Cisco UCS servers are not new, but many people have looked the other way simply due to the fact that Cisco, a network company, was making servers. When it comes to scalability, ease of deployment and automation, Cisco UCS is the way to go. I’m a huge fan of UCS, even a bigger fan of FlexPod; which is the joint solution that Cisco and NetApp developed The other reason why some companies have not looked into UCS is due to its Enterprise targeted market.
Cisco was smart enough to put together a similar solution for remote offices and small/medium businesses. Meet the Cisco UCS Mini. The Mini is not new either, but many people are not aware of such solution, so I’m here to do justice to the Mini.
The UCS mini, is not a miniature version of Cisco UCS, but rather a more converged design to save rack space, energy and still deliver enterprise grade capabilities through Cisco UCS Manager. There are very little differences between UCS and UCS mini. Mainly it relates to the networking piece of it, and some scalability limitations.
The traditional Cisco UCS is composed of a Cisco 5108 chassis, blade servers, and external Fabric interconnects among other components. The Fabric interconnects are pretty much Cisco Nexus switches with UCS manager software on them. You connect one or more chassis to the Fabric Interconnects in order to scale without having to deploy an entire new solution. In UCS Mini, there are no external Fabric Interconnects. These components are moved within the same Cisco 5108 blade chassis, and still act as the brain of the solution via UCS Manager.
Cisco UCS with external Fabric Interconnects
Cisco UCS Mini with internal Fabric Interconnects
The price point for the UCS Mini is much lower than its big brother. So if you are not looking to add several chassis in the near future, the Mini may be a way to get started with this awesome technology. I’m not going to go into details about the capabilities of UCS, maybe on another post, but I do want to highlight that the UCS Mini is an excellent solution for smaller environments. Don’t get me wrong, you can still have up to eight half-width blades (B200) or even the full-width blades (up to four), you can even attach a C-series rack server (pizza box) to the UCS Mini, so you can have tons of horse power here. You still get 1/10GB, FCoE, FC, for a max of 500 Gbps of throughput. So there’s nothing mini about the Cisco UCS Mini, in my opinion.