Cisco Updates UCS Products, Cloud Strategy

Cisco Systems this week introduced new technology to increase the efficiency and security of cloud-based networks. Cisco (CSCO) added new features to its Unified Computing System and WAAS products.

A chart based on IDC data showing changes in market share among server vendors, with gains for Cisco at the expense of incumbent players (Source: Cisco).

On Wednesday Cisco Systems (CSCO) introduced new technology to increase the efficiency and security of cloud-based networks. Three new product additions advance Cisco's cloud strategy objectives of data center virtualization, network performance and security, and spanning the entire cloud infrastructure, from the end-user and branch office through the network to the data center.

UCS Updates

The Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) has challenged the incumbents in the x86 Blade Server market over the past two years by gaining 10.5% market share worldwide and 19.7% in the U.S., Cisco noted, citing data from IDC. Enhancements announced to the networking capabilities of UCS include new Fabric Interconnects, a new Virtual Interface card, and new chassis I/O module.

Combined, these three additions equate to a workload density that doubles the switching capacity of the data center fabric and the number of virtual interfaces available. With over 5,400 installations as of the third quarter 2011, UCS increasingly serves as a foundation for the cloud, delivering a tightly integrated solution for compute, storage access, network and virtualization resources.

WAAS Innovations

Enhancements announced to the Cisco WAAS product include a new context-aware DRE (Data Redundancy Elimination), which improves application response times and throughput by changing the DRE caching behavior on a per-application and per-branch office basis. A new WAAS Central Manager, manages up to 2,000 WAAS instances from a single interface, and an integrated Application Performance Manager (APM) provides network administrators with enhanced visibility into application performance and network utilization, improved operational efficiency, and  rapid root-cause analysis of performance issues.

Programmability Features

The UCS Manager provides a robust API (Application Programming Interface) that integrates with other management software.  Building upon the programmability features emphasized later by Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, senior vice president of Server Access Virtualization Technology Group Soni Jiandani said "when Cisco set out to design an evolutionary new computing system, we heard from our customers that power, management, and server administration costs were sapping their budgets, leaving few resources for innovation.

"We aimed to create the ideal, programmable, platform for virtualized and cloud environments with integrated networking and management, flexible and scalable enough to handle any workload," Jiandini said. "Now with over 5,400 UCS customers, Cisco's rapid market share growth underscores our leadership in the industry transition to fabric computing and converged infrastructure, and we continue to deliver innovative technology to help solve our customers' challenges."

Jiandani elaborated further on the definition of cloud computing not as a point in time, but as a journey - matching business needs with technical solutions.

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