Midmarket Quick to Get Virtualization Strategy

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print

In this interview with Channel Insider, Cisco’s global channel chief Keith Goodwin reveals how video is driving virtualization adoption and that midmarket companies – not large enterprises – accelerated Cisco’s next-generation data center and networking vision.

LW: When Cisco talks about video as a driver, how does virtualization play in the strategy? How does virtualization help in the performance of data center operations in terms of that increase in video traffic?
KG: I think it's about more efficiently using data center resources to deliver a given capability. In the world of cloud, cost-effectively delivery of services through the data center as we know it today really doesn't scale to do that in a cost-effective way. So it's really about the virtualization of those resources, enabling new scale and new cost-effectiveness, addressing power and space and all of those other things to allow the realization of the cloud.

LW: The migration of cloud in the enterprise, it's primarily about applications, accessibility and availability. Video seems more consumer-oriented, and many Cisco critics agree. What do you say to that?
KG: I think it's both. I'm not positioning that video is the only driver. In fact, the two, again, go hand in hand. Those business applications, those business services that will be delivered from the cloud will have a significant video component in the future. Everything is going video. Business applications are going video. At Cisco, for example, 60 percent of our network traffic is video, and that's driven from the business application video and that's increasing every day.

LW: Cisco's partnership with EMC and VMware is developing a data center virtualization strategy that leverages Vblock, a process for incrementally virtualizing legacy data centers. How do your partners plug into the Vblock strategy, and how do you help them reach the market with Vblock?
Our vision for the virtualized data center is all about virtualizing storage, compute and the network. This coalition is really about accelerating that to market by working together with the best-in-class partners who can then take Vblocks to market and allows us to accelerate that vision of that virtualized data center. In other words, to deliver it in a more integrated, more seamless fashion for the customers. Partners still have the opportunity to put a lot of value around that in terms of the services associated with successfully selling and implementing those Vblocks. It allows us to prove the value of proposition and to deliver value more quickly to the customers. But, again, we're very partner-centric in our go-to-market approach.

LW: How is Cisco going to bring its virtualization strategy to its midtier partners and get them on-board with Vblock and Acadia (the virtualization joint venture with EMC)?
KG: It's interesting how this has played out. When we first started to talk to the partners about the vision and direction, many partners have been in the data center for many years with other vendors; I really felt like we were going to have to spend a fair amount of energy convincing them that our vision was the right vision so they would invest in our vision. What's interesting is we thought some of our first wins would come in the larger enterprise space. Some of the first wins are coming from not our largest partners with large enterprise customers, but really from some of our midsize partners in the commercial space where those commercial customers immediately get the strategy and vision.

LW: When Cisco announced the unified computing strategy a little more than a year ago, its position was it would sell its servers and architecture direct, establish the road map, establish the implementation process, and then migrate through large partners and down into the rest of the channels. Did that change your strategy? How did you adapt to it?
KG: I'm not sure that our strategy changed. The original intent was to focus on those partners who had a strong investment in Cisco networking. It also had a strong investment in or knowledge and experience of the data center space. The sweet spot was for those partners who also had presence in storage. Some of those first opportunities were our largest partners, but some of them were medium-size partners who have had a lot of success in the data center in that commercial space. So it wasn't like we changed the strategy so much; it just played out a little bit more quickly in that kind of middle space than we originally expected.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.