Cisco's McCool sees growing data-center role

Cisco's McCool sees growing data-center role

Midsized enterprises are embracing the company's UCS server platform more than expected, he says

IDGNS: Two of your largest competitors, HP and 3Com, are coming together. How does Cisco see that, and what do you think it's going to do to the market and your competitive position?

McCool: You're seeing a lot of moves in the marketplace based around the network. A lot of folks are focused on the company issues and who's getting in. But I think thematically, the issue is that everyone's saying that the network's going to be extremely relevant to the infrastructure challenge in enterprises and service providers. In a data center, the network continues to be about 15 percent of the power consumption and 15 percent of the spend. People are starting to get that, as workloads start to move across the network. Unless you understand that technology, and unless you can make it more uniform, you can't bring an important piece of the value proposition to the customer. So I'd set the whole thing in that context as opposed to this intergalactic, large-company kind of thing. There's an appreciation here that the network is more than just a single switch or a single component, that there's a richer portfolio -- not only portfolio of product, but portfolio of capability to solve a networking issue.

IDGNS: What steps is Cisco considering to reduce power consumption in data centers

McCool: If you look back three or four years ago, people were focused on the power consumption of an individual thing -- a part, a product, a phone. People are starting to look at it from a more systems-oriented perspective, and often you can see that actually increasing the power of an individual device lets you reduce the power of the overall data center. You can look at higher-density and higher-capacity network equipment, but use less devices as a result. You can take multiple adapters, multiple connections to the network that may be lower power than a new adapter, but converge multiple of them on a single adapter. This is kind of the approach we're taking, is to let more happen with less devices that may individually have a little bit more power but radically change the footprint.

The UCS system is higher powered than a single server in the large configuration, but its power consumption per virtual machine radically changes the profile. So you can reduce the number of boxes, number of connections, number of I/O, by moving multiple of these server systems down to a UCS. We've seen that even in our own designs that we've done around Nexus and UCS in our data center in Richardson (Texas). We reduced something like 4,800 cables alone.

In the past, especially before the downturn, people were building out new data centers for capacity. Huge expense in the physical shell. Hundreds of millions of dollars to build out that real estate. And I used to ask customers, when do they retrofit? And they'd say, well, we don't have time. The focus now has shifted to, "How can I better utilize the existing footprint that I have?" Our data center was a great example of that. We needed more capacity. So our design point in our data center was increasing capacity for the same physical shell, the same power footprint. We went to virtual machines to do that, so there was a dramatic increase in the number of virtual machines.

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Tags ciscovirtualizationUnified Computing System (UCS)


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