Cisco Now a True Full-Service Systems Player

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-01-18 Print this article Print

For the record, here are some UCS quick facts, as provided by Cisco and industry researcher TheInfoPro:

  • UCS began shipping in July 2009.
  • There are now 10,000 UCS customers "spanning all industries and workloads" (Cisco's words) with product orders at an annualized run rate of $1.1 billion.
  • It set 54 world records in industry performance benchmarks.
  • UCS earned a dozen industry awards for innovation.
  • It's now No. 3 (behind HP and IBM) in sales of x86 blade servers worldwide.
Thus, has Cisco elbowed its way to a seat at the table with the big guys in the all-purpose data center systems sector. Besides the five-star partners it signed up, perhaps the most important inside track it used-and used well-is the fact that somewhat north of 60 percent of all data centers already have some sort of Cisco router, switch or networking software in play, so that the company is hardly a stranger. It's a lot easier to get in the door to sell an additional system if you're already inside the building.

The success of the UCS thus far has more than a few people at Cisco-which has had its share of missteps (who can forget the Flip camera?)-cheering. With a snicker, Cisco dredged up a comment made by a key executive of a partner/competitor, HP, from a speech made at an HP user conference in April 2010. It was the kind of statement that might be blurted out after a few beers at the bar -- not what one would expect from the podium at a partner conference.

"A year from now, the difference will be (Cisco) UCS (Unified Compute System) is dead and we have had phenomenal market share growth in the networking space ... and customers are thrilled and partners are making a lot of money." Those words were spoken by Randy Seidl, HP's senior vice president of the Americas, Enterprise Servers Storage and Networking.

Two years later, it appears that Mr. Seidl-a highly regarded exec who is still SVP at HP-was a little off track. Well, okay, more than a little off track. But he isn't the first, nor will he be the last, to make that sort of claim. They are made in sales presentations every day of the year.

HP, Cisco Ink New Partnership

In the meantime, HP has ceded some ground to Cisco. Last October, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly develop something called the Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem-or the Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender (FEX) for HP. The new product, co-engineered by both vendors, is aimed at businesses running HP's c-Class BladeSystem blade servers who want to leverage the Cisco United Fabric.

The Extender, which is available now from HP and its channel partners, is designed to help businesses that already are running HP blades in Cisco switch environments to expand the technology they have rather than having to make major investments in new products.

Does the HP-Cisco Extender deal end the overall sales war between the two? Certainly not. But it's a good move toward better cooperation in the data center, which, after all, is what customers want. At least for now, however, Cisco has removed all doubts by folks like HP's Mr. Seidl that it is a full-service data center player that's here to stay.

eWEEK Managing Editor Jeff Burt contributed to this story.

Follow Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis, on Twitter.

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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