Converged infrastructures (CI) – aggregating  networking, storage, and compute into a single IT system continues to grow in popularity with IT organizations, with Gartner seeing revenues for CI hitting over $5Billion in 2016. This week a leading test analyst, Tolly Enterprises, published a paper comparing the Dell PowerEdge FX2 utilizing the FN IO Module (networking) against a comparable configuration of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and came back with some remarkable results. They showed the FX2 with the FN IO Module (FN IOM) offering superior performance, density, and capex savings. 

Some of the findings were:

Result #1: Up to 38% greater performance

Both virtualization and cloud workloads depend on east/west traffic flows – where server to server communication speed is imperative. Although Cisco has a dominant share in the CI market, they have an architecture which is inferior to the FX2 utilizing the FN IOM.  The FN IOM is a fully functioning networking switch.  Including the FN IOM with the FX2 accelerates east/west traffic.  Cisco UCS treats all traffic as north/south, forcing all traffic to go up to a top-of-rack switch and then return south to the server.  By utilizing the FN IOM in the FX2, Tolly found that virtual machine (VM) migration required up to 38% less time over UCS with normal background traffic flows.  Researchers estimate that over 75% of network traffic is “east/west” with much of it represented by virtualization and cloud workloads.  Dell’s superiority in east/west traffic over UCS satisfies a key performance requirement for today’s IT environment.


Result #2: 72% Higher density

Tolly found that the Dell FX2 with FN IOM solution offered a significantly smaller footprint when compared with Cisco UCS. The FX2 implements quarter-size servers versus the Cisco UCS half size servers. Cisco UCS is only able to provision 48 servers in a single rack compared to Dell provisioning 168 servers in a single rack.  Footprint and density have increasingly become bigger issues for IT managers, particularly when considering power and cooling and overall manageability. Higher density helps reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the life of the investment.

Result #3: 50% lower capex

In spite of UCS not being able to match the Dell FX2 with the FN IOM in terms of performance, and also that UCS required nearly 4 times the space in the rack – UCS was twice the cost of the Dell solution based on available pricing. The Cisco UCS solution selling price for this test was $123,000 whereas the Dell FX2 with the FN IOM was just $58,000. The actual list price for the Cisco solution was over $215,000. 

To learn more about Tolly’s testing methodology, the configurations, detailed price comparisons, and test results, click this link for the free download of the Tolly whitepaper

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