Competitors Jab At Cisco's Unified Data Center System

Cisco's big, ambitious vision puts it in a brave new world of competition, one fraught with challenges and holes competitors are eager to pick at.
While HP claims to have a partner coalition with its ONE system that anyone can join, Unified Computing, for all of Cisco's talk of being open, isn't. Cisco has brought together a who's who of vendors to fulfill product and technology areas where it lacks market penetration or products, like storage and virtualization. It has left out, not surprisingly, other networking equipment and server vendors.

In the short term, Cisco's Unified Computing vision requires partnerships to satisfy numerous requirements of a dynamic virtualized environment that aren't today standardized, including the automated ability to reliably move virtual machines from server to server. However, that means Cisco's system will only be open to official partners whose products have been certified and accredited as integrated with the UC platform.

"The evolution of the data center to a dynamic, fully virtualized state," Brocade said in a statement, "should leverage open architectures and industry standards." That being said, while Brocade helps its customers cobble together an architecture, some technologies like virtualization and converged networks use mainly pre-standard or proprietary architectures at this point, since standards bodies lag behind the key vendors.

Brocade, like other competitors, also pointed to the probable large investment Cisco's Unified Computing vision will force. Though customers could still start with a pilot of Cisco's platform, a data center overhaul would eventually require a rip-and-replace. Many companies struggling to scale back budgets in the face of the economic downturn are unlikely to be looking for a huge new investment. In an interview, Kevin Ryan, Extreme Networks' director of data center marketing, took aim at that massive investment of time and energy, pointing out that Extreme talks to its customers about how to make existing data center investments more efficient, not about replacing existing equipment.

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