Cisco’s New Data Center Products Trump HP’s New Avaya Partnership

HP continues to plug-the-holes against Cisco by signing a three-year agreement with Avaya.  The agreement calls for HP sales and services teams to be trained and certified in Avaya call center and unified communications.  HP sales teams will have the ability to resell Avaya and offer outsourced management.

What’s interesting about this announcement is that HP now has agreements with multiple competitors for the next generation data center including Brocade and Avaya.  If you add the potential overlap between Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent mixed with a bit of Microsoft then you have the danger of some explosive conflict.  Of course, HP is no stranger to handling this type of conflict.  However, would a future Avaya acquisition make better strategic sense for HP?

Meanwhile, as HP strengthens their partnerships, Cisco strengthens their next generation data center arsenal.  Once again, Cisco has trumped their competitors by introducing FabricPath, a superset of the emerging IETF standard called Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL).  Remember, Brocade is committed to TRILL within their recently announced Brocade Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS).

FabricPath is an upgrade to NX-OS that combines the best of layer-3 routing and layer-2 switching allowing for scaleable data centers with predictable network performance.  Take the following example from Cisco that was featured in an article by Kevin Komiega in InfoStor:

“With spanning-tree you have multiple links which are blocked and a high level of oversubscription. With FabricPath you can build a scalable, flat, non-blocking network with two layers and no oversubscription with a 16X improvement in bandwidth performance,” says Nikhil Kelshikar, product marketing manager for Cisco Nexus 7000 Solutions.

Additionally, FabricPath and Cisco’s new F-Series modules for the Nexus 7000 allow Cisco to combine six Nexus 7000 switches into a single product.  Cisco is offering a pre-packaged solution called FabricPath Switching System (FSS) that can be grouped in clusters of eight to allow for 160Tbps of raw switching capacity.  Wow, did I just write that?  Not to mention the fact that Cisco just took the air out of Juniper’s Stratus Unified Fabric.

If that wasn’t enough, Cisco announced the availability of a software release of WAAS that can be run as on on-demand service on the Cisco ISR.   Next, Cisco rolled-out new cloud deployment professional services and Cisco introduced a new Catalyst 4948-E Switch with increased capacity, performance, and automation.

Finally, Cisco is introducing Cisco Intelligent Automation Solutions for IT Services.  Building on Cisco’s acquisition of Tidal Software, Inc., they are releasing new versions of the Tidal Enterprise Scheduler and Tidal Enterprise Orchestrator.  As any reader of this blog knows, I am very interested in the autonomic aspects of the next generation data center and I hope to obtain additional information about this solution.

In this latest round of the battle for the next generation data center, Cisco’s products trump HP’s partnerships.

Quick Alert: Avaya’s Fire Sale Purchase vs. Cisco’s “Toaster Box”

Avaya is the latest to enter the next generation data center fight with their one-box-data-center strategy.  Avaya’s strategy is based upon the VSP 9000 switch that Avaya acquired from the great Nortel fire sale of 2009.  Confidence is high at Avaya as their Vice President and General Manager of data center solutions, Steven Bandrowczak, calls Cisco’s UCS a “toaster box” solution.

However, someone needs to remind Avaya that the Nortel VSP 9000 was announced on May 19, 2009 at Interop as an alternative to the Cisco Nexus 7000.  Note: The Cisco Nexus 7000 is currently shipping. The 9000 is built off their 8600 software running on Nortel’s Carrier Grade Linux coupled with a fully programmable network processor.  The last time I checked, UCS is lot more than a Nexus 7000 switch.

It’s a good thing Avaya is going to follow Nortel’s strategy of selling to existing Nortel switch customers because I don’t see Cisco, HP, or Juniper customers jumping ship to the untested combination of Avaya/Nortel.  Anyone remember the Cajun switch?

As far as the “toaster box” comment, if you don’t have something nice to say then…  It’s a bit revealing that as of today, Avaya has no intention of entering the other two pillars of the next generation strategy; namely servers or storage.  Instead, Avaya will rely on the status quo via other vendors to handle these issues.  Not very UCS or Converged Infrastructure like is it?

Avaya can take refuge in the fact that they have a formidable Communications Software Business, but they need to seek shelter in the battle for the next generation data center.  Of course, they have $900 million reasons to do otherwise.