& cplSiteName &

Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity

Craig Matsumoto
3/16/2009
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has launched an ambitious plan to remake the data center, insisting that its goals rely on partnerships rather than on Cisco taking over the world.

Specifically, Cisco insists that the Unified Computing System (UCS) announced today, which spawned from ongoing research projects that Cisco calls "California," is not a server and is not meant as a declaration of war against server companies like HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ). (See Cisco: No Blade Server.)

"We have very little interest in the product space; we're interested in how it [the whole data center] ties together," CEO John Chambers said on today's Web-hosted conference for press and analysts.

UCS turns out to be a collection of systems, including blade servers, that are meant to be treated as a cohesive whole. (See Cisco Gets Unified.) More on that in a bit.

The big-picture goal of Cisco's unified computing idea is to let any device access anything on the network at will -- a goal that's shared by the rest of the industry and has led to the rise of virtualization in the data center.

But Cisco says the data center's problems, such as connecting up masses of servers that traditionally haven't been used at full capacity, really boil down to networking, making (guess who?) Cisco the right company to helm a new data-center initiative.

There's something in all this for the service provider market, too. "This unified computing platform is a functional building block for our customers as they look to build private clouds... or shift that load to service providers," said Rob Lloyd, Cisco's incoming executive vice president of operations.

In fact, Cisco has announced Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS) as one of the 10 beta customers for the unified computing scheme.

While Cisco did announce new products today, it spent much of its PR ink (and most of today's Web conference) on the partnerships surrounding its unified computing dream. The company is making a big deal about how the UCS blades are based on Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processors and standard memory chips, for example.

Other partners announced with UCS include Accenture , BMC Software Inc. (NYSE: BMC), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW).

As for UCS itself, the products in question were developed by the team from Nuova, the Cisco-acquired group that worked on the Nexus 5000 data-center switch. (See Cisco Wraps Up Nuova and Cisco Adds to Nexus.)

As much as Cisco says UCS is a "subcategory" of servers, as you can see in this blog entry, the collection of new products does include, well, blade servers.

The central piece to UCS is the 6100 Fabric Interconnect, which links everything else together on 10-Gbit/s Ethernet connections.

Cisco is also offering the 5100 Blade Server Chassis, which holds up to eight blade servers, and the UCS 2100 Fabric Extenders, which can go into the 5100s and include the unified switch fabric that was introduced with the (non-Nuova-built) Nexus 7000.

Cisco's blade servers themselves, called the UCS B-Series, are based on Intel multicore processors and include what Cisco and Intel are calling a "memory-expansion" technology that lets the server run more virtual machines. The whole package is rounded out by mezzanine-card adapters for specific applications and new management software.

"You can't think of this as a blade or a network. It will be shipped as a system, configured as a system," Lloyd said. "That's why we don't think we're competing on a blade platform, but competing on a new system platform."

Cisco will start discussing details about how all this will get used (and, presumably, when it will be available) in April, Lloyd said.

Naturally, competitors have their doubts about the new platform.

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) has its own ideas wrapped up in Project Stratus, its secretive project to make the data center more scalable. (See Juniper Strikes at the Data Center.) More immediately, Juniper has been touting the virtual chassis technology of its EX 4200 switches as a way of eliminating the aggregation layer in data centers -- something it says is lacking in Cisco's new vision.

Juniper is pitching that the access layer of a data center connect directly to the core. "The aggregation layer in new networks that are being built is 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, and the latest price-per-port for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet is $5,000, so you're talking about some very expensive ports," says Mike Banic, Juniper's vice president of product marketing for Ethernet platforms.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), in a statement issued to the press, notes that Cisco's unified data center involves a lot of new equipment to buy -- an expense that Brocade says could be hard to justify even if the new architecture saves money later. Brocade also notes that many companies with "extensive experience" in the data center are already working on the problems Cisco is claiming to solve.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

(10)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:11 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



The good part of all this, for Cisco investor types, is that Cisco won't be selling plain servers and thus dragging down margins.




To sell all those pieces as a single mass, though... Mark Sue of RBC likes the announcement a lot but notes that it's going to be a long sales cycle.- And I'm not sure this is going to be like TelePresence, where customers can buy a couple of samples and decide to go whole-hog with it later -- you need to be all-in with cisco's plan, it sounds like.


jhawk810
50%
50%
jhawk810,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:09 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



OK, I get it, it's not a server blade. Right.




