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Cisco C-Series Coming To A Data Center Near You

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.

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