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Everything you need to know about Cisco’s new UCS Mini

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on September 5, 2014 by Emily A. Davidson

Media outlets are saying Cisco’s just-announced UCS Mini is the ‘blade runner’ of hyper-convergence, that Cisco just upped its UCS server game and that it’s the first truly disaggregated server in the world. So what is UCS Mini and why should you care?

What the UCS Mini is
Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) bundles servers, storage and networking into a single solution with centralized management. UCS Mini falls under the same umbrella buzzwords as converged infrastructure and hyper-convergence.

As a recap, TechTarget defines Converged Infrastructure (CI) as “…an approach to data center management that relies on a specific vendor and the vendor’s partners, to provide pre-configured bundles of hardware and software in a single chassis.” A CI offers a simplified approach to data center management by removing configuration work from IT’s shoulders and saving on energy and space costs in the data center.

Here’s a video of Cisco’s UCS solution:

How the UCS Mini works
We often refer to CI as a data center in-a-box. With the UCS mini you get the following bundle:

Optional components:

Cisco has the #1 Blade server in the Americas. The UCS Mini chassis will accommodate up to eight half-width Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers. The UCS 6324 provides the same unified server and networking capabilities as the top-of-rack 6200 Series Fabric Interconnect. The UCS Manager provides unified management of all software and hardware components in the Cisco UCS Mini bundle above.

The UCS Mini is restricted to a max of 15 servers (8 x B-Series blade servers and 7 x rack servers). If you require more scalability, you will be able to upgrade to the full-size UCS servers with more interconnects. Learn more about the bundle on Cisco’s UCS Mini page or download the UCS Mini datasheet.

Who the UCS Mini is for
The UCS Mini solution is designed for companies with 500 seats or lower.

Why we like it
We like that this entry-level UCS Mini bundle is non-intrusive to your current environment with a single point of management for both blades and rackmount servers. It brings all the power of the UCS solution at a price point and scale for smaller use cases, opening the door for SMB’s gain enterprise-level computing power!

Bonus, you can use Nexus 5k technology with UCS manager at no license cost inside the chassis.

Why you should care
Who needs to add a UCS Mini to their environment? As a solution provider, unified computing systems offer obvious benefits to our clients, but there are two solid use cases that fit the UCS Mini nicely:

1. A new branch office/retail location: UCS Mini is a great fit for an upcoming IT project with cost concerns around performance, scalability, management features and interoperability requirements. For example, you’re opening a new branch, remote office or point-of-sale location and need to move computing power closer to the edge of the network instead of in a server farm or data centre. The remote accessibility of UCS manager means you don’t need to send a technician onsite to troubleshoot issues. Bonus: if you add UCS Central, you will be able to centrally manage multiple UCS domains.

2. Enterprise performance without the price: Typically, an enterprise-sized UCS solution starts at $60-$70,000. For SMB’s with a couple of IT guys and a small IT environment, that kind of budget is simply (often laughably) not available. Starting at $20,000, UCS Mini delivers 10 Gbps networking in a compact form factor that’s expandable to 15 servers with the same manager as the enterprise-priced UCS solution. Since it’s easy to manage, your IT team will be able to focus on keeping the business running rather than troubleshooting an ineffective IT architecture.

The UCS Mini is also a contender if you have a larger data center that must use physical hardware separation to meet compliance requirements. For example, you need to outsource servers, but cannot share a domain with a competitor’s servers. Another example is that you simply need a failover domain!

What you should do right now
Consider the use cases above and if the UCS Mini would address some of the budget and performance challenges that come with remote and branch office projects, or simply getting scalable performance at an affordable entry point.

If you’re intrigued by UCS Mini, have a look at our TechCheck Overview where our experts will show you where you will be able to optimize an under or over-utilized server environment. In this case, a TechCheck will come with a UCS manager demo run internally on our UCS equipment. In this demo, our experts cover the features and what they personally like, and do not like about UCS manager.

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