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Cisco Barges Into the Server Market

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the unsheath-your-blades dept.

Businesses 206

mikesd81 was one of several readers to write in about Cisco's announcement of what has been called Project California — a system comprising servers made from 64-bit Intel Nehalem EP Xeon processors, storage, and networking in a single rack, glued together with software from VMWare and BMC. Coverage of this announcement is everywhere. Business Week said: "The new device, dubbed Project California, takes servers into new territory by cramming computer power into the very box that contains storage capacity and the networking tools that are Cisco's specialty. Cisco's approach could help companies use fewer machines — saving money not only on hardware, but also on power and IT staffing — in building data centers. ... Cisco is well-girded to take this step. It has more than $30 billion in cash, more than any other tech company. The company is moving into no fewer than 28 different markets, including digital music in the home and public surveillance systems." The Register provides more analysis: "Microsoft is, of course, a partner on the California system, since you can't ignore Windows in the data center, and presumably, Hyper-V will be supported alongside ESX Server on the hypervisors. (No one at the Cisco launch answered that and many other questions seeking details). ... The one thing that Cisco is clear on is who is signing off on these deals: the CIO. Cisco and its partners are going right to the top to push the California systems, right over the heads of server, storage, and network managers who want to protect their own fiefdoms."

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Misread title... (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219155)

Thought title said: "Costco Barges Into The Server Market". If so, I would've renewed my Costco card to get some cheap servers.

Re:Misread title... islam is pedophilia tsarkon .. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219663)

Tales from the Koran How The Profit Muhammad met his end.

We shove Jimmy Dean Homestyle Pork Sausage up The Profit Muhammad's ass. Then while the Giver strokes me off I shoot my wad in The Profit Muhammad's face after which we force The Profit Muhammad to fellate an 800 pound Chester White. Simultaneously two Hasidic rabbis open their kosher bowels unleashing torrents of gefilte shit on The Profit Muhammad's head and back while The Giver pumps The Profit Muhammad from behind. After the hog shoots its wad in The Profit Muhammad's mouth The Giver shoots his load up The Profit Muhammad's rectum. Then unexpectedly the Chester White roots out The Profit Muhammad's penis and testicles hungrily biting them off gobbling them down with full porcine fury. We bury the newly castrated The Profit Muhammad up to his nose in pig manure. Two AIDS infected Bowery whores stuff their used condoms and clotted tampon down The Profit Muhammad's throat and crack a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 over his skull.

We then leave him for the hogs to munch on. The Profit Muhammad is swine feed and by tomorrow he will be swine manure.

GOAT KORAN

For it is written in Mine book that goats are PLEASING and HOLY in Mine eyes. I have told the Prophet Muhammad peace on him! that he should try a goat but he is an ass-infidel and pursues young Muslims. For this is pleasing in Mine eyes as well! I hereby issue a Fatwah: May the asses of the infidels be reamed by the Prophet peace on him! until they look like the goatse.cx man who is of the devil.

M______The [balder.org]
o____Prophet [balder.org]
h____Muhammad [balder.org]
a___./___o\ [balder.org]
m___I______| [balder.org]
m___I____\== [balder.org]
a___\______/ [balder.org]
d______|| [balder.org]
.______:; [balder.org]
F______:;\________________________Muslims [balder.org]
u______:;\\_______________________/______\ [balder.org]
c______:;_\\_____________________/________\ [balder.org]
k______:;__\\____________________/__o__o__\ [balder.org]
s______:;___&&___:;:;:;:;:;:;:;:;|____>___/ [balder.org]
.|\\___:;8=KORAN=*O_________:;____\__\_/_/ [balder.org]
A|_\\__:;________:;_________:;_____\----/ [balder.org]
s|__\\_:;_______:;___________:;_ [balder.org]
s|___\\:;:;:;:;:;_____________:;:; [balder.org]

ISLAM

Kill all Muslims. Kill all Muhammadans. Kill all Arabs. Kill all Towel Heads. Kill all Camel Jockeys. Kill all Sand Niggers. Kill all Dune Coons. Kill all Islam. Nuke their countries to hell. Nuke them again. Death to Islam. I piss on Mecca. I spit on the Koran. I shit on The Profit Muhammad. I call on the Destruction of Mecca and Medina, the most unholy shit dumps on earth. You don't have to be a Kreskin to predict Osama bin Laden's future. And to all you Abdul The Profit Muhammad Al-Jaraazi Abdullah Mustafuh Atta Quadaphi Fuck-Head Al-Towel-Rag - Your "God" is our "Satan," have fun burning you scum. You disgusting animals, you will be a fresh farm of much needed organs for people who need livers and hearts, but I personally would rather die than receive a heart or liver from your satanic self. Hey, Ayatollah towel heads, you will be sent to heaven to meet your maker. (That would be Satan). I have no ability to stop my hatred towards you Ayatollahs, you better not peep out like a mushroom in a festering swamp lest I shoot your vile head off and harvest your organs for people who need them and cremate your vile self for crop fertilizer.

Islam Towel Song:

99 Towel Heads Up On The Wall, 99 Sheep fucking twits, You shoot one down, You kick it around, 98 Rag Heads left on the Wall.

