New Cisco UCS Bundles! SmartPlay Five

My quarterly posts on the new Cisco UCS bundles is pretty popular but it’s getting harder to differentiate these and I want to make sure people are always looking at the correct one.

These bundles were released on 8/15/12 and are valid until 12/31/12

Once again we have new bundles and while they continue to just be evolutions along the path there are some interesting additions this time.  Here is a shot giving an overview of the B-Series “starter” bundles, as we call them.  They include the Fabric Interconnects, I/O modules, and chassis:

First thing is that there is no B230 starter bundle, which I still find confusing.  I’m not sure why Cisco isn’t doing that when the B230 is still a very popular configuration.  This is the first time we’ve seen a B22 bundle, and for those not familiar with that blade it’s a “lower end” blade that tops out at 192GB of RAM.  It’s not a bad option at all if your requirements don’t dictate >192GB of RAM.  It uses the E5-2400 family of CPUs, while the B200M3 uses the E5-2600 family, so you do give up some performance there but often in virtual environments we find that CPU isn’t the constraint.

For I/O Cisco continues with putting the 2208XP I/O modules (FEX) in the chassis, which is another reason these starter bundles are such a good deal.  Those FEX cost about twice what the 4-port 2204XP do so it’s nice to get them in the bundle.  Along with that all three B200M3 bundles have dual-VICs…both the VIC1240 and the VIC1280.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why Cisco is doing that in the B200 Value bundle.  I’d rather they just do the VIC1240 and shave some off the cost.

What about expansion bundles?  These are “pre-built” blade packs that make it easy to quote and order additional blades.  What I like here is that Cisco is mapping their expansion packs directly to the starter bundles.  You can see the SKU in the Part Numbers list on each bundle (Expansion Pak).  In the past they have done things where the expansions were slightly different configurations which made for some odd conversations with customers on why we spec’d things a certain way.

C-Series Bundles

Cisco is also getting serious about their C-Series bundles.  Here is their breakdown:

Again, a good spread of options here starting on the lower end with the C22 and going through the C240.  Cisco is also offering C-Series/Nexus bundles:

Notice some interesting things here?  I do.  First, there is a Nexus 3K bundle for those with low latency requirements.  There are two UCS FI/Nexus 2K bundles.  You can now build your own UCS cluster with C-series underneath the Fabric Interconnects.  Before it wasn’t really feasible to do this from a cost standpoint, but now it is since you aren’t piecing it together.  Interesting.

CPU Reference Material

With the release of the E5 CPUs and now the different levels of servers (B22, B200, C22, C220, etc) there is some confusion on how the E5-2400 and E5-2600 families line up.  Here are some charts showing performance, cost, capabilities, power, etc.  For B-series:


That chart also maps CPUs to server models AS OF TODAY.  Very handy.  You will notice that some CPUs have no X under model.  Not every CPU from Intel is offered and those are shown for reference only.

Same chart here for C-series:


Solution Pak Offerings

I’m not sure why Cisco can’t say “Pack” but there is probably something legally in there somewhere with a copyright or trademark…anyway…  Cisco has been doing these Solution Paks where they offer larger solutions at a discount.  This time the two areas of focus are:

  • Virtual Desktop / VXI
  • Big Data (Don’t get me started on this new buzzword….)

I’m going to skip a lot of the details here but the bottom line is that Cisco is offering some PoC-ready VDI bundles.  Some include their VXC desktop clients.  They are also offering a Hadoop Capacity and a Hadoop Performance pair of bundles for Big Data builds.  The VDI bundles use B-Series blades…B200M3 for one and B230M2 for another.  The Hadoop bundles use C-Series servers with a lot of internal disk.  Not sure how popular those will be, but time will tell.

Other Details

As mentioned earlier, these bundles are good through 12/31/12 which makes our/my job easier when working with customers.  There are also limits, as before.  Customers can buy 5 of the starter bundles or Solution Pak offerings and 10 of the expansion pak bundles under these deals.

Again, and as always, we are happy to see the new bundles.  The majority of our initial UCS installations are based on these bundles and usually grow greatly from there.  If you have any questions or want Varrow to help you with your UCS infrastructure feel free to reach out.  My email address is [email protected]


  1. Excellent summary. Thank you.

  2. Very good one.

  3. My thoughts on the b230 bundle removal. Most people buying the bundle are just getting into UCS, usually for server virtualization. And often the b230 bundles or expansion pak was targeted for VDI deployments. Perhaps the though was most people are doing server virtualization first, then tackling VDI. The b22 entry bundle with a b230 expansion pack is a nice starter for VDI using the (2) b22’s for the VDI infrastructure servers.

    I am excited about the c-series bundles, getting more romley’s out there.

    Finally I am glad to see no more bundles with the old VIC’s. I was tired of seeing new deployments with 6200’s and 2200 FEX’s but the old VIC’s were holding back the blade to FEX port-channels.


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