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Cisco UCS B-Series OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Cisco UCS B-Series is #3 ranked solution in top Blade Servers. IT Central Station users give Cisco UCS B-Series an average rating of 8 out of 10. Cisco UCS B-Series is most commonly compared to HPE Synergy:Cisco UCS B-Series vs HPE Synergy. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 30% of all views.
What is Cisco UCS B-Series?
Based on Intel Xeon processor E7 and E5 product families, Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers work with virtualized and non-virtualized applications to increase: Performance, Energy efficiency, Flexibility and Administrator productivity.

Cisco UCS B-Series is also known as UCS B-Series, Unified Computing System B-Series.

Cisco UCS B-Series Buyer's Guide

Download the Cisco UCS B-Series Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Cisco UCS B-Series Customers
Aegean Motorway, Anilana Hotels and Resorts, Anonymous Banking Group, Artoni Transporti, Bellevue, BH Telecom, Bowling Green State University, Children's Hospital Colorado, City of Biel, Dimension Data, Dualtec Cloud Builders, Hertz, Houston Methodist, Kuwait Petroleum Italia, Lufthansa Systems GmbH & Co.KG, Outscale, Sony Corporation, Talbots
Cisco UCS B-Series Video

Archived Cisco UCS B-Series Reviews (more than two years old)

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Ricky Santos
System Administrator at ON Semiconductor Phils. Inc.
Real User
Top 5
A highly available and flexible solution with a single point of administration

Pros and Cons

  • "The Dashboard is quite impressive and is, so far, the best based on my experience."
  • "There are patches that cannot be implemented without any downtime or reboot required."

What is our primary use case?

Our whole VMware Farm is running on Flexpod, which uses the UCS B-Series for compute resources. Using the Blade along with Fibre Interconnect, it provides high availability and ease of migration to other hardware in case of failure. The cabling and power footprint is at the lowest so far.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides high availability with flexibility and a single point of administration using the Flexpod solutions. With all of the hardware on a single dashboard, it is easy to troubleshoot and to administer. The blade system provides faster back-end communication between systems.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are profiling, ease of administration, and monitoring.

Profiling provides easier deployment and configuration, especially if the new systems are intended only to increase compute resources.

The Dashboard is quite impressive and is, so far, the best based on my experience. It provides a detailed view that is easy to follow. The cross-links on the information are great.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the availability increased during upgrades and patching. There are patches that cannot be implemented without any downtime or reboot required. If the newer version could eliminate downtime during patches or firmware upgrades, it would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very much stable, especially the network side.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very flexible, thanks to Profiling of the hardware on which you can transfer the profile of a system to another without any action or configuration needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great all the way, although no major issues have yet been encountered in terms of UCS / Flexpod.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to this solution, we used an HP Blade C3000 System. Based on the reviews and corporate standard we went to Cisco Flexpod solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is impressive.

What about the implementation team?

The vendor helped us implement the Flexpod, and we would rate them an eight out of ten.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The price of this solution is a little bit higher, but given that this system is Cisco, it feels more secure and dependable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options before choosing this solution.

What other advice do I have?

Right now we haven't encountered any issues on our system that could result in our KPI being impacted.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Neeraj Mehra
Manager of Solutions and Support at Esconet Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Real User
I can connect it to multiple chassis and rack servers using a unified platform, then manage them on a single console

Pros and Cons

  • "I can connect Cisco UCS B-Series to multiple chassis and rack servers using a unified platform, then manage them on a single console."
  • "The configuration is a bit complex, as it requires very high technical expertise to apply it."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for computing and virtualization. All the blade servers are used for database uploads.

We are a system integrator. So, we sell multiple type of software and hardware solutions. We implement solutions and provide support. 

We have multiple versions of the solution currently running. It depends on our customer.

How has it helped my organization?

The overall consolidation of hardware is helping us.

What is most valuable?

  • Manageability
  • Performance

I can connect Cisco UCS B-Series to multiple chassis and rack servers using a unified platform, then manage them on a single console.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable. We haven't encounter any failures or problems in these particular servers. We have had three to four years without any downtime happening.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good from Cisco. The type of service level purchase will determine the level of support response that you receive from Cisco.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is a bit complex in terms of configuration. While as an admin or an end user, it is very easy to use. The configuration is a bit complex, as it requires very high technical expertise to apply it.

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrator. We use two engineers for the deployment.

The time for deployment depends customer to customer and the number of servers that we deploy. For example, our last deployment took three days.

It requires some basic configuration, then you can just plug and play.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We still have multiple vendors that we work with. It depends on the customer requirements whom we select to work with.

We work with this solution because we find that the technology is superior to others.

We have also evaluated Dell EMC blade and rack servers, along with Cisco rack servers.

What other advice do I have?

Our customers are very happy people.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner and system integrator.
Learn what your peers think about Cisco UCS B-Series. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
552,305 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Romano Maria Ruberti
Consultant at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
The separation of the hardware from the components' software definition is key for us

Pros and Cons

  • "I like that the hardware is separated from the software definition of the components."
  • "It needs a better UI. Cisco makes a great product, but doesn't know how to make a UI."

What is our primary use case?

Mostly VMs, for hosting virtual infrastructure. It represents 99 percent of our computing workforce.

How has it helped my organization?

The versatility of the solution is the most helpful to us.

What is most valuable?

The way the hardware is separated from the software definition of the components.

What needs improvement?

Better UI. Cisco makes a great product but doesn't know how to make a UI.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Very stable and very reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a blade system so it's fairly scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've used technical support and it's above average.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a bad experience with IBM servers, which is why we decided to change solutions. Also, as a bank, the switch was a money-driven process. They offered us a very good deal to test the new solution and it became widely spread throughout the company. 

Reliability, price, support, and scalability are important factors for us in selecting a vendor.

How was the initial setup?

Coming from a server background, it wasn't straightforward at all. It is a process that is closer to requiring telecommunication knowledge than server knowledge. Once you overcome that little step at the beginning it's fine, but at the beginning it was a little difficult to understand.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to a colleague looking at this or a similar solution would be to test it. When we started, Cisco UCS was the first solution on the market and the only one that provided certain capabilities hardware-wise. It was the one with the most cores per CPU and it was the one with the most memory per blade server. Of course, now there are other vendors in the market. If I were to start the search process right now, I would consider Cisco UCS, but also other vendors like Dell and HPE, which are making new blade servers. They are coming up with different solutions and are catching up to the market. Until there is something really new on the market, like UCS had when they started, UCS is facing some competition.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten. Two points go to the UI, which is lacking. Also, the way you can actually switch from one system to another doesn't allow for the easy transfer of all of the server definitions.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user683436
Data Center Systems Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
MSP
The Dual Fabric design allows for online/in-service upgrades during production with no impact.

Pros and Cons

  • "The Dual Fabric design allows for online/in-service upgrades during production with no impact."
  • "HTML5 interface is a much needed improvement over the old Java interface, but still needs a little work."

What is most valuable?

