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Cisco To Sell Blade Servers With Virtualization, Storage

The company's Unified Computing System brings it into direct competition with some of its existing partners, such as HP, Dell, and IBM.

Cisco Unified Computing System with four UCS B-Series blades

Cisco Unified Computing System with four UCS B-Series blades
(click for larger image)

Cisco on Tuesday announced plans for a new series of blade server products that includes storage capabilities along with virtualization and server management software.

In introducing its Unified Computing System, Cisco assembled a formidable alliance of software vendors to help set the tone for the data center of the future, including BMC Software, Citrix Systems, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, SAP, and VMware.

CEO John Chambers, during a Webcast that approached two hours in length, conceded that Cisco's entry into the blade market was going to bring it into direct competition with some of its existing partners, such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and IBM.

"We focus on market transitions, not competitors. You've got to play the hand this market has dealt you," he said at one point.

Cisco will base what it called a new class of blade, the Cisco UCS B-Series, on Intel's next-generation Xeon processor, the Nehalem line. The blades -- previously code-named California -- will be able to take advantage of virtualized memory in a blade chassis that can hold up to 40 blade servers.

The blade, available in either a four-way or eight-way configuration will operate on a unified 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric that will be able to send data out to the network or storage, without implementing separate networks for each. Building this capability into the blade will reduce the number of network adapters, host bus adapters, cables, and switches needed in the data center. The simplified infrastructure will lead to a capital expense and operating expense savings of as much as 35%, Chambers said.

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