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Cisco UCS models


Dear NetPro gurus,

One of my customers is looking for a small-sized deployment of Cisco UCS on their environment.  But there are so many different versions like UCS Manager, UCS Express, UCS 6100, UCS 5100, UCS 2100 etc..  Which one should my customer chooses??

Is there any Data Sheet that summarize and compares them in one go??

Also, is there any detailed instructions on how to install & configure them?

Greatly appreciated anyone help on this.

5 Replies 5


Hi !

I'm not a Cisco employee, but maybe have a look here:

In essence, you have a 5108 chassis that houses B-class blades (or the standalone C-class servers). In the back of the 5108 chassis you will normally see two 2104XPs (Fabric Extenders) connection the chassis to either 6120's or 6140's (Fabric Interconnects). These Fabric Interconnects then connect the whole system north-bound. It is also these Fabric Interconnects that you use to configure the whole system with a GUI tool called UCS Manager.

Another good starting point are Cisco Validated Designs, e.g. this one for VMware:

There is a whole load of "who to install and configure" documentation on Cisco's website - but if you've never used or seen the system it's a bit hard to understand. If you have access to Cisco's Developer Network, take some time and play with the UCS emulator:

To be honest, it is nothing like your normal server/blade install ... at first you will be totally confused - but once you've had some time to play with it and got one running, it's just awesome!

Good luck,


Hi Alex,

Thanks for your explanations & your URLs, but I have one more question:-

With the Cisco UCS Manager that is built in to the UCS 6120 or 6140 InterConnect, does it do a "auto-discover" to all the connections to the UCS 5108 & C-Series Rack Mount servers?  And after the "auto-discovery" the UCS Manager will be able to manage everything on the UCS 5108 and all C-series servers??

Thanks heaps for your help in advance.

Hi !

The C-class servers live "outside" the blade chassis - imagine those like standard 2U servers with the added ability to being managed through UCS manager (if you have the 61x0's - there are also standalone C-class server options). The 5108 chassis is the home to B-class blades. You can fit up to eight half-width blades or four full-width blades. The chassis has two slots in a row and a total of four rows (example: top two rows could be four half-width blades and bottom two rows could be two full-width blades). Main difference is that full-width blades obviously can have more RAM and a second virtual interface card. (Just a comment: I've used the M81KR VIC in 90% of my deployments and it's just awesome!)

To your second question: yes! When I sat in front of UCS the first time, I was looking for an admin port to configure that - but it really works automagically! From each 2104XP you can have 1, 2 or 4 uplinks - this is then used for EVERYTHING: network, storage and management.

One of the nice things is that you also don't manage the blades individually. If you have eight blades, you don't have to update firmwares eight times nor do you set BIOS policies eight times ... you do it once in UCS Manager as part of a profile and then you only apply/update these profiles. UCS Manager takes care of everything else!

Have a great day


Hi Alex,

Thanks again for your detailed explanations, but I have a few more questions if u don't mind:-

1)     With all the b-class blades fit inside the UCS 5108 chassis and using the 5108's UCS 2100 Series Fabric Extenders as uplink ports back to the 61x0 Fabric InterConnect, I don't understand what's the function of the M81KR Virtual Interface Card does.

2)     With the UCS 6120 Fabric InterConnect, I can use 2 of its 20 ten GE ports with SFP-10GB-SR for uplinks back to Nexus 5548 or 7010.  But for downstream towards the UCS 5108 Chassis or C-Series Servers, should I be using the same 20 x 10GE ports but using the 8Gbps Fiber Channel Transceivers (DS-SFP-FC8G-SW)??

3)     Also, what's the term of Cisco VN-Link technology means?

Thanks so much for your help in advance.


The FEX modules (IOMs) just act as a remote line card to the 6100's.  They are fully managed by the Fabric Interconnects.  These replace traditional LAN, SAN & Management switch modules you'd find in a typical chassis.  To connect the blades to the IOMs, each blade needs a Mezz card (adapter).  These mezz cards come in a variety of flavors depending on your requirements.


Intel M51KR-I

Broadcom M51KR-B

10G FCoE (Converged Network Adatper)

Qlogic M71KR-Q / M72KR-Q

Emulex M71KR-E / M72KR-E

Intel M61KR-I

Cisco M81KR

The unique feature of the M81KR Virtual Interface Card (VIC) is that it can instantiate multiple virtual NICs (LAN) or virtual HBAs (SAN) on the host- up to 56 with the current hardware.  Much like you can present "virtual NICS" to a VM, the M81KR can present "virtual NICs" to the Hypervisor host (ESX), each which will appear to be a unique PCI device.  UCS can apply distinct network policies (VLANs, QoS, Failover etc) to each virtual interface of the VIC.  In a virtual environment this adds the benefit of not being limited to 2 x 10GB interfaces as with other adaptors.  You can create dedicated NICs for Service Console, NFS, iSCSI, VM data etc all managed independently.

VN-Link is our terminology used to describe a set of features that allow Virtual Interfaces to be individually idenitified, configured, monitored, and migrated in a way consistent with current networking operational models.  We've actually moved away from this terminolgy and use the following terms

There are a few different variants of VN-Link.

VN-Link in Software = Nexus 1000v

VN-Link in Hardware  = UCS w/ M81KR (also referred to as a Pass-through Switch)

VN-Link in Adapter = M81KR VIC

For more information, have a read through these pages:



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