Cisco Extends UCS Scope and Ambitions

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    How the Internet of Things Will Transform the Data Center

    Cisco today announced that it is significantly expanding the scope of its server offerings with the introduction of a new architecture for cloud-scale environments and the extension of its existing platform with the introduction of Cisco UCS Mini platform for smaller-scale applications. In addition, Cisco is extending the breadth of its blade and rack server lineup for traditional data center environments.

    Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for Cisco UCS, says Cisco is attempting to create an end-to-end UCS framework for running application workloads everywhere from the edge of the network all the way up into the cloud.

    As part of that effort, Brannon says Cisco is unveiling the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers based on a completely new architecture that will eventually be used across the entire Cisco UCS lineup. Brannon says the Cisco UCS M-Series is designed around cartridges that can each hold two processing nodes. A total of 16 nodes based on 22-nanometer Intel Haswell processors can be installed in a 2U rack.

    Brannon says the cartridge architecture not only makes it easier to scale out the data center environment, it also greatly simplifies the physical management of those server systems in environments where the number of processors can easily scale into the thousands. Key to enabling that to occur, says Brannon, is a third-generation virtual interface card (VIC) based on a new Cisco ASIC processor that provides the ability to plug four shared solid-state drives (SSDs) into each chassis.

    The Cisco UCS Mini, meanwhile, is an extension of the existing Cisco UCS architecture that is optimized to run in remote offices or to process workloads associated with Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Rather than constantly shipping data back over the network to be processed in a data center, Brannon says the Cisco Mini is designed allow organizations to build a distributed framework for processing data based on a common Cisco UCS server architecture.

    Able to support up to 15 servers in a single platform, Brannon says the Cisco UCS Mini can be deployed with no assembly required by leveraging the templates that Cisco has developed to simplify server management.

    For more traditional data center environments, Cisco is also unveiling the UCS B200 M4 Blade Server and C220 M4 and C240 M4 Rack Servers, which are described as fourth-generation UCS platforms that have been optimized to support Intel Haswell processors and DDR4 memory. Cisco is also releasing its UCS Director Express for Big Data, which automates the deployment of multiple instances of Hadoop and, according to the release, “provides a single management pane across both physical infrastructure and Hadoop software.”

    With over 33,000 server customers, Cisco has made major inroads into the server category. The introduction of the Cisco USC Mini and the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers clearly represents a significant expansion of those ambitions beyond the realm of the traditional enterprise data center.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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