Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Mehdi Daoudi, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, IBM Cloud, Recurring Revenue, Log Management

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Cisco Takes its Long Shot at Morphing into IT’s El Supremo

Cisco CEO John Chambers Monday became the latest in a long line of visionaries to come down from the mountain top with a map

Cisco CEO John Chambers Monday became the latest in a long line of visionaries to come down from the mountain top with an architectural roadmap to the Promised Land at an exploitable industry inflection point.

If the purportedly game-changing next-generation platform scheme succeeds, Chambers will be rich, even more fiendishly rich than he already is, and Cisco will own not only the data center, but the cloud, the data center's logical successor, and the computer establishment, as we know it, will be up-ended.



As prophesied, the widgetry, Cisco's answer to its slowing networking fortunes and the growth demanded of it by Wall Street, centers on a newfangled Nehalem-based blade server called the Unified Computing System, which is all about convergence with networking at its heart.

There's no guarantee it will take off; it's still slideware; and it will take time to gauge acceptance while Cisco fights what some call "rack-by-rack warfare."

UCS unites compute, network, storage access and virtualization into a reportedly scalable and modular architecture that's managed as a single system through Cisco's new graphical USC Manager and its associated APIs for handling configurations and operations.

UCS has also adopted the idea of service profiles, sometimes called templates, to automate provisioning.

Since Cisco has no history in servers, and since the UCS elements are often bought separately from different vendors, and since Cisco's stepping all over the very toes that move tons of its routers and switches, the move is pretty gutsy, not to say cheeky considering Cisco's merely a plumber.

HP, which owns the blade server market - well, 58% of it at any rate - and so stands to have the biggest black and blue toes, even more than IBM, claims there's nothing new under the sun in Cisco's architecture. It's all already been done before and better, mostly by HP.

NCS was secretly developed under the codename Project California but HP's director of strategy and architecture Gary Thome says it's more like the Hotel California where, as the song says, "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."

In other words HP claims it's pure vendor lock-in and that users will have to throw out the rest of their data centers if they go with the Cisco plan.

HP can't imagine a data center scheme that doesn't support Unix; figures its own BladeSystems can handle a wider variety of workloads than Cisco can; is pretty confident it can deliver headier power and cooling efficiencies; and says Cisco's blade enclosure can't function at all without its switch and that right there is a point of failure.

Brocade, another competitor, said the same thing: Cisco's approach ain't revolutionary; it's capital intensive and - complex as the problem is - doesn't leverage open architectures and industry standards.

Since HP is out to cripple Cisco, it's believed that HP, which used to move a lot of Cisco widgetry, will attack Cisco's networking base even more than it has in the last few years - those Procurve switches, say - and that Cisco can kiss HP's billion dollar contribution to its revenue stream good-bye.

Cisco appears not to care. There are far more billions to be made in data centers; Chambers, tempted to call it an "unlimited" opportunity, settled for saying it exposes Cisco to 25% of the $100 billion-a-year data center spend it's never had a shot at before.

So as Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior told the Wall Street Journal, "We are going to compete with HP. I don't want to sugarcoat it. There is bound to be change in the landscape of who you compete with and who you partner with." (One can almost hear agreements being shredded in the background.)

Cisco has dragged in a host of brand names to create a divide-and-conquer NCS ecosystem and accelerate its market adoption, folks like Intel (hey, it's a new customer), VMware (Cisco owns a piece), EMC, BMC (providing the management software under a multi-year exclusive), Microsoft (well, nominally at any rate), Red Hat, Accenture, NetApp, Wipro, Oracle, Novell and Tata to name only a few.

Needless to say the names HP and IBM are not among them though Chambers told the Journal IBM is likely to be a partner too; at least it's being cultivated but then IBM's got Cisco rival Juniper in its pocket.

UCS is targeted at the big enterprise and service providers, and Cisco is harnessing 250 of its resellers, the ones who know something about the data center, to get there. Historically the channel has provided 80% of Cisco's revenue.

The folks that'll be buying this stuff aren't Cisco's usual end-user account managers. It'll have to start in the C-suite with a concept sell and claims that CIOs may have to rejig their own internal organizations since NCS doesn't square with the currently separate server buyer, storage buyer, networking buyer. Cisco muttered something about "unlocking the money in the cracks between the silos."

The Cisco blades, otherwise known as the UCS B-Series, are supposed to be the start of a new family of Cisco products.

To make them special, they're fitted with a patented extended memory that's supposed to support applications with large data sets and allow significantly more virtual machines per server than usual.

See, UCS is supposed to be God's gift to virtualization, "unleashing," as Chambers likes to put it, virtualization's "full potential" by enhancing the scalability, performance and operational control of virtual environments.

Cisco is supposed to have overcome the issues of security, policy enforcement and diagnostics that can hinder virtualization.

Each UCS system is supposed to be able to support thousands of virtual machines, promising to set a new high watermark for density.

Cisco and VMware, by the way, now have an OEM arrangement, and Cisco intends, among other things, to integrate VMware vCenter management suite. They mean to play in the cloud together, pushing virtualization down to the desktop and into the home.

There's support for a "wire once" unified fabric over a low-latency, lossless 10 Gbit/s Ethernet foundation that consolidates LANs, SANs and HPC networks. This is supposed to reduce the number of network adapters, switches and cables needed and so lower both cost and energy.

As a matter of fact, although it has yet to say what it's going to charge, Cisco claims that UCS will cut capital expenditures by 20% ands operational expenditures by 30%. Promises of cost savings are particularly timely right now. So is Cisco's focus on the cloud, which is heavily dependent on networking.

Cisco says the unified fabric provides consolidated access to SANs and NAS over Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI, which ought to satisfy just about everybody.

Cisco owes NCS development to a start-up acquisition it made called Nuova Systems, which has reportedly been working on the blades for the last two years. What Cisco can do with the $30 billion it has it the bank - more than any other tech company - can only be guessed at, especially in a down economy.

"The key takeaway," Chambers said at the end of his star-studded, mutual-grooming webcast Monday, "is it gives us a chance to perhaps become the leading company not just in communications but also in IT."

NCS isn't expected out until next quarter. It's currently in beta at a reportedly10 beta sites such as Savvis and is deployed internally at Cisco.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...