98 Cumlicking Chickenshits on the Wall, 98 Camel sucking penis stuffers, You shoot one down, You kick it around, 97 slimy turds left on the wall.

97 Raghead Swine on the wall, 97 Shit Encrusted pukes, You shoot one down, You kick it around, 96 flea harbors left on the wall.

96 Moronic idol polishers on the wall , 96 pink skirted sphincter tasters, You shoot one down, You kick it around, 95 pillow biters left on the wall.

95 pustuled penis suckers on the wall, 95 useless festering maggots, You shoot one down, You kick it around, 94 brainwashed puddle scum left on the wall.

The Prophet Mohammad Harbinger of the Arab Plague and inventor of Arab Anal Surveyor

Cisco servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220221)

No Linux. No BSD. Lame.

Huh!?!? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219163)

Cisco...saving money?!?! Right.

Re:Huh!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219995)

Over my cold, dead.... Switch

Re:Huh!?!? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220031)

Cisco...saving money?!?! Right.

Cisco: the Microsoft of the networking world.

Redundancy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219217)

A server blade in a switch works WAY much better than a switch blade in a server...

Re:Redundancy (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220417)

Hehe, not likely unless you want to pay Cisco premiums for both the hardware AND the maintenance. I'll stick to my HP C-class blade enclosures TYVM. I get 3 years of 6 hour call to repair service for about 10% of the cost of the blade center, Cisco costs more than 10% per YEAR for SmartNet and it isn't nearly as good of service IMHO.

Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (5, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219269)

I have to ask : why Nehalem EP Xeons? Those are the absolute bleeding edge chips that Intel manufactures, and as such as the most expensive by a significant margin. Newegg doesn't even have the chip listed on their website, yet carries 91 different server CPU models. While space inside the data center does cost money, and so does electricity, is it really so expensive as to be worth paying for a chip that is probably 10 times as expensive per MIP as cheaper alternatives? The motherboards are more expensive as well, especially when you factor in the huge markup for server grade parts.

The only advantage of the Nehalem is that it is SLIGHTLY faster per processing thread, but networking is usually an "embarassingly parallel" problem.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219325)

haven't read the details, but intel probably put more virtualization logic into the CPU like they have been doing for the last few years. the price isn't that big a deal if you can put more VM's per CPU core than on the older chips

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219641)

Good point. Justifying based on $/VM where the unit cost of VMs is lower would make it more attractive to the CFO. Toss in lower watt-hours pER NxVMs and it's a slam dunk depending where you are in your upgrade cycle.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (3, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220527)

There are limits. Running more VM's on a CPU costs power, and makes that physical device a single point of failure for multiple environments. Balancing such environments turns out to be much, much trickier than a lot of people like to admit: the very clever and sophisticated software to swap around live environments or do load balancing becomes its _own_ point of failure, bringing down entire racks of equipment in intermittent or even complete failures.

And yes, I've had this happen with servers with "five nines" uptime lauded and promised but somehow, never actually written into the contract. It would have been a lot cheaper to simply do a regular backup schedule and have a second rack of more capable, cheaper, failover equipment.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219369)

Here's the "testimonial" taken from your post by the marketing department

It's the..."absolute bleeding edge"...in computing technology! Operators are standing by...

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (2, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219731)

Well, the part was only released a month ago. There's a significant speed boost per processing core versus the older core 2/core quad line, and a new socket type/new ram type. As of right now, there's nothing faster that money can buy in the x86 architecture. Heck, for generalized processing it's probably the fastest chip money can buy. A new supercomputer would likely run best with a massive array of thousands of these things.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220123)

Your post is misleading. For single process execution, Core 2 is faster. Core i7 loses a lot of power and adds a lot of virtualization functionality. Core i7 is about the future of computing. Core 2 will still run games faster.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220565)

Well I guess Cisco better hope that AMD [slashdot.org] doesn't pull the plug on all their x64 server dreams.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (5, Insightful)

ivicente (1373953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219513)

I have to ask : why Nehalem EP Xeons? (...) the most expensive by a significant margin. The motherboards are more expensive as well,

Expensive - Cisco, so what's the part you don't understand?

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (2, Insightful)

pyite (140350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219571)

I have to ask : why Nehalem EP Xeons?

Because they are there to make a splash with ridiculous specs. Specs that wouldn't be possible without Nehalem. They're innocent looking enough (we have a few), but they are here to make an impact.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (5, Interesting)

Zeio (325157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219857)

One of the main things that would make Nehalem attractive is a few things for blade servers. The process 45nm moving on to 32nm later will provide the smallest footprint while not giving up any CPU power. Also, the Nehalems (Bloomfield and Core i7) that I have tested don't seem to offer much in terms of better performance, but the power usage is considerably lower. Also, FB-DIMMS (and DDR2) were a bit too consumptive of power, the newer memory technology is an attempt to reduce power consumption. Also, the CPI (formerly CSI) offers the Intel CPUs a Hypertransport-like interconnect system allowing system builders to scale. The footprint of 16+ core systems with Nehalem will be far smaller than the previous generations of Xeon MP processors.

I think the idea is more memory, more CPU processing power, less power and heat and scalability with a given architecture.