The Dual Fabric design allows for online/in-service upgrades during production with no impact. Also, single point of management for all server profile and firmware management allows for guaranteed uniformity in the datacenter.

How has it helped my organization?

I have deployed 2-3 dozen UCS systems and managed many more for customers. Customers always love the unified management, speed of setup, and the improved performance after migration of workloads to UCS servers.

What needs improvement?

HTML5 interface is a much needed improvement over the old Java interface, but still needs a little work.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have deployed and managed Cisco UCS solutions for approximately 5 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As with any system, there are very occasional bugs. But Cisco is quick to remedy any issue. Firmware is often already out to fix issues that we run into.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is excellent.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have experience with HP, IBM and Dell rack servers. I switched to UCS when I joined a Cisco partner and learned to deploy UCS.

How was the initial setup?

when customers are first introduced to UCS, the setup is somewhat complex. Yet the learning curve is reasonable.

What other advice do I have?

Cisco UCS is a fantastic product that is widely deployed with excellent support. Additionally, Cisco has developed CVD’s (Cisco Validated Designs) that assist partners and customers to properly deploy Cisco UCS with most major storage vendors. CVD’s are highly detailed deployment guides which are comprehensively tested by Cisco to ensure quick, highly reliable and predictable deployments.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user229368
Sr. Network Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
We can configure Service Profile and the way it combines LAN, SAN and the Server on the blade

What is most valuable?

For UCS B series, its integration with devices like FI, N5K. I also like UCSM where we can configure Service Profile and the way it combines LAN, SAN, and the server on the blade. I love it.

How has it helped my organization?

I am working with a Gold Partner company and we deploy this product to our customers, and so far we have deployed it in many clients and we have not received any complaints.

What needs improvement?

GUI had some trouble before with Java updates, but that is fixed now.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No.

How are customer service and technical support?

10/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use Dell, HP, UCS, all of them, but personally I like this product more.

How was the initial setup?

It very easy and straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing and licensing depend upon the requirements of the clients, but the recommended ones are to go with some Ethernet and Fabric ports mix.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we give options to the customers and go for this upon their choice.

What other advice do I have?

This is a complete solution with FI.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Data Center Practice Manager at The Plow Group
Real User
The hardware is easily swappable and with utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles.

Pros and Cons

  • "The hardware is easily swappable and, utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles."
  • "The UCS manager interface needs to be cleaned up a bit and can be streamlined, but no major complaints."

What is most valuable?

The UCS environment as a whole. The hardware is easily swappable and, utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles. So if your blade has failures and you have a hot spare, you can transfer the service profile to a new blade and be operational in mere minutes. Huge for uptime and perfect for environments like VMware ESXi hosts, which is what I use them for primarily.

How has it helped my organization?

We can be scalable to a greater degree using Cisco UCS. The options available and the connectivity to a Nexus switch with universal ports have been a game changer.

What needs improvement?

The UCS manager interface needs to be cleaned up a bit and can be streamlined, but no major complaints. Get off Java once and for all and release 3.2 so it can be all HTML 5.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco UCS since early 2011, so six and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

B-Series blades, along with the C Series tack mounts are the most reliable server hardware platform I have worked with in my 20+ years in the industry.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

None. Cisco UCS, to this day, has been the most easily scalable server product I have encountered. Hyper-converged solutions have potential, yet have not shown me that they are scalable at an enterprise level the way the B Series UCS are at this time.

How are customer service and technical support?

Some of the best in the industry. Always helpful and mostly flexible.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

In the past, I have used rack mount and blade solutions from Dell, HPE, and IBM. None of them have come close to the combination of performance and reliability that I get from Cisco.

How was the initial setup?

Initial UCS setup is complex, but once you have your service profiles (templates) configured, adding new blades and provisioning boot LUNs is very easy. Cloning options make it even more so.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Nothing shocking. Very straightforward. Make sure you work with a vendor partner than can get you a substantial discount off of list pricing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated dozens of server solutions (Dell PowerEdge, IBM X series and HPE ProLiant) and many, many more.

What other advice do I have?

Do it and don’t look back. Just make sure you get strong in-house knowledge of UCS early on, unless you are willing to outsource UCS support to an MSP. It is easily learnable, but there is a bit of a curve to support the overall UCS infrastructure at the start.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Bob Whitcombe
Technical Sales Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
The UCS Manager uses a single pane of glass to monitor, deploy and provision servers.

Pros and Cons

  • "Since its UCS release in 2009, Cisco has extended the core functionality with Central, a tool for managing multiple domains"
  • "Right now, the market is rapidly transitioning to solid-state media and the Cisco options tend to be less varied and more expensive than a broader slate of products from HP, Dell or IBM."

What is most valuable?

Previously, the physical trappings of Cisco UCS, Intel chip-sets and UCS Manager were the most useful part of this server system. As we embrace new Intel CPU's, Chip-sets and memory, we are gaining added value from the original UCS design - which was a software construct based on XML API's and a suite of code that is really starting to blossom as a central automation vehicle, that scales to deliver new features and extended integration with a suite of security, management and performance offerings Cisco has added to its portfolio.

While UCS hardware leveraged standard x86 designs, the use of a single pane of glass to monitor, deploy and provision servers was a huge timesaver. Since its UCS release in 2009, Cisco has extended the core functionality with Central, a tool for managing multiple domains, Director - an automation tool and Performance Manager. In the past few years CIsco has been on a buying binge for the Data Center, snapping up Cliqr, Lancope, AppDynamics, ContainrX, and several others that are being integrated with in-house analytics tools like Tetration and external tools like Turbonomic to provide an incredibly powerful, secure automation platform that will be the foundation of a future autonomic server environment with adaptive security and dynamic self diagnosis.

Cisco UCS Manager is embedded in the cost of the fabric controllers and is used to manage the servers, chassis and fabric. It also serves as a link point for integrating tools like Director, Performance Manager and Central. Future additions to the UCS tool set are extensions that Cisco is feeling out how best to offer to customers - for straight purchase - or via subscription.

I encourage UCS users and those considering UCS adoption to dig into the subscription offerings and get some clarity on how they grow over time. For example, as powerful security tools like Stealthwatch (Lancope) are added, what other systems are required and how are those subscriptions managed. When Analytics are required - do you need a Gigabuck Third Party offering or are you going to jump on Cisco's Tetration bandwagon and roll your own? I push for simplicity with Cisco. However, you need good data for that conversation. Talk to the apps, dev and ops teams as to what is needed today, where you are going and what future needs will become vs what might be nice to have. Once you understand where you are going, you are in a much better position to negotiate with a relative newbie like Cisco on how best to get there.

Things will only get better going forward. UCS Manager is an XML construct. Everything is in software and can scale and expand with increased hardware capability, while other architectures require extensive effort on each end to develop hardware, then update and test a new rev of software for reliability and consistency.

The big challenge for Cisco today is they built UCS manager for Cisco CCIE's anxious and able to have every knob and dial available to tweak. As a result, UCS manager is overly complex relative to functions and features and a lot of effort can go into streamlining and simplifying the User Experience. However, after 8 years in the market and huge acceptance of its increased ROI over competitive offerings and an appreciation for what UCS provides in OPex reduction, you can buy experienced UCS engineers vs having to develop and train them, only to see them purchased by a competitor.


