HP, Cisco Make Data Center Push

Cisco is becoming a bigger player in HP's data center virtualization strategy.

Cisco Systems Inc. is becoming a bigger player in Hewlett-Packard Co.s data center virtualization strategy.

HP currently uses Ciscos Catalyst 6500 Series switches, PIX 515 Series firewalls and 2950 routers in its UDC (Utility Data Center) architecture, the cornerstone of HPs utility computing initiative.

On Wednesday, the two companies announced that Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., has reached a joint engineering and marketing agreement with HP in connection with the UDC. Through the agreement, Cisco will spend millions of research and development dollars developing new products for HPs architecture and will educate their marketing and sales people about the UDC, said Nick van der Zweep, director of utility computing in HPs Enterprise Systems Group.

HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., intends to roll out an enhanced version of the UDC within the next three months that will include new features from Cisco, and a major upgrade to the architecture by the end of the year that will include even more, van der Zweep said.

Utility computing is geared toward virtualizing the server, storage, application and network resources within a data center to enable administrators to quickly and easily deploy the resources to where they are needed.

"If your Web retail system needs more get up and go due to the holiday season, you just move those resources [to meet those needs]," van der Zweep said. "When you dont need them any more, you move those resources somewhere else, to financials if you need them there."

Currently most applications are tied to particular systems, which leads to utilization rates of data center resources of 10 to 15 percent, he said. Virtualizing the resources should significantly increase utilization rates, he said.

HPs initiative also enables administrators to use only a part of the utility computing software—storage virtualization, for example—rather than having to buy the whole package at once.

Other major vendors also are looking at ways to make data center management easier and more dynamic. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is pushing forward with its On Demand computing initiative, while Sun Microsystems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this month launched the first products tied to its N1 strategy.