I know that there are advantages to using the vNIC capabilities of the VIC M81KR along with the 2100 IO Module up to the 6100 series Fiber Interconnect.
But If the customer was not convinced of the management advantages of the 6100 and the UCS Manager and did not like the idea of having to pay a license fee to turn on the 10Gig ports on the 6100, which essentially doubles the price or more of the 6100, Could we instead do it the old fashion way and put a 10Gig adaptor in each blade and then wire them into a 5548?
I know that it is ugly, but what will they loose doing this?
That won't work. It's a whole solution. The chassis doesn't work without the IOM and the 6100. If your customer is having issues with the solution perhaps take a look at the C-series servers instead of the blades.
Just to add to what Louis mentioned - Though the blades have individual mezz cards, there are no Chassis switches you'd be able to uplink into your 5500's nor the software to manage the IO modules. The Chassis IO modules are specifically built to work with the fabric interconnects.
With each FI purchased you get the first 8 ports included. The sweet spot for most deployments usually involves 2 uplinks per chassis, this will give provide enough included ports for 3 chassis' (24 blades) with two left for uplinks. Pricing the FI's per port beyond the included 8 help offset the overall cost of the system during initial purchase. We actually take a loss overall until roughly around the 1/2 way mark of ports purchased are reached. Compared to competators, when a new Chassis is purchased you'd also need to purchase a pair of Management modules (iLO/DRAC/RAS), two or more SAN switch modules and two or more ethernet modules. This makes scaling additional compute power extremely expensive. With a new UCS Chassis all you need are two very inexpensive IO modules, which provide everything you need to connect your chassis into your already wired infrastructure (Fabric Interconnects). Yes, you'll need to ensure you have enough licensed ports on the FIs to meet your chassis & uplink requirements, but you're still looking at far less scaling investments in the long run.
The management benefits are one of the key value adds UCS offers over it's competators. I'd be a little concerned why your customer does not see the value added in a single management platform for such a wide scope of devices. Also being able to maintain policies for firmware version, QoS levels, consistent network configurations, BIOS, Boot, etc ensure consistency & security across your compute environment. Having a firm understanding in the management advantages requires understanding UCS differentiators.
There's a reason why many vendor are now following Cisco's lead in a "unified" approach to datacenter infrastructure. It's more efficient, easier to manage and scales well beyond traditional designs.