Paymon Mogharabi, Product Manager, Transceiver Modules Group

Written by Paymon Mogharabi

With the introduction of the UCS C-Series M5 servers, Cisco has now qualified Cisco optics and cables with select 3rd party Ethernet and OCP (Open Compute Project) NICs (Network Interface Cards).  This ensures that Cisco optics and cables are supported not only by Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) servers, but non-Cisco server environments as well, and offers a connectivity solution for 10/25/40 Gigabit Ethernet and future 100 Gigabit Ethernet I/O speeds.

This is an important development because the server industry is well on its way in the transition from a blade-server to rack-mount server architecture, and eventually to an open hardware model as more and more servers move to the cloud.  For data center architects, this means designing data centers utilizing equipment from multiple vendors.  For operations and management teams, this means resolving complex issues in multi-vendor environments.  No matter how you look at it, data centers will have networking, optics/cables, compute, and storage gear from different vendors.

Today, the Cisco C-series rack-mount servers support Cisco VICs (Virtual Interface Card), as well as a number of 3rd party NICs from vendors such as Qlogic, Intel, and Mellanox.  In the past, only the Cisco VICs supported Cisco optics and cables.  In a multi-vendor environment, a large portion of UCS customers deploys UCS servers using non-Cisco NICs.  These non-Cisco NICs are sold through the Cisco product catalog and have Cisco SKUs.

Figure 1. Server connectivity via multiple vendor adapter cards.

Why do customers value Cisco optics and cables?  Well, for one, Cisco performs extensive qualification at both system and module level with multiple sources for a given SKU, ensuring quality, reliability, and minimal disruptions to the supply chain.  Cisco also manages any changes through Cisco’s PCN (Product Change Notice) process, ensuring that they are introduced in a controlled manner.  The Cisco service and support offering with system-level qualification is a key value proposition for Cisco, yielding exceptional field quality metrics.  And customers with Cisco service contracts benefit from the extension of support to Cisco optics and cables.

Optics and cables represent a significant investment by data center operators, and offering end-to-end support is a value that few system vendors can deliver, and none can deliver it like Cisco does.

For a list of 3rd party NICs qualified using Cisco optics and cables, click here.


Pat Chou

Product Manager

Service Provider - Transceiver Modules Group