I noticed in my testing the L1 Data and instruction caches (32KB per core) in the Core i7 is one cycle more latent than the core2 (4 cycles vs 3), the L2 cache (which is 256KB per core rather than the 4-6MB per two cores in Core2) is faster, down from 17 cycles to 12 cycles. With this boost in L2-speed came a cut of 3.75MB-5.75MB in size. The way they mitigated that loss was to give a "large" 8MB L3 cache that runs on a slower clock. This new system, along with a hyper-threading implementation that, unlike the previous one, seems to genuinely enhance performance in nearly every test, allows Intel to make top-performing chips (see CPU 2006 @ spec.org for the latest results) that scale better via QPI, use less power and fit into smaller spaces than previous chips.

See:
Sorted SPEC CPU2006 Integer and Floating Point [spec.org]

CINT2006
Hardware Vendor System Result Baseline # Cores # Chips # Cores Per Chip Published Disclosure
1) YOYOtech Fi7EPOWER MLK1610 (Intel Core i7-965) 36.0 32.5 4 1 4 Jan-2009
2) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. ASUS P6T WS PRO workstation motherboard (Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition) 35.2 31.5 4 1 4
3) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition) 33.6 30.2 4 1 4 Nov-2008
4) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel Core i7-940) 30.8 27.8 4 1 4
5) Dell Inc. Dell Precision T7400 (Intel Xeon X5492, 3.40 GHz) 30.2 27.6 8 2 4

CFP2006
Hardware Vendor System Result Baseline # Cores # Chips # Cores Per Chip Published Disclosure
1) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. ASUS P6T WS PRO workstation motherboard (Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition) 39.3 37.4 4 1 4 Feb-2009
2) YOYOtech Fi7EPOWER MLK1610 (Intel Core i7-965) 35.7 33.6 4 1 4 Jan-2009
3)ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition) 33.6 31.7 4 1 4 Nov-2008
4) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel Core i7-940) 31.3 29.5 4 1 4 Nov-2008
5) ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Asus P6T Deluxe (Intel Core i7-920) 29.3 27.7 4 1 4 Nov-2008

Interesting to see how Intel is fairly dominant in these lists when compared to SPARC, Power, AMD/Opteron or anyone else these days.

If you want to stuff a lot of CPU/Memory into one place, I think Nehalem is a good starting point.

As far as networking goes, there is a genuine problem with dealing with IO on big systems. I think there is a possibility that the general application of NVIDIA's Tesla/CUDA technology might come in to help assist general problems in networking. Sure, accelerating the stack on a per-kernel basis beyond what a TOE can do is hard, but with VMs, the IO workload can be distributed across lots of VMs, the only thing that needs to be in place is a good fabric/interconnect system between the VMs, something that Cisco has been doing for some time in the switching business.

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (5, Informative)

trims (10010) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220287)

I work for Sun, and have been beta testing Nehalems for almost a year now.

Sun is also the PRIMARY Nehalem vendor for Intel. We got the special treatment (I don't know how), but we get to be the first real Tier-1 vendor shipping Nehalems, and let me tell you that Intel has helped us a lot in hardware integration and software tuning.

The end result is that Nehalem EP (which are dual-socket systems) is significantly faster than any of the Core2 series, and spanks even the AMD Shanghais. They've gone to the on-chip memory controller ala Opterons, and it's helped considerably. In addition, they've redone the interconnect bus to make is much more HyperTransport-ish (though HT 3.x is still superior) - it's called QuickPath Interconnect. The overall result is much better performance under load, even for single-threaded apps.

For an application such as Virtualization, Nehalems are well worth the $$$. You get considerably better loaded performance than previous Intel CPUs, and with VMs, high system utilization is the GOAL. Up until now, AMDs were considerably better than Intel chips under high load, but the Nehalems just stole the dual-socket crown back.

I'm still waiting to get my hands on the EX series (quad-socket), so I don't know how they'll compare to AMD's 8000-series. Be interesting to see.

-Erik

Re:Why use bleeding edge intel chips? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220499)

It's WAY faster than the equivalent $ chips today. Two Xeon 5570's get 25,000 SAPS vs FOUR Xeon 7460's (that cost twice as much each) getting 25,830. They really are that much better, and I can't wait till HP starts shipping the DL380 G6 at the end of this month because I have a bunch of projects that can really use that kind of compute density and performance per core (damn Oracle licensing).

Sounds expensive (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219279)

Sounds like the right architecture, but at a price.

It amazes me that so many "enterprise" IT companies can sell what are essentially just Linux servers [networkworld.com] with their brand name tacked-on, at a 5000% mark-up.

Re:Sounds expensive (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219345)

It amazes me that so many "enterprise" IT companies can sell what are essentially just Linux servers with their brand name tacked-on, at a 5000% mark-up.

Don't knock it, it's just the Enterprice [slashdot.org] !

Now more than just hardware.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219757)

I used to think along the same lines as you, that with 'reasonably competent' administration, it's all a wash.

And now after a stint in the industry, I've realized a lot of the industry is unable or unwilling to invest what is required to make effective use of hardware. The stuff in general can be complex and many companies are content to pay a premium to the vendor to tap into their aggregated skills rather than probably pay even more to have architects of their own with the experience and skills to match the vendor.

