When a familiar brand such as Nike or McDonald’s releases a new product, an amazing thing occurs which has absolutely nothing to do with what they are selling. These companies have such a strong brand name relationship with the consumer, that the product is immediatly assigned value. Prospective customers are open to at least trying it, while loyal customers have an auto-reaction to purchase (Apple anyone?).
This is due in no small measure to the apex marketing departments that these companies employ, which deliver results time after time. I would speculate that nine out of ten folks would immediately have a high level of confidence in the new product after only seeing a couple of well lit pictures, accompanied by the product’s jingle or tag line all crammed in under the thirty seconds allotted by the normal network commercial slot.
You know what industry that tenth guy is in?
The fellow members of this exclusive group are adrift in a sea of product knowledge doubt. We want to touch it. We want not only to see it work, but work in our shop. It seems the moment we hear about a new product or idea we immediately figure out why it WON’T work.
This is obviously a survival mechanism. In the IT world we have all been burned by the silver tongued, snake oil swindling technology salesman. We put our reputation on the line for a piece of hardware and software that just didn’t deliver, which immediately means that our users feel that WE didn’t deliver. Never again…
Recently, Cisco released their new Unified Computing System (UCS). While Cisco has certainly made its fair share of false steps in the past, their track record still holds up as better than most. However, I was not prepared for the level of doubt by the teams I have met with right out of the gate. What really caught me by surprise was the amount of urban legend surrounding the product. Most folks simply consider it a new blade chassis. Technically true, but one could also say a fire truck is just another truck. Yet, not all speculation was bad. I have also heard good things that aren’t true, such as the ability to spread a single VM to multiple blades.
|Trucks: One carries a dalmation along. The other only has room for one.
What intrigues me most about the platform isn’t a single feature of the solution; it’s how it all comes together. IP KVMs are common, but in the UCS it is included. Being able to lay down a server hardware “profile” between generations of blades makes expansion more straightforward and reduces opportunities for error. The network in the chassis itself looks like a line card in the Nexus switches that sits on top, simplifying management. The list just keeps on going.
Maybe that’s the issue. We are expecting a single feature to divide the new Cisco solution from the sea of server chassis platforms out there, but instead it is dozens of nuances that really deserve a deeper delving into Cisco’s UCS details.
So I finally had enough and asked Cisco to do a “dispel the rumors” seminar for a rather large group of customers who wanted to get to the bottom of this.
Not only will we view the slides, but our “test drive” of the UCS will center mainly around seeing how the management interface works and the chassis itself. All questions will be answered and all myths exposed. Personally, I am most interested in recieving the feedback after the event to hear what folks were most surprised to learn; however, overall, I think the event will be awesome for everyone, including me. The more time I spend with the platform, the more my knowledge of it’s innerworkings increase: I can see how it’s not all about the server blade, but instead about the integration points to the network, storage and especially VMware.
Photo Credits via Flickr: robin_24, Squiggle and wonderbjerg