Analysts: Size Matters in Cisco Data Center PlayBy Sara Driscoll | Print
From a technology standpoint, Cisco's new data center architecture is great, according to analysts, but some question how many VARs will really be able to sell it.
Despite welcoming new networking architecture technology from Cisco, analysts wonder how many VARs will actually be affected by the announcement.
Launched April 8 at the Cisco Partner Summit in Honolulu, the Nexus 5000 Series is a network connectivity consolidation switch that includes 10GB Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, Data Center Ethernet and virtualization technology and goes some way to fleshing out Cisco’s idea of the Data Center 3.0.
However, while analysts attending the event said the technology itself is a boon for the industry, some questioned how many VARs actually operate in the data center space and will therefore be affected by the announcement.
"The data center announcement is interesting from a robust, full-solution play. However, I have been more concerned with looking at how many VARs it touches and how many partners can take advantage of the way it is structured," said Diane Krakora, CEO at Amazon Consulting.
Keith Humphreys, managing consultant at analyst firm EuroLAN, agreed. "Cisco is very good at creating disruptive technologies. VOIP [voice over IP] is a great example of this, and this is what it is trying to do in the data center," he said. Similar to with the VOIP market, Cisco has nothing to lose, he added. It had no PBX play when it launched into VOIP and has little now in the data center. "It has a lot to gain from this," Humphreys said.
However, Humphreys questioned Cisco’s capacity to sell the 5000 Series. "There are only a handful of partners who can sell this right now; Cisco needs more credible partners in the data center. It will have to go on a recruitment drive to get the right partners."
However, speaking to Channel Insider, Edison Peres, vice president of worldwide channels at Cisco, said the company will not be recruiting new partners in the short term. "We will first be enabling our existing partners," he said. Peres admitted the announcement is likely to affect only around 300 of Cisco’s total of 42,000 partners, although he said more than half of the company’s 800 or so Gold Certified partners "also have the potential to sell it."
Although Cisco is opening the product when it becomes available in May to all of its partners, the company will require them to have the new Data Center Networking Infrastructure 2.0 specialization. To achieve this accreditation, VARs will need to have a practice in servers, storage, networking and services. Peres said Cisco will enable partners to gain these skills by encouraging them to forge relationships with the major vendors in each space. "We will cover the networking side, but we will suggest VARs get to know vendors in the server and storage arenas to establish those practices," he said.
Peres said the biggest challenge is in the scalability of rolling the architecture out. "This is complex. It is new and requires knowledge from our VARs in multiple worlds, and scaling this kind of knowledge is challenging," he said.
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