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Cisco axes unloved M-Series modular servers two years after launch

Nobody wants modules any more, admits Switchzilla

Exclusive Cisco will kill off its M-Series modular server line, citing lack of customer interest.

In an internal company memo, seen by The Register, Cisco data center/virtualization VP Frank Palumbo said stalled demand for the modular line convinced Cisco to end sales for the compact servers less than two years after their introduction.

Designed for "cloud-scale" services, the M-Series placed servers into compact modules, up to eight of which could be fit into a 2U rack-mounted chassis. The line was aimed at cloud providers and online gaming platforms, which required large numbers of individual boxes to operate in tandem.

Unfortunately, it seems, Cisco misread the market for the cloud-scale servers and Switchzilla has now decided to pull the plug and focus on other areas. Here's internal announcement sent out to Cisco staff today:

From: Frank Palumbo

Date: Friday, June 3, 2016

Subject: IMPORTANT: M-Series End of Sale

Today we are communicating End of Sale for M-Series Modular Servers.

Innovations developed in the M-Series program, such as System Link Technology, have resonated well with the market and we have established thought leadership in composable, software-defined infrastructure.

However, the growth rate of the density-optimized segment has slowed dramatically since the M-Series’ introduction in 2014 and represents only 10% of the x86 server market today. We are shifting our investment focus for composable infrastructure to programs that will deliver these capabilities broadly across our UCS portfolio, which is what our customers have been asking for. This is already happening in products like the UCS C3260.

This is a product-level decision that aligns us with the form factors our customers are choosing for scale-out workloads. Cisco’s strategy to deliver industry-leading, software-defined, policy-driven Data Center infrastructure is unchanged. Let’s emphasize these two points as we communicate with our partners and customers.

We will ensure a smooth transition for M-Series customers.

So it appears Cisco will be guiding customers to move into other high-density offerings in its UCS server line, particularly the standalone C-series and blade-based B-series servers that, Cisco admits, many customers have already been asking for in place of the M-series.

"Cisco is fully committed to supporting customers who have deployed M-Series systems, and we are working proactively to make their transition as easy and seamless as possible," a spokesman for Switchzilla told El Reg.

"The decision to discontinue M-Series does not impact any other elements of our portfolio."

The server cull comes as Cisco is continuing to attempt a delicate balance of touting its on-premise gear while also working to establish its services and hosted offerings for enterprise customers. ®

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