In the five years since Cisco became a server vendor with the introduction of its Unified Computing System in March 2009, much has changed in the IT industry. Although initially received with skepticism by more traditionally server-centric vendors such as HP and IBM, the networking giant’s move into the world of x86-based ‘industry standard servers’ was a harbinger of change in the transformation of IT toward the software-defined datacenter and a cloudy future.
“The network is the computer”
John Gage, employee number 21 of the ‘late’ Sun Microsystems, is credited with coining the marketing phrase “the network is the computer,” long before the Internet and cloud computing became everyday terms. In the early days, the workstations (essentially desktop or deskside Unix-based servers with a screen and a keyboard) were still the heart of the system, with the network just providing a connection between these distributed powerhouses, but the phrase was probably more insightful about the future of computing than was realized at the time.
Since that time, the network and storage have become increasingly important, while the servers have been virtualized and the server hardware is arguably the most commoditized and interchangeable component of the hardware infrastructure. Cisco has been able to take advantage of its dominance in networking to build an ecosystem of partners to bring these converged platforms to market. Unlike end-to-end providers like IBM and HP, Cisco realized the ‘stickiness’ of storage in the enterprise, so it deliberately took a ‘storage vendor neutral’ approach by partnering with major storage vendors EMC, HDS, NetApp and others to bring converged infrastructure offerings to market.
As Cisco UCS celebrates its fifth birthday, our surveys show continued traction for converged infrastructure as successful platforms to underpin the foundations of cloud-ready datacenters.
Anecdotal commentary illustrates the reaction to converged infrastructure platforms by TheInfoPro’s respondent community:
- “Saw a demo, very exciting, and if I had to start all over again it would be great. When you have a well-defined virtual infrastructure, it is too hard to implement. Great for a new datacenter.” – LE, Financial Services
- “IBM is pushing some replacements to go to PureFlex, not sure yet.” – MSE, Education
- “We looked, but we do not see it as a fit in our environment due to the different storage we are using.” – MSE, Financial Services
- “Migration to Cisco UCS, moving from HP.” – LE, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals
- “We moved internal cloud infrastructure to the Cisco UCS platform.” – LE, Financial Services
- “Will look at FlexPod and Vblock next year [but to evaluate, not in plan].” – LE, Financial Services