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Data Centers: Who's On First?

For the fourth installment in NETWORK COMPUTING's five-part examination of the changes transforming the data center, we start with the shot heard around the IT world, when in March 2009, network powerhouse Cisco announced that it was taking on its server/data center partners--HP, IBM and Sun (now Oracle)--with its Unified Computing System strategy, a.k.a. Project California. In a video supporting the March 16 announcement, John Chambers said, "It isn't just a new technology, it's an approach to virtualization and to the data center that is very unique in the industry."

Cisco's head also said at the time, "We focus on market transitions, not competitors," but it appears that the competitors took a different view, especially HP. As a war of words escalated, Cisco's Keith Goodwin eventually said, "The relationship [with HP] has evolved from partner to companies with different and conflicting visions of how to deliver value to our customers." In November 2009, HP fired back at Cisco with the announcement of its Converged Infrastructure Architecture.

Network Computing Special Report: How Cisco Is Changing The Datacenter
Part 1 - Throwing Bandwidth At Your Network Problems Isn't Enough
Part 2 - Cisco Faces Uphill Battle Selling Data Center Servers
Part 3 - Lots of Changes, But Top Storage Vendor Lineup To Remain Intact
Part 5 - Data-Center Diversity Drives IT Agendas

For its most recent quarter, Dell Enterprise Solutions and Services revenue grew 7% to $4.6 billion, driven by strong performance in servers and networking, which grew at 16%. For the entire fiscal year, this segment soared 27% to $17.6 billion. Moving forward, the data center will be one of the three areas the company will focus on.

A month ago, IBM introduced new software to create virtual server images in minutes and to automate the management of virtual environments and hybrid cloud systems. At the end of 2010, Big Blue's hardware arm, Systems and Technology Group (STG), outlined its strategies, which included competitive take-outs. IBM claims a measure of success against HP, Oracle/Sun and others.

In December, Oracle introduced a new line of SPARC-powered servers that, when assembled into a server cluster, deliver transaction processing speeds three times faster than IBM systems and more than 7 times faster than HP systems. The combination of operating system, software, processor, server and other components provides a highly optimized system, according to Oracle, engineering core technology like SPARC and Solaris and doing it with an understanding of the entire environment.

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