How has it helped my organization?

I have a client who is currently managing 1500 servers with two people for a mission-critical retail operation. Previous operations teams using HP and IBM servers required 4x more people to manage the same number of servers.

What needs improvement?

This product comes from Cisco, who is fourth in the worldwide supply chain. That means options take a bit longer to get to their platform, as they insist on doing their own quality validations. Right now, the market is rapidly transitioning to solid-state media and the Cisco options tend to be less varied and more expensive than a broader slate of products from HP, Dell or IBM.

Cisco UCS offers a scalable platform with tremendous OpEx advantages. However, Cisco does not have the storage play that Dell (With Cisco Partner EMC in its fold) and HP have. With their long position in the market place on the PC supply chain side, both Dell and HP source and deliver high volume, low cost, advanced enterprise solutions from previous consumer focused suppliers like Samsung and Toshiba. Example’s like Sandisk’s 3.8TB SSD used in EMC VxRail products and newly announced Samsung 15TB and 6.4TB 1M IOPs SSD come to mind. While Cisco still carries the earlier versions of similar technology from FusionIO, the next gen lower cost options from Samsung will take a while to be approved and provided by Cisco.

Cisco’s internal testing and validation processes – to assure UCS Manager compatibility - mean they lag both HP and Dell in delivery on the newest storage paradigms – specifically the breadth of the SSD and NVRam offerings. Both these trends (High performance, High capacity SSD, and NVRam) offer major changes in architectural models. For organizations that seels to push the bleeding edge in testing and development, UCS will lag in delivery by a quarter or two. This has little impact on mainstream enterprises who will not adopt before a technology is thoroughly vetted by industry “Pioneers” – usually mid-sized shops that “took a chance” on introducing a new platform into their relatively modest environment.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used UCS since 2008, when the product was first released.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No issues with stability that we have not seen across other systems. In particular, due to Cisco networking dominance, the focus is on drivers that work with their products for all the competitors as well. Networking is typically the server area with the most work to be done – but this is the strength of Cisco.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

UCS originally promised to support 40 chassis per fabric – that has now been scaled down to 20 – which limits users to domains of “just 160” physical server blades. This has not proven to be an issue or obstacle. The release of UCS Central provides software to manage an array of fabrics so we can scale to thousands of physical servers.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

This is a foundational core of the Cisco Data Center automation experience and is a far more robust platform than currently provided by competitors. Customer service from Cisco and its partner community is thus on par with the same exemplary service provided by its TAC teams for business critical network deployments.

Technical Support:

Leveraging Cisco Network Technical Monitoring – the ability to call for a case and get resolution - is a process we are well aware of and very comfortable with.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

HP was the incumbent, displaced by UCS, which has proven easier to manage scale and use. The HP system just had too many pieces and the iLO lockin was a major cost that the UCS architecture leapfrogged.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup requires some training due to its scale. It’s like riding a car vs driving a truck. You use the auto driving skills when you drive a truck – but there are a few things to be aware of. One of the nuances with UCS is that it is a fully abstracted, scalable environment. So you can set up your domain to accommodate a single server or 160 servers. This requires adopting a standard naming convention, IP addressing, etc. Once those are established, like a truck vs a car – you can haul a lot more freight with UCS.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Obviously, the worst-kept secret with all vendors is to negotiate as close to fiscal year-end as possible. For Cisco, the year-end is July 31st, so they are well positioned for organizations deploying summer projects. The other issue is the move to bundle licenses. That is great for highly dense environments like a data center, but it makes much more sense for individual licenses for distributed environments like hundreds of storefronts or clinics distributed across a wide geographic area.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As stated earlier, we had HP. As a marquis client they fought hard on equipment price to maintain their position. However, the decision was based on OpEx, which greatly favored UCS. Once we had a few systems in place and people trained up on their use, it was not long before HP was displaced. Because both the IBM and Dell management architectures were quite similar, we looked and got a few quotes, but did not see anything to justify further evaluation resources.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest issue is automation. How to move the mundane tasks from people to machines; alert filters to improve management productivity and reduce overhead. Cisco is deploying a suite of products (Central, Director, Performance Manager, etc.), as are IBM, HP and even Dell. However, UCS manger provides such a robust base that the ability to scale and realize benefits is greater.

At the end of the day, the UCS product requires planning before just jumping in, due to its ability to scale. As a user, you need to evaluate naming conventions, IP addressing models and so forth – think about the entire enterprise as opposed to a single server or rack of servers.

Use very good hardware and innovative network elements, such as the VIC 10Gb cards that allow for traffic sequestration and partitioning across multiple virtual channels in a single link and of course UCS Manager. I actually have the patent on similar IP when we started blade server systems with an acquisition by Intel. The direct spin-off was the IBM Blade Center, but due to the IBM investment in Tivoli, they never used our central management system. Cisco took a network- vs compute-centric perspective as they embarked on their server designs and, with a clean sheet of paper, evolved a centralized manager for deployment and systems management that enables huge scales in management productivity.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Fred Armantrout
Senior System Specialist at Burns & McDonnell
Real User
Top 20Leaderboard
We use it in the converged infrastructure to push out profiles, firmware, and console access.

What is most valuable?

We are using it in the converged infrastructure with the common UCS Manager to push out:

  • Profiles
  • Firmware
  • Console access
  • VLAN configurations
  • Troubleshooting

How has it helped my organization?

Running in the VCE Vblock gives us the flexibility to deploy a large virtual workload of servers. We use a mix of mainly Windows servers and a few Linux appliances.

I had one blade server fail. The replacement was up and operating quickly after the blade server was swapped over.

What needs improvement?

Smaller locations are held up where they use a pair of converged infrastructure interfaces for redundancy.

To deploy a standard Cisco Blade system with redundancy for maintenance and reliability you have to purchase two converged infrastructure 6296 or 6396 interface / switches, and the chassis, uplink interfaces, plus the blade servers to drop in one or more blade chassis. From my point of view the initial cost to do this for a small regional office where we usually have the computer in a dedicated network closet for the switches and servers.

Cisco does now have a “Mini” solution where they have put the converged infrastructure and management into the chassis via the slots where the uplink interfaces normally install. This setup can support multiple blades and even external C series chassis in a converged environment all sharing some form of external storage from what I have read but never used or experienced.

Most of my companies need is for data distribution from a file sharing server(s), a domain controller and possibly a local database server. I can cover this all in one 2U server from another company that I can cram in 3-6 TB of DAS / RAID disks for file storage with enough RAM and CPU cores in 2 sockets to cover my compute / VM needs.

My demands for servers in most remote sites are different than most. Our end-users all have either a laptop or powerful CAD workstation to do their engineering on. We don’t do VDI via VDI terminals. We do use VDI for engineering apps in 2D on our VBlock and in C-Series UCS servers with NVidia shared video cards for CAD / 3D rendering in our VDI pools.


