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New UCS Servers Expand the Portfolio: More Third Generation Fabric Computing from Cisco

June 18, 2012 at 9:29 am PST

Back in March we announced the third generation of UCS, with significant expansions to the I/O and systems management capabilities of the platform as well as a new lineup of servers.  This month we’re continuing to expand the UCS server lineup with the addition of four new models.  The latest batch of M3 systems are comprised of three Intel Xeon “EN” class machines (E5-2400 series processors) as well as a four socket “EP” (E5-2600 series) blade server.   Specifically: the UCS B22 and B420 M3 blades and the C22 and C24 M3 rack servers.  These new servers round out the UCS portfolio with an even stronger set of products optimized for scale-out and light general-purpose computing as well as a new price/performance 4S category in the mid-range.

If you prefer watching than reading , here is a nice conversation between  Intel Boyd Davis , VP & GM, Data Center Infrastructure group, Cisco Jim McHugh, VP UCS Marketing, and Scott Ciccone, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, highlighting the key benefits of these new models.

To figure out how these fit in, let’s step back and consider the broader evolution of server technology in play here:

1)  Cisco has made server I/O more powerful and much simpler.

One of the key differentiators of UCS is the way in which high-capacity server network access has been aggregated through Cisco Virtual Interface Cards and infused with built-in high performance virtual networking capabilities.   In “pre-UCS” server system architectures, one of the main design considerations was the type and quantity of physical network adapters required.  Networking, combined with computing sockets/cores/frequency/cache, system memory, and local disk are historically the primary resources considered in the balancing act of cost, physical space and power consumption, all of which are manifested in the various permutations of server designs required to cover the myriad of workloads most efficiently.  Think of these as your four server subsystem food groups.  Architecture purists will remind us that everything outside the processors and their cache falls into the category of “I/O” but let’s not get pedantic because that will mess up my food group analogy.   In UCS, I/O is effectively taken off the table as a design worry because every server gets its full USRDA of networking through the VIC:  helping portions of bandwidth, rich with Fabric Extender technology vitamins that yield hundreds of Ethernet and FC adapters through one physical device.  Gone are the days of hemming and hawing over how many mezz card slots your blade has or how many cards you’re going to need to feed that hungry stack of VM’s on your rack server.  This simplification changes things for the better because it takes a lot of complication out of the equation.

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Introducing third generation fabric computing: Cisco UCS and the power of unification

March 8, 2012 at 4:05 am PST

Unified Computing was born on March 16th, 2009 and bold predictions were made that day regarding what UCS would do for customers and the industry.   If we take a trip in the way back machine and unearth some of actual slides from that event (thank you Mr. Peabody), here is what we find:

Three years later we know that the vision of what was needed was spot on and the predictions of the impact were actually too conservative.   Customers using UCS are telling us they’re experiencing:

80 percent increase in administrator productivity

90 percent reduction in deployment times

40 percent improvement in application performance

30 percent lower infrastructure costs

60 percent reduction in power and cooling costs

And now it gets even better.  Today brings new innovation across the UCS platform: a third generation of technology that delivers the power of unification and continues to lead the transition to fabric based data center infrastructure.  Most of all in this announcement we’re celebrating how the innovation in UCS is paying off for our customers.   Its one thing to have a vision and another to deliver on it: this week Gartner updated its Magic Quadrant for Blade Servers and Cisco moved from Visionary to Leader.   

Witness the world record application performance benchmark results posted by Intel in this launch.  UCS certainly isn’t the new kid on the server block anymore.  This system more than holds its own.

So enough of the rhetoric: where’s the beef in the new news?    It turns out that there is so much new technology here that I need to break it into another post

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UCS: Over 10,000 Served

January 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm PST

This month we’re marking a special milestone… there are now 10,000 UCS customers worldwide. The natural question becomes: what’s driving this phenomenal growth? How could this possibly have been predicted?

