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Cisco's UCS is 1 year old

With 900 paying customers, it's growing up fast

Cisco's Unified Computing System platform, which consolidates data center operations by integrating blade servers with storage access, virtualization and switching, celebrated its first birthday this week at the Cisco Live! conference in Las Vegas. It seems to be growing up fast: there are 900 paying customers for the platform, half of which are smaller than the Fortune 1000 and almost half of which are in production.

This size of customer fits Cisco's commercial user profile. Another 25% of customers are enterprises and the remainder are service providers, 14 of which are customers of Cisco's Unified Service Delivery system, which combines UCS with a Nexus 7000 switch and CRS-1 router as a foundation platform for cloud service delivery.

UCS is also the host platform for a new Hosted Collaboration Solution Cisco announced at its conference this week. This system allows service providers to offer Cisco collaboration and unified communications applications as cloud-based service to their customers. It allows service providers to deploy multiple virtualized applications on a single server and then host them from their data centers for multiple customers.   

Some of the benefits gained from UCS in its first year seem compelling. Travelport, a service provider to the travel industry, has a "large scale" UCS implementation with Red Hat virtualization software. The company reduced its cabling by 87%, its server racks by 40%, and its service provisioning time by 75%, Cisco says.

Station Casinos here in Las Vegas is hosting Cisco Unified Communications on UCS to tie its 18 properties and 4,267 hotel rooms together on a single infrastructure and centralize telephony operations. That infrastructure supports 23,000 slot machines, 160+ applications, 40,000 user accounts, 15,000+ devices, 526 servers across five domains, 900+ databases, and 5,500+ daily users.

Station officials say they so far have been able to dramatically reduce rack space, cabling, switches, power, cooling and cost of ownership by, for example, supporting 10 virtual server instances per blade on UCS. Station officials also say they were able to upgrade performance and provision servers faster at the same time.

Another UCS user is a large software company that Cisco would not name which built a private cloud to provision IT services to its R&D staff.  The R&D department is billed hourly for the service based on virtual machine use.

Eighty percent to 85% of UCS deployments are going into existing data centers rather than greenfield sites, says Soni Jiandani, vice president of Cisco's Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit. Fifty percent to 60% of those deployments run virtual workloads vs. physical, or "bare metal" workloads, she says.

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