UCS Undressed: Inside A Cisco UCS C Series Installation

By August 29, 2011Cisco, How To, UCS

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to install the Cisco C series of rack servers for the first time. Throughout the installation I was very impressed at the ease of installing memory and extra PCI cards, as compared with my previous experiences. It was basically one screw! The space and simplicity made it exponentially easier as maneuvering around wires and plastic was obsolete. The model I installed was a UCS C210 M2 – which is 2U in height.

I ran into one problem right away, or at least I thought I did! To set up the background I had to install a quad port 1 gigabit NIC card and a dual ported 4 gigabit fiber channel card in each server. From my past experiences I knew that I had to figure out which of the five PCIe slots would be able to support the throughput. After looking it up on the tech sheet I came to find that all five do – they support PCIe 2.0 x8. This made my installation a lot easier as well as informing me for future decisions regarding upgrades.

After racking the servers it was time to configure the CIMC. Like other remote management cards the process was to type in the IP address and go, after pressing F2 to get to setup. The CIMC – Cisco Integrated Management Controller, is a full featured remote management solution which includes:

> power control
> system alerting
> virtual media
> BIOS updating
> … a plethora of other applications

It is equivalent to the HP Integrated Lights Out – iLO and the  Dell Remote Access Card – DRAC; and is standard on the C series. One aspect of the CIMC that caught my attention instantly was that the virtual media stays connected even after a power cycle – so there is no pausing the system to reconnect to an ISO after a restart.

I am more than impressed with the ease and simplicity of installing and configuring the C-Series servers. Over the next few weeks I will be getting my hands on a full UCS chassis filled with B-series blades – and I am looking forward to the proven simplicity and ease from Cisco.