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Cisco stops SSD hardware production for UCS servers

Cisco has dropped its Invicta all-flash product line, leaving customers to buy SSD hardware for its UCS servers from third parties.

Cisco is halting production of its Invicta flash product line, two years after acquiring the solid-state storage drive option for the company's Unified Computing System.

Cisco last week announced the "end of life" for the Invicta Appliance and Scaling System products. The company said it would continue to support customers under Cisco's Products and Services End of Life Policy. The service includes technical assistance, software support and replacement parts.

Cisco's reason for stopping production of the SSD hardware was unclear. The company said it was "prioritizing the elements of our portfolio to drive the most value for our customers." The announcement was made in an email sent to media. The company declined a request for more details.

Companies using the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), a data center architecture that integrates computing, networking and storage resources, can buy Invicta-like solid-state drives (SSDs) from a Cisco partner, a spokesman said.

In 2013, Cisco obtained the Invicta line through the $451 million acquisition of storage vendor Whiptail Technologies Inc. At the time, Cisco said the technology would bring "optimized performance on top of the UCS for emerging and business critical applications, such as virtualized, big data, database, high performance computing and transcoding workloads."

Whiptail's muscle for processing workloads stemmed from the speed of its SSDs -- 300,000 read I/Os per second in the Invicta system. The power of the company's technology drew speculation that Cisco would deeply integrate Whiptail's SSD automation and management technology into its UCS compute fabric.

Paul Perez, former general manager of Cisco's data center group and current CTO of Dell's enterprise group, told TechTarget that the company was "focused on disrupting the computing market against our server competitors more than trying to get into storage." However, Cisco's competitors, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell, had also incorporated SSDs in their products.

Customer complaints over flash quality

About a year after the acquisition, customer complaints over product quality led to Cisco suspending shipments of the Invicta flash appliance. Shipments resumed later in the year.

In 2014, Cisco accounted for 5.7% of factory revenue in the worldwide server market, according to IDC, based in Framingham, Mass. HP had a 26.2% share followed by IBM, 18.4%, and Dell, 17.6%.

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