In this case, they are dressing up some core technologies that are pretty well understood, wrapping up it all with a lot of buzzwords, and pushing forward. The technical cynic in me shrugs, but I recognize what they *claim* to be trying to do may be valuable to some people.

That said, after years of struggling with Cisco's repeated decisions to support their proprietary standards to the exclusion of industry standards make me not want to touch their equipment or embrace any 'full management' stack they would want to give me. Some of it does the job sufficiently, but buying into a platform that makes it difficult to entertain competing product is something I like to avoid.

Re:Sounds expensive (0)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219815)

If you go 'right over the head of' the server, network and storage people there's nobody who can tell the CIO that he's paying a 5000% markup on a PC with Linux. It's a great sales strategy.

It doesn't sound much different this time; 'by cramming computer power into the very box that contains storage capacity and the networking'. Uh-huh. Also known as 'a PC'.

I seem to recall a time when 'enterprise' used to mean somewhat of an improvement over what I have at home. These days, not so much.

Re:Sounds expensive (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220149)

It should run Wordpad on Windows 8 reasonably. With new ribbon interface!

Re:Sounds expensive (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220245)

It amazes me that so many "enterprise" IT companies can sell what are essentially just Linux servers [networkworld.com] with their brand name tacked-on, at a 5000% mark-up.

Wait, isn't that what RMS keeps telling us is awesome ?

If you don't ignore MS in the datacenter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219285)

You get a barge.

Sounds about right.

Yikes! (1)

xactuary (746078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219299)

Come in through Windows and pwn the stack. What's next, Patch February?

yeah, but will it be 32bit only? (3, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219307)

it's 2009, years after we were supposed to have flying cars, most new computers are 64bit, and Cisco refuses to release a 64bit IPSec client For x64 (64-bit) Windows support, you must utilize Cisco's next-generation Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client." [cisco.com] . So umm...we're supposed to think they have any clue what's going on above layer 4 these days? What are they going to be installing on these servers, Windows2000?

Apple sitting on $28 billion (3, Interesting)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219347)



Not sure that Cisco is such a lone cash giant as suggested. Apple has $28 billion in reserves as of Jan 22, 2009 [wsj.com] . With the recent economic fiasco, both Cisco and Apple might be in different positions.

It has more than $30 billion in cash, more than any other tech company.

Seth

Re:Apple sitting on $28 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219411)

Fanboism can't deny mathematics, please. 30 billion is still 2 billion more than 28 billion.
Don't hurt your iMac or break your iPod because of it thou...

Re:Apple sitting on $28 billion (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220677)

2 Billion is nothing these days.

I've read about servers in shipping containers (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219429)

This "barges" idea sounds like the next logical step.

Microsoft, of course ? (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219549)

Microsoft is, of course, a partner on the California system, since you can't ignore Windows in the data center

Microsoft is supposed to have about 30% of the server market [netcraft.com] , so I am not sure I get that of course.

30% is too large to ignore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219657)

First, taken at face value, ignoring 30% of a target market is generally considered not a wise idea, particularly if that 30% can be entangled in a large portion of the other 70%.

Secondly, that number isn't indicative of much on its own. Windows running Apache cuts into that 70%. And that is only measuring externally accessible websites, much of datacenter market never is reachable (i.e. most of the Top500 would count as 'datacenter' and very few would even possibly count in the linked document. In other words, the MS share is probably not 30%, but it's impossible to say if it is higher or lower without more data.

Re:Microsoft, of course ? (4, Insightful)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219717)

Server != Web Server

There are many different reasons you might want a server, web presence is only one.

Re:Microsoft, of course ? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220169)

Because a Windows VM floating in the sea of VMs means not having to buy another frickin' box just to run frickin' Windows.

Re:Microsoft, of course ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220425)

If Firefox had 30% of the browser market you could ignore it then?

Re:Microsoft, of course ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220789)

If you read that Iran had about 30% of world oil supply, would you not understand how it could not be ignored?

Blah Blah Blah (3, Insightful)

oldr4ver (1192469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219591)

They'll fail at this, like they failed in Wireless Security. Cisco should stick to what they know, network infrastructure and backbone support. They suck at everything else.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (4, Insightful)

pyite (140350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219721)

They suck at everything else.

Not everything they do is perfect, but they broke into the Fibre Channel switching business quite effectively. They can, and do, break into new markets. Servers are a logical step for them since there's a huge advantage to providing a vertical stack of networking, servers, and whatever else they can muster.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219841)

Not everything they do is perfect, but they broke into the Fibre Channel switching business quite effectively. They can, and do, break into new markets. Servers are a logical step for them since there's a huge advantage to providing a vertical stack of networking, servers, and whatever else they can muster.

Yes, at prices that will make high-end Server 2008 enterprise installs look cheap.

I haven't seen details... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220045)

But from what I've seen, their server technology appears relatively weak. I.e. their blades appear less dense than 1U servers. I'm not surprised though, in recent history even in their core competency of networking, density and performance have not been impressive compared to competition.

I think the same end could have been achieved by pulling together a partnership. Then again, they already have enough high-margin vendors in play to probably price this thing out there without pulling in yet another company that would insist on their slice.

I personally would have rather seen something a bit more fresh, like getting behind and committing to a technology like KVM instead of VMWare. I know, that would be marketing suicide, and I shouldn't be looking to the traditional powerhouses to snub VMWare yet with their current market position, but it would've been interesting.