For how long have I used the solution?

The original M2 servers were in operation for more than five years. The new M4s have been up for under a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There was only one server failure during my use of 24 blades in my old system. There were 20 blades in my new/replacement implementation. In reality, this is a small installation.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not encountered any scalability issues. We added blades and upgraded memory along the way. We had open slots in the chassis and added additional blades. We upgraded the RAM in existing systems for more VM headroom.

How are customer service and technical support?

There were no issues with technical support, as most was handled via VCE.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had standalone 2U servers from HPE that were tied to a SAN for shared storage.

Limited memory expansion was what we had previously. We did dual Vblock installations to absorb the multiple little clusters of VM hosts that we had on separate servers.

We still use HPE servers as standalone VMware hosts in smaller sites.

The newer generation HPE servers have very high disk capacity servers where we can get 3 TB of disk in a 2U host.

How was the initial setup?

The Vblock system was installed and operational at handover. We had to provide IP ranges for servers, management interfaces, etc. However, the VCE installation teams did the actual configurations of the hosts, SAN, and network connectivity.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Although I was not completely involved in the pricing or licensing costs, I do have to monitor licensing allocation of VMware CPU licenses.

I know that Cisco licenses the number of ports and uplinks on various interfaces inside the Vblock. However, we have not done any upgrades beyond our initial purchase of the replacement Vblocks to run into any new licensing additions.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at other considerations, such as BladeSystem from HPE and standalone server stacks, at least five years ago when we purchased the original set of Vblocks.

It was the only integrated system that fit our needs. It filled the requirement for new computing power, an updated network, and SAN storage. It also filled the expansion possibilities of a data center in a box with almost one point of contact for support.

What other advice do I have?

Look closely at your needs.

  • Do you need more computing power and memory or storage expansion possibility?
  • Do you need redundancy in installation sites HA/DRS?
  • If you do HA/DRS, does it need to be near real-time disk writes, or more managed recovery/failover?
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are one of the few that had the arrangement to actually purchase the VBlock directly from VCE and not via a 3rd party VAR as when the original systems were put out for bid. After we had done all the specification with the VCE configuration team the VAR tried to tack on a percentage for passing the order from them to VCE and it almost canceled the whole system.
it_user429375
Technical Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
It changed our mindset to abstract the server, making it a stateless object for workloads.

What is most valuable?

Why pick a UCS blade over a Dell, HPE or Lenovo system? The answer depends on what application I need to run. If I want a small-scale, 3-4 server application space in a localized area, I want a rack mount, for a price advantage. If I need a larger-scale virtualized environment, I prefer blades, and for the lowest OpEx as I scale out, I find Cisco's UCS lets me manage a larger footprint with fewer people.

How has it helped my organization?

Previously, we focused on CPUs and servers, relying on the Intel cadence for change. With Cisco UCS, we became network-centric and changed our mindset to abstract the server, making it a stateless object for workloads. Managing blade servers logically lets us take full advantage of Moore's law – which started with 640 cores per fabric and now provides 5760 cores for B200-M4 blades in our standard 20 chassis pods; more workloads per pod, and fewer people to manage them. This has significantly improved our OpEx costs.

What needs improvement?

Cisco is behind as far as SSD qualifications and options allowed, relative to other vendors, but that is in keeping with their philosophy of a stateless working environment. If I add a unique storage attribute to my blades, I encumber it with a state that requires manual intervention to move around.

SSD evolution is coming hard and fast with higher density, lower cost options popping up each quarter. New form factors like M.2, U.2, Multi-TB, NVMe and now signs of Optane are emerging across a range of price points turning the once stolid server domain into the wild west. Dell and HPE have field qualification processes with vendors such that very soon after new products are shipping, they are available for use in their servers.

The process is slower for UCS as Cisco must perform extensive validation to assure compatibility with UCS-Manager. Does the device respond in time to blade controller logic, are there issues with time-outs for UCS-Manager that might have either type 1 or type 2 fault errors. Hence the array of new SSD products are more robust with HPE and Dell than for Cisco.

This goes to the core difference in architectural philosophy between the Legacy server vendors and Cisco that calls for a stateless environment leveraging networked storage so that any workload can be readily moved to a new server as a more powerful system is deployed, or a fault occurs on the old server. If an HPE blade has a local boot option with a new 1TB SSD – then you cannot move that workload remotely to a new 2-socket 36-core blade. You have to have a technician go on site to physically pull the boot SSD from the older blade and insert it into a new blade, then confirm it got the right one. This adds labor cost and slows down the upgrade process – increasing OpEx costs to manage the legacy infrastructure.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used this since inception in 2009.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

The change in mindset from building stateful servers to stateless devices managed across an intelligent fabric with logical abstraction took about a month for operations to come up to speed on; no looking back since.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We went through the original teething pains of any new system. In particular, once we had our operational epiphany on what the potential was, we were limited by how fast features could be added to UCS Manger. With XML extensions, UCS Central (Manager of Managers) and UCS Director (Automation), we have enough on our plate.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Early on, we encountered scalability issues – UCS was to support 40 chassis – but it only did 10, then increased to 20. 20 chassis (160 servers) is more than enough as Moore's law, increased CPU core count and higher network bandwidth all made for the ability to place more workloads in a pod than we were comfortable with. So, it rapidly caught up.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service is excellent.

Technical Support:

Technical support is excellent. Cisco understands what is needed and it plays to their networking strengths. Ironically, most of my previous rack system problems came down to network constraints as we ran into switch domain boundaries, VLAN mapping issues and so forth; the basic blocking and tackling for Cisco.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used HPE. They had a good blade system and good racks, but their iLO is expensive and gets very complex at scale.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward. More time was spent educating us on UCS Manager, the logical tool, service profiles and the other tools of automated provisioning than physical connectivity, which is child's play.

What about the implementation team?

We bought through a vendor, who showed us how to set up and some tricks of the trade to short circuit the learning process. Then, after a few months, we were cruising at scale.

What was our ROI?

ROI is not something we share, but I will note that we now use 2 persons to manage 1600 servers in two remote data centers. This is across 25 domains that can all be seen at once and, as alerts come in, drilled down and addressed from a web console.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

SSD evolution is coming hard and fast with higher density, lower cost options popping up each quarter. New form factors like M.2, U.2, Multi-TB, NVMe and now signs of Optane are emerging across a range of price points turning the once stolid server domain into the wild west. Dell and HPE have field qualification processes with vendors such that very soon after new products are shipping, they are available for use in their servers.

The process is slower for UCS as Cisco must perform extensive validation to assure compatibility with UCS-Manager. Does the device respond in time to blade controller logic, are there issues with time-outs for UCS-Manager that might have either type 1 or type 2 fault errors. Hence the array of new SSD products are more robust with HPE and Dell than for Cisco.

