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  1. #1
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    [EN] Cisco Unveils New Servers Aiming to Become One-Stop-Shop


    One of Cisco’s new rack servers, which is optimized
    for data storage for analytics or delivering media.



    On Thursday, Cisco announced a series of products for its Unified Computing System, the company’s server business. First on the list were U.C.S. machines for cloud service providers and big companies that want to deploy lots of applications; servers with lots of data storage for analytics or delivering media. The list also included a combination server, storage and networking box for running a computing system in a remote location while managing it from a central point, and powerful computers for data analysis and heavy workloads.

    Still think Cisco is only in the computer networking business?

    “We always think of ourselves as being in the computing market,” said Paul Perez, vice president and general manager of U.C.S. “I like to think of U.C.S. as the substrate on which the rest of Cisco is built.”

    Increasingly, he said, aspects of Cisco are sold inside U.C.S. boxes, as when companies buy the high-end specialty servers and put on top of them things like Cisco collaboration software. Over the last several years, Mr. Perez said, new customers who bought U.C.S. added over $1 billion of Cisco products onto it.

    It sounds impressive, so much so that it calls for a bit of a reality check. Routing and switching, the core networking businesses, were 46 percent of Cisco’s fiscal 2014 revenue. U.C.S., which Cisco calls on its balance sheet the data center business, was 6 percent.

    And while $1 billion is a big number, it happened over several years. In fiscal 2014 alone, Cisco’s revenue was $47 billion. And yet Cisco’s chief executive, John T. Chambers, flagged Thursday’s announcement in a quarterly earnings call in August.

    So what is going on here? Mr. Perez and his bosses are proud that U.C.S. is growing 30 percent annually, for one. More important, they believe that these servers can be a place into which other parts of Cisco can be placed.

    This is important not just as a way of way of selling more products but over the longer term as a way of holding up overall profit margins. Put a simple networking product on the market, and its high margins can be targeted by someone’s more commodity-oriented product. Package it in several things, particularly if, like U.C.S., it has custom-made semiconductors, and the profit margins can disappear into the overall product.

    “We approach things by selling architecture,” Mr. Perez said. “It’s a worldview that allows us to build more value.”
    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/0...on-for-itself/

  2. #2
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    Cisco Moves Beyond Blades to Slice Off More Server Sales

    Cisco, which already sells some rack servers, is broadening that product line to court more Web companies and cloud-computing services as well. It’s also offering a compact system called UCS Mini that is designed for small offices and what the company calls “edge-style” facilities rather than central data centers.

    Half of all server shipments go to such small sites, Eastwood notes. “In effect, Cisco is bringing their technology down-market,” he says.


    Network hardware giant Cisco Systems entered the server market in 2009, mounting a direct assault on longtime allies in a fiercely competitive business. The bet paid off, and the company is putting more chips on the table Thursday.

    The company is hosting an event in New York on Thursday morning to unveil major additions to that computer line, including designs favored by customers that haven’t bought much from the Silicon Valley giant so far.

    Cisco’s announcement comes as better-known parts of its product line have struggled lately. The company said in August that revenue from switching hardware declined 4% in its fourth fiscal quarter. Routing gear was off 7%.

    But Cisco’s data center group–which is essentially the server business–grew 30% in the quarter. Figures from industry analysts show it gaining ground against competitors.

    Hewlett-Packard , the biggest server maker with a 25% of the market, recorded growth of just 4% in the second quarter, according to IDC. Revenue at IBM declined 10.2% and Dell’s sales declined 6.5%.

    Cisco, meanwhile, ranked No. 5 with only 5.8% of worldwide server sales. But its 35.4% revenue growth over the year-earlier period translated into more than a percentage point gain in market share. Its executives have much bigger ambitions.

    “Our goal is to be No. 1 in computing worldwide,” says Paul Perez, vice president and general manager of the business Cisco calls UCS, for unified computing system.

    Why the growth disparity? One factor is that Cisco focused initially on a specific segment of the market known as blade servers that was favored for specific applications that have been growing sharply.

    Most servers are installed horizontally in racks, like a stack of pizza boxes. They often require individual cables and power supplies. Blade servers are arrayed horizontally, like books on a shelf, and plug into a chassis that provides shared connections and electrical power.

    Blade systems, which IDC says accounted for 17% of the market in the second quarter, tend to be sold by fewer suppliers and so command higher price tags. Yet, IDC analyst Matt Eastwood notes, they have features that make them popular among companies that want to jump on the recent bandwagon known as virtualization, which helps reduce hardware costs by running more applications on each machine.

    Cisco also benefited, Eastwood says, because its hardware was resold by partners NetApp, EMC and VCE, a joint venture of Cisco and EMC with investments from VMware and Intel. Those sales channels accounted for about 60% of Cisco’s server revenue, Eastwood estimates.

    Blade servers are usually not the machines of choice for large Web companies like Google , which buy machines by the thousands and prefer servers that are less expensive, are compatible among various vendors, and fit in standard racks.

    So Cisco, which already sells some rack servers, is broadening that product line to court more Web companies and cloud-computing services as well. It’s also offering a compact system called UCS Mini that is designed for small offices and what the company calls “edge-style” facilities rather than central data centers.

