Monday, 16 March 2009

Cisco Blades - Paradigm shift or Flop?

Well Cisco have finally revealed the hype surrounding there entry into the Blade server industry today, codename "California" offering has been revealed in a simplified manor with a clear message that they want to consolidate and remove the problems experienced in computing today and change how organisations provision and deploy. I provide a few thoughts and views expressed here with some possible comments to look back on in the future once this stuff goes mainstream adoption.

Unification is the main name of the game and it could either propel the underlying connectivity and IO within the Nexus Unified switch range into the mainstream or it can carry on being an investment along with the full blade package which will be on the back burner until the financial crisis finishes. Something which will be hard certainly with most organisations being on a tightrope budget for what will be until next year if fortunate.

On the other hand i'm sure readers on Vmlover will realise that there are potential cost saving and ROI benefits to consolidating your infrastructure with Virtualisation and Blades even in a financial crisis, if you can raise a business case or if you have a budget from last year its seriously a possibility that you can go for next generation technology such as blade and unified core networking and use this to host your Virtualisation environment to save massive bucks short and longer term.

Once Blades and Virtualisation are deployed you have more agility, quicker response to business demand and overall cost savings from reduced overhead of your operation deploying the solution and again you can reap the cost saving.

Whether you feel Cisco has the whole package with there new offering and you feel it can be offered to deploy turn key without having to worry about your SAN/LAN provisioning is dependent, maybe this will be a target for initial installs for medium sized organisations who feel that they can jump up a level and go for the full all in one package. Not many organisations are fortunate to be able to refresh there core networking and server environments, most are locked into an investment previous purchased

Other considerations on this new venture is who's going to sell this solution and then possibly deploy all this kit and deploy the Servers? Typically a solutions provider/reseller will recommend a blade spec and deploy SAN and LAN configuration on the chassis backplane, install at customer and then hand over to the network bods. Is the network bod in this Cisco unified blade world going to do the network and the chassis and then hand over to the Virtual/Server bod? Maybe not this might be "the empire strikes back" with cisco blade, Network/Storage bods have been shoved out in most organisations on LAN/SAN config of blades with new simplified tech such as HP Virtual Connect. Or is the whole deployment going to go and push network/storage bods back even further with provisioning process? Plug your FCoE in and off you go server bod....

Cisco versus the rest of the world

I will be interested to see how who are now the vendor competition and previous partners for shipping IO connectivity on current market blades muster in the new battle, someone the size of Cisco is not moving into Blade servers to dabble, they want to take on the world like they do with networking and storage products. With there competitors IBM and HP have backplane options that go upto up to 10GB LAN/8GB SAN, will they now start to lose the first class citizen status of what they want developed with Cisco? Will the other Blade vendors struggle with FCoE adoption and partnership and is this why its been a bit slow on any new strategy for FCoE with Blade recently? Probably not to the above other people are building switches that support FCoE so if Cisco do then there take alliance with a vendor like Brocade.

I do like Cisco's pitch and approach, I like the unified fabric architecture lets see what the rest of the industry says and does, however i wouldn't want to dive in and be lumbered with a technology like VFrame was. This is something i expect will be the case across most IT organisations with this latest entrant to the server world so were see.


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