Cisco UCS partners see growing cloud opportunities

Cisco’s Unified Computing System has helped some integrators become cloud providers. Now it drives more virtualization business for other Cisco UCS partners.

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Cisco UCS partners have expanded into new areas, such as cloud computing, and now drive more business, thanks to the vendor’s converged infrastructure platform.

Cisco Systems’ Unified Computing System (UCS) -- a converged infrastructure offering that combines servers, networking and VMware virtualization -- has a growing channel following because of its virtualization-first approach. Cisco UCS partners also said it stands out for its ability to handle resource-intensive workloads such as virtual desktops and SAP.

“Anything else is just a server that has been retrofitted,” said Steve Kaplan, vice president of the data center and virtualization practice at Presidio, a Greenbelt, Md.-based solutions provider .

Cisco UCS partners become cloud providers
In the two years since Cisco launched UCS, the company said it has gained 10,000 customers that use the technology.  And 19% of respondents to TechTarget’s Virtualization Decisions 2011 Purchasing Intentions Survey said they will consider adopting Cisco UCS, up from 12% the year before.

One such customer is Colosseum Online Inc., a Canadian colocation and systems integrator. The company is one of the three largest UCS customers in Canada, which uses UCS to provide customers with cloud offerings. Colosseum said it uses three Pods with over 50 blades and 200 TB of NetApp storage.

“We wanted a cloud offering that was more efficient, simple and stable, with a better way for customers to provision virtual machines,” said Jean Crescenzi, chief technology officer at Colosseum.

Colosseum had used server gear from Compaq (and then Hewlett-Packard)  and networking gear from Cisco. But several years ago customers started asking for cloud computing services, so the company shopped for a delivery platform. It performed a proof-of-concept test with an HP C7000 with 3PAR and a Cisco UCS system with NetApp. Despite the higher price, Colosseum chose UCS.

Colosseum’s Crescenzi said the company has already moved seven full racks to the cloud. “I’d say that 90% of customers who go on our demo accounts, sign up,” he said.

More opportunities for Cisco UCS partners
As the platform grows in acceptance, Cisco UCS partners have reaped the rewards. UCS is opening the door to even bigger converged infrastructure products with VCE Company’s vBlock and the FlexPod from Cisco, NetApp and VMware.

“We’ve seen a bit of an upsurge in the technology, mostly in regards to vBlock and FlexPod solutions,” said Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solutions provider. UCS is going to be a strong part of the company’s portfolio in 2012, MacDonald said.

“We just sold and will be supporting our first vBlock with an SAP implementation,” he added. “SAP and [virtual desktop infrastructure] are two leading workloads that stand up in FlexPod and vBlock. We see good upside with both of those technologies in 2012.”

In the last six months, UCS has increased in mindshare for potential customers, with just about any company that needs enterprise-level virtualization interested in using it, Presidio’s Kaplan said. His UCS customers are organizations that require internal virtualization capabilities and managed service providers that offer public cloud services.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Leah Rosin, Site Editor, or follow us on Twitter.

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