Re:I haven't seen details... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220065)

I will say, in their defense, a pure Cisco network from a managability perspective is easy to look after compared to the alternatives. Cisco retains technical justification for their reputation.

Re:I haven't seen details... (2, Informative)

pyite (140350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220225)

But from what I've seen, their server technology appears relatively weak. I.e. their blades appear less dense than 1U servers.

Not true. It's 6U for 8 blades. I just took a look at the chassis that I have access to. Now, HP c7000 is better density than this at 16 blades in 10U. But I just want to be clear, Cisco's chassis is not less dense than 1U servers.

Re:I haven't seen details... (1)

Chang (2714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220759)

The Cisco blades are going to support 192GB of RAM which is one of the most important constraints on a VM host box. For the density and form factor this is better than the competition at the moment but I have no doubt HP, IBM, and Dell will respond quickly to keep their customers in line.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220393)

Boy, break into a low-margin area, one with 45% to as low as 10% gross margins, from a 60% area of the industry.

I think one should probably do the opposite, with low-wattage ARM Linux chips running routing software. After all, the ARPAnet started with custom NIMs because only they were fast enough, but later went to cheap Unix boxes for cost reasons. Now one should be able to do some pretty fast routing with modern processors, and make the same move for exactly the same reasons.

--dave

Re:Blah Blah Blah (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220559)

Gah, their FC switches suck balls, and I have four back to back days with 4 hours or less sleep to show for it. Once we ripped out the Cisco POS's and replaced them with Brocades we are back to months without a peep out of our SAN. I will NEVER again buy Cisco FC switches and have made it my mission to tell everyone I can about them. Cisco massively oversubscribes almost all of the FC switches and even the ones that aren't have insufficient buffer 2 buffer pools in the ASIC to support real world full speed transfers. Heck our 9140's fell over at ~1.5Gbps total throughput, pretty sad for a switch which has 8 'dedicated' 2Gbps ports and another 32 shared ports.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (1)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220691)

They can, and do, break into new markets

Yes, by buying out a company or two in that market, rebranding their product line, and doing very little to make it work similarly to their existing products (or interoperate with their existing products) for several product generations.

Caveat emptor.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (1)

ryanlin2002 (1460273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220233)

Where did you get the "Cisco fail at wireless security" from? There is nothing wrong with the current security implementation on the Aironet series.

Re:Blah Blah Blah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220297)

If the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server [cisco.com] is anything to go by the statement "They suck at everything else." is 100% correct.

We bought one of these at work and spent WAY too much money on it. I can't even begin to tell you how much this system sucks ass and was a HUGE waste of money.

They should stick to what they do best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219595)

This will be come another red headed step child just like their load balancing technology.

They go for the "soft" target (4, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219603)

The one thing that Cisco is clear on is who is signing off on these deals: the CIO. Cisco and its partners are going right to the top to push the California systems, right over the heads of server, storage, and network managers who want to protect their own fiefdoms.

Presumably, they are doing this because they know that the CIOs, on average, are less well informed than their technical subordinates. It is a classic salesman's tactic: go straight to the "decision maker." I'm not saying that CIOs are not well qualified and intelligent people (I'm sure that most are). However, at the CxO level in a large company, you are a strategic thinker. You are most likely not going to be on the bleeding edge of the latest hardware trend.

To put it another way, the CIO is the "soft" target. You always go for the soft target.

Naturally, Cisco (and other vendors) know this. Hence, you go after the CIO and dazzle him with fancy presentations and wine and dine him and viola, you get a big sale. This how MS does it, and how other big tech companies do it.

If you are fortunate enough to have the ear of your CIO, make sure to warn him about snake oil peddlers.

Re:They go for the "soft" target (2, Insightful)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219779)

"I'm not saying that CIOs are not well qualified and intelligent people (I'm sure that most are)."
Despite what your ID number says; you are new around here, aren't you?

Re:They go for the "soft" target (0, Offtopic)

machine321 (458769) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220273)

Since when is a 600k ID an old timer? Now get off my Gran Torino.

Re:They go for the "soft" target (0, Offtopic)

Dice (109560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220731)

Agreed. 4 digits and below are old timers, 5 digits are mid-range, 6 and above are newbies.

Re:They go for the "soft" target (5, Interesting)

OddlyMoving (1103849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220131)

This is very true. I am currently evaluating a forklift upgrade of one of my POPs, and we're looking at the Cisco vs. Juniper proposition.

While I'm a VP level operational head at an ISP, the Cisco rep told me straight out that he doesn't typically engage technical people like me when he comes in. He typically talks to the C level people, and it shows, because he's not keeping up with the Juniper rep. The Juniper team has already put me in front of many technical product development people, and the depth of the conversations have been truly refreshing. I'm feeling more and more comfortable with going Juniper as the days go by.

Re:They go for the "soft" target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220267)

The one thing that Cisco is clear on is who is signing off on these deals: the CIO. Cisco and its partners are going right to the top to push the California systems, right over the heads of server, storage, and network managers who want to protect their own fiefdoms.

Presumably, they are doing this because they know that the CIOs, on average, are less well informed than their technical subordinates.

