One issue that has cropped up as part of the Cisco Unified Computing announcement is that pundits are claiming Cisco is attacking their partners HP by moving into the server space. However I can’t shake the feeling that its the other way around.
HP setup the ProCurve network division sometime ago. More recently it would seem that the ProCurve marketing have been switching Cisco accounts to ProCurve, especially at the edge of the ethernet network by using their incumbent status with customers. Basically, the ProCurve team are forcing HP Sales Teams and Account Managers to sell ProCurve instead of Cisco. This is happening at a low intensity, very quietly on the ground, which is why many analysts are not aware of it.
Combine that with HP blade servers that have their own networking and there is not much space left for Cisco to participate. It’s not too much of step from this to developing some core switches and HP becomes a major competitor.
Therefore, I think HP hit Cisco first. The marko-bitch-slap-fest will continue unabated of course and everyone will accuse Cisco of taking on HP because they came right out and did it. HP gets to whine that he hit me first because they were skulking around when no-one was looking.
HP desperately wants to protect the revenue they get from selling Cisco equipment until they decide to announce their next-generation of Data Centre switches, probably in the next twelve months. HP is major reseller of Cisco hardware, and makes a lot of money in professional services (which is the real money maker) from integration. Most importantly, it gives HP full ownership of the customer relationship and makes sure that HP can control the customer closely (which is how they like it).
Why twelve months? It was no big secret that Cisco was building servers and HP should have found out about a year ago. It takes about a two years to bring a product to market, logically, HP will announce their networking strategy early next year.
There is no point on speculating on what it will look like except to say that it will be something like the Cisco Nexus 7000 – lots of 10G Ethernet and support for DCB / CEE. I suspect that the early version will be a limited feature set. This will be able to backbone the curretn ProCurve edge switches as well form a Data Centre strategy. Albeit with a lot less features.
I say, bring it on.