Cisco is best known to many in the IT industry as a networking vendor. Thanks to the success of its Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, its rapidly becoming well known as a server vendor as well.
Cisco Thursday is announcing its third-generation UCS platform, leveraging the newly released Intel E5 server chip platform.
The UCS Gen3 platforms includes both rack-mounted and blade server form factors. For the first time, Cisco is also providing a unified management system for both types of systems. Going a step further, Cisco is building out a new management tool that can handle multiple UCS deployments across disparate data center locations.
"From an operational perspective this allows a small number of administrators to manage very large scale infrastructures," Brian Schwarz, director, UCS product management in the Cisco Data Center Group, told InternetNews.com. "It also allows us to set the stage for global configuration capabilities."
Schwarz noted that the Multi-UCS Manager also includes an open API enabling integration with other systems. Infrastructure of large cloud environments can potentially be largely automated with the Multi-UCS Manager.
In terms of new hardware, Cisco is rolling out the UCS B200 blade server, powered by the Intel E5 and delivering up to 80 gigabits of I/O bandwidth.
"This blade can go into the same UCS chassis that a customer may have bought three years ago," Schwarz said.
Additionally, Cisco is introducing two new rack servers, including the C220 M3, which is a 1U server, and the C240 M3, which is a 2U server. Schwarz noted that the C220 M3 is targeted for enterprise application use while the C240 is an ideal platform for Big Data. The C240 has up to 24 local drives and 384 GB of RAM.
"We also have additional products coming out later this year for scale-out workloads," Schwarz said. "By the time we're done, we will double our UCS portfolio by the end of 2012."
Cisco's first UCS servers debuted in 2009 and have been on an upward trajectory ever since. At the beginning of 2012, Cisco announced that it had more than 10,000 UCS customers and was generating an annual run rate of $1 billion for the server platform.