If you want to have an interesting conversation with someone, just ask them what they’re building. Everyone is building something in their personal and professional lives: families, teams, products, coalitions, solutions, bridges. And, when someone shares what they’re building, they’ll offer you a view into what’s most important to them – their passions, struggles and triumphs. You get a clear view of what’s essential to their future and the people and things they care about.

I’ve asked UCS and HyperFlex customers this question over the last decade, and I’ve simply been amazed by what they’ve built.

Project California

Rumors swirled in 2008 of a stealth project led by the startup team of serial inventors at Nuova Systems. But the talk was of a computing project, not networking. Servers. From Cisco? They must be lunatics.

But what customers understood was the very real lunacy of data center computing at that time. Back then, platforms had to be assembled from a jumble of components sourced from dozens of vendors who developed products independently, further complicated by the newly intersecting physical and virtual domains. The California team realized that complexity wasn’t driven by any of the constituent parts; it was driven by the myriad connections and configurations that had to be made among them – the physical and virtual connections required to create a complete system that could run an application. From this fundamental realization that there had to be a better way – and that customers shouldn’t have to engineer their own computing systems –  the slate was wiped clean and the Cisco Unified Computing System was born in March of 2009.

Not everyone was convinced, and some ultimately became very uncomfortable as customers began flocking to UCS.  Stay in your lane, Cisco, ….stay on planet Zircon!

But UCS met a need square on; the very definition of the right solution at the right time.Happy 10th Anniversary Cisco UCS

Ten Years Together

Customers have propelled UCS over this decade, guiding our engineering agenda. But if you ever ask me what Cisco is building in computing, I’ll point first to a community built of like-minded lunatics, builders, inventors and friends all driven by a passion for operational excellence and elegance born of simplicity. Along with our customers, our many partners from across the technology ecosystem have propelled UCS, collaborating to deliver ever more capable solutions. This would turn from a blog to a book if I mentioned them all.

The team is working on a visual timeline to mark all the milestones along the way;  the amount of wall space we’re going to need to display it at Cisco Live keeps getting longer and longer. But consider a few of the biggest:

A system that fused compute with networking and that centralized systems management beyond the devices – first in the fabric and ultimately in the cloud – entirely model-based and programmable

An entire series of custom ASICs that transformed server access networking forever

The birth of an entire era of Converged Infrastructure that started in 2009 with the VCE Coalition and now spans all leading storage technologies

The first composable server, pioneering the power of fabrics to connect subsystems into machines

The first completely engineered hyperconverged infrastructure system, Cisco HyperFlex, built on the foundations of the first fabric-centric computing system and furthering the quest for simplicity

Five Generations of UCS servers with specialized platforms evolved for storagedensity, AI/ML and more

What Are You Building?

Ask our customers what they’re building today and you’ll understand how exciting and rapid the changes are in our industry right now. They’re harnessing AI/ML to transform both business and IT, extending the boundaries of the data center to follow the data and meet opportunity in new locations at the edge, tapping into the power of multicloud, and developing the new application architectures of a post-VM age.

All of this is driving our innovation agenda at Cisco and it’s difficult for me to imagine the full potential of the next decade. Especially if it ends up looking anything like the first.

Let’s Pause and Celebrate this Moment Together

There has never been a better year to come to Cisco Live if you’re a UCS or HyperFlex customer. Cisco and our partners will be recognizing you and celebrating all you’ve built with us. In the meantime, keep an eye out here on the blog and on our @CiscoDC social handles as we start ramping into the celebration in the digital domain. Be sure to join us at the HyperFlex Power Lunches going on right now in dozens of cities. More than anything, stay in touch so we can hear about what you’re building.

Talk soon,




Todd Brannon

Product Management Senior Director, Cisco Compute