Cisco Offers New Cloud Capabilities in UCS, WAAS Products

Cisco officials are looking to improve the efficiency, scalability and security of cloud computing environments through new products in its UCS and WAAS platforms announced at the Cisco Live show.

Cisco Systems is rolling out new offerings to make cloud computing more efficient, scalable and secure.

At the Cisco Live show in Las Vegas July 13, Cisco officials unveiled additions to its UCS (Unified Computing System) infrastructure offering, Nexus switches, WAAS (Wide Area Application Service) and IronPort Email Security product.

The new offerings are part of Cisco's larger goal to provide the networking and infrastructure technologies that will enable cloud computing-both private and public-to take off, according to Lew Tucker, CTO of Cisco's cloud-computing business. Cisco is focusing on key areas Tucker said are fundamental to building clouds, including virtualization, network performance and security.

Those will be particularly important as the number and breadth of clouds evolves.

"There will be many, many clouds all around the world," Tucker said during a July 13 Webcast press conference.

Cisco is growing the networking capabilities within the UCS, a converged data center infrastructure offering that includes not only Cisco blade servers, networking technology and management software, but also storage and virtualization technologies from partners like EMC and VMware. UCS now offers new fabric interconnects, a new virtual interface card and a new chassis I/O module, all designed to expand application performance by doubling the bandwidth to the chassis and quadrupling the bandwidth to the server. In addition, latency is reduced by 40 percent.

Doubling the switching capacity of the data center fabric means greater workload density, and Cisco also is offering Fabric Interconnect Unified Ports that support Ethernet, Fibre Channel or FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet). The networking giant also is doubling the number of virtual interfaces, according to Soni Jiandani, senior vice president of Cisco's Server Access Virtualization Technology Group.

During the press conference, Jiandani noted the success Cisco has seen with the two-year-old UCS, including almost 5,400 customers, with that number expected to go up. The UCS also has made Cisco a growing player in the server space, a market that the vendor entered with the solution. IDC analysts in May said that since launching the UCS, Cisco has become the world's seventh-largest server vendor and the third-largest x86 blade vendor. It also is the No. 2 x86 blade vendor in the United States.

Sixty percent of Cisco's UCS business is in the United States, Jiandani said, with 20 percent in Europe, and the other 20 percent in emerging markets and the Asia/Pacific region.

Innovations to Cisco's WAAS products are aimed at improving the performance of applications, including SaaS (software as a service), virtual desktops and high-quality video. Cisco introduced what officials said is the first context-aware DRE (data redundancy elimination) technology, which enables users to more efficiently manage bandwidth and get better performance from their applications. Being context-aware enables DRE caching based on a per-application and per-branch office basis, according to Cisco officials. The result is a better user experience, they said.

Cisco's new WAAS Central Manager can manage up to 2,000 WAAS instances from a single point. In addition, the integrated Application Performance Manager gives network administrators better visibility into application performance and network use, all of which can improve efficiency.