After years of making networking equipment for other folks' computers, Cisco has announced its first servers. The company is tackling the server concept a little differently from the norm, though. Cisco's new Unified Computing Systems are actually 6U devices that purportedly combine "compute, network, storage access, and virtualization into a scalable, modular architecture that is managed as a single system."
A single Unified Computing System incorporates as many as eight Cisco UCS B-Series blades, which are powered by Intel's still-unannounced Nehalem-based Xeon processors. (Apple already offers those CPUs in the latest Mac Pro.) Cisco consolidates input and output within Unified Computing Systems using "line-rate, low-latency, lossless, 10-Gbps Cisco Data Center Ethernet and FCoE interconnect switches." On the storage side of things, Cisco notes that unified fabric support lets the machines hook up to storage servers via Ethernet, fiber channel, or iSCSI.
Interestingly, the company goes on to say that admins can manage Unified Computing Systems as single devices using its Cisco UCS Manager software. That tool supposedly provides "an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), a command line interface (CLI), and a robust application programming interface (API) to manage all system configuration and operations."
Unified Computing Systems are scheduled to become available in the second quarter of this year. Cisco says it will offer "associated services" to customers, as well.