The various fiefdoms should also know their own areas very well, so they can tune and debug things--specialization is handy that way. How many people know the whole stack nowadays? And of the people that do, how many actually work at your company?

Expect to also see lucrative (for Cisco) support contracts.

Re:They go for the "soft" target (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220391)

I know several COO's and former COO's and most of them were true geeks. (as in running there own custom linux on their home wireless access points, giving their curtains IPV6 addresses, grabbing manufacturing samples of chips to solder in to increase the memory of they PDA's, pocketing some of the old lead solder that their company was getting rid of for their home workshop, etc.).

I suspect that is why they advertised going to the CIO's and were silent about the COO's.

Building a more powerful great firewall? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219613)

These systems seem like the kind of all-in-one boxes that would enable an authoritarian government, say China, to log and filter the internet more easily. Of course Cisco would never sell equipment for such purposes...

How is this different from HP or IBM blades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219705)

HP and IBM offer blade enclosures that offer internal storage and networking blades, and they offer modules that can aggregate network and storage traffic leaving the system into high speed trunks connecting directly to the network or storage backbone.

Other than being ridiculously expensive, how is Cisco's offering any different?

Re:How is this different from HP or IBM blades? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219885)

By plugging the servers directly into the switch fabric you can get away from those icky standard network interconnects and instead offer insanely fast low latency proprietary interconnects. And once your customers are hooked you can drag them a long way before they can get off the hook.

And you forgot to mention that HP offers Fusion io's IODrive in a blade module for 320GB of 800MBPs 80K IOPs goodness. Let's see Cisco pull THAT off.

Re:How is this different from HP or IBM blades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220387)

If all you're after from this is insanely fast low latency interconnects (proprietary or no), you might be interested in IBM p series hardware. Set up a few LPARs (think of them as being equivalent to VMware managed hosts, but closer to the hardware), link them over the backplane, and watch that data fly.

Again, not a particular advantage of this "new" approach. There are other ways of getting that performance.

Disclaimer: I work for IBM (albeit as a backup and recovery specialist, not a hardware, AIX, or p series specialist.)

A good move (3, Interesting)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219713)

Cisco has been quietly working towards this for a while. You can get a server module for the lowly 1800 series router.

For large networks and satellite office, you have a server or 2, a phone system, network gear, maybe some video surveillance gear. They'll walk into the CIO's office and say:
"you have all this gear from different vendors, with different support contracts and different departments finger pointing when problems arise."

"Now here is the cisco way, one box, one department, one vendor to call. Stick it in a closet and forget about it. Let us show you all our management tools which show everything in a single pane of glass"

If they do it right, it'll make for a very slick demo.

This is their attempt to do the same in the datacenter.

Re:A good move (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220115)

"Now here is the cisco way, one box, one department, one vendor to call.

Mmm, maybe. I've found the "one bum to kick" is generally an SI or services firm, not a single vendor.

Re:A good move (2, Insightful)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220739)

Mmm, maybe. I've found the "one bum to kick" is generally an SI or services firm, not a single vendor.

Exactly. The grandparent's argument falls on its face as soon as you hook up your do-everything-box to a telco circuit.

Not the first... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220117)

I think both Dell and HP can sell a total solution with their badge throughout. Dell admittedly isn't much on 'total stack support', but HP certainly is in that game.

One could argue that the HP rebadged switches are not 'cisco'-good, but by the same token I'll wager the Cisco-servers aren't 'HP'-good.

Conspicuously absent from that game is of course IBM, which hasn't had it's name on a piece of non-blade networking equipment in a long time and after the whole Lenovo thing, really isn't in a position to offer single-vendor. Strange with so many companies eager to get that marketing bullet point, IBM runs screaming away from it.

Re:Not the first... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220611)

The HP blade solution is superior because even if you want Cisco switches they are available for the C-class enclosures.

Just Great! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219747)

Now I'll have to get yet another certification.

"Yes, I am a Cisco Certified Integrated Server Professional.

WOW. Innovation at every step! (4, Funny)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219753)

Amazing stuff.

by cramming computer power into the very box that contains storage capacity and the networking tools

I'm stunned. One box, with processor, storage, and networking -- ALL TOGETHER in one package. Who would have thought that would be possible?

Re:WOW. Innovation at every step! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220199)

I'm stunned. One box, with processor, storage, and networking -- ALL TOGETHER in one package. Who would have thought that would be possible?

Every /.er running linux on an old P266 with a network card?

Re:WOW. Innovation at every step! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220263)

Whoosh!

Re:WOW. Innovation at every step! (1)

lazy_nihilist (1220868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220649)

cramming computer power into the very box that contains storage capacity and the networking tools

My head spun after reading the sentence. What are present servers/desktops, if not all in one box?

Cisco PR at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219823)

This story sounds like Cisco's PR money at work. The summary contains much hyperbole and gushing superlatives:

Coverage of this announcement is everywhere.

Computer Week and The Register? That's hardly 'everywhere'.

Cisco's approach could help companies use fewer machines â" saving money not only on hardware, but also on power and IT staffing

That's what they'll tell you, but I doubt this is a magic bullet.

The Register provides more analysis

I'm so cynical I read this as: 'The Register copied and pasted more from the Cisco press-release.'

