Global CIO: IBM Turns Guns On Cisco With Acquisition Of Blade Network

IBM adds Blade Network's innovative technologies and in-Cisco's-face competitiveness to IBM's expanding ambitions in networking and the data center.
"1. Goliath vs. the world. Cisco may be on its way to discovering that it's foolhardy to undermine the strengths of HP and IBM—companies that have tremendous relationships with data center customers, companies with a long history of driving costs out of the system and maximizing performance via balance between the components. . . .

"2. CIOs and IT managers won’t drink the Kool-Aid: In today's frugal economy, CIOs and IT managers who are concerned with controlling cost of ownership are unlikely to rip out their existing data center infrastructures servers to enable Cisco to make its 60-70% gross margins.

"3. Unified Computing means standards with a "C." According to Cisco, converged data and storage networking requires Cisco’s Data Center Ethernet (DCE), thus eliminating freedom of choice with a sole-source Cisco-only server and network. . . .

"4. It's more about packaging than true innovation. . . . . The more costly data center infrastructure components—CPUs, RAM, and networking silicon—remain unchanged, except Cisco's prices are higher and—surprise, surprise—more Cisco gear is needed to control them.

5. "Cisco: Looking for a few (thousand) good FEs. Cisco does not have the field people required to sell, configure, install or support servers or the applications. The non-hardware aspects of winning the data center are weighted heavily in the favor of the incumbents.

"6. More I/O bandwidth-hungry VMs. . . . . Cisco is highly incented to make the I/O equation work by delivering additional I/O in the network, which means more yet more money for guess who? See Reason #10.

"7. "Unified" is fine so long as you're only worried about the "unity" of one vendor's gear. . . .

"8. In Cisco, we trust. The "Unified Computing" paradigm forces the customer to trust Cisco 100%, putting choice of technology, functionality and pricing at the whim of Cisco.

"9. Back to the Future. Cisco's "Unified Computing" paradigm looks a lot like the old minicomputer days with single-vendor control and lock-ins. . . .

10. Follow the money—into Cisco's bank account. . . . the total cost of ownership will be similar to the cost of living in California." (End of excerpt.)

Well well—in the past couple of years, with regard to hitting back at competitors in public commentary, IBM has certainly become a lot more pugnacious than it used to be, but Mehta's in-Cisco's-face competitive posturing might have to be toned down a bit to comply with the IBM profile.

But I hope not.


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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

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