Cisco C-Series Coming To A Data Center Near You

Cisco announced updates to their UCS C-Series rack mount servers announced in June, 2009. The C-Series is comprised of three rack mount servers. Cisco also announced the virtual interface card which is a converged network adapter which is virtualized in hardware improving performance.

October 9, 2009

3 Min Read
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Cisco is sharing more details about their UCS C-Series rack-mount servers, now shipping, that were introduced in June, 2009. The C-Series is comprised of three rack-mount servers. Cisco also announced the virtual interface card, a converged, virtualized network adapter that improves performance. The Extended Memory Blade increases RAM to 384GB using common DDR3 memory. The products are managed using UCS manager and will be available during Q4 of 2009.

The C-Series rack-mount servers are stand alone systems, managed using UCS manager, which offers unified management with the UCS line, service profiles for connectivity and role based access control to management features. The C-Series can also be managed through a CLI, a Web UI, the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) or KVM. The C-Series supports front to back cooling for airflow management. The C-Series could be loosely compared to a  an HP Proliant DL300 series, with starting prices of $2,000+ and which offer multi-core Intel CPUs, but with a maximum ranging from 64 to 192GB of memory.

The C-series servers offer a way for Cisco to enter the data center computing market without having to push the very expensive UCS chassis products. Entering the server market at this stage allows Cisco to benefit from the latest technology and not have the weight of a broad product line such as HP has with their Proliant servers. A broad product line has benefits, but there are times when too many choices are counterproductive.

The integration with Cisco UCS manager is what makes the C-Series compelling. Hardware is being commoditized to the point where a server is a server. But advanced features like port personality profiles and role based access control provide a good balance of features to automate management. Since the entire UCS line shares the same management system, there is an upgrade path should a data centers needs grow beyond rack systems.

For applications that require high amounts of RAM, the Cisco UCS Memory Extension Blade can support upto 384GB of DDR3 RAM. Getting to 384 GB requires 48 8GB DDR 3 RAM, starting between $800 and $800 per stick. But you can get to a 192GB using the less expensive 4GB DDR sticks. The Memory Extension Blade fits into the UCS250 M1 server.Cisco is also announcing the Virtual Interface Card for their blade servers, dubbed the B-series. The card will be available in December, 2009 and lists for $799.The Virtual Interface Card virtualizes the NIC in hardware supporting up to 128 virtual NICS on a single card. The card supports 2 10Gb ports, Fibre Channel and Ethernet. Coming in 2010, the Virtual Interface Card will also support VMDirectPath, which by-passes the vSwitch and vSphere hypervisor for faster performance in a virtualized environment.

Cisco is also aggressively getting their UCS product line certified with major software companies like Oracle, Microsoft, RedHat, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, which at the very least gives assurance to companies that they can use UCS products this enterprise software and otherwise means that VARS and integrators can sell the product.

The three models are:

  • UCS 200 M1 is an entry level 1U user with Intel Xeon 5500 CPU, supporting a maximum of 96GB RAM, 3 SATA drives and two PCI-e slots. Starting price is $2,589. The UCS 200 M1 is aimed at general purpose server where many physical servers are required.

  • UCS 210 M1 is a 2U unit with 16 SATA drives and 5 PCI-e slots. Starting price is $3,039. The UCS210 M1 is targeted at situations where lots of data local data storage is required.

  • UCS 250 M1 is a 2U server that can support up to 384 Gb of RAM using the UCS 250 M1 Extended Memory Blade. The UCS 250 is targeted at virtualized environments where many VM can run concurrently, or for applications that require large amounts of memory, like data bases. The starting price is $10,339.

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