After shaking up the market for blade servers, Cisco Systems (CSCO) is launching a line of rackmount servers to extend its Unified Computing System, the company said today. The Cisco "C Series" will offer both 1U and 2U servers with extended memory capabilities built atop the Intel Xeon 55000 processor. The 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 rackmount servers instead of blades.
The announcement proted questions about whether Cisco, with its reputation for premium pricing, will be a meaningful player in the price-sensitive "volume" server market. But Cisco says its ambitions are more targeted than a full-scale "all your racks are belong to us" assault on the commodity server market. Cisco executives said it sees its rackmount line as offer a choice of form factors to customers interested in the broader UCS system.
"This is not 'Cisco entering the rackmount space'," said John Growdon, Director of Worldwide Channels for Cisco. "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."
Memory Seen As Selling Point
Cisco VP of Marketing Soni Jiandani said many customers are interested in the memory expansion capabilities of the B-Series Blade. Cisco has boosted the memory capacity of the Xeon 5500, using a custom ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) to provide the processor with a four times the number of memory modules it can access. This expands a UCS Xeon 5500 system from 144GB to 384GB, and also gives users the option of using more affordable memory configurations.
"The Cisco memory innovation is now also available in a rackmount form factor," said Jiandani, adding that the extra memory will expand the types of applications and workloads each server can manage.
The Unified Computing System brings together hardware - including the new B-Series blade server and network adapters - that seamlessly connect with storage systems over a high-speed unified network fabric powered by Cisco’s new Nexus family of switches, enabling virtualized assets to move seamlessly across the data center and the Internet. Cisco is also introducing new UCS Manager software to centrally manage and provision resources.
"In a rapidly changing data center marketplace, the Unified Computing C-Series Rack-Mount Server will provide us new services opportunities and a unique on-ramp that appeals to a wider range of our customers that are planning to integrate Unified Computing into their existing data centers," said Bob Olwig, vice president of systems integrator World Wide Technology.