Cisco Expands UCS Server Lineup

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Cisco hopes to kickstart growth as it reveals two additions to its Unified Computing System portfolio

Cisco has expanded its Unified Computing System (UCS) range with the addition of two new servers geared at different sectors.

The two server include the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers for cloud-scale applications, and Cisco UCS Mini for small and medium sized environments.

Data Centre Workloads

The networking giant has also expanded its current UCS portfolio to provide more power and scalability for data centre workloads. To this end, it unveiled new fourth-generation UCS Rack and Blade Servers for application performance, and new UCS Director solutions to manage Big Data infrastructure workloads.

“Rapid changes in the way applications are architected and delivered are being driven by the demands of Big Data, the Internet of Everything, mobility, video and cloud,” said Paul Perez, VP and general manager, Cisco UCS.

“We are in a new world where data sets and application scale are rapidly growing, and the opportunities for businesses to capitalize on the deeper intelligence and faster decisions they afford are really taking off,” said Perez. “With this expanded portfolio, Cisco is delivering the largest wave of computing innovation since the original introduction of UCS.”

Cisco UCSThe new Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers are being targeted at cloud service providers and enterprise customers. According to the San Jose, California-based company, the UCS M-Series comes with Cisco System Link Technology, which devilers “the industry’s first true disaggregated server architecture for leaner Cloud-scale infrastructure.” Indeed, Cisco claims that its optimised approach here can eliminate up to 95 percent of the system components duplicated in a traditional server design. This, it says, when combined combined with UCS Management, can deliver up to 36 percent combined TCO savings.

The new Cisco UCS C3160 Rack Server meanwhile comes with a high-capacity local disk storage, making it suitable distributed data analytics and object stores, unstructured data repositories, and media streaming and transcoding.

The second server range is the Cisco UCS Mini, which is targeted at remote sites, branch offices, and small IT environments. The server is designed as one-solution unit that incorporates the server, storage and networking kit needed, but in a small form factor.

That Cisco UCS Mini was first revealed to the world back in July, after it was uncovered by virtualisation consultant Justin Paul in a blog posting.

Growth Driver

Cisco is a relative newcomer to the server market. It first introduced UCS in March 2009, a move that surprised its rivals at the time as it signalled Cisco’s intention to expand beyond its networking heritage and into the world of data centre servers and hardware.

And that decision was a good move, as it enabled Cisco to join the ranks of the world’s leading server vendors as one of the fastest growing server vendors. Indeed, Cisco cited a recent IDC report, that stated that Cisco has achieved the ranking of No. 1 provider of x86 blade servers in the Americas, measured by revenue market share.

But the company is still facing growth challenges, and last month it warned that it would cut 8 percent of its workforce (6,000 jobs), after declining annual profits and sales. Cisco is finding life tough at it struggles to cope with declines in emerging markets, coupled with slowing demand for low-end networking equipment, and intense competition from the likes of Huawei Technologies, Juniper Networks and Alcatel-Lucent.

“Cisco did a great job getting into the data center, but they need to expand their portfolio if they are going to continue to grow,” Matt Eastwood, an analyst at IDC was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

“I think they have a good strategy but they’ll be more likely to face price competition than they have so far,” Eastwood said. Cisco will have to convince customers to buy related networking, software and storage gear, and be willing to accept lower profits on the servers in order to boost sales, he said.

Cisco has also expanded its partnership with Red Hat, in a deal that will see Cisco servers and switches have the option to run Red Hat’s version of OpenStack.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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