As for going direct to the CIO, well that's not surprising, they're the least competent people with the most power. Of course they're going to the CIO.

If you can't make the sale, move up the org chart! (5, Interesting)

dweller_below (136040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219845)

Yep. That's the Cisco I know and loath. If you can't convince the literate, just move up the org chart.

Years ago, at my institution (150+ buildings, about 15K active IP addresses,) we did a cost analysis of our Cisco addition and decided that it was unnecessary. We could do everything we needed with cheaper, commodity devices.

So, for the next couple years, all upgrades/replacements were to simpler structures. To non-proprietary protocols. And to non-Cisco equipment. We have been Cisco-Free for about 4 years.

The hardest part was beating off the attacks from Cisco Sales. These attacks were vicious. They lied (even more than usual for Cisco sales droids.) They tried their best to discredit us. First they approached the head of IT. Then the VP for Business. Then the president.

Finally, they went to the Board of Regents. They said we were incompetent. They said our actions were endangering the future of our institution. Fortunately, the Regents decided to let us try it.

It has worked out great for us. Our capability is up. Our reliability is way up. Our security is up. Our costs are down (about 1/2 the price of equivalent Cisco.)

But, it only happened because upper management was willing to trust us. I get the impression that most management would fold under the pressure we saw.

Miles

Re:If you can't make the sale, move up the org cha (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219947)

At the small ISP I worked at, we pretty much bought into Cisco for several years. We had an AS5200 PRI for our full 56k PRI lines, and a 3000 series model (can't recall which one) as our gateway router. This worked fine until we started rolling out some more advanced networking, such as proprietary 900mhz and 2.4ghz wireless. Suddenly we were faced with either having to upgrade this equipment (some of it not so young), and the costs were not insignificant.

I asked my boss to give me a couple of weeks to see what I could put together with some of our old Pentium II boxes. Now I fully realize that software routing just isn't as good as Cisco's hardware routing, but damn it all, the price was cheap. Even buying new mini-ATX boxes for up on the towers was considerably cheaper than anything Cisco would offer. Whatever performance boost we'd get from Cisco hardware (or Nortel or whatever) simply couldn't justify the vast difference in pricing.

Cisco's strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27219923)

Well since Cisco has control over Layer 2-3, this strategy would start to make a lot of sense if they started using proprietary hardware and software to effectively lock out other vendors. Who is to say that they won't able to do that at the CPU-level, since the fact that they have a partnership w/ Intel with their latest cpu. This business has worked in the past, who says history won't repeat itself...

California?! Really? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219927)

If any one word could describe Cisco's project as over-priced, over-rated, inflexible and completely about name brand recognition without substance, it would be California.

There are lots of nice things about California, but without question, it is way too expensive to live there. The taxes are out of control. And no matter which side of the fence you live on, California is filled with whack jobs and shallow people... just like Cisco.

I have been re-examining what Cisco brings compared to what other inexpensive or even free products bring and I have to say that Cisco is amazingly over-priced. They price themselves that way because people presume Cisco is the best. I think when people realize their needs can be met in better, less expensive ways, Cisco will have to re-evaluate their strategy.

Welcome to the Project California (1)

Tau Neutrino (76206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27219971)

Check-out time is, uh....

So does this mean... (1)

dark_15 (962590) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220009)

...That Juniper (arguably Cisco's largest competitor) is going to be sucked up by IBM or HP, and integrated just like this?

Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220019)

Not everything remotely related to Microsoft is astroturfing. This story probably wouldn't have been tagged as 'astroturfing' had the word 'Microsoft' not been in it.

Re:Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220057)

Astroturfing? What a ludicrous accusation. Why Cisco is simply busting into the server market with, well, um, this, totally, um, awesome, brand new, um, technology that, like, um, no one, ever, um, well okay, maybe some folks, um, can do, by, um, buying a, um $1500 box, and um, doing, um, themselves, for, um, probably, a fifth the, um, price Cisco can.

But hey, such a box isn't being used by the Chinese to suppress over a billion people. Yay Cisco!!!

Re:Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220489)

You know, not everything that mentions Microsoft is about Microsoft. Neither is everything that mentions Microsoft a chance to play the martyr card.

Re:Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220587)

Well, if it mentions Microsoft it probably at least has something to do with Microsoft. In fact, I believe that everything that mentions Microsoft has something to do with Microsoft. Everyone has something to do with Microsoft as it is. Even your mother. I challenge you to find a quote that mentions Microsoft but has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft.

Re:Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220623)

This happens to be about Cisco marketing. Microsoft is mentioned in the same breath as VMWare. So why are you so obsessed with Microsoft?

Is this the point where you explain how Microsoft has Real Ultimate Power?

Re:Everything Microsoft Astroturfing.. (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220679)

I dunno. I'm just obsessed with Microsoft. Can you blame me? I hang out on Slashdot all day.

And yes, this is that point.

Not a surprise (2, Interesting)

monschein (1232572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220067)

Cisco might have a good shot at this. Project California might look appetizing to a lot of IT departments. Virtualization and consolidation is on the agenda for a lot of datacenters at the moment. All of these functions in one box, in one rack, AND easily manageable would appeal to a lot of CIOs. Deal with one vender instead of three - and a reputable vendor at that. Knowing Cisco, it will most likely be a bit pricey. But hey, no one ever got fired for buying Cisco right? On the other hand, a lot of people have been fired for blowing the budget.

