HP and other competitors warn that Cisco’s entry into the data centre business could be harmful for user choice
Competitors claim Cisco Systems’ launch of its Unified Computing System data centre platform could be used by the company to block out rivals.
Hewlett-Packard, which stands to become one of Cisco’s biggest competitors in the race to rebuild data centres over the next decade, was point-blank about its take on the UCS strategy.
“Would you let a plumber build your house?” Jim Ganthier, HP’s vice president of Infrastructure Software and Blades, told eWEEK via e-mail. “Cisco’s network-centric view of the data center is great for bandwidth management, but leaves a lot to chance in terms of service level delivery as well as data reliability and accessibility.
“The architecture does not unify management, but uses proprietary network-based management structure as the point of control. This is not ‘unification,’ this is a change of control,” Ganthier said.
There is considerable workload balancing, policy enforcement, compliance, replication, optimization and power management that happen at the server and the storage levels, Ganthier said.
“Storage and server administrators are important to keeping applications up and running reliably at all times and to maintain access to critical data,” Ganthier said. “‘Checking in’ with the network administrator every time a change needs to be made could have disastrous consequences. Cisco’s vision is also ‘one size fits all.'”
BLADE Network Technologies president and chief executive Vikram Mehta, a Cisco competitor that makes Ethernet switches for HP and IBM servers, told eWEEK that he believes Cisco’s “so-called unified computing strategy holds vast and arguably adverse implications as a way to lock customers into a proprietary world while locking out vendors like HP and IBM that are trusted open systems suppliers to enterprises around the world.”
Cisco’s converged data and storage networking requires Cisco’s Data Center Ethernet (DCE), Mehta said, thus eliminating freedom of choice with a sole-source Cisco-only server and network.
“This puts at risk integration and interoperability with vast existing installations. The rest of the industry is working on an open approached called Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) using IEEE’s Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards,” Mehta said.
Research director Jim Frey of Enterprise Management Associates told eWEEK that he sees two key implications for the networking market.
“First, this sets a new high-water mark for integrating networking technologies more tightly into computing and storage architectures — something only Cisco is in a position to pull off — that may represent a true second generation of convergence (first gen was voice/data networking),” Frey said.
“Secondly, this aggressive move into computing raises the likelihood that other blade providers, most notably HP and IBM, will seek to find and energise alternatives to Cisco. HP has a good option with their ProCurve products, but IBM does not have an immediate answer. In the end, it will force competitive innovation in networking technologies, which is good for everyone.”