Cisco is marketing its latest UCS servers with the message “It’s not a server. It’s a system.” In other words, Cisco doesn’t want you to think you’re just buying a bunch of boxes.
Instead, Cisco wants you to focus on the purchase of an integrated package of hardware and software that includes compute, a fabric, and management tools. A system, Cisco’s thinking goes, offers much more value than just a server.
To bolster this notion, Cisco announced new software, called Workload Optimization Manager, to monitor and optimize resource consumption within UCS. The software, which Cisco has OEM’d from Turbonomic, analyzes the hardware, storage, and compute on UCS to ensure that workloads are neither under- nor over-resourced.
The goal is to ensure high performance while also reclaiming and reallocating unused compute, memory, disk, and so on.
The software can also be used as a planning tool when migrating to new hardware or to a cloud service. For instance, if Cisco customers are moving from an older generation of UCS machines, they can calculate how many new ones they’ll have to buy based on actual workloads.
This planning tool can also be used for public cloud, such as IaaS, to ensure that customers don’t pay for capacity they won’t use, as well as avoid underprovisioning a cloud application and then suffering poor performance.
In my briefing with Cisco about UCS, the company mentioned that it has used Turbonomic internally to optimize its own data centers. You can decide for yourself how much weight to give to the “We eat our own dog food” stance, but I take it as a sound endorsement.
Cisco has integrated Workload Optimization Manager into UCS Director 6.5, which is the latest version of the UCS management software.
A Part Of Your System
I’m always suspicious of marketing claims such as “It’s not a server. It’s a system.” These pat little taglines skate over inevitable complexities, costs, and potential flaws or weaknesses.
Then again, I suppose I can’t fault vendor marketing teams. No one would ever approve a tagline like “It’s kind of complicated and a little pricey, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad.”
And in the case of the new UCS launch, I don’t think Cisco is being disingenuous. UCS is a system, and it was designed to be one since its inception.
That means customers have to understand the implications of this approach. Is it going to provide operational or performance benefits over another option? Do you want to live within the parameters this system proscribes? Is it going to fit your budget?
In other words, is the system Cisco offers one that you want to be a part of?