Cisco Extends UCS Server Platform Reach

Michael Vizard

As the number of Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) deployed in the enterprise increases, so, too, do the challenges associated with managing them.

When Cisco first rolled out UCS, it concentrated on making the system easy to manage. Now Cisco is focusing more on making it easier to manage multiple UCS systems over an extended network. The company today launched UCS Central, a single management console through which an IT organization can now manage up to 160 UCS servers.

According to Brian Schwarz, director of product management for Cisco UCS, the goal is to make it easier for IT staffs to manage a larger number of systems that are running more applications than ever. The simple fact of the matter is that most organizations are not going to be increasing headcount anytime soon. That means organizations need to adopt systems that were built around more efficient cloud operating models, says Schwarz.

These days, everywhere you turn, vendors are trying to figure out how to make it easier for IT administrators to manage more machines than ever. Mostly, this stems from self-interest. Vendors have figured out that organizations can’t afford to keep hiring additional IT staff, so if they want those organizations to acquire additional systems, they have to figure out ways of making them easier to manage for the existing IT staff.

Schwarz says Cisco is way ahead in that regard, which is why the company has already sold over $1.5 billion worth of Cisco UCS systems, which he says the company expects to continue to see a 50 percent growth rate through next year. The reason Cisco will stay ahead, says Schwarz, is that unlike rival server vendors, Cisco can integrate its management software directly into its virtual and physical network switches in a way that makes it easier to manage both blade servers and rack-mounted systems distributed across a global network.

As part of that effort, Cisco today also announced an upgrade to the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud portfolio, which can now more easily discover IT infrastructure elements on the network that can become part of a virtual data center managed by Cisco IT automation software. Unlike Cisco UCS software, the Cisco IT automation software can be extended to both Cisco and third-party infrastructure equipment.

Cisco has clearly established itself as a leading server contender alongside Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle. Those rivals are quickly moving to respond with their own next-generation server platforms. Of course, given the state of the economy, it will be a while before these servers become standard issue within the enterprise as a whole. But no matter how you look at it, there’s now a major difference between managing modern servers versus previous-generation servers that are rapidly becoming obsolete.



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