Cisco Expands UCS Servers for Microsoft

by Sean Michael Kerner

Cisco fast tracks support for Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization under Windows Server 2012.

When Cisco first debuted its Unified Computing System (UCS) in 2009, Microsoft was part of the party, alongside VMware and Linux.

Microsoft's Hyper-V technology has improved a lot since 2009, particularly with the Windows Server 2012 release.

Siva Sivakumar, director of UCS Solutions at Cisco, told ServerWatch that Cisco is now doubling down on Microsoft technologies.

"The early ramp-up of UCS was primarily centered around work we had done with VMware," Sivakumar said. "With Server 2012, obviously Microsoft has put out a platform that is a lot more data-center ready, and we are clearly seeing customer demand for it."

One of the things that Cisco is now doing to improve support for Windows Server 2012 is  enabling the Cisco Nexus 1000v virtual switch for Microsoft's Hyper-V. To date, the Nexus 1000v has only been available for VMware. Cisco has been working with Microsoft since 2011 on the virtual switch for Windows support.

Cisco is now enabling its Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) for Hyper-V as well.

"VM-FEX allows a hypervisor bypass for I/O," Sivakumar said. "So if a VM wants to do an I/O it can go straight to the adapter on the server, delivering better performance and lower latency."

Integrated UCS Management Capabilities

As part of the extended support for Microsoft environments, Cisco is integrating UCS management capabilities with Microsoft's System Center. Sivakumar noted that the integration with System Center is on par with the work that Cisco has done with VMware's vCenter.

In Sivakumar's view, System Center can actually do more than what vCenter can provide, with more monitoring and automation capabilities.


Prior to the updated Hyper-V release, performance of Microsoft's virtualization technology versus VMware was a concern for some. Sivakumar said that at this point, Cisco is not publicly talking about Hyper-V on UCS performance data.

At the same time, he did indicate that for multiple types of workloads that Cisco has run with Hyper-V the performance has been very good and similar to other virtualization technologies.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Apr 11th 2013
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