This goes to the core difference in architectural philosophy between the Legacy server vendors and Cisco that calls for a stateless environment leveraging networked storage so that any workload can be readily moved to a new server as a more powerful system is deployed, or a fault occurs on the old server. If an HPE blade has a local boot option with a new 1TB SSD – then you cannot move that workload remotely to a new 2-socket 36-core blade. You have to have a technician go on site to physically pull the boot SSD from the older blade and insert it into a new blade, then confirm it got the right one. This adds labor cost and slows down the upgrade process – increasing OpEx costs to manage the legacy infrastructure.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing we also evaluated HPE, Dell, and IBM. We all found that, aside from the physical differences, they had the same architecture and OpEx; external management; local switch infrastructure in each chassis; complex routing rules when scaling domains; and challenges in provisioning new units. Once we learned the "UCS Way," we were more efficient.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company and Cisco are partners.
it_user413451
Infrastructure Consultant at a tech consulting company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
With the virtual NICs/HBA, we can redesign the IO schema without upgrading hardware. Configuring the hardware platform could be better.

What is most valuable?

  • Virtual NICs/HBA
  • Nexus FC/Ethernet convergence

How has it helped my organization?

VirtualNICs/HBA allow us to redesign completely the IO schema (network and storage) without needing to upgrade or acquire additional hardware and controllers.

What needs improvement?

  • Hardware platform configuration

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for three years. We are currently using Cisco UCS, Chassis Model UCS5108, I/O Modules UCS-IOM-2208XP, Fabric Interconnect Model UCS-FI-6248UP, and Cisco Nexus 5548.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had some issues with certain NX-OSs in the Fabric Interconnect.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is 7/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not previously use a different solution. I’ve previous experience with HPE BladeSystem. UCS looks to me more flexible and powerful.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was complex. UCS deployment & management requires deep knowledge of the platform.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is expensive (like all converged platforms). From a cost perspective, UCS must be evaluated seriously in order to determine if the company requirements justify the acquisition. It is important to take into account that UCS is an end-to-end solution. Integration with Cisco Nexus is a must.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I did not evaluate other options, but in the convergence market, UCS should be evaluated as a clear option to evaluate.

What other advice do I have?

Training, training, training and planning, planning, planning!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Technical Head at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
The most valuable feature is the UCS Manager which integrates everything.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the UCS Manager which integrates everything. Java and HTML 5 base admin console is now available

How has it helped my organization?

Its provisioning and ease of management have improved our functioning.

What needs improvement?

Power Options for setting up Grid needs to have further customization. N+1 for power supply is not applicable in some data centers

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for 3 years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We've had no issues with deployment.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no issues with stability. N+1 for powersupply is not applicable on grid type data centers

What do I think about the scalability of the

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the UCS Manager which integrates everything.

Java and HTML 5 base admin console is now available

How has it helped my organization?

Its provisioning and ease of management have improved our functioning.

What needs improvement?

Power Options for setting up Grid needs to have further customization.

N+1 for power supply is not applicable in some data centers

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for 3 years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We've had no issues with deployment.


What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no issues with stability.

N+1 for powersupply is not applicable on grid type data centers

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's highly scalable. With everything set up, downtime is never an issue when adding blades.

How is customer service and technical support?

Cisco has been very supportive to us, as well as the partners

How was the initial setup?

A bit complex since using the FI was new to us.

What about the implementation team?

Vendor team were very helpful and was able to train us to use and manage the system.

What other advice do I have?

We used a Versa Stack solution so compute and storage was a breeze once setup was done.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Juan Dominguez
Senior Solutions Architect & Consultant at ZAG Technical Services
MSP
Top 20
Its Fabric Interconnects are capable of FC, FCoE and traditional Ethernet, unifying all of the ports.

What is most valuable?

After having used, configured and deployed HP and Dell blade systems, I was rather impressed at the time the initial setup of the UCS blade system took to achieve operational status. I was also very impressed with the thorough thought that went into the UCS Manager console and its capabilities as a whole. The conceptual layout of the UCSM was a technical breakthrough and though I tried to not compare it to HP or Dell, it was impossible not to. As our implementations grew and our overall knowledge of the system also grew, there was no turning back. The Cisco UCS team made what used to take hours to configure, setup and deploy, literally take minutes using their Cisco PowerCLI toolkit.

Another aspect of the Cisco UCS system that overshadows that of other technologies is the networking backbone that supports the blades themselves. Cisco created a network switch (control plane) in essence that caries both server traffic and uplink traffic from a single pair of "Fabric Interconnects". These Fabric Interconnects are capable of FC, FCoE and traditional Ethernet, thus making all the ports unified. Acting as the "brains" of the UCS Blade Server system and depending on the version of the Cisco Fabric Interconnects, the pair of fabric interconnects are capable of managing several UCS Blade Chassis and therefore eliminating the need to purchase more switching unnecessarily. The UCS Fabric Interconnects are capable of managing up to 5-10 Blade Chassis with 8 blades per chassis on a single pair of Fabric Interconnects. This is quite a large number of blade servers running from a single pair of Fabric Interconnects.

As you can see, the system scales nicely and the price point drops as your infrastructure grows in size, thus making the initial ROI even more attractive and feasible to make a business case in its favor.

The product’s most valuable features are:

  • FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet)
  • iSCSI services
  • QoS policies
  • Call-home
  • Direct connectivity to SAN Storage
  • Hardware abstraction via Service Profiles
  • Virtual Network Adapters from the Cisco VIC 1240 & 1340 series interfaces
  • Diskless servers (boot from SAN)
  • Reduced server provisioning time
  • RBAC security
  • Manageability or ease of use (single point of management)

How has it helped my organization?

Our company provides solutions that enable our customers to succeed. We thrive on our customers’ ability to see the value in our proposed solutions, so as to bring to their organizations a product that not only solves their current infrastructure constraints, but also resolves those that may arise in the future. We have many partnerships with several vendors in the same technology space, but we have aligned with Cisco due to their excellent blade server products and also their marquee products in the network switch arena.

Today, our business continues to grow with the inclusion of Cisco UCS at every possible opportunity. Now, even more than before, with go-market campaigns that focus on the Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus and accompanying storage arrays that are supported by Cisco and Cisco UCS.

What needs improvement?

Areas that require improvement are notably small in comparison to other similar products. The UCS system would benefit from less-expensive performance monitoring tools or other third-party tools that perform this function. Surprisingly enough, that is all I can come up with at this time.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is a non-issue with Cisco UCS. We have not had any stability issues and to just mention, the Cisco UCS team employs strenuous testing mechanisms of all the UCS components. They provide this for all their firmware updates prior to public release. This is not to say that we've not had any issues, but the issues have been extremely small in comparison to the amount of systems we've deployed. Those issues were quickly identified, rectified and the systems were brought back online in a prompt manner with minimal customer business impact.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cisco UCS scales rather well and while all other systems are online, therefore allowing for in-place upgrades and updates. The system provides great scalability and versatility in regards to system growths and business requirements. You can easily add additional chassis and blade servers with no impact to the systems running in production.

