why blades? Where is the Blade Server TCO & ROI benefit that drives business decisions and therefore innovation and how do blade servers / chassis get there?
Blade servers have been around since about year 2000 and arguably came about as a way to make data center footprints smaller and reduce power consumption (reduced TCO). Nothing new here for blade enthusiasts. Rack servers were taking up more and more space and power in data centers. The concept of blades was brilliant, insightful and simple. Take as many common rack delivered functionalities (services) as possible, and package them together for delivery to a fixed group of servers. The easy targets for this were server power, cooling, and I/O (well, some I/O functions). To look at it another way, a blade chassis takes a data center rack with servers, I/O cables and switches, then shrinks them into a ‘building block unit’. Once you have the ‘unit’, put a single sheet metal wrapper around everything and voila, a blade chassis. Overly simplistic I know, but a close enough visual. If you want a step-by-step evolution, Sean McGee (a colleague of mine here at Cisco) did a darn good overview The “Mini-Rack” Approach To Blade Server Design.
I make no bones about it I love the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). Yes, you’re reading a Cisco Blog…so you’d expect nothing less, but understand I came to love the system long before I was ever a Cisco employee. In fact it’s the reason I’m here – well that and the paycheck. You can read a bit about my “conversion” here: Something to Believe In. Or if you’d prefer to watch me talk about the UCS as a GE employee take a peek here