I guess they are trying to walk a fine line and not upset perenial partners in the space, yet in today's WSJ:




Cisco's chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior, says the company has moved boldly in the past, and suggests the old rules are changing. "We're going to compete with H-P. I don't want to sugarcoat that," she says. "There is bound to be change in the landscape of who you compete with and who you partner with."




There you go. I don't get it any more...




 




j-




 


Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:08 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



It's not any one feature; it's the fact that you're gonna buy this entire infrastructure rather than individual blades or blade servers.




That's my understanding, anyway.- In other words,- Cisco isn't claiming it can charge more for a server than others can.- But it won't sell standalone servers; the Cisco blade server will be bundled with all this other higher-margin stuff that will counterbalance the low margins of the server itself.- That way, Cisco overall margins get cushioned, and Cisco doesn't have to worry about being a commodity server maker.




(Another theory: Cisco *will* charge more for its servers but you won't know because the price is bundled up with the rest of the UCS package.)-


Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:08 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity
I think you're right, jhawk - Cisco *is* going to compete with those guys (and with Microsoft or IBM, on various other fronts) but politically doesn't want to say so out loud.- Kudos to Warrior for telling it like it is.
fiat_lux
50%
50%
fiat_lux,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:08 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



So what feature does their product offer which will allow them to charge more than HP,- IBM, SUN or Dell?- Or are they just jumping into this market to help drive blade server prices lower?




 


Honestly
50%
50%
Honestly,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:07 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



About every 4 years CSCO must introduce the end all game changer System.- System is a critical part bcause they want to sell as many systems as possible and it sounds bigger and better than box.:::))- CRS was real big too.- I think many would agree too big, even for the core.- UCS, Unified Cisco System (hm sounds great) is another massive announcement that is again, to big to really understand in thoughtful detail, but it is what CSCO MARKETING MUST DO TO MAKE THE BIG BOSS feel like he has delivered something that Wall ST will have hope for.




As for the partnerships.- The Microsoft announcement is a real joke.- CSCO will re-sell Windows for everything and MS will pretend it cares.- They hate each other and that will never change.- SVVS!, wow underwhelm me.- I would take product too If it is given to me with a ton of free PR.- No AT&T, Verizon, EMEA, or APAC tier 1?.




-I bet IBM has something for CSCO, but it is not going to be a PO, that now belongs to Juniper.-




Oh, don't forget that everything is the NETWORK, or the CSCO system.


Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:07 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



Blade Network Computing also sent us a prewritten Cisco-bashing statement.- One highlight:




"Unified Computing
means standards with a 'C.'"





(referring to Cisco's use of its own Data Center Ethernet vs. IEEE's Converged Enhanced Ethernet.)-


fiat_lux
50%
50%
fiat_lux,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:06 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



> I bet IBM has something for CSCO, but it is not going to be a PO, that now belongs to Juniper.




How about to Voltair?- The backbone of the Roadrunner supercomputer is their ISR2012 switch...- seems to fit nicely in with the idea that infiniband could be the converged datacenter backplane.




I was originally thinking that this is the perfect opportunity for HP and IBM to start their own switch/router projects.- But really there are many options for this in the marketplace already.




I was also thinking that this-could-be an opportunity for IBM and HP to drop their Cisco specific line cards.. but I doubt their enterprise customers would go for it.




 


Honestly
50%
50%
Honestly,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:04 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



I beg to differ about IB.- I think it is, or is very close to dead.- IBM will be doing all 10GbE ethernet.- The guts of the Blade Center will be as good as it gets and it is not Voltair. It will, However come from a company with HPC heritage.- CSCO cannot hold IBM's jock.




 




 


soldack
50%
50%
soldack,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:09:00 PM
re: Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity



IB isn't dead until a technology can beat it for price, performance, and scale for HPC.-- The real question is can IB make it into the data center?- I don't think it can until the big OEMs really buy into it.- So far everyone is hedging their bets and trying to support everything.- Cisco is the best example of this.- They sell IB, ethernet, FC.- They have ethernet and FC over IB but also have FC over ethernet.




What about shared I/O through PCIExpress?- I see a few companies trying this.- Could this be the "unified" interconnect?


From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX at ANGA COM

6|27|17   |     |   (0) comments


At ANGA COM 2017, Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX, updates Alan Breznick with VeEX's new products and technology. This includes VeSion cloud-based platform for network monitoring, AT2500-3G advanced spectrum analyzer and MTTplus-900 WiFi Air Expert module. He also comments on DOCSIS 3.1 deployment and Remote PHY technology.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTEISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTEISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
DT Wants Majority Stake in T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Report
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. Well cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.