What is most valuable?
The UCS environment as a whole. The hardware is easily swappable and, utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles. So if your blade has failures and you have a hot spare, you can transfer the service profile to a new blade and be operational in mere minutes. Huge for uptime and perfect for environments like VMware ESXi hosts, which is what I use them for primarily.
How has it helped my organization?
We can be scalable to a greater degree using Cisco UCS. The options available and the connectivity to a Nexus switch with universal ports have been a game changer.
What needs improvement?
The UCS manager interface needs to be cleaned up a bit and can be streamlined, but no major complaints. Get off Java once and for all and release 3.2 so it can be all HTML 5.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Cisco UCS since early 2011, so six and a half years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
B-Series blades, along with the C Series tack mounts are the most reliable server hardware platform I have worked with in my 20+ years in the industry.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
None. Cisco UCS, to this day, has been the most easily scalable server product I have encountered. Hyper-converged solutions have potential, yet have not shown me that they are scalable at an enterprise level the way the B Series UCS are at this time.
How are customer service and technical support?
Some of the best in the industry. Always helpful and mostly flexible.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
In the past, I have used rack mount and blade solutions from Dell, HPE, and IBM. None of them have come close to the combination of performance and reliability that I get from Cisco.
How was the initial setup?
Initial UCS setup is complex, but once you have your service profiles (templates) configured, adding new blades and provisioning boot LUNs is very easy. Cloning options make it even more so.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Nothing shocking. Very straightforward. Make sure you work with a vendor partner than can get you a substantial discount off of list pricing.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I have evaluated dozens of server solutions (Dell PowerEdge, IBM X series and HPE ProLiant) and many, many more.
What other advice do I have?
Do it and don’t look back. Just make sure you get strong in-house knowledge of UCS early on, unless you are willing to outsource UCS support to an MSP. It is easily learnable, but there is a bit of a curve to support the overall UCS infrastructure at the start.