Cisco, Accenture Partner on Data Center Solutions

Cisco Systems and Accenture are teaming up to create a new group designed to help larger enterprises improve their data center operations and business processes through the use of such technologies as virtualization, collaboration and unified communications. The move also represents the latest push by Cisco for a greater presence in the data center, bringing it into closer competition with the likes of HP, IBM, Dell and Juniper.

Cisco Systems and Accenture are creating a business group designed to help businesses take advantage of emerging technologies such as virtualization, unified communications and advanced collaboration tools.

The expanded alliance with Accenture, announced Feb. 24, is also the latest step in Cisco's aggressive push into the data center, an initiative that includes a strengthening of its virtualization capabilities and widespread rumors of Cisco's desire to enter the server market.

Along with unveiling the Accenture and Cisco Business Group, the two companies also rolled out the first three solutions focusing on customer contact service, unified communications and collaboration technologies, and IT infrastructure and networking optimization.

The goal of the new group is to streamline business operations of large enterprises with a highly dispersed global work force by taking advantage of virtualization and networking technologies to create an environment where business processes and applications can be accessed any time and from any device, according to Rob Lloyd, senior vice president of Cisco's U.S., Canada and Japan business.

The two companies pointed to Accenture's services and technologies from Cisco, including WebEx collaboration tools and TelePresence Web conferencing products, as key features of the new group.

Among the first three offerings from the Accenture and Cisco Business Group is Customer Contact Transformation Solutions, designed to help businesses find and keep customers by improving customer service through enhanced CRM, analytics, workflow performance and hiring capabilities.

The Unified Communications and Collaboration Solutions offering is aimed at improving collaboration among employees to speed up decision making processes and improve operational efficiency. Infrastructure Transformation Solutions is designed to help businesses optimize their networking and data center technologies.

The move comes as Cisco officials look to grow the company's presence in the data center, and as the competitive landscape among vendors of data center technologies continues to change.

Cisco is working more closely with VMware to bring virtualization capabilities to its products, with the Nexus 1000V virtual switch a recent example. In addition, Cisco in June 2008 rolled out its Data Center 3.0 initiative, which pools its traditional and recent technologies in hopes of offering businesses a one-stop shopping place for their data center needs.

In October, CEO John Chambers pledged to grow the company's IT budget by 10 percent in 2009.

Cisco's embrace of virtualization and its rumored interest the server business also are helping reshape the data center business, bringing it in direct competition with such vendors as Hewlett-Packard-once a staunch ally-IBM and Dell. It also is seeing its traditional networking business come under increasing pressure from the likes of HP ProCurve and Juniper.