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Cisco Doubles Down On UCS Servers

Having found itself in the enviable (yet bizarre) position as the No. 1 blade server vendor in the Americas, Cisco is capitalizing on that success. The company announced a major expansion of its Unified Computing System portfolio, aimed at cloud-scale, midmarket, and edge applications.

New products included the Cisco UCS Mini, an all-in-one box targeted at remote sites, branch offices, and small IT environments. Loaded with UCS software, the mini allows Cisco to push the platform out further into the ecosystem and support more processing power in distributed locations. The company also announced 4th-generation UCS rack and blade servers and a new UCS Director version aimed at big data analysis.

Perhaps more importantly, Cisco rolled out the UCS M-Series modular servers, intended for cloud-scale environments. In a press conference, UCS vice president and general manager Paul Perez described the M-Series as a "disaggregated" server, saying Cisco had "taken apart what a server is and put it back together in a more efficient way."

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, also announced a partnership between Cisco and Red Hat that will provide an integrated infrastructure for UCS and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform.

According to Warrior, the integrated systems will include a starter edition for private clouds, an advanced edition for large private clouds, and an advanced ACI edition for deploying scale-out clouds.

Cisco is betting on a great deal of demand for cloud-scale architecture to support hybrid cloud, big data initiatives, and what it terms the Internet of Everything. At the core of that, said Warrior, is the compute platform.

The real benefits of UCS come with its management and policy capabilities, Jim McHugh, vice president of product marketing for UCS, told me in an interview. Most businesses can't properly process and analyze the business data they have now, never mind the large projections in growth that are coming. UCS can help them manage that.

"The data sets and application scale of today's businesses are growing at rapid scale. The ability to make faster decisions based on deeper intelligence can make a huge difference to business outcomes," McHugh said. As an example, Cisco's press conference showcased MLB Advanced Media’s CTO Joe Inzerillo, who described how Major League Baseball manipulates data in real-time to produce current statistics.

Over the last several years, as the popularity of streaming and analyzing sports online has grown, Inzerillo has expanded his environment from one to six datacenters using UCS. He estimated his company generated 15 petabytes of content last year and will produce 25 petabytes in 2015.