Different Approaches, Similar Systems
UCS and CI are different names but fundamentally the same sort of data
center system. Cisco and HP have very diverse production and go-to-market
Cisco, a networking hardware and software company that wants to become a data center systems supplier, has literally recruited its friends in the business to partner with it in the Acadia joint venture announced Nov. 3. Cisco CEO John Chambers and EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci are friends of more than two decades.
Tucci then recruited his friend, VMware CEO Paul Maritz, from Microsoft to run the virtualization giant for EMC; VMware is now the third partner in the Acadia startup. Former Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger is now at EMC, and, of course, Intel is a big player in all of this. There's no lack of corporate networking going on here.
Cisco clearly believes that to build the best-performing, most efficient and cost-effective data center, you have to bring in trusted outside experts. Thus, Cisco, EMC, VMware and Intel are the equity-sharing partners in Acadia, which plans to open its doors on Jan. 1, 2010.
"This brings together three companies that have a record of being open," Cisco's Chambers said. "We're not going to try to lock you in."
That is a matter of opinion. Cisco's take on the vBlock is obviously a proprietary one, in that a network-oriented Cisco UCS server is required to run it, EMC is needed to store the data and VMware is necessary to provide the operating system and virtualization layer. No substitutions are allowed in a vBlock deployment. Most people would call that lock-in.
Swap-outs are allowed in the regular Cisco UCS, but then the deployment becomes a hybrid of some kind. Cisco-EMC-VMware will sell you that, too, but it's not the same as a vBlock-branded solution, and the services that come with a hybrid are not the same.
In any case, Cisco doesn't have the product line that would allow it to pull the entire load of selling and supplying this heavy-duty new hardware and software by itself.
"There's no way one company can do all this by itself," Tucci said. "No way."
To all of this, Hewlett-Packard says, in effect: "Now, wait a second!"