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco TAC has been phenomenal in most cases, but we have had a couple of minor instances where the issue took a bit longer than it should have to be resolved. I’d would say we have had a 97% success rate in most of our cases we’ve opened through Cisco TAC, that resolved our issues within the four-hour window we had expected and subscribed to.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously provided our customers with the HP blade system solution. As we began to become more familiar with the Cisco UCS system and we found it to be just as stable, if not more stable, we therefore shifted our solutions to include Cisco UCS B Series blade systems in lieu of HP. Our decision for this paradigm shift was due to the following factors:

  • Ease of setup
  • Reduced complexity of the network
  • Overall technology solution, support and maintenance
  • Product scalability
  • Performance
  • Cisco’s easy procurement quote, build and ordering process

How was the initial setup?

Setup for a first-time administrator of UCS will be somewhat time consuming, in the sense that Cisco UCS virtualizes just about every aspect of the hardware. The installation requires the installer/administrator to pre-provision several aspects of the physical hardware in a virtualized sense. As an example, the installer needs to pre-provision MAC addresses, fiber-channel HBA WWNN & WWNP namespaces, KVM address pools, management (KVM) address pools, iSCSI IQN names, iSCSI IP address pools and other items that become part of the “stateless” server attributes. These all become inclusive to the service profile assigned to each server, but are also unique to each.

Once the installer has some familiarity with the Cisco UCS blade server system, the setup phases become much like setting up a traditional rack server(s) and their respective networking in many ways. Just like anything else, once you’ve done it a few times, you become more and more proficient in your abilities to execute in a more expedient manner.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The Cisco UCS solution is more expensive in price comparisons with other similar solutions. You will be very happy to have had spent the money upfront and you will look like a rock star to your management and customer base by choosing Cisco UCS blade server system for your infrastructure needs. The pricing and licensing of the Cisco UCS system is comparable to other systems. Overall, your licensing and pricing costs will decrease exponentially over time in comparison to the other vendor branded blade server systems. I would recommend you at least allow yourselves the opportunity to review the Cisco UCS offerings and schedule a demo from your local Cisco UCS product vendor.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated:
- Dell
- HP
- IBM

What other advice do I have?

Find a local Cisco UCS Partner that has a lot of experience setting up Cisco UCS. It does require some infrastructure knowledge for northbound connectivity outside the UCS blade server system and has to be well thought out in terms of how it will integrate into your existing infrastructure. Other than this caveat, the UCS System is easy to install, setup and configure once you have it in your possession.

Our relationship has grown stronger with Cisco due to our own internal decisions to encompass the Cisco hardware where and if at all possible. Our decision to use, sell and deploy Cisco UCS is solely due to all the reasons I’ve already mentioned plus more. Cisco has surely outdone the competition here on this one.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user402516
System Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
I can use it to quickly deploy new resources for applications.

What is most valuable?

Management: The admin interface is very intuitive. Easy scalability: For example, when adding a new blade server to the chassis or when adding a new chassis, I can use the old management IP address to manage and create new profile.

How has it helped my organization?

I can deploy new resources for applications very fast.

What needs improvement?

Cooling. It is hotter than HP blade servers.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very good. …

What is most valuable?

  • Management: The admin interface is very intuitive.
  • Easy scalability: For example, when adding a new blade server to the chassis or when adding a new chassis, I can use the old management IP address to manage and create new profile.

How has it helped my organization?

I can deploy new resources for applications very fast.

What needs improvement?

Cooling. It is hotter than HP blade servers.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used a different solution, and we switched because this product is cheaper.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward with its interactive GUI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated Fujitsu products.

What other advice do I have?

Get help from Cisco Support.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user229368
Sr. Network Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Benefits includes scalability, flexibility, and the fact it takes less time to deploy. There were stability issues in previous firmware versions.

What is most valuable?

Remote Access to the device Ability to scale to different servers Centralized management

How has it helped my organization?

Customers and organizations are benefited by its scalability, flexibility, and the fact it takes less time to deploy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for almost one year.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

In most of our deployments, no issues were encountered.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable (with new versions of the firmware), although previous versions were having some issue with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In most of our deployments, no issues were encountered.

How are customer service and

What is most valuable?

  • Remote Access to the device
  • Ability to scale to different servers
  • Centralized management

How has it helped my organization?

Customers and organizations are benefited by its scalability, flexibility, and the fact it takes less time to deploy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for almost one year.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

In most of our deployments, no issues were encountered.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable (with new versions of the firmware), although previous versions were having some issue with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In most of our deployments, no issues were encountered.

How are customer service and technical support?

Very satisfied with the level of technical support from TAC.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using HP Servers but switched due to it having better features and scalability.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward, and a of lot technical documents are also available from Cisco to help.

What about the implementation team?

We have implemented it through our own team in-house.

What was our ROI?

It's a win-win situation for both customers and vendors due to its features.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before we had to look for other options, but now we just check the different versions of the product checking the features.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Cyber Security System Architect at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It's helped us to develop a new platform for virtualization, with a small footprint, and improved our computing power efficiency.

What is most valuable?

  • Flexibility,
  • Management
  • VMware interoperability

How has it helped my organization?

It's helped us to develop a new platform for virtualization, with a small footprint, and improved our computing power efficiency.

What needs improvement?

It could be helpful to have a wizard to make the setup routine better, and a wizard to help with the managerial processes to avoid misconfiguration issues.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using a Cisco 6296, 5100 Chassis, B-Series server B200M3, VIC1280 for two years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We have had no issues with the deployment.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There have been no performance issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's been able to scale for our needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are very professional.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our system used to be based on the usual rack servers, with Dell M1000 based blades.

How was the initial setup?

The hardware setup was easy. The initial setup through the manager requires a deep understanding of the platform.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it with the assistance of an integrator who were a Cisco partner. I definitely recommended you get professional assistance to help with the initial run phase. It's critically important to provide formal learning to the internal team that will be in charge of the day-to-day operating activities.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I'd recommend that you create a "turn Key" solution pack, including both hardware and platform licensing, and guest licensing. You could also get this by implementing it through re-sellers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked into HP servers, but decided that Cisco was better in most areas. Combined with Nexus switches, it provides us with a versatile solution for a virtual platform including SAN fabric capability build in, networking flexibility and SDN, and is better to management.

What other advice do I have?

You need to have at least a basic understanding of the product concept and architecture variations in order to better understand use cases and ROI estimation in order to get the initial sizing right, and create the right scaling plan.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Manager of Engineering with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Having the capability to add chassis and/or blades to my environment with just a few cables is valuable.

Valuable Features

Cisco UCS utilizes Service Profiles for server provisioning. These are logical profiles that are comprised of many smaller parts, such as BIOS settings, NIC settings, HBA settings, Firmware packages, boot policies and more. Creating consistency within your compute environment has proven valuable. Having the capability to add chassis and/or blades to my environment with just a few cables, and bringing these servers online with the required settings based on my profile is most valuable. Apply a Service Profile to a new, replace or relocated blade, and Cisco UCS takes care of the rest, provisioning as you expect.

Improvements to My Organization

Cisco UCS has reduced our physical footprint, drastically simplified management and created strong partnerships between engineering teams.

