Cisco Blade Server Misses the Mark

Virtualization is undoubtedly a hot topic in the industry, especially today. After much anticipation, Cisco finally announced its “Project California.” As expected, Cisco launched its Unified Computing System (UCS), a blade server appliance designed for virtualization.

There has been a lot of discussion about what this means for Cisco’s partners in the virtualization server market. Are we partners? Are we competitors? Yes and yes. Dell continues to have a strategic networking partnership with Cisco to provide comprehensive solutions to our customers – today’s news does not change this.  Am I worried that Cisco’s new appliance will take away business from Dell? Not at all.

We’ve seen this before. Companies bring to market solutions that address a narrow population of customers or a single IT issue. While Cisco is a leader in the networking space, the server market is a very different ball game. CIOs aren’t looking for proprietary, appliance-like products like UCS because they drive up TCO and create more complexity. This is where Cisco has missed the mark.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the excitement about virtualization that Cisco’s news has generated is great. This is a technology that has revolutionized business computing and I am particularly passionate about it. It seems, however, that Cisco is a bit confused about what customers want and need from virtualization solutions.

When I am talking with customers, there are common themes that come up about what businesses want:

  • Options and open standards – Flexibility is key to long term survival in today’s economy and this is what Dell delivers better than anyone else. Companies need more from a supplier than specialized, high-priced solutions. Businesses are looking for the whole package – a technology partner that can help them address and manage their large data sets, edge of the network workloads and everything else.
  • Better total cost of ownership – Customers expect that innovation in IT will be focused on lowering the cost of operations WITHOUT significantly raising the price for the hardware.
  • Simple management – Customers need the ability to manage their hardware locally. This is not possible with HP’s Virtual Connect –unless you have a 100% HP data center. And it does not appear to be possible with Cisco blades.

Dell’s strategy to simplify IT resonates with CIOs because it helps their organizations reclaim the most valued business resources: people, time and money. You will see exciting news from Dell in the coming months. Soon, we will introduce our totally redesigned Nehalem-based 11th Generation PowerEdge virtualization servers. And you will also see us expand out partnerships to offer even more options for business looking to build open, flexible and powerful virtualized environments. Stay tuned.

About the Author: Rick Becker