Coming Soon: The Cisco Blade Server?

The movement toward blade servers in the enterprise data center has been growing steadily for some time, backed by manufacturers like IBM and HP. But expect to soon see networking giant Cisco Systems enter this market as well, setting themselves up for a tense battle with blade server manufacturers for control of the enterprise data center.

Earlier this year Cisco introduced their next generation of data center switches, the Nexus 7000 series. While many in the industry saw this announcement as playing catch-up to the likes of Force10 in the data center switching market, the blade server market took notice. Cisco is not a blade server manufacturer -– they are a networking company pushing the envelope of their areas of expertise in an attempt to keep their place in the enterprise data center. They already produce Linux-based blades for their Catalyst 6500 Series switches, so it seems logical to expect that a blade server will appear shortly in the Nexus 7000 Series.

Both Cisco and the blade server manufacturers know they’re in the midst of a revolution in the enterprise data center, one based on blades and virtualization. Data networking, an important component of the enterprise data center, is no longer the central force driving the vision of the future. Losing that visionary status means that account control, the prize coveted by all enterprise sales organizations, is moving from Cisco to others like IBM, HP and VMware (which may explain Cisco’s investment in VMware as a toehold in the virtualization space).

IBM currently sells Cisco switch ports attached to their blade servers. Once Cisco reverses this selling dynamic and announces their blade server for the Nexus 7000 switch you can bet that the folks in control of the enterprise accounts will take notice and go on the offensive.

In the long run, the enterprise data center is all about providing computing resources for an organization. Who do you think can provide those resources more effectively -– a blade server manufacturer using virtualization with networking added to the system or a data networking manufacturer adding blade servers and virtualization?

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