In the constant competition between choosing best of breed hardware and having a single throat to choke by using a single vendor approach the largest percentage of volume purchase datacenter hardware buyers tend to take a mixed approach, letting the solutions that they need to support drive their purchase requirements. While smaller companies are more likely to use traditional system integrators to handle the heavy lifting, large volume purchasers like a more detailed level of control over what goes into their shops.
So in 2009, when Cisco released their Unified Computing System, it didn't seem to bring a lot of concern to the big players in the server hardware business, like HP and IBM. Despite the tight integration the UCS offered between Cisco's server and networking infrastructures that was all that Cisco seemed to be able to offer. The other critical hardware and management components of their soup-to-nuts approach had to be provided by other vendors, such as EMC, HDS, CA, and BMC. HP and IBM, on the other hand, offered a complete line of their own storage hardware and software management tools, all tightly integrated with their own servers and networking. This put Cisco firmly in the role of a sort a super systems integrator, with all the baggage that carried when compared to HP and IBM.
But Cisco has surprised their competitors and the industry as a whole with the success of their UCS approach. They announced this week that in the last 30 months they had built a base of over 10,000 UCS customers, proving that there was a definite market desire for their approach to the single source, unified computing environment. Ranging from the sole service provider to smaller enterprises, to point product solution s in larger environments, UCS looks like it's here to stay.