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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
centered around a new strategy called the Converged

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

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.”