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Cisco Unified Computing System: UCS

Server virtualization has been great for our organization since we implemented VMWare 3.x over 2 years ago.  We have grown our VMWare environment to 24 hosts with over 300 guest servers and upgraded recently to vSphere 4.o.

The server hardware we have been using for our ESX hosts has been 2U rack mounted servers with 2 – quad-core CPU, 32 GB or 96 GB memory, 2 HBA, and 6 to 8 – 1 GB Ethernet NICs. 

Recently we had a project need to add 16 additional ESX hosts to our environment.  At the same time I began to learn about Cisco’s new blade server system the UCS (unified computing system).  My first impression was confusion from what I had been reading in the trade rags.  Then I had a presentation from Cisco on the topic and I was intrigued when it was compared to a SAN but for compute capacity.  Meaning you have 2 “controllers” and you add blades and chassis’ for additional capacity.

At VMWorld 2009 I was able to dig deeper into UCS which was center stage at the conference.  When you entered Mosecone Conference Center the datacenter that supported the conference was 512 Cisco UCS blades located in the main lobby for all to see.  Cisco had the right people on-hand to educate me on the what, how and why the UCS system was built.

VMWorld 2009 Cisco UCS Datacenter

512 Cisco blade servers handled all the compute power for the conference.

So for my project that requires 16 more ESX hosts I did a deep comparison of my traditional approach with converged 10 G network (2U rack mount) vs. a Cisco UCS configuration.  Looking at the cost differences, what it takes to grow both approaches and the amount of required infrastructure (Ethernet and Fiber Channel cabling and ports) Cisco UCS made the most sense.  There is some risk going with a new server “system”, however my previous experience with Cisco has always been very positive. 

We have jump in with both feet with Cisco UCS . . . I will bring you along for the ride.

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October 30, 2009 - Posted by | Cisco UCS | , ,

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