Room for Improvement

Software defects that result in false environmental alarms have been a pain point for us. These defects are not operational or performance impacting, but they do result in many hours troubleshooting to rule out any potential risks.

Use of Solution

I've been using it for years.

Deployment Issues

As long as everything is correctly designed and properly patched, deployment is a breeze with instantiation of VMs on-top of a configured UCS environment possible within just a few hours. This is aggressive scheduling, but it’s absolutely possible given the numerous options available for scripting and automation.

Stability Issues

We hit a software defect once that caused a reload of some critical assets. This was immediately resolved and is the only true case of a stability issues I have seen.

Scalability Issues

It's been able to scale for our needs.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Cisco TAC is typically great to work with. UCS has a call home feature that will automatically open TAC cases on your behalf when issues arise. I’d recommend calling in critical cases to ensure timely response.

Initial Setup

The initial setup as a first-timer can be overwhelming, but once you complete it, any subsequent setup is straightforward. The biggest thing is making sure you properly design the solution and develop a scalable schema. Take into consideration other environmental variables that require specific configuration, such as hypervisor BIOS settings versus bare-metal BIOS settings.

Implementation Team

I recommend having someone experienced with UCS perform the initial design and deployment. This could be someone you have in-house, or someone you contract. You’ll want to make sure your schemas as setup properly, any unusual requirements are handled properly, and profiles are built according to best practices for your particular environment.

Other Advice

Cisco UCS changed the server blade game, converging network and compute into a single profile-based platform. Now with HCI, Cisco is converging storage into UCS as well. I recommend getting in contact with Cisco and one of their channel partners for a whiteboard session, design conversation and potential proof-of-concept. This worked well for me in the past. I have since been capable of designing and implementing Cisco UCS environments without aid from external resources, only asking for design validations.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Senior Network Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
They're easy to deploy, scale and expand based on a number of server range available.

Valuable Features:

Easy to deploy, scale and expand based on a number of server range available. Centralization for different resources including network, compute and storage

Improvements to My Organization:

Any Datacenter or organization implementing UCS-B series will find it easy for its IT team in terms of changes required to add more servers and redundancy.

Room for Improvement:

Perfect device, but only if the GUI is made .NET-based, it will be more great.

Deployment Issues:

I've had no issues with deployment.

Stability Issues:

I've had no issues with stability.

Scalability Issues:

I've had no issues with scalability.

Valuable Features:

  • Easy to deploy, scale and expand based on a number of server range available.
  • Centralization for different resources including network, compute and storage

Improvements to My Organization:

Any Datacenter or organization implementing UCS-B series will find it easy for its IT team in terms of changes required to add more servers and redundancy.

Room for Improvement:

Perfect device, but only if the GUI is made .NET-based, it will be more great.

Deployment Issues:

I've had no issues with deployment.

Stability Issues:

I've had no issues with stability.

Scalability Issues:

I've had no issues with scalability.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user334806
System Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
It has integration with vSphere, but UCS Manager should be rewritten in HTML5.

What is most valuable?

The VM-FEX, hardware integration with VMware vSphere.

How has it helped my organization?

It's faster to provision virtual servers than physical. Also, it has very good orchestration with UCS Director 5.2.

What needs improvement?

The UCS Manager is written in Java and has many problems after the new Java releases. It should be rewritten in HTML5.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for one and a half years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

It was not a problem.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues encountered.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service: 4/5 Technical Support: 4/5…

What is most valuable?

The VM-FEX, hardware integration with VMware vSphere.

How has it helped my organization?

It's faster to provision virtual servers than physical. Also, it has very good orchestration with UCS Director 5.2.

What needs improvement?

The UCS Manager is written in Java and has many problems after the new Java releases. It should be rewritten in HTML5.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for one and a half years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

It was not a problem.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues encountered.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

4/5

Technical Support:

4/5

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

IBM Blade Servers,was in place previously.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward to do it. You need to have expert-level knowledge in LAN, SAN, and servers to be able to do it properly

What about the implementation team?

I did by myself.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No, Cisco UCS was the stuff we wanted.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're the biggest Cisco Gold Partner in Poland.
it_user333597
System Administrator at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It's given us faster deployments of new and replacement hardware and, with its compact footprint, we've saved valuable rack space.

What is most valuable?

  • Deployment of new blade/host is quick via using hardware profiles
  • No ethernet or fiber cabling required for new blades/hosts
  • No zoning required to SAN storage for new blades/hosts
  • New chassis can be quickly attached to fabric interconnect for deployment

How has it helped my organization?

  • Faster deployments of new and replacement hardware
  • Compact footprint saves valuable space on the rack.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used it for over four years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Deployment was smooth.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No issues encountered.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues encountered.

How are customer service and technical support?

9/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used standalone servers which were configured in clustered configuration, and switched because we wanted to improve efficiency.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. For the hardware setup, you do the following

  • Non-blocking 10gig fiber lines going to core network switches from fabric interconnect
  • Fiber lines for SAN storage to fiber switches from fabric interconnect 
  • Converged data (Network & Storage) on 10gig lines from chassis to fabric interconnect
  • Blades/hosts use Converged Network Adapters (CNA)

For the configuration using Cisco UCS manager

  • Hardware profiles
  • Boot from SAN
  • Initial storage and network setup


What about the implementation team?

We implemented through a vendor. If you are new to Cisco UCS platform, I would recommend implementing through a vendor.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Plan carefully and purchase adequate licenses with the initial purchase for better pricing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

  • Dell
  • HP

What other advice do I have?







Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Replacing Fabric interconnects and IOMs can be done while the system is up and serving production data. However, I'd like to see an integrated management interface for all NetApp Flexpod products.

Valuable Features:

The features of Cisco UCS that are of the most value to me is the ability to build Service Profiles for servers based on your needs. You can add HBAs and NICs to servers as needed, and you can remove them just as easily. 

Also, with UCS, updating firmware and drivers has been simplified and can be done throughout the system simply by associating new firmware policies to the hardware. You can also run different versions of firmware as needed to support legacy applications.

Improvements to My Organization:

UCS has made it possible to replace and upgrade servers quickly and easily while keeping things up and running for the enterprise. 

Replacing the Fabric interconnects and IOMs can be done while the system is up and serving production data. You can almost effectively negate downtime from your organization as a result.

Room for Improvement:

I would really like to see an integrated management interface for all the products for FlexPod, as well as a verification tool like Immersive that can give you feedback about your compatibility with FlexPod guidelines.

Other Advice:

Get a qualified vendor to help you go through the process, and take some training to get familiar with how things work together.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user331470
Senior Network Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
The ability to scale to multiple blades is a valuable feature, but the management console needs to be moved away from Java.

What is most valuable?

The ability to scale to multiple blades and multiple blade chassis quickly and easily.

How has it helped my organization?

Customers see benefits in the reduced time to deploy virtual servers. The ability to scale out quickly is an example of that.

What needs improvement?

The management interface in the current version is Java based. I would like to see a move away from Java based management consoles, which I think Cisco has already road-mapped for the UCS product range.

For how long have I used the solution?

