In August 2007, CEOs John Chambers of Cisco Systems and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft met in New York City and committed their companies to collaborating and offering more interoperable products and services for mutual customers.
One of the first results of those talks came to the fore Feb. 26 when Microsoft and Cisco jointly announced that Windows Server 2008 will be offered pre-installed with Cisco WAN Optimization network appliances for branch offices next fall.
This marks the first Cisco-Microsoft partnership to result in a customer-facing product, Bala Kasiviswanathan, director of Product Management & Marketing at Microsoft, told eWEEK.
The new package of software and services will enable IT managers to use their Cisco network appliances to host Microsoft Server 2008 service in branch offices, Kasiviswanathan said.
Cisco will embed a virtualization component within its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) appliances that will enable administrators to host Windows Server 2008 services within their existing network infrastructure for branch offices.
San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco also plans to offer Windows Server 2008 preinstalled on its new virtualized Cisco WAAS appliances that will be made available later this year.
The two companies plan to test and validate the resulting architectures for the remote IT infrastructure in the branch office and to offer customers joint support.
"With the combination of Windows Server 2008 services and Cisco WAAS appliances, mutual customers in branch offices can reduce the number of devices and the complexity of the infrastructure they have to deploy and manage," Baruch Deutsch, director of Product Marketing for the Application Deliver Group at Cisco, told eWEEK.
The Windows Server 2008 services that will be offered as part of Cisco WAAS platforms initially include Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Active Directory, and Print Services, Deutsch said.
Cisco WAAS is an application acceleration and WAN optimization tool that optimizes the performance of any TCP-based application operating in a WAN environment, Deutsch said.
The upcoming Windows Server 2008 services available with the WAAS family of products mark the ongoing evolution of Cisco's Application Delivery Networks solutions, Deutsch said. "We expect this to be just the beginning of a lot of new services," he said.
Cisco and Microsoft also plan to work together to promote awareness of the integrated solution among channel resellers and customers by offering special business frameworks and marketing programs.
"This is a continuation of what has been a strong partnership between both firms across a number of technologies," Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told eWEEK.
"For both companies, the other continues to represent one of their strongest partners. In this instance, they realized that both were using the same VAR channel for complementary products that weren't doing as well as they might because the two firms were not coordinating their efforts. As a result, this announcement reflects that coordination going forward under the belief that if the combination is now sold as a fully supported solution both firms will increase their revenue."
There is no apparent conflict of interest in this deal, and both do already exist in the channel they intend to utilize, so the companies are likely to realize the benefits they expect, Enderle said.
"From the VAR perspective, they get a richer solution with better training and better problem resolution resources, and from the buyer's perspective they get less finger-pointing and more problem solving. The only folks that won't like this are those that compete with the solution," Enderle said.