Cisco recently announced that it is beginning to offer its third generation of Unified Computing Systems (UCS), enhanced management software and improved performance. Cisco is using the catch phrase "fabric computing" to describe their approach to unifying X86-based servers, networking equipment and storage into a single enclosure. The company also trumpeted its share and revenues as reported in a recent IDC quarterly server tracker report.
Cisco also puts forward the idea that it has achieved technical leadership in the design of its systems. The company claims that it is the first to unify compute, networking, virtualization, storage and management software to create an easy-to-manage system. Furthermore, the company stresses that it is protecting the investment of current customers by allowing older systems to be upgraded with newer blades, memory, networking and storage components.
It is clear that the company has improved processing performance, storage I/O performance, networking performance and is offering some very clever management tools that present a unified view of system resources.
Snapshot analysisI'm not going to try to present an analysis of each of the new systems and components Cisco is offering. That would take more space than is available here. In short, Cisco's systems are competitive with offerings from Dell, Egenera, Fujitsu, HP, IBM and NEC.
IT decision makers are best advised to speak with representatives of these suppliers to discover which offerings would best fit their requirements and budget. While Cisco might be the best choice in some circumstances, others might be a better choice when the complete environment is considered. Cisco presents itself as being first to combine blades, networking equipment and storage into a single, unified enclosure. This I know to be incorrect. Egenera has been offering similar systems for nearly 15 years and is now using its PAN Manager management and orchestration software to help companies such as NEC, Fujitsu and HP offer similar unified environments! HP and IBM have well over a decade of experience in this area as well. Dell is no newcomer to this market either.
Each of these suppliers offer systems that treat system resources as a pool that can be assigned to tasks as needed and offer sophisticated management tools to make the process simple. Cisco is certainly competitive, but does not appear to be better than the others.
The market share and revenue claims are based upon projections built upon a single research firm's quarterly tracker findings for a single quarter. Since the market share and revenues change from month to month, projecting an annual revenue and market share based upon a single quarter in a single report is a bit questionable. That being said, Cisco does appear to be growing strongly and has moved its position in the world wide server market from zero to over $1 Billion in just a few years.
I've spoken with Egenera and will speak with IBM's representatives shortly. I'll provide their view about Cisco's statements later on this week.