Why Cisco needs Liquid Computing

It must feel a bit like being in the movie Groundhog Day over at Cisco as they continue to face increasing competition from both large and small challengers.  However, unlike the past, consolidation and the rise of the next generation datacenter (Cloud Computing) has dramatically raised the stakes.  Cisco cannot simply use their superior channel, army of certified engineers and sales people, partnerships, and market power to eliminate or marginalize the competition.  Further complicating matters is the delicate balance between companies that both cooperate and compete within the same market.

As Cisco marches forward with their Unified Computing strategy, they’ll need more than organic development and growth to unseat the likes of HP, IBM, Dell, and Sun.  I was highly disappointed with Cisco’s UCS B-Series Blade Servers as they weren’t as innovative or as tied into the Nexus products as I had hoped.  To that end, it is time for Cisco to shake up the server market with an acquisition (or two) of their own.

One such acquisition target is Liquid Computing headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Liquid Computing has built a unified computing system called LiquidIQ that is made up of both hardware and software.  From a hardware perspective, Liquid Computing is innovative, dense, and creates a “datacenter in a rack”.  From a software perspective, Liquid Computing has created a central point for management with their LiquidView software including server, storage, and network configuration and management. 

With one brush of Cisco’s checkbook, they would instantly change the game and rock the IT industry.  An acquisition of Liquid Computing could be as important to Cisco as it was when they purchased Kalpana in 1994.  While Liquid Computing has been branded a “Visionary” in Gartner’s 2009 Magic Quadrant, an acquisition by Cisco would certainly elevate them into the Magic Quadrant (Upper Right-Hand Corner).

Imagine re-branding and integrating Liquid Computing with Cisco’s Nexus and Unified Computing product lines.  Virtually overnight, this new solution based on Liquid Computing would be injected into the Cisco machine and made available to customers worldwide.  Over time, Cisco would strengthen Liquid Computing’s ties to EMC and VMware, while injecting more and more core Nexus technology into the solution.

Cisco is on the cusp of not only redefining themselves but also an entire industry.  To complete this transformation, Cisco must bold and move out of their comfort zone.  The game has definitely changed as Cisco’s greatest competitive threats do not necessarily come from classic networking providers or start-ups such as Juniper, Brocade, or Riverbed; instead, it comes from the likes of HP, IBM, Dell, Huawei, and more. 

Instead of simply watching HP buy 3Com, Dell and IBM OEM Juniper equipment, Oracle buying Sun, and awaiting Huawei’s entrance into the U.S Market (possibly with the purchase of Motorola), Cisco must launch an offensive on the server vendors via a visionary acquisition. 

Could this visionary acquisition be Liquid Computing?  Perhaps Groundhog Day may be coming to an end.


Cisco: Ask EMC to Marry You Already!

Cisco has unveiled their latest Unified Communications/Cloud Computing move by strengthening their relationship with VMware to develop new products and forming a new Joint Venture, Arcadia, with EMC, VMware, and Intel. In-other-words, Cisco is on a giant group date.

 Cisco has been dating EMC for many years as they resell EMC’s storage gear. In fact, Cisco purchased EMC some nice lake front property when they invested, and bet, heavily on VMware. Yesterday, Cisco and EMC decided to move-in-together by forming Arcadia. Meanwhile, Intel has decided to play chaperone for a while and make sure these two giants play nice.

Let’s face it; for Cisco to match/defend against rival HP’s one-stop-shop strategy they need to unravel the delicate cooperation/competition agreements with the likes of HP, IBM, and more. While HP has a formidable portfolio of hardware and software, Dell and IBM have beefed up agreements with the likes of Brocade and Juniper. Juniper may be in the enviable position of being courted by multiple companies but eventually they’ll have to tie-the-knot.

 The combination of Cisco and EMC would send shockwaves across the IT industry. Cisco would gain instant access and credibility to the storage, virtualization, and management worlds. However, the aftershocks would be just as powerful as HP, Dell, and IBM would surely take forceful and definitive actions.

What would you pay to be a fly-in-the-wall of a conference room with Chambers and Tucci? Or, better yet, to be in Ellison’s office when he read the news of the merger? Clearly, Oracle is becoming a wild card within the IT industry and they could really mess things up by acquiring BMC, Brocade, or even Juniper.

While JV’s, partnerships, and investments are cute, it’s time for a more serious relationship. Cisco needs to take advantage of this moment, pull out that ring in the safe, get down one knee, and ask EMC for its hand in marriage. In that moment the world would be holding its breath…yes or no.