The Cisco Memory Extension technology increases by four the number of DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) each Xeon 5500 processor can address, Lawler said. So rather than having 96GB to 144GB of available memory per system, the Cisco technology enables the UCS to support 384GB, he said. The result is a 33 to 60 percent savings in memory costs.
It also means up to four times more virtual machines per physical server, which leads to lower power, cooling and cost per VM, he said.
Lawler and Jiandani also highlighted Cisco's VN-Link technology, which they said gives IT administrators better visibility into their virtualized environments, and the embedded management capabilities in the systems, which leads to cost savings in management software expenses.
Jiandani stressed the cost savings in the Cisco offering, saying compared to a four-socket, 256GB rack system, a UCS offering can save 40 percent on capital expenses, 19 percent in power and cooling costs over three years, 86 percent in cabling, and 61 percent in rack space.
Lawler also said Cisco was working on an SDK (software development kit) for the UCS to be released soon that will help partners integrate their solutions into the UCS.
Officials with both Sun and HP have been critical of Cisco's strategy, arguing that it is closed and proprietary and requires an overhaul of a business' existing data center technology to implement.
Comparing UCS with Sun's Open Network Systems strategy, John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's Systems Group, April 13 argued that Cisco's program was not as open as Sun's. The Sun plan also relies heavily on Intel's Xeon 5500 series, as well as its own innovations and initiatives around power, cooling, virtualization and the use of flash memory.
Executives with HP, which has its own Adaptive Infrastructure initiative that is tied together with HP's Virtual Connect technology, have made similar claims about Cisco's UCS program.
During the Webcast, Jiandani and Lawler said Cisco's strategy relies on standard technologies such as Intel chips, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and Windows and Linux operating systems; that its embedded management software works with the other popular management solutions offered by competitors; and that it can work with legacy systems already in the data center.
In the announced partnership with NetApp, the two companies will work on storage solutions for the UCS, officials said. Through the Cisco Validated Design program, NetApp solutions will be tested for interoperability in virtualized data centers. Cisco and NetApp will also partner on joint marketing and customer support initiatives.