Cisco Systems went into the data center systems business full time on March 16, 2009, and has been ramping up its R&D and product development ever since. This is all new business for the world's largest Internet-plumbing hardware and software provider.
Cisco has at the center of this initiative its Unified Computing System, which consists of a new data center architecture, new servers, plenty of dense storage, and a new set of management software and services based on Intel's quad-core Nehalem Xeon processors. Cisco partners are providing all hardware and software that isn't in the networking realm-except the main servers, which Cisco itself is making for the first time.
Since the UCS launch, Cisco has provided network-oriented C-Series blade servers for this system. On Oct. 9, the company announced some new/old form factors for them-plus a few other additions to the unified computing system.
By rebuilding the servers into a standard rack-mount form, Cisco hopes to attract more new customers who prefer to deploy that type of a machine.
"The three new rack-mounts are the C200, C210 and C250," said Cisco Director of Hardware Platform Marketing Paul Durzan. "The C200 and C210 are your basic all-purpose servers for this new system. The C200 is a 1U server with 12 DIMMs [dual inline memory modules]; C210 is a 2U with 12 DIMMs and 16 disk drives."
The C200 is designed for high-density, high-transaction applications, and the C210 is aimed more at users who need a lot of storage, Durzan said.
"The cool thing about the C250 for tech people is that most 2U, two-socket servers have 18 DIMMs and they are 28 to 29 inches deep; we've managed to get 48 DIMMs in a 2U, 28-inch-deep form factor," Durzan said.
That's a lot more memory power in the bank, to be sure. "It's very amazing, very dense-up to 384GB of memory in a 2U server," Durzan said.
Most two-socket servers from other providers have 144GB of memory, and they cost around $30,000, Durzan said.
"In fact, our 144GB machines run about $8,000, and our 192GB units cost about $11,000, so we're pretty serious about bringing the pricing down," Durzan said.
The new C200 High-Density Rack-Mount server will be ready for general distribution in November, and pricing starts $2,589. The C210 M1 General-Purpose Rack-Mount also becomes available in November at a starting price of $3,039, and the C250 M1 Extended Memory Rack-Mount becomes available in December at a starting price of $10,339, Durzan said.
The high-end 384GB C250, with all that extra memory for high-transaction applications, will cost about $60,000, Durzan said.
In other Cisco news Oct. 9, the company announced the availability of a new memory extension for UCS blade servers. Cisco said that the extension yields more than twice the addressable memory of currently available two-socket rack-mount platforms, thus providing the ability to support many more virtual machines per server. These become available later in October for $7,300, the company said.
Cisco also introduced a new Virtual Interface Card for UCS B-Series blade servers, which provides adapter consolidation and virtualization optimization capabilities by enabling each virtualized adapter to define up to 128 Ethernet or Fibre Channel connections.