Cisco UCS line refreshed and expanded

Earlier this month, Cisco announced some major changes and upgrades to their UCS platform. The platform hasn't had such a major update since its introduction, back in 2009. The portfolio has been expanded to include solutions:
Lower cost entry into the UCS environment
Higher disk density for a single-server storage needs
Modular computing power for dedicated or disparate applications
Rrefreshed blades and servers based on the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor
A quick look at each of these after the break.

The UCS Mini provides new lower cost entry points and is scaled to meet the needs of entry, level, lower end or midmarket customers, as well as branch office-type deployment scenarios. A key component of this offering is the 6300 Series Fabric Interconnect, which fits in the FEX slot of a standard 5108 UCS Chassis. This provides the same functionality of the larger 6200 top-of-rack, without the space or wiring complexities. The 6324 can control network connectivity for 8 UCS Blades, as well as 7 rackservers, for a max of 15 Cisco servers.

Another new offering, the UCS M-Series Modular Server chassis allows up to 8 compute cartridges to be installed in a single 2U, rackmounted chassis. Each cartridge constitutes 2 separate 'nodes,' meaning only CPU(currently Xeon 4-Core E3) and RAM (currently 32GB). These could be banded together to provide a large amount of computing power to a single application, or run separately as small dedicated servers, all using the same shared backplane and resources, all from within the same chassis. According to Cisco, this eliminates up to 95% of components that would be duplicated in a normal server deployment. 

The UCS C3160 Rack Server features up to 64 capacity-optimized local disks, for a maximum of 360TB of storage, in a compact 4U rackmounted chassis. All of its disks are individually hot-swappable, and protected by built-in hardware RAID. It can be used in combination with the M-Series, providing substantial storage capacity in a small, easily managed package. 

C-Series rack servers and B-series blade servers have both been refreshed, designated the M4 generation. These are based on the Xeon® processor E5-2600 v3 processor. Full specs are expanded in both server lines, with the C460 rack server supporting an impressive maximum of 6TB of RAM.

Finally, Cisco announced a new product, namely UCS Director Express for Big Data. This is an offshoot of their existing UCS Director product, designed for big data apps and allowing for single-touch solution to automate Hadoop deployment. It is, in Cisco's words, "integrated with major open-source distributions for consistent and repeatable Hadoop UCS cluster configurations."

It will be interesting to see how these all perform in deployment. The Mini, in particular, seems like an ideal choice for customers that want to enter the UCS world without the full complexity or cost of the enterprise-level solution. 

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