Cisco jumps into data centres with UCS

Unified Computing System to include Cisco blade servers, to offer integrated data centre offering

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By  Mark Sutton Published  March 17, 2009

Cisco has announced a major push for dominance in the data centre sector, with the announcement of its Unified Computing System.

The system is intended to integrate computing, networking, storage and virtualization elements in a single platform. The UCS includes Cisco’s launch into the blade server market, although the company has stressed that it is not looking to compete with existing players in that sector.

The UCS is intended to focus on datacentre infrastructure, providing a unified set up that will allow companies to use less computing resources, with better management, better TCO and better energy efficiency.

The system includes the new Cisco B-Series Blades, based on Intel’s next generation of Xeon processor (code named Nehalem), which feature enhanced memory to manage more virtual machines; a unified fabric network over 10 Gigabit Ethernet foundation which consolidates LAN, SAN and high performance computing networks and allows access to many different types of storage; Cisco UCS Manager for system administration including graphical user interface (GUI), a command line interface (CLI), and a robust application programming interface (API) and enhanced support for virtualization, including Cisco security, policy enforcement, and diagnostics features on virtual machines.

According to Cisco, the UCS, part of Cisco’s Data Centre 3.0 strategy, will give companies up to 20% reduction in CAPEX and 30% reduction in OPEX, with systems that can use one half the components of equivalent current systems and deliver improved efficiency in power consumption, cooling, management, costs and better interoperability through enterprise standards.

Mario Mazzola, senior vice president, Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit, Cisco said: “The Virtual Machine has become the new atomic building block of the data centre, creating new challenges and opportunities with the potential to transform the computing environment and deliver significant benefits.

“Taking advantage of this architectural shift in the data centre, we developed a unique new computing model that transforms the data centre into a dynamic IT environment with the power to increase productivity, improve business agility and drive the benefits of virtualization to an entirely new level,” he added.

Cisco has also built up several strategic alliances around the UCS to help deliver, including expanding partners ships with key vendors such as BMC Software for system administration, and VMware and Microsoft virtualization, with other partnerships with EMC, Emulex, Intel, NetApp, Novell, Oracle, QLogic and Red Hat.

The relationships with BMC Software, EMC, Microsoft, and VMware will also be extended beyond technology integration to support services, and while Cisco has also beefed up strategic relationships with consultants including Accenture, CSC, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and Wipro.

In addition, 250 existing Cisco Data Centre partners will now have the chance to be integrated into a new Cisco Unified Computing Authorized Technology Provider program.

Pricing and release dates for the system were not given, but the cost is expected to start at $100,000 plus, with availability some time in second quarter.

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