HP, Cisco Initiatives Highlight Data Center Convergence

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

While Cisco and HP keep putting more muscle behind their converged data center solutions and messages, VARs and competitors say solutions like that have been around for a while. But HP's and Cisco's attention to them now will help boost their mind share in the enterprise and among other IT buyers.

Got unified computing?  These days vendors are pushing these technologies—preintegrated storage, servers, networking and virtualization—in the form of products or reference designs as the answer for all that ails the data center.

The message to customers is that these systems make things all work together more efficiently, saving management time, improving system functions and perhaps even reducing energy costs.

Both Hewlett-Packard and Cisco pushed new unified data center announcements this week, with Cisco announcing a new coalition to help bring these solutions to the channel through a pre-fab architecture available through reference designs. HP’s announcement centered around a new strategy called the Converged Infrastructure.

But not all industry members are equally impressed with these efforts. For instance, some say that such initiatives don’t favor reseller channel partners as much because there’s less room for services sales and systems integration and differentiation among partners.

"Cisco’s going to do that themselves," Vik Desai, president of smaller unified computing vendor Liquid Computing tells Channel Insider. "That’s the classic kind of thing that will make any channel partner less than loyal to a corporation."  

Desai’s company offers a competitive unified computing solution to Cisco’s and HP’s, providing servers, networking fabric and storage—partially through partnerships with Intel and with NetApp, and the company is leveraging those larger vendors’ channel partner programs to sell its offerings. Desai says Liquid Computing is committed to the channel and its solutions are standards-based. And he says that Cisco’s system is complex and not easy to get right the first time.

But systems integrators who specialize in the data center have been creating such systems for years, even before vendors such as Cisco and HP came out with their pre-fab reference solutions.

"At Presidio we’ve been doing this for two years already," says Raphael Meyerowitz, director of data center technical services for Presidio Networked Solutions, one of Cisco’s initial Unified Computing partners that will be working with the new coalition.

Cisco’s announcement of an initial elite group of partners will help promote the idea of such solutions, says Meyerowitz.

"It’s marketing, but it’s also telling customers the story that we’ve told them for two years," he says. "We already have had all those pieces, and we’ve had the engineers in place. What this says is you can purchase this from a channel partner that has all this expertise."

Presidio won EMC’s Professional Services Partner of the Year Award this year, for the second year in a row, has been selling Cisco’s data center solutions for years and is one of the biggest VMware partners in North America, Meyerowitz points out.

He says his firm leads with those vendors, although he also partners with HP.

Cisco’s announcement, he says, will help sell products around unified computing, pointing out that there were 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Cisco’s Webcast announcement this week.

"Customers today want to speak about the data center, not just networking," says Meyerowitz. "2010 is going to be an interesting year for Acadia and Vblock customers, in a good way."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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