When Cisco launched it’s UCS blade system in March, they were adamant that they did not plan to get into the rack mount server business. As I pointed out at the time (see here) the lack of rack mount servers would be a significant barrier to entry in the Enterprise because:
- Many customers are still wary of the vendor lock-in, limited scalability, and pricey nature of blades and continue to buy rack mount servers in large quantities.
- IT organizations try to keep the number of hardware companies they deal with to a minimum in order to maximize their buying power and simplify support for the server infrastructure. Telling companies to buy blades from Cisco and rack mounts from another supplier is not likely to fly with many customers.
So guess what, today Cisco announced a range of 1U and 2U rack mount servers designed to complement the USC blade systems. I suspect that this is the result of early feedback from potential resellers and end users, i.e. “if you want to be taken seriously, then you have to bring more than blades to the data center gunfight.” Given the short timeframe between this launch and the March UCS announcements, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Cisco always had a contingency plan here, and just hoped they wouldn’t need it.
The range of servers is still limited compared to the major server vendors, but 1U and 2U dual processor systems are certainly the sweet spot of the market, and should help the get a foot in the door at many enterprise IT organizations. Of course, this is all moot until Cisco actually has general availability on USC and its rack mount cousins, at the moment they seem to be as rare as rocking horse droppings outside of Cisco data centers!
Posted by: Nik Simpson