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Cisco Blade Will Be Built For Hosting Virtual Machines

What was interesting about Cisco's entry into blade servers Mar. 16 was the key role that it expects virtualization to play. It trumpeted its convergence of storage and networking data on the blade. But what about its assumption that the blade will be virtualized?
What was interesting about Cisco's entry into blade servers Mar. 16 was the key role that it expects virtualization to play. It trumpeted its convergence of storage and networking data on the blade. But what about its assumption that the blade will be virtualized?Both Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, which is the owner of VMware, and Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware, participated in the Cisco announcement. Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's server and tools business, was also a speaker, and where Microsoft goes, Citrix XenSource and XenServer can't be far behind. "Virtualization is a way to save money. In the long run, it's a way to reduce the people cost of the data center," Muglia said during the March 16 Webcast.

That is, virtualization constitutes a central part of the value proposition of Cisco's Unified Computing System.

Stephen Foskett in his Gestalt IT blog, puts it even more plainly: "Rather than bothering with a soup-to-nuts line of servers, Cisco will focus where the most value is for integrated systems: high-end virtual servers. This fits well into their traditional network-focused strategy, as well as VMware's vision of data center evolution, vSphere."

Scott Lowe, a contributor to the SearchVMware technical advisory site, speculates in his blog More On Cisco UCS that part of the vSwitch capability offered by VMware in ESX Server has now been built into the converged network adapter on Cisco's UCS 6100 chassis, which optimizes the unit for virtual machine operations.

"Personally, I'd rather not replace the vSwitch and instead allow the UCS 6100 and/or UCS Manager to manage" all the virtual machine I/O, he wrote. But Cisco has taken steps to wring all the performance it can out of the converged storage and networking data streams from a heavily virtualized blade server.

UCS Manager is the virtual machine management layer coming from BMC Software as part of Cisco's Unified package. Cisco spokesmen, however, have corrected me for saying that BMC developed UCS Manager. Cisco conceded that BMC and Cisco "worked together to develop a server provisioning and configuration management solution" but otherwise Cisco developed UCS Manager "on its own," a spokesman said.

I still suspect the system management expertise behind BMC Patrol and other system managmenet software has played a large role in creating UCS Manager.