Cisco Innovation + Brand = Server Market Traction

Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun all sell servers, networking, and storage and could have delivered highly integrated unified infrastructure architectures

Frank Berry

April 1, 2009

2 Min Read
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Cisco is going to penetrate the server market in a big way. Why? Because they're seizing the opportunity to innovate in a market that wants to change only incrementally. And because they're using the massive strength of their global brand to muscle their way into a mature market.

The perfect storm of opportunity consists of the networking of everything -- computers, storage, telephones, televisions, video surveillance, music players, etc. If it makes sense to share something, you can bet someone is trying to put it on a network. And the dominant leader in networking all this stuff is Cisco. Their subtle, or not-so-subtle, message that servers of the future are peripherals of the network is no longer abstract, especially to enterprise IT professionals.

The perfect storm of opportunity also includes a trend that goes hand in hand with the networking of everything and has become religion to IT and CFOs -- virtualization. IT departments around the world are furiously virtualizing their infrastructure into vast pools of server, networking, and storage resources. Even in today's economy, IT is getting the funding for virtualization projects from their CFOs because the payback from increased utilization and simplified management is swift and huge. The new Cisco servers with highly integrated FCoE adapters, FCoE switches, and virtualization software substantiate their positioning of the product as an innovative new class of server built from the ground up to achieve comprehensive infrastructure consolidation.

It could have been different. Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun all sell servers, networking, and storage. Any one of them could have delivered highly integrated unified infrastructure architectures and claimed this ground before Cisco. But the high walls between business units, the fragile stability of people's jobs, the sacred nature of hard-fought product strategies, and the consensus-oriented management at the very top of these large organizations drive momentum in the same direction and with only incremental change. But I promise after Cisco's high-profile announcement last week, the other guys are dissecting Cisco product documentation and marketing messages because now they have to react and they have to update their definitions of a unified architecture in order to compete.

The Cisco Unified Computing System is providing disruptive technology innovation. Included on the March Fortune magazine list of the World's Most Admired Companies, the Cisco brand is providing the type of confidence that IT professionals need before they deploy a new vendor's IP telephone system, video conferencing system... or server.Oh, and storage will be next.

Frank Berry is CEO of IT Brand Pulse, a company that surveys enterprise IT managers about their perceptions of vendors and their products. Berry is a 30 year veteran of the IT industry, including senior executive positions with QLogic and Quantum.InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around virtualization management. Download the report here (registration required).

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