Home Applications Analysis of Cisco’s Unified Computing System Announcement

Analysis of Cisco’s Unified Computing System Announcement



Cisco has combined blade switching fabric, blades, and software from VMware (the virtualization layer), and BMC (BladeLogic for automated provisioning) into a compelling bundle. Cisco claims that this consolidated bundle will be 20% less expensive to buy and 30% cheaper to operate than the previous unbundled solution which would consist of neworking gear from Cisco (or another switch vendor), blades from a server vendor, and managment software from BMC or someone else.
It remains to be seen exactly how Cisco will price this offering, and how successful Cisco will be in selling this offering. However, no matter how these elements turn out, Cisco has changed the industry dynamics in the virtualization infrastructure industry with this announcement. There will be a variety of further steps from Cisco and reactions from competing vendors to this initial announcement. Here are some scenarios and predictions:
  • Cisco is not done. There are two obvious and gaping holes in this strategy. The first is storage and the second is a mechanism to bring virtualizaton "to the end user" as was professed in the online announcement. To address the storage requirement, Cisco could acquire EMC. This would have three very positive effects upon Cisco; 1) It would allow Cisco to actually sell a full data center solution like IBM and HP can do today since both IBM and HP offer storage as a part of their portfolios, 2) It would bring Cisco a high end solutions oriented data center infrastructure sales force that would be much better at selling this complete infrastructure bundle than would be the core networking sales force, and 3) it would bring Cisco VMware which Cisco has been coveting for some time. As for the end user component of this strategy the logical partner (acquisition) here would be Citrix who has the dominant position in providing end user access to centralized IT resources. 
  • Server vendors will react. HP and IBM will now find ways to "replace" the Cisco networking gear in their portfolios with gear from other vendors like Brocade, Juniper, and Blade Network Systems. Look for a slew of partnerships and potentially acqusitions as the business of selling core infrastructure to enterprise data centers consolidates around three of four vendors. The rumor that IBM is buying Sun is just the start down this path.
  • Opportunity for networking vendors. As server vendors need to react to firm up friendly sources for networking gear, this creates enormous opportunities for networking vendors that compete with Cisco to strike partnerships that leverage the account presence and sales forces of the server vendors. By choosing to no longer be "Switzerland" and work with all server vendors on equal footing, Cisco has created a huge opening for competing networking vendors to work with the aforementioned server vendors.
  • VMotion data, IP storage data, management data, and application data are now comingled on one converged Level 2 network inside of the Cisco box. This changes the security model which in turn creates new significant opportunities for virtualization security vendors and a need for Cisco to partner with them.
  • Just because the provisioning of hardware blades and guest within the new Cisco UCS is addressed by the BladeLogic software licensed from BMC does not mean that the issues of managing the virtualized environment have been addressed. The questions of which policies are used to address which use cases by which adminstrators or self service processes are still outstanding.
  • The new architecture of the Cisco UCS creates a new type of entity that needs to be managed for performance and availablity. This in turn creates a new opportunity for all of the vendors focused upon virtualization performance and capacity management.

In summary, the changes provoked by Cisco’s announcement have only begun. Now on to the announcement itself.