    Half of all server shipments go to such small sites, Eastwood notes. “In effect, Cisco is bringing their technology down-market,” he says.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/09/...-server-sales/

  3. #3
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    Cisco Unveils UCS for Scale-Out Data Centers

    Cisco’s M-Series line is not aimed at the web-scale market. Instead, Cisco is going after a world where a single application runs across many servers and scales by adding more servers.


    Cisco introduced two entirely new types of servers aimed at entirely new types of workloads to its Unified Computing System product family Thursday, billing the announcement as its most significant one since the launch of the original Cisco UCS five years ago.

    The company has added modular servers for scale-out data center architectures to the family, a mini-UCS for edge locations, ever more powerful rack and blade servers and a new version of its UCS Director software, which now has extensive Big Data capabilities.

    The new rack and blade servers are fourth generation of the bread-and-butter two-socket UCS machines. The updated UCS Director software now features native support for both SAP Hana and Hadoop.

    The Mini and the M-Series, however, are completely new product categories designed to bring new workloads within the realm of UCS.

    Fundamental architecture change

    “The M-Series is a ‘relook’ at the fundamental server architecture,” Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for Cisco UCS, said.

    Designed with scale-out IT architecture in mind, it features bare-bones compute cartridges that share everything except CPU and memory. There are two compute nodes on each cartridge, and eight cartridges fit in a 2U chassis.

    Echoing Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture and Facebook’s disaggregated-rack concepts, the M-Series enables users to upgrade CPU and memory only, without ripping and replacing entire servers. The cartridges share disk, IO, power and cooling resources.

    This is made possible by Cisco’s UCS Manager software, which abstracts all components in the system and manages them in a scalable and programmable way. The software manages every configuration setting and enables users to reconfigure the system on the fly.

    Disaggregation of individual components is made possible by a virtual interface card, which turns the system into a PCI fabric.

    Cisco not after web-scale market

    While things like scale-out architecture and fabrics of disaggregated server components are generally from the world of web-scale data centers operated by the likes of Google and Facebook, Cisco’s M-Series line is not aimed at the web-scale market.

    “They have already moved on to designing and procuring their own systems,” Brannon said about the web-scale clients.

    Instead, Cisco is going after the 50 to 100 customers whose scale is below that of Googles and Facebooks of the world, he explained. It is a new market for Cisco servers – a world where a single application runs across many servers and scales by adding more servers.

    The M-Series server architecture is very flexible. While the nodes currently come with Intel Xeon E3, they can support a variety of processor types. The architecture could theoretically support ARM chips if necessary, Brannon said.

    Mini UCS for edge locations

    The new UCS Mini is a converged all-in-one system built for non-data center environments. Users can install it in edge locations but use UCS Manager to manage it along with UCS deployed in their data centers, merging the two types of environments into one.

    The Mini scales from one to 15 servers and can be deployed in branch offices, retail locations or on premises of service provider clients.

    UCS helps maintain solid x86 server business

    UCS is now a $3 billion business for Cisco and growing, Brannon said. This is while many of the company’s competitors in the x86 server market are “flat-lining.”

    “We met a lot of unmet need in the market when we introduced UCS five years ago,” Brannon said. That unmet need was for a converged infrastructure solution that consisted of pre-integrated components of the typical IT stack.
    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/a...-data-centers/

  4. #4
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    Cisco and Red Hat Unveil Integrated Infrastructure Solution for OpenStack

    by Jason Verge on September 5, 2014

    Cisco and Red Hat announced a new integrated infrastructure solution for OpenStack-based cloud deployments. Integrated infrastructure combines server, networking, storage and management software.

    Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (UCSO) will combine Cisco Unified Computing (UCS), Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.

    The Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure portfolio represents key building blocks suited to support private, public and hybrid clouds. The architecture combines the UCS servers with Nexus switching, UCS Director management and storage access for streamlined deployment of applications and cloud services.

    The new family of Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure solutions will target enterprise and mid-market customers by streamlining deployment and operation of OpenStack-based private clouds. It will also provide an on-ramp to Cisco’s Intercloud, an interconnected, global “cloud of clouds” connecting private, public and hybrid clouds.

    Open source continues to drive the cloud industry. Many proprietary-heavy technology companies such as VMware and Cisco are embracing OpenStack and open source in general.

    “As the cloud industry pivots towards open source technology, Cisco and Red Hat are expanding our relationship and accelerating collaboration around OpenStack, Application Centric Infrastructure and Intercloud,” said Padmasree Warrior, CTO and strategy officer at Cisco.

    The UCSO solution is expected to feature three offerings: a Starter Edition that enables quick and easy installation for enterprise private clouds, an Advanced Edition that enables rapid deployment and operation of large scale private clouds and an Advanced ACI Edition delivering policy-driven infrastructure deployment and operation for large scale clouds by utilizing Cisco ACI. The Starter Edition is expected to become generally available by the end of this year.

    In addition to 24×7 product support on Cisco and Red Hat components, customers will also have an option to purchase Solution Support, which will provide global 24×7 access to a team of cross-trained experts.

    Cisco continues to boost its UCS product family. It introduced two entirely new types of servers aimed at entirely new types of workloads to its UCS product family Thursday, billing the announcement as its most significant one since the launch of the original Cisco UCS five years ago.
    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/a...ion-openstack/

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