Pump up the big bucks... (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220159)

It's Cisco. Their product won't be cheap. As an infrastructure engineer that is having to stretch the hell out of the dollar. I've found myself purchasing far less Cisco products and a lot more of the alternatives. Today, small scale scaling out for the most part has become pizza box servers and Juniper networking. Pizza box because I can get far more bang for the buck buying a full rack of dual quad core Dell PE1950s for less than I can buy a decked out IBM S chassis for. That consists of 6 servers and 12 drive SAN setup with an internal switch. (pretty much a networking/storage/server all-in-one architecture that Cisco is releasing) I'm not sure why they are making this out as if Cisco is the first to do this. They aren't. Bang for the buck is what I'm looking for. Not just a fully packaged solution. They are nice, but if I need 80 cores, thats going to be damn expensive.

Re:Pump up the big bucks... (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220771)

With an HP c-class chassis, you can get 80 cores, 320GB of RAM, and 5TB of iSCSI storage in one package for about $70,000 retail. Ten HP BL460s plus the chassis costs about the same as ten PE1950s, saves 6U, uses less power, fewer cables to manage, fewer network ports needed (you can get away with as little as one trunk and one management port). For a fully redundant configuration, you can use two trunks and two management ports instead of 20 server ports and 10 management ports for the 1U servers. That saves a few thousand in networking alone. The 5TB SAN fits in the same chassis and uses no additional space or wiring.

The most interesting part is that you can buy all Cisco networking gear for the chassis if you choose, making it functionally identical to the California concept.

All smoke and no fire.... (4, Interesting)

trims (10010) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220193)

OK. My bias up front - I work for Sun.

That said, there were several pre-Cisco-announcements from HP, IBM, and Sun about how the California system is a no-go. Admittedly, they're the competitors for Cisco, but after having looked at the existing rack blade/switch systems from those three vendors, I really don't see any difference worth mentioning from current product lines.

Here's some thoughts:

  • IBM and Sun make much more Open systems, able to run a wide variety of vmWare, Linux, Solaris, and even AIX on all sorts of hardware (SPARC, POWER, PPC, all sorts of AMD and Intel x64). Their systems are much more flexible and honestly, much more powerful overall in what can be accomplished.
  • HP has much of the HW flexibility of Sun and IBM, plus the leading management tools.
  • Cisco has no clue as to how to run a systems support organization, which, frankly, is considerably different than running a network hardware support organization. The other big three have decades each in doing this kind of thing.
  • Sun in particular has extremely competitive pricing. HP and IBM are slightly more expensive, but nothing compared to the margins Cisco charges. So, exactly WHAT are people going to get for the 20-40% premium Cisco is charging over IBM?
  • Even for the Virtualization craze, building a completely proprietary solution flies in the face of what everyone else in the industry is doing: commoditization.
  • Cisco doesn't have integrated solutions. All the others provide storage, network, and compute integration with large, well-trained Professional Services orgs. Cisco has CCIEs in piles, but what do they know about anything but network gear?

Overall, this looks like a stupid move. I realize that Cisco needs to look for more revenue streams in the face of the commoditizing of most network gear, but this seems like an '80s solution to a 2010 problem.

-Erik

stupid cartoon faggots. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220205)

you know why all the wanna-bes and linux fags are into family guy? because peter griffin's chin looks like a nutsack and fags like to think about a nutsack on thte chin.

homos.

This seems like a temporal anomaly... (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220327)

How the heck can _Cisco_ get into the server market...most of their hardware is rebranded HP stuff!

This seems like a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220483)

Is anyone else thinking "single point of failure"?

WTF? (0, Troll)

gillbates (106458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220487)

since you can't ignore Windows in the data center...

I couldn't agree more - ignoring Windows in the data center, i.e., forgetting to patch it, leaving it alone for too long, connected to a network, etc... is a recipe for disaster.

Oh, wait, did someone mean they can't ignore the prospect of using Windows in a data center? Did someone just imply that those of us who have been using IBM mainframes and Sun servers and Linux boxes can't do without Windows in our data centers?

Please. Many a pristine uptime has been ruined by putting Windows in the data center, and while I'll admit they have made strides in improving their OS, it is still nowhere near the reliability of UNIX servers, let alone mainframes. A few years ago, the London Stock Exchange suffered an outage after deciding to go with Windows instead of Linux. Even if there are no future outages, they won't return to 5 nines of uptime until well into the next century.

It is not all that new (1)

clintre (1078849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220497)

Egenera has been doing the same thing for almost 8 years. They did it first on their hardware and now on Dell Blades. Ironically several people from the Cisco side working on this came from Egenera and the messaging is almost identical.

Egenera Website [egenera.com]

The Real Question (1)

castorvx (1424163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220651)

Is when can I get my Cisco Certified Server Professional certification for a nominal fee?

I FUCKIN' LOVE ADVERTISING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220747)

OH GOD YES YES I DO

Oh Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27220787)

Oh, great, the company that has done for routing what microsoft has done for desktops and what oracle has done for databases, kept them 20 years behind where they would be if none of these companies existed, wants to fuck the server market. YEAH!!!

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