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: HP Counters Cisco with Polycom Partnership

In a woefully under reported story, HP has signed a global agreement with Polycom for Visual and Unified Communications solutions.  This is an important signing for HP as they continue to be on a collision course with Cisco.  While Cisco’s purchase of Tandenburg was a coup, many outside the industry had to research the company and their products.  Polycom is a different story, as it feels like their equipment is found in just about every conference room across the globe.

Per Polycom’s press release, “Under the expanded agreement, Polycom video and voice solutions for unified communications and stand-alone operation will be sold and delivered through HP as part of the company’s Unified Communications and Collaboration Services portfolio. This will enable organizations to leverage HP’s global presence for evaluating, designing, implementing and supporting communications systems that deliver a consistent, high-quality experience between all locations to ensure maximum benefits and rapid return on investment. The companies will also deliver interoperability between Polycom’s line of standards-based telepresence and video conferencing solutions and HP Halo telepresence.”

Translation, we’re going to kick Cisco’s butt by leveraging our customer relationships, services division, and powerful sales channel.  We may have lost LifeSize to Logitech, but we aren’t going to lose Polycom to anyone. Hello, IBM, are you watching this?

Additionally, Polycom announced an expanded partnership with Microsoft.  They are going to jointly develop and deliver “an extended portfolio of unified communications solutions.  Why is this important?  Since Cisco is aligned with EMC/VMware for their UC platform, HP is indirectly playing their trump card in Microsoft.  Who has a stronger relationship with Microsoft; Cisco or HP?

If the partnership between HP and Polycom takes-off, then I’d expect Michael Hurd to open the M&A wallet once again.  After all, HP must counter Cisco’s moves.