After speaking with Cisco about the third generation of UCS, I was certain that I had seen many of the messages before. Egenera, HP, IBM and others had been offering capabilities very similar to what Cisco was touting as “new and unique” for as much as 15 years. Shortly afterward, I had the opportunity to speak with several representatives of the IBM System x team including Adrian Mitu, Anish Jain, and Marco Rengan, to learn more about IBM’s SmartCloud initiative, IBM’s System x and IBM’s BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud.
It is clear to me that just about every feature Cisco mentioned has been available from IBM for quite some time. IBM’s offerings are not limited to X86-based processors. Solutions based upon IBM’s Power and Z-based systems also have a long history. This approach allows IBM to offer its customers the combination of performance, scalability, and pricing to fit their requirements.
IBM points out that while having interesting, powerful, and cost-effective systems is an important first step, solutions are based upon having software, professional services and a full ecosystem of partners as well. It is clear to me that IBM has moved beyond thinking and speaking about systems and basic technology to delivering integrated, “purpose built” solutions that directly address customers’ business requirements.
The example of this “purpose-built” solution approach is IBM’s BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud family of solutions. These solutions include powerful multi-vendor management software (both IBM’s System Director and Tivoli management tools), storage, networking and servers. The key difference, IBM would maintain, is that IBM is assuming that the customers’ data centers are heterogeneous collections of different systems, different operating systems, storage devices, networking tools. IBM believes that whatever IBM offers must not only fit into the customers’ environments, IBM’s offerings must add value. IBM’s tools support multi-vendor environments.
Where Cisco has an edge is that Cisco has a much more limited portfolio of systems, software and partner offerings allowing the company to deliver strong, unified messages. It also has developed a set of management tools allowing an IT administrator to see all of the Cisco components and see them as a single pool of dynamically assignable resources. If a customer compared Cisco’s offerings to equivalent products from IBM, IBM’s products would be highly competitive, however.
Where IBM has the edge is the company’s wealth of technology, including systems, storage, networking, many types of software and its strong ecosystem of partners. that even though it may tend to seem overwhelming at first, provides a comprehensive portfolio of offering. IBM's management tools are designed to allow IT administrators to manage resources across all major vendors of systems, storage, and networking equipment.