Cisco USC servers are the only choice for Cisco CUCM cluster hosts
October 14, 2019

Cisco USC servers are the only choice for Cisco CUCM cluster hosts

Jane Updegraff | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco UCS Series

Cisco UCS servers are the underlying host servers for our Cisco CUCM (voice / conferencing / meeting / chat services) clusters both for our publisher CUCM cluster and our subscriber CUCM cluster. They are beefy, powerful, private-labeled HP servers (they are actually manufactured by HP and Cisco simply slaps the UCS label on them) and very well-supported servers as long as you pay for the SmartNet on them until you stop using them. I love these servers and I really wish I could afford to have them everywhere, but I can't, they are just too expensive, so they only house our phone server clusters.
  • Cisco UCS servers are really excellent hypervisor hosts. They were built for it and one can tell that they were. They also have nice add-on features that you can buy when you first get them, but you can also add a lot of features later on.
  • Cisco USC servers, exactly like their HP analogues, HP ProLiant servers, are very robust, extremely reliable and have really excellent management tools. You don't have to pay or an iLo subscription on UCS servers like you do on HP ProLiants, however. A USC server comes with the "CIMC" or "Cisco Integrated Management Controller" which is obviously pretty much exactly the same thing as an iLo.
  • You can get parts for Cisco UCS server super fast (depending on your SmartNet plan type) and the support (through TAC) is unbeatable.
  • Cisco UCS servers are really expensive, especially considering that they are manufactured by HP and have the same motherboards, raid controllers, riser cards, etc etc as an HP ProLiant from the same time period and with the same specs. Even most of the server case looks like an HP ProLiant when you sit them side by side, something that I have actually done. Obviously you are paying for the Cisco name and Cisco TAC support, but under the covers UCS servers are HP servers.
  • It's kind of high-handed, but we were sort of forced to buy Cisco UCS servers to host our Cisco phone server clusters. The Cisco salesman (and the sales engineer form the VAR that was helping) both said that TAC can't support certain hardware-related problems with CUCM (or Unity or CUPS/IMP, etc) if those servers are hosted on a non-Cisco USC server. That said, they are really nice servers, even for the price. I just felt like we were railroaded into buying them.
  • Cisco UCS servers have been relatively reliable when it comes to uptime. We do not have regular outages caused by these servers, which saves us a lot of $ in missed calls and meetings.
  • We had an enormous cascade failure of a RAID array on a Cisco UCS server (the CUCM phone system's publisher cluster host) a couple of years ago. Thankfully, we had a fully-synced CUCM subscriber cluster on another UCS server that took over phone system duties for the duration of the outage. I can't estimate how much money that failover configuration saved us. But that was the CUCM configuration that achieved the failover, not the UCS server itself. Plus it was the primary publisher UCS server having a hardware failure that CAUSED the cascade failure to begin with. We had to hire a VAR to help with the recovery of the entire publisher cluster, which was not backed up (because of the presence of the subscriber cluster ... we still don't back most of them up), which ended up taking almost 2 months and several tens of thousands in VAR labor (and on-staff engineer labor) to get it re-constituted after the UCS server was repaired. That one failure probably cost us $60,000. By the way, the failed server had to have a new motherboard installed, a very serious hardware error indeed. That is the only bad experience we have had with any UCS server, but it was a very, VERY bad experience.
Dell poweredge and HP ProLiant are both less expensive than Cisco UCS servers. HP ProLiants and Cisco UCS servers are actually manufactured by the same companies and in the same factories and it is obvious when you put them side by side that they are composed of the same physical parts. However, neither HPE or Dell can say that they provide the same level or speed of support that Cisco TAC can provide, whether or not it;s for very similar hardware. In addition, Cisco thoroughly tests all of their CUCM and other phone operating systems and apps on Cisco UCS servers such that you can be absolutely sure that Cisco TAC will know how the host server interacts with the guest phone server VMs and therefore they will be unparalleled in how they can support the guest servers.
Cisco TAC is simply unbeatable and that goes for Cisco UCS server support just as well as it does for Cisco CUCM software. TAC has a well-deserved, excellent reputation and I do not hesitate to call them or open a ticket online, because I always know that I will get the help that I need and get it quickly.

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USC servers are not for everyone. They are pricey, full stop. But they offer superior reliability and uptime and you really do need that kind of reliability if you are going to host a whole cluster of phone servers on one of these. They are scalable up to pretty enormous capabilities, so even a large enterprise would be able to set up their phone system using UCS servers. And that is the number 1 purpose for which I would recommend them. If you are NOT looking for a home for CUCM phone servers, you will probably not want to commit the $ for these servers, unless you are strongly committed to the Cisco brand or Cisco TAC support.