The professional journalists will hash out the details on the Cisco’s long-awaited announcement today. Some striking aspects:

  • Memory – as in DRAM – a key point. Chambers and Intel remarked on this several times. The next gen Xeon’s will address *lots more* DRAM – hopefully more efficiently than the wretched FB-DIMM – to enable many more VM’s per server. “More memory than any other blade” until other vendors announce blades using the same Intel processors.
  • Cloud-grade. As in “better than enterprise-grade.” Commodity-based cloud kit setting the standard for name-brand enterprise kit? That goes right to the heart of this announcement’s business problem.
  • Cisco’s dream: leading company in IT. Chambers said it and he meant revenue, not technology. Key: make the IT market pie bigger.
  • Make the pie bigger. 2 revenue sources: consumer and travel. “Consumers won’t know where their movie is stored and they won’t care” – uh-huh – the audio-only webcast kept cutting out on my “broadband” connection. Travel reduction through video conferencing – sure, that makes sense. But how much compute does that require?

The announcement was more interesting for who wasn’t there: IBM, HP, Sun, Dell, Google, Amazon and Yahoo. The former 4 because they represent traditional competition and the latter 3 the cloud.

If IBM, HP and Sun aren’t meeting today to plot a radical, Cisco margin destroying open-source router & low-cost switch counterattack – like Seagate, HP and IBM performed on Quantum’s DLT – they’re idiots.

“Vision” means “ain’t happening now, baby.” So Muglia’s comment about Microsoft’s vision of hundreds of virtual servers working together means that isn’t happening now – mostly for storage reasons. VMware’s storage infrastructure is pathetic; Hyper-V’s is worse; and the Unified Computing System won’t unify much if the storage issues aren’t addressed.

The StorageMojo take
Cisco’s partner-friendly strategy enabled it to build a strong position in data center networking and routing. But now it has declared war on the server businesses of HP and IBM, so “coopetition” is the order of the day: all smiles on even-numbered days and brass-knuckles on the odd.

A gangster once told fictional private eye Philip Marlowe “I could make your business my business” and Marlowe replied “You wouldn’t want to – the pay’s too small.” That’s the server business in a nutshell.

The real money in servers is storage. While Cisco may enlarge the pie it will shrink its margins. The “private cloud” business – and I was one of the first to discuss it – will prove a fruitless distraction.

Cisco has endorsed commodity-based cloud infrastructures without offering anything competitive. At best they’ve started a race to the bottom in blade servers and networks against a company, HP, who’s just finished mopping the floor with Dell – who used to be known as a tough, low-cost competitor.

Good luck with that.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.