Cisco, Microsoft Partner on Unified Computing

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

The technology giants Cisco and Microsoft are both looking to grab larger customer bases and take their offerings more mainstream with the new partnership.

Cisco Systems is taking its Unified Computing System mainstream with reference architectures that support Microsoft SQL server.

The partnership puts Cisco in the same realm as a Microsoft partner as competitors HP, IBM and Dell.

New data center solutions from Cisco include Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Fast Track Data Warehouse 3.0 for Cisco UCS, a reference architecture for medium and large enterprises that are interested in combining server, storage and networking technologies, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2OLTP reference configuration for Cisco UCS, a reference configuration designed deployment complexity and total cost of ownership.

These two new data center reference architectures should raise the profile of Cisco UCS, making it more of a mainstream vendor in the enterprise data center space, said Richard Fichera, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"The bottomline, as far as I see, is this kind of represents the mainstreaming of Cisco’s UCS," Fichera said.

Microsoft Fast Track Data Warehouse 3.0, which the new Cisco reference architectures are being listed on, is a set of templates and architectures pulled together as a Microsoft program, and the program’s website (http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/solutions-technologies/data-warehousing/fast-track.aspx) links back to Microsoft’s major partners in the area. That list of partners includes some of Cisco’s biggest competitors, including HP, IBM and Dell, as well as other vendors like Bull and EMC. Now that list includes Cisco, which Fichera said is of little consequence to Microsoft but gives Cisco a bump for UCS.

The deal between Cisco and Microsoft represents a broadening of the solutions available and appropriate for UCS, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"While the company has done pretty well with specialized solutions like VCE’s vBlocks for cloud computing/datacenter consolidation, Cisco has been less successful in pushing UCS as a platform for conventional business processes and workloads," King said. "In this case, leveraging the Microsoft relationship offers Cisco a chance to prove the value of UCS for data warehousing and OLTP(online transaction processing) -- both of which could lead to broader commercial adoption of the systems by enterprise clients."

However, the partnership won’t be meaningful in the short-term for either company because UCS doesn’t have enough market penetration at this point, King said. He noted that Cisco and Microsoft are anxious to prove the validity of their strategies and are actively looking for new business opportunities.

"It’s not a giant breakthrough, but it shows that Cisco is making this progression from exotic and new to mainstream enterprise,which is really where they want to be," Fichera said.

The Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Fast Track Data Warehouse 3.0 for Cisco UCS (a mouthful, for sure) was designed to combine server, storage and networking technologies so as to optimize the performance of SQL Server 2008 and Cisco UCS C-Series Rack-Mount Servers. It also includes configuration details for EMC and NetApp storage.

The Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2OLTP reference configuration for Cisco UCS was designed to optimize OLTP workloads and includes configuration information for Cisco UCS C-Series servers and EMC mid-range and enterprise storage.