The Announcement

Cisco today unveiled an evolutionary new data center architecture, innovative services and an open ecosystem of best in class partners to help customers develop next-generation data centers that unleash the full power of virtualization. With today’s announcement, Cisco is delivering on the promise of virtualization through Unified Computing – an architecture that bridges the silos in the data center into one unified architecture using industry standard technologies. Key to Cisco’s approach is the Cisco Unified Computing System which unites compute, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single energy efficient system that can reduce IT infrastructure costs and complexity, help extend capital assets and improve business agility well into the future.
Today’s announcements extend Cisco’s data center portfolio and are a critical step in the company’s Data Center 3.0 strategy. To help customers accelerate the transition to the Unified Computing architecture, Cisco is paving the way with a comprehensive suite of new Unified Computing services. In addition, Cisco today announced collaboration with industry leaders on the Unified Computing System and architecture.
  • The Cisco Unified Computing System: Based on industry standards, the Unified Computing System is a new computing model that uses integrated management and combines a "wire once" unified fabric with an industry standard computing platform to optimize virtualization, reduce data center total overall cost, and provide dynamic resource provisioning for increased business agility.
    • Reduces total cost of ownership: up to 20 percent reduction in capital expenditures (CAPEX) and up to 30% reduction in operational expenditures (OPEX).
    • Improves IT productivity and improves business agility: provision applications in minutes instead of days. Shifts the focus from IT maintenance to IT innovation
    • Increases scalability without added complexity: managed as a single system, whether it has one or 320 servers with thousands of virtual machines.
    • Improves Energy Efficiency: significantly reduces power and cooling costs
    • Provides interoperability and investment protection through industry standards-based infrastructure
  • Innovative Design for Next Generation Data Centers
  • Taking a clean slate architectural approach to data center infrastructure, Cisco today introduced the Unified Computing System which unites compute, network, storage access, and virtualization into a scalable, modular architecture that is managed as a single system. The Unified Computing System is the first offering in a new family of products which complements the Cisco data center portfolio. Key Unified Computing System elements include:
    • Compute – Cisco designed an entirely new class of computing system which incorporates the new Cisco UCS B-Series blades based on the future Intel® Nehalem processor families (the next generation Intel® Xeon® processor). The Cisco blades offer patented extended memory technology to support applications with large data sets and allow significantly more Virtual Machines per server.
    • Network – The Cisco Unified Computing System provides support for a unified fabric over a low-latency, lossless, 10 Gigabit-per-second Ethernet foundation. This network foundation consolidates what today are three separate networks: local area networks (LANs), storage area networks (SANs) and high performance computing networks. This lowers costs by reducing the number of network adapters, switches, and cables and by decreasing power and cooling requirements.
    • Virtualization – The Cisco Unified Computing System unleashes the full potential of virtualization, by enhancing the scalability, performance and operational control of virtual environments. Cisco security, policy enforcement, and diagnostics features are now extended into dynamic virtualized environments to better support changing business and IT requirements.
    • Storage Access – The Cisco Unified Computing System provides consolidated access to both storage area networks (SANs) and to network attached storage (NAS). Support for a unified fabric means that the Unified Computing System can access storage over Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet or iSCSI, providing customers with choices and investment protection. In addition, IT staff can pre-assign storage access policies for system connectivity to storage resources, simplifying storage connectivity and management, and helping to increase IT productivity.
    • Management – Management is uniquely integrated into all the components of the system, enabling the entire solution to be managed as a single entity through the Cisco UCS Manager. The Cisco UCS Manager provides an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), a command line interface (CLI), and a robust application programming interface (API) to manage all system configuration and operations. Cisco UCS Manager helps to increase IT staff productivity, enabling IT managers of storage, networking, compute and applications to collaborate on defining service profiles for applications. Service profiles help to automate provisioning and increase business agility, allowing data center managers to provision applications in minutes instead of days.
  • Energy Efficiency – IT managers can achieve more energy efficient data centers with the Cisco Unified Computing System – it uses one-half the components, and requires less cabling and power/cooling than legacy server installations.
  • Cisco Unified Computing Services
    • Building on more than a decade of experience in the data center, Cisco today launched a suite of new Unified Computing Services to help customers capture the full technical and business benefits of the Cisco Unified Computing architecture.
    • Strengthening the data center portfolio already offered by Cisco and our partners, the new services range from architecture design, planning, and migration, to operations, and remote management. These services touch all aspects of data center resources people, processes, and technologies.
    • Cisco’s unique collaborative services model combines Cisco Services’ deep intellectual property with best-in-class services partnerships to deliver integrated solutions to our customers.
  • Open Partner Ecosystem – Cisco is collaborating with an open ecosystem of industry leaders to help stimulate technology innovation, augment service delivery, and accelerate market adoption of Unified Computing. More details on these partners available here.
  • The Cisco Unified Computing System and associated services will be generally available to customers starting in the second quarter of 2009.

Supporting Quotes:

  • "The Virtual Machine has become the new atomic building block of the data center, creating new challenges and opportunities with the potential to transform the computing environment and deliver significant benefits," said Mario Mazzola, senior vice president, Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit, Cisco. "Taking advantage of this architectural shift in the data center, we developed a unique new computing model that transforms the data center 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."
  • "Savvis is excited to be one of the first service providers to test the Cisco Unified Computing System and we see an opportunity for increased value to customers directly attributable to this new architectural model," said Bryan Doerr, Chief Technology Officer at Savvis. "For us to operate virtualized and cloud environments reliably, affordably and at large scale is paramount to offering compelling value to our customers worldwide."
  • "In today’s economy, IT organizations are mandated to increase productivity and cut costs while maintaining the IT excellence that provides their companies with a competitive edge," said John Enck, managing vice president, Infrastructure and Operations at Gartner. "CIOs will invest in innovative technology if it increases productivity, protects their existing IT investments, and demonstrates real benefits that will extend the life of the data center."
  • "The Cisco Unified Computing System offers a clean-sheet approach to solve data center challenges by offering a single holistic solution with integrated management and the critical support necessary for scaling virtualization," said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of Enterprise Infrastructure, Consumer and Telecom Research at IDC. "By increasing the performance and scale of virtualized environments while at the same time improving the ability to control and manage virtual workloads, this solution has the potential to deliver the full benefits of virtualization across the data center to increase productivity and agility and reduce IT costs."

Supporting Resources:

DABCC DABCC.com, the world leader in sharing the finest Virtualization & Cloud news and support resources. #Citrix, #VMware, #Microsoft, #Mobility and much more! Brought to you by @douglasabrown & team!

Featured Resources:

Related Articles:


White Papers

    Application Lifecycle Management with Stratusphere UX – White Paper

    Enterprises today are faced with many challenges, and among those at the top of the list is the struggle surrounding the design, deployment, management and operations that support desktop applications. The demand for applications is increasing at an exponential rate, and organizations are being forced to consider platforms beyond physical, virtual and cloud-based environments. Users […]


      Download Commvault VM Backup and Recovery: end-to-end VM backup, recovery and cloud management

      Commvault’s ability to provide end-to-end VM backup, recovery and cloud management creates a significantly better way to build, protect and optimize VMs throughout their lifecycle. Our best-in-class software for VM backup, recovery and cloud management delivers a number of significant benefits, including: VM recovery with live recovery options; backup to and in the cloud; custom-fit […]

      On-Demand Webinars

        What’s Going on in EUC Printing – A Technical Deep Dive!

        The IGEL Community and ThinPrint invite you to watch the following technical deep dive webinar. The agenda is to technically bring you up to speed on what’s going on in the EUC Printing space today along with a deep dive into new methods, technologies, printing scenarios and a discussion on why printing still matters. You […]

        Latest Videos

          Views All IT News on DABCC.com
          Views All IT Videos on DABCC.com
          Win big $$, visit ITBaller.com for more info!

          Visit Our Sponsors