Cisco Unveils Third Generation of Unified Servers

Michael Vizard
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Seven Barriers to Server Consolidation

We set out to find what is holding back server consolidation, in the hope that identifying the problems will spur a stronger drive to overcome them - and produce a leaner, meaner data center in the end.

It's been three years since Cisco, accompanied by a great deal of skepticism, entered the server market. Flash forward to today and the company claims to have over 11,000 customers. And with a run rate of $1.3 billion in annual sales, it claims to have a solid grasp on the No. 2 spot in the U.S. blade server market.

Starting today, Cisco is going to set its sights on the No. 1 slot with the introduction of a new generation of Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) that takes advantage of the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 processor that was launched earlier this week.

The latest iteration of the Cisco UCS platform not only provides an eight-fold increase in memory and an increase in disk I/O by a factor of four, network bandwidth per server can now reach as high as 80 Gigabits-per-second.

Those capabilities have induced Cisco to launch its first rack-mounted version of the UCS platform, which can now be managed alongside Cisco UCS blade servers either in the same data center or across geographically distributed data centers. It also includes the ability to move entire service profiles consisting of server, storage and networking configurations from one server environment to another.

Taken together, Satinder Sethi, vice president of Cisco Data Center Solutions, Server Access & Virtualization Technology Group, says the latest UCS system represents a third generation of fabric computing at a time when most rivals are still rolling out their first attempts at delivering systems that unify servers, storage and networking.

While it's clear that rivals such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are heading down the same integrated x86 server path that makes systems easier to manage, Cisco is trying to put some more distance between the capabilities of its offerings and the rest of the pack. To what degree Cisco will be able to maintain that distance is unclear, but what is certain is that as a major contender in the server space, Cisco is here to stay.

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