Cisco, HP Reconcile for the Sake of the Data Center

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Cisco and HP are getting back together, at least on a limited basis, for the sake of their mutual data center customers who see the value of Cisco networking and HP servers.

Cisco Systems and HP have been fighting over the enterprise space for some time now with an official divorce happening in February 2010 when they dissolved their partnership. But the two companies put their differences aside recently for the sake of the data center to come together to jointly release a product that extends the Cisco Unified Fabric into the HP c-Class BladeSystem.

With the number of shots fired between the two companies since they officially dissolved their partnership in February 2010, it may be surprising that they would come together to offer a joint solution, but according to one analyst, it’s clear that Cisco and HP have recognized that they share a lot of joint customers, including those that use both Cisco networking products in conjunction with HP servers.

"The announcement is significant in that it is clear that customers still want to apply known 'best practices’ to their IT infrastructure," said Cindy Borovick, program vice president for enterprise and data center networks at IDC.  "As a result, customer choice in networking/servers/storage is still important. Clearly, Cisco networking customers have invested in HP servers. In this specific case, customers see the advantages of Cisco Fabric Extender and would like to apply this architecture to their HP servers."

The Fabric Extender technology provides a scalable "pay as you grow" network deployment model, Borovick noted.

"Cisco as the leader in data center networking and HP as the leader in x86 servers need to offer customers choices," she said. "An all or nothing approach would be foolish from suppliers with such strong brands and leading customers."

The Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem (also known as the Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender for HP) was co-engineered by Cisco and HP to make it easy for customers to connect and configure HP BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure with Cisco Unified Fabric. Available from HP and its authorized partners, the new product offers tighter integration between Cisco Nexus switches and HP BladeSystem.

"BladeSystem customers are looking to HP for solutions that easily integrate into existing environments," said Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for industry standard servers and software at HP. "This new solution allows industry-standard collaboration options for enterprises choosing HP BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure while simplifying their connections and reducing network costs."

Even as the two technology giants fight for dominance in the data center space, many environments are not made up of a single vendor’s products and instead use products from both Cisco and HP. The new Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem was designed to provide several customer benefits, including increased network bandwidth and resiliency for delivering mission-critical applications running on multiple server links, expanded flexibility to address changing business demands with consolidated migration paths from 1GbE to 10GbE networks, and reduced network provisioning and maintenance required by IT administrators from the Cisco Nexus parent switch to up to 24 fabric extenders.

"Our customers want to easily and cost-effectively take advantage of the latest Cisco Unified Fabric innovations," said Soni Jiandani, senior vice president of the server, access and virtualization technology group at Cisco. "By offering the Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender (FEX) for HP, our customers can extend the benefits of the Cisco Unified Fabric across their existing data center infrastructure."