Blog7 Reasons to Consider the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)

Delivering Built-In Security for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

The UCS Manager provides embedded, unified management of a data center’s software and hardware components. It can control any number of chassis and can help manage the resources for thousands of virtual machines, making this a data center management workhorse.

But how does it compare to the less expensive white-box servers that populate many data centers? This is an important question and one we hear often. While those white-box servers may look appealing on paper, Cisco UCS delivers numerous advantages, including a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Before you purchase a white-box solution for your environment, here are seven points you should consider.

  1. Fewer failures (and the costs associated with failures). According to a study in 2013 from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by Emerson Network Power, the average cost per minute for unplanned downtime is now $7,900. This is a 41 percent increase from 2010 and is likely to continue rising as more and valuable data is stored. Cisco UCS is built with the highest quality components, which may be more expensive, but considering what’s at stake, failure isn’t an option. In fact, Cisco has an entire department dedicated to component engineering to help ensure that the solutions use only the highest-quality components.
  2. A focus on power efficiency. Cisco UCS is ENERGY STAR certified. In fact, Cisco UCS has the best power-to-performance ratio in the market, and is 25 percent more power efficient than systems from equivalent white-box original design manufacturers (ODMs). What you might save in CapEx with white-box equipment is more often than not overshadowed by an increase in OpEx in due time.
  3. A focus on performance. This is why Cisco UCS servers are consistently the highest-performing in their class, across a broad spectrum of workloads. Cisco UCS has set more than 40 world-record benchmarks on Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers and more than 100 total including Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers. The white-box vendors rarely perform and publish industry-standard benchmarks because their solutions do not have the performance or efficiency to achieve an acceptable score.
  4. The importance of strong security. Cisco’s servers are built using the Cisco Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL). With SDL, Cisco UCS servers must meet two types of product security requirements: internal requirements and market-based requirements. Quite simply they go far beyond white-box server providers in delivering security designed around today’s threats.
  5. Robust management features that deliver. White-box vendors do not invest in management or performance tools. Their primary market (the hyperscale customers) are left to create and deploy their own management tools. Cisco delivers the level of management you need, whether you’re managing stand-alone rack servers in the tens or thousands. Fundamental capabilities include integrated rack and server management, global management of distributed data centers, and automation and orchestration of cloud computing environments.
  6. The innovation of Virtual Interface Cards. Cisco virtual interface cards (VICs) are converged network cards (CNAs) that extend the network fabric directly to both servers and virtual machines so that a single connectivity mechanism can be used to connect both physical and virtual servers with the same level of visibility and control. Cisco VICs provide complete programmability of the Cisco UCS I/O infrastructure, with the number and type of I/O interfaces configurable on demand with a zero-touch model.
  7. Reduced risk. Cisco spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours in the lab creating Cisco Validated Designs. These documents provide the foundation for efficient solution deployments.


White-box servers can be appropriate if you can create and support the complete environment internally. However, if you’re running enterprise applications and you value performance, availability, flexibility, serviceability, scalability, and manageability, then consider Cisco UCS.

About the Author

Eric Eiseman

Eric Eiseman, Solutions Architect

As a premier subject matter expert at ASG, Eric Eiseman assists and guides customers through their design and architectural decisions. In particular, Eric has developed a thorough technical knowledge of VMware, Cisco Unified Computing Solutions, FlexPod, and Red Hat products throughout his extensive career as a system administrator and senior consultant.