We all remember the fanfare that sounded on the release of the UCS Blade technology, well Cisco have just quietly snuck an announcement out of the door about some rack mounted brothers for the Blades, now these are as usual “more than just a rack mount server” they are the next addition in the “unified compute” space. In fact John Growdon, Director of Worldwide Channels for Cisco stated “This is not ‘Cisco entering the rack mount space’, I think that diminishes what we are doing here. We are in the unified compute space, and this is a different form factor for us.”
So what does this mean for the market space, apart for the obvious that HP, Dell, and IBM have a rack mount competitor from Cisco. Well the interesting thing here is that Cisco are not known for their cost effectiveness to the SME, it appears that these new product offering may be aimed as an entry point in the price sensitive “volume server” market, as these new products offers an entry point to the lower adapter and cable footprint enabled by the Unified Computing System (UCS) for companies who’ve built their data centers using rack mount servers instead of blades. when analysts questioned Cisco about about whether they, with its reputation for premium pricing, will be a meaningful player in the price-sensitive “volume” server market Cisco appeared to gainsay this by stating its ambitions were more a targeted than a full-scale “all your racks belong to us” assault on the commodity server market. Cisco executives said it sees its rack mount line as offer of a choice of form factors to customers interested in the broader UCS system, because not all customers are interesting in Blade technology or in fact in some circumstances it is not a suitable technology choice.
So what is the USP of the C class rack mount servers well, Cisco VP of Marketing Soni Jiandani believes that many customers are interested in the memory expansion capabilities of the B-Series Blade in which Cisco has boosted the memory capacity of the Xeon 5500 by utilising a custom ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) to provide the processor with four times the number of memory modules it is able to address. However they are not caught on the idea of a Blade chassis, he states “The Cisco memory innovation [will] now also [be] available in a rack mount form factor,” adding that the extra memory will expand the types of applications and workloads each server can manage. This technology actually expands a UCS Xeon 5500 system from 144GB to 384GB, and also gives users the option of using more affordable memory configurations rather than the standard DDR3 Memory.
This is all good news for choice in the Datacenter and I think that Dell and HP had better start looking over their shoulders, Cisco has done some good work on these products, and their marketing is subtle and clever enough to get in under the radar of normally reticent conservative CIO and CTO. Even though Cisco have no mileage in the Server space they are making great noises and achieving results that are all the more significant for their standing start. Further they are amassing a serious amount of technical talent in their solutions teams to deliver these solutions, people like Christopher Hoff, Steve Chambers and now Yvo Wiskerke have all recently jumped on the San Jose Trolley bus.. Hold on tight boys it is going to be a fast ride.