Cisco Not Taking Its Eye off Networking Ball

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-03-16 Print this article Print

Principal analyst Galen Schreck of Forrester Research agreed with Frey on the point about corporate focus.

"I don't think they'd be really taking its eye off the networking ball for a couple reasons," Schreck told eWEEK. "No. 1: Cisco has a colossal amount of resources dedicated to selling network infrastructure, I don't think those investments have been meaningfully affected by this product launch.

"No. 2: I would argue that Cisco is actually protecting (or growing) its data center networking turf. The advent of virtual switches inside VMware ESX and devices like HP's VirtualConnect could dilute Cisco's ability to create end-to-end network infrastructure that is managed under one umbrella, and offers policies that follow applications throughout the data center.

"In other words, they are also protecting their networking business by moving into this space. Virtualization (and newer blade systems) are causing a collision between what used to be two separate silos," Schreck said.

Elizabeth Walther, spokesperson for storage networking competitor Brocade, told eWEEK that "Cisco's approach to 'unified computing' is not revolutionary. Many companies with extensive experience, including Brocade, in solving complex data center issues are already working on solutions."

The challenge at hand, Walther said, is that the evolution of the data center to a fully virtualized state is "extremely complex and should leverage open architectures and industry standards."

"A dynamic and virtualized data center holds the promise of many compelling benefits for end users, including increased server utilization, decrease in power footprint and more efficient operations in general," Walther said. "However, achieving this goal is a complex challenge that can be best tackled by a broad ecosystem of industry partners and not based on a proprietary, singular architecture of one company."

'Choice and Flexibility' a Possible Issue

Andy Ingram, Juniper Networks' vice president of product marketing and business development, data center business group, told eWEEK that "competition is always welcome, but Cisco's new strategy does not seem to meet the market demand for choice and flexibility.

"In terms of product choices, it's the rack server form factor that currently dominates market volume, yet Cisco is only offering a blade chassis form factor. At the same time, this product is targeted at customers and applications that have been virtualized using hypervisors and virtual machines, which accounts for somewhere between 12 percent and 20 percent of the market. Cisco is entering a $50 billion server market with only a partial solution," Ingram said.

CTO Bryan Doerr of IT infrastructure-as-a-service provider Savvis told eWEEK that "it's time for the industry to see a different style of compute platform for the data center, re-envisioned for virtualization, which is a very healthy development."

Savvis provides managed hosting, colocation, and network connectivity, supported by the company's global data center and network infrastructure.

Doerr said that Savvis has been using UCS B-Series server and accompanying software platform for only about three weeks. "We're running it though a series of basic-configuration tests and 'getting-acquainted' procedures. We're undecided in terms of how we'll use it in a platform, or an offering, or in what time frame," Doerr said.

"What we haven't done is run it through scale-level testing and QOS -level features, or the API we'd be integrating with. What we have seen so far is that it does function the way Cisco intended. They've accomplished a number of positive capabilities, and rendered them well and intuitively through the GUI, so I think at this stage, while it is early in the process, we've gotten good feelings from the platform," Doerr said.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the attribution in the quotes from HP.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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