Quick Take: Cisco Enters the Blade Market

March 20, 2009

NetworkWorld has a decent article on Cisco’s entry into the blade computing market with a virtualization-focused product Cisco calls the “Unified Computing System.” It’s not commodity stuff, building on “soon to be released” Nehalem processors, 10Gb interfaces and FCoE capability in a supposedly made-for-VMware design.

The response from the Dell VP made me reach for a handkerchief (somebody get him a crying towel!) Of course the Cisco solution is “very niche-focused” but it is also very forward thinking. However, with Cisco’s record on computing hardware in their embedded products, it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in their “first wave” of blades. Likewise, their QC on software needs to be “in the zone” if they are going to be successful in the “densely virtualized” market as this box would imply.

SOLORI’s take: Feature-for-feature, Cisco will be alone for a few months as others play catch-up, but catch-up to what market? Are there really lots of enterprise customers out there begging for 10Gb/FCoE-connected blade servers at price-be-damned rates? This approach is moving AWAY from commodity computing and, hence, is a “loser” based on the SOLORI enterprise model.

SOLORI’s 2nd take: This could become a juggernaut in the HPC setting with “price-be-damned” and “budgets” come from institutions and governments. It looks as if Cisco’s finally found a way to move its pricy 10G products into that space.

Read the entire article at NetworkWorld.com…

A complete line-up of product skews are being offered:

  • Cisco UCS 6100 Series Fabric Interconnects is a family of line-rate, low-latency, lossless, 10-Gbps Cisco Data Center Ethernet and FCoE interconnect switches that consolidate I/O within the system. Both 20-port 1RU and 40-port 2RU versions accommodate expansion modules that provide Fibre Channel and/or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.
  • Cisco UCS 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis supports up to eight blade servers and up to two fabric extenders in a 6RU enclosure without the need for additional management modules.
  • Cisco UCS 2100 Series Fabric Extenders bring unified fabric into the blade-server chassis, providing up to four 10-Gbps connections each between blade servers and the fabric interconnect, simplifying diagnostics, cabling, and management.
  • Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers based on next generation Intel Xeon [Nehalem] processors adapt to application demands, intelligently scale energy use, and offer best-in-class virtualization. Each blade server utilizes network adapters for access to the unified fabric. Cisco’s unique memory-expansion technology substantially increases the memory footprint, maximizing performance and capacity for demanding virtualization and large-dataset workloads. In addition, the technology offers a more cost-effective memory footprint for less-demanding workloads.
  • Cisco UCS Network Adapters are offered in a mezzanine-card form factor. Three types of adapters offer a range of options to meet application requirements, including adapters optimized for virtualization, compatibility with existing driver stacks, or efficient, high-performance Ethernet.
  • Cisco UCS Manager provides centralized management capabilities that serve as the central nervous system of the Cisco Unified Computing System. Cisco UCS Manager is the embedded software that unifies system components into a seamless, cohesive, system.
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