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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.