In a stunning move, Cisco has announced that it will not renew its System Integrator contract with HP. HP will no longer be a Cisco Certified Channel or a Global Service Alliance Partner after April 30th, 2010. If there was any confusion that Cisco and HP were on a crash course, this move by Cisco should clear that up. Cisco's dropping HP follows the rumor, confirmed by Dell, that Cisco has also stopped plans to manufacture the Nexus 4001d Blade Switch for Dell's M1000e chassis.
About HP, Keith Goodwin, SVP of Cisco World Wide Partner Network, said in Cisco's statement that "the relationship [with HP] has evolved from partner to companies with different and conflicting visions of how to deliver value to our customers. Cisco certified channel partners have access to proprietary information such as product roadmaps and partner profitability initiatives. Given the evolution of our relationship, it no longer makes sense to provide these benefits to HP." Goodwin did say they were working with HP on a plan to manage the support of existing owners of Cisco equipment.
Greg Ferro thinks HP took the first shot at Cisco's space by quietly underselling Cisco switches with HP ProCuve switches at the edge. That may be true, but I can't imagine it's more than nipping at Cisco's heels. Cisco came out swinging with their Unified Computing System (UCS) in 2009 which squarely targets the data center and server markets in which channel partners like HP, Dell, and IBM sell. The lines between servers and networks are blurring, Alexander Wolfe's assessment.
Subsequently, HP acquired H3C, giving HP a stable of modern and powerful data center and modular core switches to replace what they resold from Cisco. IBM and Dell have been busy partnering with Juniper and Brocade for switching equipment. IBM is still, apparently, holding onto its relationship with Cisco, but it appears that Dell's has soured.
Representatives from Dell confirmed that Cisco has scrapped plans for the Nexus blade switch and responded "At the Blade I/O layer, we lost one choice point when Cisco chose not to make the Nexus 4000d available for the M1000e chassis. Today, Dell offers many alternatives for integrating our blade infrastructure with a variety of network infrastructures including Cisco, and we have plans to expand our offering in the future." One of those alternatives could be Juniper, who is licensing its Junos operating system to Blade Networks for its chassis switches and has articulated a plan to integrate all of its product lines into a cohesive whole.
The one stop shop data center market looks like this: Cisco is building its own servers and has an array of network products for LAN, WAN and storage networking. HP is adding to its own product line with H3C and can offer HP owned and branded products and partners for most everything else, including Brocade's SAN switches as an OEM. IBM makes its own servers, replying on partners and OEMs for the rest, as does Dell (at least in the data center). It looks like Cisco is being isolated by choice and by circumstance.