Cisco Offers UCS Storage Server as Alternative to Public Clouds

Company officials say the new UCS S-Series systems can store and analyze data in real time at a much lower cost than public clouds.

Cisco storage

Cisco Systems officials are rolling out the latest addition to the company's Unified Computing System portfolio, a storage-optimized system that they say offers enterprises an alternative to public clouds for storing the massive amounts of data they're accumulating.

The company unveiled the new UCS S-Series offering Nov. 2 at its Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco, one of several data center-focused announcements officials made at the show. With the new UCS-S Series, Cisco is giving organizations an on-premises option for managing the unstructured data being generated by such trends as the internet of things (IoT), video, collaboration applications, data analytics and greater mobility.

The goal is to enable customers to collect, access and analyze the data and gain business insights in real time. The new storage-optimized UCS offering can do this at a lower cost than public clouds and traditional servers, according to Todd Brannon, director of product marketing in Cisco's Computing Systems Product Group. With the rise of such data-intensive workloads as big data, the discussion around storage in the data center has shifted "from one about capacity to one about capacity and compute," Brannon told eWEEK.

He said that currently, less than 40 percent of stored data is analyzed and used to create insights that businesses can act upon. New technologies, from video analytics and diagnostic imaging to machine learning, create huge amounts of data that is processed in real time, something traditional data center storage systems can do.

At the same time, public cloud storage can become expensive over time as the amount of data created grows, and given the unpredictable nature of that growth, he said. While the UCS S-Series requires upfront acquisition costs, over time the system can cut storage costs in half compared with public cloud alternatives, which come with monthly bills.

There also are savings when compared with traditional hardware, Cisco officials said. The first system in the new storage-optimized lineup, the UCS S3260 Storage Server, is a modular 4U (7-inch) system that offers up to 600TB of storage. According to Cisco officials, such capacity would require five 2U systems. Combined with the company's UCS Manager software, the UCS S3260 can reduce capital costs by up to 34 percent compared with traditional servers and lowers management costs by as much as 80 percent.

In addition, it takes up 60 percent less space, consumes 59 percent less power and reduces cabling by 70 percent.

Over a three-year period, the UCS S3260 can save users up to 56 percent in total cost of ownership over Amazon S3 public cloud storage.

In addition to the expansion of the UCS portfolio, Cisco officials also unveiled the latest generation of the company's ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite of hybrid cloud software. The newest iteration can be deployed to more than 20 different data center, public and private cloud environments, while subscriptions can be licensed for one, three and five years to give customers greater flexibility.

The suite has four offers: infrastructure automation, service management, cloud management and big data automation for Hadoop and Splunk clusters. They can be used individually or in combinations, officials said.

Cisco also is making it easier for developers to use the UCS Manager and UCS Director APIs for DevOps automation by revamping its UCS Developer Center. There are now self-paced learning labs for infrastructure and application developers.

Also, through Open Pay, Cisco Capital is offering customers greater flexibility in paying for UCS offerings and certain converged infrastructure storage solutions to help them deal with spikes in demand by enabling them to pay for variable capacity.