It’s a complex world of ecosystem partnerships out there, and it’s important to remember that while technology providers such as Cisco and Microsoft compete in areas such as collaboration and unified communications, they’re also tightly aligned in areas such as data center, where there’s a huge opportunity for Cisco and Microsoft partners to take joint solutions to market.
Cisco and Microsoft took another step in that alignment last week, thanks not only to the integration of Cisco Unified Data Center architecture with Microsoft Fast Track solutions, but also joint marketing and other activities to enable partners that sell both companies’ data center technologies.
The integration itself is a compelling one. Microsoft customers, for example, will be able to have programmatic access to the Cisco Unified Computing System, which gives them a lot more insight and control into how their Cisco Unified Data Center assets work in concert with Windows server and application software. (Here are some more of the details, including specifics on Cisco Nexus 1000V and Cisco UCS.)
Also new is that Cisco will offer several Fast Track solutions that provide customers a reference architecture using technology from Cisco and EMC, under the VSPEX architecture, or from Cisco and NetApp, under the FlexPod architecture. Both of those reference designs have been validated for Microsoft’s Private Cloud Fast Track program.
Channel partners play a crucial role in making sure all of those technologies and programs translate into a practical solution that reduces data center complexity, lowers costs and increases performance while making customers more confident about the investments they’ve made.
Scalability Experts, a global solution provider and systems integrator based in Coppell, Texas, specializes in exactly that type of challenge, in which customers not only seek more seamless integration of their data center assets but also want easier, more centralized management – especially if they’re leveraging cloud infrastructure.
I asked Rajinder Gill, president and CTO of Scalability Experts, to explain in practical terms why the work Scalability does with both Microsoft and Cisco in the data center will be made easier by an announcement like this one. What he came back with was that Fast Track creates an ideal foundation for rapidly deploying Cisco hardware and Microsoft software technologies, removing challenges of integration and management in the process.
“The architecture is important to us because with it, we can provide significant value to our customers and chart a successful course through a daunting variety of technologies,” Gill explained. “Microsoft Fast Track simplifies the process of planning and implementation, and provides transparency to the customer, which significantly reduces the risk exposure. The result is a complete solution with a design validation. This provides significant value in reducing complexity, enhancing time to market and allowing the customer to stay focused on their core business.”
It’s helpful to think about Fast Track as way to implement complete private or hybrid cloud frameworks using latest-generation systems management, Gill said. Customers get a highly-centralized and easy-to-access environment that integrates with both Cisco and Microsoft data center products, which provides an “on-ramp” to the use of cloud services such as Windows Azure.
The more customers embrace those cloud services, he said, the more they’re becoming their own hosting providers that can delegate control to business units, automate resource allocation, and provide businesses the means to measure and analyze how they use their computing from the server hardware level all the way down to the application level.
Getting the solution to that level — where customers can use measurement and analysis to drive better overall results in the data center — is when you’ve really empowered customers, particularly the mid- and large-sized enterprises Scalability Experts targets with these types of solutions.
“Providing IT analytics to C-level management is the No. 1 need in enterprises today,” Gill said. “Fast Track is the best way to get there.”
Visit Scalability Experts for more on data center and other integration services.