Today, Cisco announced their new Unified Computing System (UCS). UCS is a complete data center platform that incorporates network and blade servers that integrate into your existing Cisco core, as well as storage connectivity. The system can support up to 40 blade server chassis that each hold eight blades for a total of 320 blade servers.
We've been keeping our eyes on this for a while now, trying to see if it would actually happen or not. There's been quite a bit of chatter both for and against the idea of a Cisco blade server, but the detractors have primarily been talking about Cisco's Nexus line of chassis/virtualization technologies.
The question we've spent the most time asking ourselves has been, "If this happens, what does this have to do with us?" Cisco's virtualization vision has been evolving since at least 2007, when they invested heavily in VMware shortly before their IPO. Until recently, the most notable product result of that relationship is the Nexus 1000v switch, which is a software implementation of a Cisco switch that runs within the VMware vNetwork switch framework. That's worth mentioning, but hardly a fundamental application delivery concept.
So now that Cisco has entered the x86 server space and now competes with the very companies they once made products for (like the IBM BladeCenter line), what does this mean? Will you consider using Cisco products for your servers, or is your organization structured in a way that will make that hard? Companies I've worked for in the past have lacked the cooperation or integration between the network and server groups to simply drop in a solution that bridged the boundaries. Is the reason this is such a big deal simply because a networking company now sells servers, or is there a bigger revolution on the horizon? Cisco obviously has the latter in mind, but will it work out?