Today Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO, news, filings) unveiled its Unified Computing System, amidst great fanfare and of course an amazing blast of marketing material. Not content to merely release the new product, they included partnerships with VMWare, Accenture, BMC, EMC, and Red Hat. One would think they might want to space out the news, we're talking information overload here. After you get past all the buzzwords, what exactly is this thing?
The Unified Computing System is basically a box with 7 servers in it alongside networking and storage gear from Cisco. The package is basically a little pre-assembled, pre-virtualized, highly configurable rack. It doesn't do anything that can't already be done, it is simply designed to do it more efficiently because it never leaves its box. It's a new appliance with familiar components, a new way to put things together. The idea is that it will revolutionize how datacenters are organized and operated. Is it the biggest thing since sliced bread? That will depend on if it lives up to its efficiency billing, any new gear like this must be field tested before anyone other than a marketing department can say.
But there's no question that from a strategic point of view this is a major event. Cisco is now competing openly against longtime partners such as IBM and HP. That will offer competitor Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR, news, filings) a chance to get a foot in the door with new and large partners. And if the device makes headway, it will probably provoke those giants into building their own new competing systems - thus entering the network equipment business.
Of course, Cisco has picked an opportune moment to take this risk, financially they are in a fantastic position to start such a fight whereas others may not be.
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