We completed a deployment of this solution in February 2015.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, the product has been stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is designed to address scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco technical support is always available 24x7. I rate Cisco technical support 10/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We specifically implemented UCS to cater specifically for a customer’s Cisco Unified Communication products, which were all running on Cisco Media Convergence Servers (MCS). The Cisco MCS platform is now End-of-Life, so UCS was the life cycle replacement option. The MCS platform also had limitations with virtualisation which the UCS product suite overcomes. More recently, the customer’s platform services team have recently purchased another Cisco 5108 blade server chassis and more UCS-B blade servers to replace their HP blade server solution.

How was the initial setup?

Cisco publishes deployment guides which are straightforward to follow. The guides assume some knowledge of LAN, SAN and server administration and deployment.

What about the implementation team?

Cisco publishes deployment guides which are straightforward to follow. The guides assume some knowledge of LAN, SAN and server administration and deployment.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Our company is the customer’s preferred Cisco vendor/partner.
SrEngineer672
Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Remote access to the server is very useful but the RAID controllers lack a lot of functionality

What is most valuable?

Probably the Cisco Integrated Management Controller.

How has it helped my organization?

Remote access to the server is very useful.

What needs improvement?

They use LSI for their RAID, while they may be robust RAID controllers, they lack a lot of functionality that Adaptec or HP Smart array.

For how long have I used the solution?

Two years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

The LSI controller is very "finiky", even though it had deployment software, the only way to successfully configure the RAID was via the boot command line.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, we haven't had issues post setup.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Probably the RAID card really limits what the servers are capable of if you require storage.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't needed to deal with technical support yet.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use this as a potential alternative for HP ProLiant servers.

How was the initial setup?

There are some quirks in the setup (e.g. for non Disk servers, you need to go into the CIMC to enable the SD Card for HyperVisor Installs, not the BIOS) but generally its fairly straight forward.

What was our ROI?

We haven't had a full life span on the Cisco UCS but so far we have not had to do nearly as much firmware maintenance as the HP Servers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No but we have used HP for a number of years and IBM before that.

What other advice do I have?

These are good servers for SAN environments, I think their Disks (RAID) need a lot of improvement before you consider them as a storage server.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
User at a comms service provider with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Power for Unified computing and State less Servers

What is most valuable?

Centralized Management using UCS Manager, and State less Servers.

How has it helped my organization?

Scalability, Flexibility to reuse the same Server with different projects multiple OS (VMware ESXi / Centos, Microsoft Windows) just in minutes by creating new service profiles.

What needs improvement?

Stability of some of the old versions has afew bugs. Although I have to mention that Cisco has been releasing revised versions of Firmware very quickly to fix the bugs.

For how long have I used the solution?

More then one year

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

No, but Cisco UCS is a complex system, it is very easy to deploy if you have the knowledge and understanding of the product, I have recently commissioned a new Cisco UCS Datacenter after all the rack and stack its very easy to manage the product via Cisco UCS Manager.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Some of the version of firmware does have issues but Cisco is very good at fixing the bugs and giving new firmware versions.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cisco UCS is very good with scalability, this is one of the ups of the Cisco UCS and I have used this a lot.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Very good, as you can expect from Cisco TAC

Technical Support:

I have had few issues when upgrading the firmware and the Techsupport of Cisco TAC was very quick in picking up the issue and resolving it.

I'm happy with the Tech Support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Dell and HP Rack servers, issues with scalability. Space consuming.

How was the initial setup?

Yes it was easy to setup provided you know the basics of Cisco UCS. I have done the low level design for our new site and it was very straightforward.

When it comes to racking I have to admit the chassis is very heavy with all the components as its a 6U chassis. So make sure you remove all the power supply modules and IOM's and Fans then rack it. Once its placed then you can easily slide everything back and blades into the chassis.

What about the implementation team?

We had used a Cisco Partner and they did a very good job.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

HP and IBM

What other advice do I have?

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) provides unified, embedded management of all software and hardware components in the Cisco UCS. It is scalable and it controls multiple chassis and manages resources for thousands of virtual machines.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user1020
Head of Data Center at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Our Experiences with Cisco UCS
Hi, Since you are asking about our experiences with Cisco UCS, here is what we've accomplished so far. Our greatest accomplishment is server consolidation with the use of virtualization. We bundled our UCS system with VMware vShpere with vCenter management. So far, we are currently on-track to virtualize all our major services and servers. As with any virtualization effort using commercial products, the cost is very significant. However, we look at this not just as a one-off project but it will be the foundation of our future systems and services as well. Ultimately, the goal is for better services. Right now, our server reliability has improved, and this has translated to lesser down times. With the servers virtualized, it's also very easy to manage and perform tasks.

Hi,

Since you are asking about our experiences with Cisco UCS, here is what we've accomplished so far.

Our greatest accomplishment is server consolidation with the use of virtualization. We bundled our UCS system with VMware vShpere with vCenter management. So far, we are currently on-track to virtualize all our major services and servers.

As with any virtualization effort using commercial products, the cost is very significant. However, we look at this not just as a one-off project but it will be the foundation of our future systems and services as well.

Ultimately, the goal is for better services. Right now, our server reliability has improved, and this has translated to lesser down times. With the servers virtualized, it's also very easy to manage and perform tasks.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user1020
Head of Data Center at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Cisco UCS is a great server system. Just make sure you have a knowledgeable implementation partner as this is a very complicated server system to set-up.

Valuable Features:

The Cisco UCS Blade Server system is our newest blade server system. We bought the server as the winning server system for our Oracle Peoplesoft Campus Solution system. It bested bids from Oracle, IBM, HP and Dell.What we really like about the product is the scalability of the entire server system. the platform's architecture ensures that we can easily grow our systems as the need arises.The server system also has the necessary features that we want like tight integration with virtualization technologies and storage systems. We have gone full virtualization with our Oracle system implementation and we are very satisfied with the implementation.Lastly, Cisco really did a good job in making sure that such a server system does not produce unnecessary cable clutter.

Room for Improvement:

The downside when using anything from Cisco is the required knowledge needed to ensure proper implementation. The server system can be very daunting for an untrained system administrator to configure.Also, the server system can consume a lot of power. Proper preparations must be taken to ensure that the electrical and cooling facilities where the new server will be housed is sufficient for this server system. I would definitely recommend this product as its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. Just make sure that you buy all the necessary components to have a complete system.

Other Advice:

Choosing the right partner for implementing the system is also critical. They must be knowledgeable in implementing the Cisco UCS system as its a very complicated system to set-up. The implementation must also include a system administrators training so that company administrators can manage the system after configuration and deployment.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user909
Owner at a marketing services firm with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Great consolidation, high mem capacity, excellent reduction on ports. But you're locked in.

Valuable Features:

Great consolidation, high mem capacity, excellent reduction on ports.

Room for Improvement:

Very tightly integrated, so once you are all in, you are likely to be there for a long time.

Valuable Features:

Great consolidation, high mem capacity, excellent reduction on ports.

Room for Improvement:

Very tightly integrated, so once you are all in, you are likely to be there for a long time.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.