The best explanation of snowballing UCS adoption is found in customer results. Lest we forget, adopting a new platform in the data center is not a decision undertaken lightly in IT, but word has spread in the industry about the real world benefits UCS is delivering. More and more customers are taking a look and liking what they find. It’s an admittedly bold statement to say UCS has changed the economics of the datacenter, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not marketing hype. We’re hearing from customers who are reporting all-in savings in the range of 40% on the cost of computing. Travelport, for example, conducted a deep dive TCO analysis of their pre/post UCS world and here is how they are seeing their data center economics change over the next 5 years:

Cost Category Cisco Environment Prior Environment Dollar Savings Percentage Savings
Hardware Capital $7,406,982 $9,747,500 $2,340,518 24%
Power and Cooling $915,468 $2,947,273 $2,031,805 69%
Server Administration $162,255 $1,151,945 $989,690 86%
Hardware Maintenance $301,194 $585,749 $284,555 49%
TOTAL $8,785,899 $14,432,467 $5,646,568 39%

 

The savings stem from a variety of sources: lower capex as the platform efficiently scales, dramatically reduced administrator time, density/ power savings and reduced SW licensing costs as more workload lands on fewer servers.  It’s cumulative and powerful.   If you want a firsthand look at the TCO/ROI impact UCS can make in your data center, check out our calculator; with 5 minutes you can get a ballpark estimate.

Economics aside, UCS just seems to make people happy.   I had a customer declare that his infrastructure was now “CTO proof.” He went on to explain that this meant the boss could deploy a server by himself without breaking anything. The infrastructure team let their CTO take a B-series blade straight out of the box, insert it into a chassis slot, and as the system identified and integrated the new resource into the available pool, they congratulated him on his first server deployment.

Beyond economic impact and increasing happiness in the data center, it doesn’t hurt that you can drop the clutch and put serious power to the ground in application performance.   In December Cisco posted TPC benchmark results that surpassed existing records by as much as 32% in raw performance and 26% in price performance.  This brings the total number of UCS world record results to 54 since introduction in 2009.

10,000 customers and growing, and it’s no wonder why.

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UCS is Common Criteria Certified!

January 13, 2012 at 9:21 am PST

The Global Certification Team is  pleased to announce that UCS has been awarded a Common Criteria EAL4 certification!

We certified the Cisco UCS 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis, B-Series Blade Servers, C-Series Rack-Mount Servers, 2100 and 2200 Series Fabric Extenders, and 6100 Series Fabric Interconnects, running UCSM 1.4(1m).

More information can be found at: http://www.niap-ccevs.org/cc-scheme/st/vid10403/

“The Cisco Unified Computing System is a next-generation data center platform that unites compute, network, storage access, and virtualization into a cohesive system designed to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and increase business agility.”

Common Criteria is an international standard for evaluating IT product security and reliability. It is recognized by over 26 countries around the world including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, UK, South Korea and the United States. Many government customers around the world consider Common Criteria a mandatory requirement for purchasing network security products.

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Cisco Unified Data Center : Changing the Economics of the Data Center

For the last decade, IT organizations have faced the challenge of managing budgets that are 70-80% channeled towards maintenance costs while business demands are growing faster than ever. The result is that many requests for new projects have to be turned down and more and more business opportunities are missed.

If we look within the data center, the majority of the costs is associated with people and software, but the the root cause of those costs is legacy infrastructure that is very complex and expensive to manage. The flaws of this legacy infrastructure are often masked by layers of complex management software, which have developed to stitch together systems that were not designed to be integrated.

Legacy infrastructure prevents business agility and financial efficiency because it was not designed for environments like Cloud that require fast deployment, automated provisioning of resources, open-API’s, and “self-service” consumption models by business users. Nor was it designed for environments where physical and virtual resources have to co-exist. Finally, it assumed operational models that can’t meet the Performance, High Availability and Security requirements in the context of workload mobility and deep integration between compute, network and storage environments.

As a result of all this, Data Centers have evolved towards an accidental architecture that still contains too many silos of applications that are difficult to maintain and manage.

For these reasons, Cisco has created the Unified Data Center platform, which provides a new approach to design the data center infrastructure and prepares our customers for the opportunities that Cloud will bring along in the future.

Cisco has a long history of anticipating the convergence of technologies in an effort to reduce costs, streamline operations, or unlock new ways for the business to leverage technology. Cisco has a deep understanding of these transitions, having helped reshape the industry numerous times in the past, most notably with the convergence of voice and data. We are now doing the same by bringing together Compute, Network, Storage and Management within and across Data Centers.

Successful transitions involve new ways of not only thinking about the business challenges, but also about designing the underlying technologies to be agile, efficient, and simplified. Bolting together existing technologies doesn’t deliver the desired result.

A Unified approach is needed to unlock this new business potential.

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