Cisco heralds cloud strength with new UCS X-Series and new Intersight services

Cisco’s ‘Future Cloud’ event today also introduces multiple additional cloud capabilities, including Cisco Service Mesh Manager, the expansion of Cisco Cloud ACI into GCP, and a new ThousandEyes integration with the Cisco Catalyst  8000 Edge Series for SD-WAN and Cisco Nexus 9000 switches.

Cisco UCS X-Series

Today, Cisco is showcasing its bona fides as a hybrid cloud player, and the results of their multi-billion dollar investment in hybrid cloud over the last six years. At their virtual ‘Future Cloud’ event today, they are outlining their cloud strategy, and also unveiling key product that is a major means to this end. The Cisco UCS X-Series is their first UCS system explicitly designed for the hybrid cloud. Cisco’s Intersight SaaS systems management platform has been expanded with Intersight Cloud Orchestrator, which provides a low-code, easy-to-use automation framework, and Intersight Workload Engine, a platform for modern, cloud native workloads based an open-source Kubernetes and KVM foundation using container-native virtualization. Cisco is also announcing Cisco Service Mesh Manager, a new extension to the Intersight Kubernetes Service, and the expansion of Cisco Cloud ACI into the Google Cloud Platform. Finally, ThousandEyes internet and cloud intelligence has been integrated with the Cisco Catalyst  8000 Edge Series for SD-WAN and Cisco Nexus 9000 switches.

“This Future Cloud event and the related product launch is focused on helping customers have a consistent cloud-like operating model, no matter where they are hosted and where their users are,” said Prashanth Shenoy, VP Marketing, Cloud and Networking at Cisco. “From both an infrastructure perspective, and more importantly, from the perspectives of automation and observability, our strategy is to help customers connect, secure and automate for the hybrid cloud world.”

Shenoy said that today, much of this still tends to be in siloes.

“Breaking the siloes between these operating teams and providing common observability and helping them manage in an automated fashion is our goal,” he stated. “It’s about how we can best modernize our infrastructure for this hybrid cloud era.”

The related combination of the new UCS X-Series and the Intersight enhancements are the key here.

“X-Series and Intersight are the Crown jewel, building the compute and cloud operating model for the next decade,” Shenoy stressed. “The UCS X Series powered by Intersight blurs the lines between rack and blade systems. We have – taken that dichotomy away and provided the flexibility of blades that allows any workload to be deployed on this.”

Shenoy emphasized that the new system provides multiple key differentiators in the market.

“The entire system is operated from the cloud through Intersight on the UCS X-Series,” he said. “No other vendor does this for compute. We also have a unique technology with our X-Series fabric. There is no backplane, so the system looks like a bunch of lego blocks. This gives extreme flexibility to deploy various types of workloads, from VDI to GPU-intensive systems. It makes it highly adaptable as a system with flexibility for a broad range of workloads. It’s also engineered for the future, with 1 PB of storage, 600 plus cores, and 100 TB of memory . We have built major capacity into this to future proof the system.”

This should translate into a profitable partner opportunity.

“It will help modernize and build new recurring offers, by blurring the line between rack and blade systems. That creates a whole new addressable market opportunity, and will help them capture new opportunities that will deliver business outcomes.”

Shenoy said that the enhancements to Intersight, which was started a few years back to manage Cisco’s infrastructure in the data centre, and has been expanded to provide many workload and cloud orchestration services beyond infrastructure since, is just as important.

“We are very excited about these new services,” he stated. “Intersight Cloud Orchestrator is a new low code GUI-based automated workload management tool, with pre-validated tasks and workflows. It provides simplifed orchestration and automation across the hybrid cloud. Intersight Workload Engine is a next-gen architecture for modern cloud native workloads, which will have a serverless capability very soon.”

Service Mesh Manager is also new.

Service Mesh Manager

“This is modern application networking for the cloud-native world,” Shenoy said.  “It brings that visualization of all services no matter where those workloads and microservices are. It is part of our extension of the Intersight Kubernetes service. We will build more of these API and application-level capabilities into the system for the cloud-native era.”

Observability has been extended by the expansion of the breadth of coverage of ThousandEyes, the Digital Experience Monitoring company that Cisco acquired last year.

“We are now integrating ThousandEyes into everything,” Shenoy said. “It was in Catalyst’s portfolio a few months back. Now it’s in our SD-WAN and data centre portfolio. That power is now in every part of our infrastructure for more granular visibility.” This includes Catalyst 9300/94400 for campus visibility, Catalyst 8300/8200 for SD-WAN and Nexus 9500/93000 for Data Centre switching.

Finally, Cisco Cloud ACI, which reduces the cost and complexity of managing hybrid and multicloud deployments, and which was already available on AWS and Azure, will come to Google Cloud, with general availability in the Fall of 2021.