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Solution providers predict Cisco Systems’ concept for the
next-generation data center will follow a similar acceptance curve to
VoIP, and are gearing up for an explosion of adoption rates.

Cisco’s Unified Fabric approach aims to integrate the data center
more fully into existing network infrastructure, says Doug Gourlay,
director of Data Center Solution Marketing at Cisco.

The aim, Gourlay says, is to imitate Cisco’s “the network is the platform” approach to consolidating disparate networks.

“We’ve taken storage networks and server networks and pulled them
together into a unified fabric. Then we made the network virtual
machine aware. So now we have to bring all those together into a
unified computing platform,” he says.

Cisco’s Unified Fabric approach to networking and the data center
builds on the success the vendor saw with the convergence of voice and
data networks, says Gary Middleton, director of performance
optimization and data center networking at Dimension Data, a Cisco gold
partner.

Middleton says there are many similarities to VoiP’s adoption curve,
in that Cisco’s approach combines multiple traffic types across a
single network, and initially, customers were skeptical of the business
value of the technology.

“When we talked to customers about voice on the data network, we met
with a lot of resistance and we had to establish relationships with
voice specialists who were quite different than the networking guys we
were used to dealing with,” he says.

As customers started seeing the value of VoIP, “the networking
people started taking responsibility for voice on the data network, and
then we experienced an explosion in adoption,” says Middleton. He
expects the same model to apply as Cisco converges data center networks
with voice and data and storage networks.

“We think we’ll see slower adoption up front, but then rapid
adoption once the value is shown to our customers,” Middleton says. The
explosion of virtualization will help accelerate that adoption, he
adds, as expanding virtualization capabilities impacts customers’
networks and performance.

“A lot of clients don’t realize that the network has to be a
fundamental part of any data center implementation because of the
additional traffic that’s going into and out of the data center,” says
Middleton.