The Jury’s Still Out On Cisco’s Server Plans


Cisco Systems’ Unified Computing System Strategy causes a mixed reaction.

Competitors claim Cisco will restrict open systems choices by enforcing its own Data Centre Ethernet connectivity; others see the strategy as a bold move. Beta tester Savvis says the system works the way it’s supposed to work, but the jury’s still out.

Reaction to Cisco Systems‘ launch of its Unified Computing System data centre platform came swiftly on 16 March, and the reviews were decidedly mixed.

A lot of IT people and companies apparently were interested in this news, which cuts across all parts of the data centre: software, hardware, services, virtualisation, storage, computing power, data centre management; the list of affiliations is lengthy.

Naturally, Cisco’s competitors in the networking business voiced their biased takes; one beta user (Savvis) talked to eWEEK about his experience in testing the platform; and several analysts gave their level-headed opinions.

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 centre 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, optimisation 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.'”

‘UCS: Locking out vendors like HP and IBM’

BLADE Network Technologies President and CEO 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.”

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