IBM is building on its partnerships with networking vendors Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Brocade Communications Systems in a push to advance its vision of a more integrated data center environment. The partnerships with Cisco, Juniper and Brocade range from OEM relationships to reseller deals. The announcement also is an indication of how IBM plans to differentiate itself from Cisco and Hewlett-Packard in a converged data center, with IBM relying more on offering customers flexibility and strong management software.
is expanding its partnerships with
networking vendors Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks
and Brocade Communications
in a move that should increase networking options for customers.
The enhanced partnerships, which include OEM and reseller agreements, are
part of a larger strategy called the Data Center Networking initiative that was
kicked off about two years ago, as IBM
saw the need to reintegrate servers, storage devices and networking technology
within the data center.
The deals, announced July 22, also are an indication of how IBM
is going to differentiate itself from rivals such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard
in the push to offer more converged data center solutions.
With Brocade, IBM
is offering its first FCOE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) products
in the form
of the IBM Converged Switch B32 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet Converged Network
Adapter for its Series x x86 servers. Those devices will be manufactured by
Brocade, an expansion of the OEM relationship between the two companies for
Fibre Channel and Ethernet offerings. The products are available immediately.
FCOE also is a factor in IBM's growing
relationship with Cisco. Through the new deal, IBM's
Systems and Technology Group sellers and partners will be able to resell
Cisco's Nexus 5000 Series switches, which support 10G Ethernet, Fibre Channel
and FCOE. These products will be available through IBM
and its resellers starting in September.
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IBM also is entering into
an OEM agreement with Juniper, with which IBM
has had a reseller agreement. Under the new deal, IBM
will rebrand and resell certain Juniper EX and MX switches and routers.
Jim Comfort, vice president of enterprise initiatives for IBM,
said the new and enhanced deals will give IBM
customers greater choice and flexibility as they look to update their data
centers to handle the expected growth in traffic due to Web 2.0 technologies,
the rise of cloud computing and other technological trends.
IBM will offer these networking devices
with its own server and storage products, and will differentiate itself with
its management capabilities through its Tivoli
and Director software suites.
FCOE is a key standard that is emerging as the trend toward more converged
data centers continues, Comfort said in an interview. IBM
envisions a scenario of tightly integrated server, storage and networking
devices that IT administrators handle through "very powerful management
[software]," he said.
The variety of networking and other products within these integrated data
center "pods" is also a key differentiator for IBM
in comparison with what rivals are doing, Comfort said. Both Cisco and HP have
rolled out all-in-one data center offerings that include servers, storage,
networking and management software in a single package.
kicked off its UCS (Unified Computing System) strategy in March,
that signaled a more expanded role in the data center. HP soon followed with
its HP Matrix all-in-one offering.
Having options is important to customers, Mike Banic, vice president of
product marketing for Juniper's Ethernet Platforms Business Group, said in an
"Juniper always uses standard [technology]," Banic said.
"That ability to offer choice and flexibility in conjunction with IBM
Juniper's products are designed to increase networking capabilities while
driving down costs in the data center, he said, adding that the company's
offerings can drive down capital expenditures by as much as 68 percent, power
and cooling costs by 43 percent each, and space used by 34 percent.
IBM's Comfort said helping businesses
decrease operating costs also was key to the move toward a more integrated data