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Cisco Pushes into Volume Server Market

UCS addresses a $20 billion slice of an overall $85 billion data center market

Cisco Wednesday came up with entry-level rack-mounted versions of its high-end Unified Computing System (UCS) that it means to push into the channel where it will piggyback on resellers that already sell other people’s machines.

That mean it’ll be stepping on even more toes than it already has by entering the server market to begin with.

Resisting the volume label, Cisco positions the new UCS C-Series boxes as investment-protecting stepping stones to its bigger UCS B-Series that unite compute, storage and networking in the name of unleashing virtualization. It claims compute can’t be bought in isolation anymore.

Cisco claims architectural superiority for its UCS widgetry and promises greater power and agility and lower TCO than the current crop of systems vendors can deliver. Buy the vision buy the box.

Cisco research says UCS addresses a $20 billion slice of an overall $85 billion data center market counting hardware, software, networking and services.

The company had Goldman Sachs talk to a hundred of the Fortune 1000 and it looks like two-thirds of them can accept Cisco turning over a new leaf and becoming a server provider and may buy some of its boxes in the next two or three years but only 18% plan to evaluate the things in the next 12 months.

Presumably the findings prodded the company to come up with the market share-accelerating C-Series, which won’t be available until Q4 when Cisco will presumably reveal what it’ll cost. The UCS B-Series blade servers start shipping this month.

Cisco’s channels director John Growdon said that 72% of the resellers Cisco expects to tap, folks that already handle its traditional networking infrastructure widgetry, sell competing servers. The company has come up with new C-Series partner programs and says it will soon have about 500 resellers certified.

It’s promising them revenues from assessments, integration services, managed services and the like.

The Xeon 5500-based C-Series consists of one 1U and two 2U models. The 1U C200 M1 can have 96GB of memory in 12 DIMMs, four 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives and room for two PCIe cards. The 2U C210 M1 can expand to 16 SFF SAS or SATA drives and five PCIe cards and the top-of-the-line C250 M1 can go to 384GB of memory (48 DIMMs) and eight drives.

Cisco says its patented memory extension technology yields upwards of 2.5 times the addressable memory than competitive rack servers and hence more virtual machines and the scalability to run large memory applications.

The widgets can access Cisco’s unified fabric through a low-latency lossless 10 Gbps Ethernet connection. And they can take advantage of Cisco’s virtualized adapter, which is supposed to offer adapter consolidation and virtualization optimization by enabling each virtualized adapter to define up to 128 Ethernet or Fibre Channel connections.

Cisco, however, is trying to be open about this whole thing and says other less functional adapters can be used.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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