Cisco Prepping 'Mini-UCS' Servers To Go Low Where UCS Can't: Sources

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Cisco Systems appears getting ready to launch a more entry-level version of its UCS server line, giving the vendor a new tool for expanding its server business and possibly for entering the fast-growing hyper-converged infrastructure market.

According to multiple channel sources who talked to CRN on condition of anonymity, Cisco seems to be preparing a quiet launch of what has been termed the "mini-UCS," possibly in the next couple of weeks, with a full launch planned for either during or around the VMworld 2014 conference in late August.

Cisco declined to discuss plans, if any, around the mini-UCS, with a spokesperson responding via email to a CRN query that the company "can’t talk about products that have not been released yet."

[Related: Gartner Converged Infrastructure 'Magic Quadrant:' Nutanix Top Visionary, VCE Overall Leader]

Solution providers who partner with Cisco told CRN that the time is ripe for Cisco to offer a mini-UCS server product line.

Cisco is currently the fastest-growing server vendor. IDC in late May put Cisco in a three-way tie for fourth place in terms of worldwide server revenue due to a 37 percent growth spurt in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year. Cisco is also the top blade server vendor in North America by revenue, IDC reported.

However, solution providers said, Cisco does not have an entry-level offering, making this a greenfield play for growth for the San Jose, Calif., company.

Beyond just expanding its business into the entry-level server market, Cisco also has a number of options where a mini-UCS server line could help the company grab market share.

One obvious move would be to build a hyper-converged infrastructure solution combining the mini-UCS server, Cisco's networking technology and Cisco's Invicta storage technology that would let it compete with such companies as Nutanix or SimpliVity, one solution provider told CRN on condition of anonymity.

If so, Cisco would likely either be teaming up or competing against its long-term converged infrastructure partners EMC and VMware, as VMware appears poised in August to unveil its own hyper-converged infrastructure solution code-named "Project Marvin."

Also entering the fray is Dell, which is partnering with Nutanix to OEM that company's software for Dell servers to build hyper-converged infrastructure appliances.

"Cisco is already working with NetApp in FlexPod and with EMC in VSPEX reference architectures at the midrange to high end," the solution provider said. "At the low end, the mini-UCS could be a defense play against SimpliVity and Nutanix."

NEXT: Other Potential Mini-UCS Targets

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