Cisco Systems and Microsoft are pooling resources to help enterprises modernize their data centers and embrace the cloud.
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 July 15, the two companies announced a three-year agreement to integrate such products as Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) converged data center solution and Nexus networking switches with Microsoft's Cloud OS offerings, including Windows Server, SQL Server, Hyper-V and Azure cloud platform.
The partnership between Cisco and Microsoft also will include sales, channel and go-to-market efforts around cloud and data center opportunities, according to the companies.
The new agreement is an extension of the work the two tech giants have done together in the past, and will "help to enable I.T. organizations to radically improve their I.T. effectiveness while improving their business outcomes," according to Jim McHugh, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Cisco's UCS program.
"We have focused heavily on infrastructure solutions for the Microsoft ecosystem over the past ~2 years, and now that our UCS integrated infrastructure architectures are proven, we will be putting more emphasis on discrete Microsoft workload solutions," McHugh wrote in a post on the Cisco blog. "Our initial focus will be on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and how UCS and its differentiated features, such as Service Profiles and Cisco SingleConnect, deliver improved performance, availability, and scalability."
The partnership will enable businesses to reduce costs, deploy new applications and services, and move faster in modernizing their data centers, according to Stephen Boyle, vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Enterprise and Partners Group.
"Enterprise customers worldwide are betting on Microsoft and Cisco to realize the benefits of our combined cloud and data center technologies," Boyle said in a statement.
Officials with the vendors said that in the first year, they will focus on customers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia, and will branch out to other countries in the years after that.
As far as the go-to-market strategy, Cisco and Microsoft will sync up incentive programs for partners, which they said will make it easier for channel partners to sell the joint solutions. As an example, Cisco's new Cisco Referral Program rewards Microsoft systems integrators when they contribute to a larger Cisco-Microsoft solution sale, Denny Trevett, vice president of Cisco's global ISV and technology partners business, wrote in a post on the company's blog.
In addition, the sales teams from each vendor will work jointly on business opportunities around the data center and cloud, with an initial program focusing on migrating customers from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2 on the UCS platform.
Cisco's UCS offering includes the vendor's servers, networking gear and management software, storage from EMC and NetApp and virtualization from VMware integrated into a single solution.
The integrated Cisco-Microsoft solutions will be aimed at private clouds, server migration, service providers and SQL Server 2014, they said. Cisco's contributed technology not only will include UCS and Nexus switches, but also UCS Manager with System Center integration modules and Cisco PowerTool for greater automation. Integrated solutions based on Cisco technologies will include FlexPod offerings with NetApp and Cisco Solutions for EMC's VXPEX.
Microsoft technologies also will include System Center 2012 R2 and PowerShell, along with Windows Server 2012 R2, Azure and SQL Server 2014.
In future releases, the two companies also will integrate Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure—the vendor's effort in the network virtualization space—and its InterCloud Fabric. Cisco in March announced it will spend $1 billion over the next two years to expand its vision of an OpenStack-based global intercloud, a series of interconnected clouds through which it will be able to deliver applications and services.