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Cisco this week made substantial updates to its Unified Computing System (UCS) and cloud automation portfolios, including a centralized management tool for large-scale UCS deployments and the extension of certain connectivity tools to support rack-mount server versions of UCS in addition to blade server versions.
New to the UCS platform is UCS Central, what Brian Schwarz, director, UCS product management, described as a "big brother" to Cisco's UCS Manager software. UCS Central creates a single management dashboard for large-scale UCS deployments and the many UCS Managers needed to control distributed server environments across large enterprises.
Whereas an instance of UCS Manager covers up to 160 or up to 320 computing nodes, depending on a customer's configuration, UCS Central can oversee as many as 10,000 physical servers. It's based on the same data model and API structure as UCS Manager so IT managers used to the UCS Manager interface won't find anything too new, according to Cisco.
What customers get is not only computing-node scale but also centralized inventory, server consoles, logs and other management tools, Schwarz said. He expects developers using Cisco's UCS API -- a list that includes well-known companies like Compuware, Splunk and ScienceLogic -- to build additional management capabilities into the UCS Central platform.
Cisco's UCS launched in March 2009 and has become one of the networking titan's most successful product portfolios: a $1.6 billion business for Cisco inside of four years, growing 50 percent year-over-year, and as of September nearing 16,000 customers worldwide. Schwarz said the larger, more sophisticated customers who would require the UCS Central likely represent about 25 to 30 percent of the overall UCS customer base.
In addition to UCS Central, the UCS Manager itself has been updated. Version 2.1, confirmed Thursday, simplifies connectivity of Cisco's C-series rack-mount servers using capabilities like rapid application deployment that were previously only available for Cisco's blade server UCS configurations. Overall, UCS Manager 2.1 pares down the number of cables needed for connecting virtual servers, and also reduces the number of switches and adapters needed, according to Cisco.
Steve Kaplan, vice president, virtualization and cloud for Presidio, a Greenbelt, Md.-based solution provider, said Cisco's update would solve UCS challenges with customers for whom the C-series rack servers are a better data center fit.
"As virtualization proliferates, we are seeing an increased demand for huge amounts of memory, multiple adapters, specialized adapters and high disk-spindle counts in local storage," Kaplan told CRN. "These needs are better served by rack mount form factors, but rack mount servers have traditionally required a lot more infrastructure and cost than blades."