Cisco likes to refer to themselves as a software company, but this week they showed that perhaps marketing is their real forte. After-all, only Cisco could create such hype around a blade server. While the product announcement was strong on theater, it was weak on substance. Not to worry, they’ll tell us what they really meant at the end of the month.
Fundamentally, Cisco’s proposed architecture and solutions are not new. Cisco themselves have been reselling re-bezeled HP servers within their VOIP solutions. Server vendors such as IBM and HP have offered networking within their respective blade servers. Finally, most networking hardware companies sell appliances that are basically locked down servers running specific applications.
What is new is Cisco’s attempt to control the interaction between networking and virtualization. In a classic Cisco move, they have introduced a new proposed standard to the IEEE called VN-Link. I am hearing echos of EIGRP. Will other vendors support this effort?
Finally, is Cisco overestimating their influence over current datacenter design and thinking? The datacenter is a salad bowl of politics, equipment, and priorities. Sure, Cisco’s core networking equipment is key to many datacenters, but you’ll also find “speciality” gear from F5, Brocade, Woven, Force10, and more. Cisco will need to broaden their influence beyond traditional networking to gain application, storage, and management credibility. Simply launching a new architecture, releasing a blade server, and offering a band-aid approach to management combining Cisco, BMC, and VMware’s offerings is not enough.