Recent results clearly reinforce the growing understanding that Cisco has unleashed a more highly evolved and effective solution into the computing ecosystem.   While the principles outlined by Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species can stir controversy, I find them to be an accurate model for technology evolution and quite useful for describing how we’ve arrived at this latest watershed in the x86 server market.

Our first observation would be the extremely rapid rate of customer adoption  for Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS).  Darwin would tell us that there must be significant advantage in “fitness to purpose” inherent to UCS that have driven this velocity.  This is certainly true.  Looking back at where we’ve been and how we’re positioned to go forward, here are key factors I see at play that create these advantages for UCS adopters:

  1. Primitive incumbents in the server industry attempted converged infrastructure by choosing to combine compute and storage first. Cisco chose to converge compute and fabric first.  This is a critical threshold event because it turns out that most optimizations for virtualization and cloud are fabric-oriented.   With our Virtual Interface Cards  we made server NICs and HBAs part of the fabric, not part of the server, a significant mutation in computing design.   Further, Cisco abstracted every single identity and configuration element for servers, network access and storage into a programmable software model – inventing fabric computing with stateless servers.  Simple. Flexible. Resilient. Advantage: UCS

  2. All incumbents in the market evolved their x86 business and x86 architectures in the physical server era of one box = one application.   Cisco UCS has the unfair advantage of being the only architecture designed within and for the era of virtualization and cloud multi-tenancy.   Hence the built-in automation of UCS Manager and fabric optimizations (like VM-FEX ) that no one else has.  Higher performance, lower TCO. Advantage: UCS
  3. The fabric-centric architecture of UCS scales capability without scaling points of management and administrative costs.   Need 160 servers and all the LAN/SAN access networking to go with them? That’s just 3 management IP addresses and one single point of management .  Advantage: UCS
  4. We support mixed density environments (rack and blade servers) from a common management pane of glass.   Do you have a mix of compute-heavy, virtualization-heavy or storage-heavy applications?  Bare metal or virtual, rack or blade, business, Big Data or HPC:  we manage it all seamlessly.  Advantage:  UCS
  5. Need to scale across geographies, have branch offices or want to scale without compromising the size of your failure domains? We have UCS Central to take you to many domains and 10,000 servers.   Advantage: Cisco
  6. No compromises:

◦       Best in class compute: UCS

◦       Best in class fabric: Nexus

◦       Best in class storage: take your pick from industry leaders

◦       Advantage: Cisco

SkullIn “Chapter IV: Natural Selection” of Origin of the Species, Darwin lays out the most crucial and sustaining advantage of all: Adaptability.  The most adaptable of the species is the one that survives.   Here lies perhaps the strongest differentiator of all for UCS:  an open, complete, documented and supported API that allows UCS to evolve faster and smarter than anything else on the planet.   Big Data? Virtualization? Multi-tenant Hybrid Cloud?    When pitted against environmental challenges that exist today or in the future, UCS is going to be ready to adapt and outperform its ancestors. It already does . It’s unfair, but it’s natural selection.

Which takes us back to “Chapter III: Struggle for Existence,” which we see playing out in the industry headlines today.    At a time when many of our competitors are struggling, Cisco is thriving as a company and UCS is growing almost an order of magnitude faster than the market, and faster than any product portfolio in the history of the corporation.  Investment Protection?   Advantage: Cisco Customers.


Paul Perez

Senior Vice President, General Manager

Chief Technology Officer, Data Center Group