I just wrapped up with a couple of customer briefings this morning that reinforced a trend I have been seeing over the last few months. For the last couple of years, most of the customers I talked to were in sponge mode--they were absorbing info and trying to wrap their minds around things like unified fabric and virtualization--all while battling things like immediate challenges such as regulatory compliance and infrastructure sprawl.
These days, I find our customers much more opinionated--they are asking very pointed questions, pushing back, and generally expressing a more fully formed vision of where they want to go with their data centers. To be honest, this makes for much more interesting conversations and is generally a positive development.
So, while we see some consistent goals across our customer base such as unified fabric deployment or broader use of server virtualization, the conversations around how they want to get there are all over the map, which is a great lead-in to Data Center 3.0. One of the strengths of DC 3.0 it is less a rigid architecture and more of a flexible framework. Our approach is to give you multiple on-ramps to next-gen technologies such as 10GbE or FCoE. The goal for customers is allow them to maintain control of both their architecture and pace at which they adopt adopt new technologies. By the way, over the next few weeks, you will see more on that theme of “choices”.
Interestingly, that theme of choice extends to how we partner in the data center. Our goal is to work with the folks that are probably already in your data center and find ways to make the data center simpler, cheaper, etc. For example, while we offer the Cisco UCS as our integrated compute platform, we also worked with IBM to bring the Nexus 4000, which brings 10GbE and FCoE capabilities, to IBM’s BladeCenter. Along those same lines, last week we announced a partnership with industry leaders NetApp and VMware to help customers design and build out the next generation of dynamic data centers. Built around an end-to-end, secure, multi-tenancy design architecture, the three companies have done much of the heavy lifting around design, testing and validation to allow customers to start virtualizing their data center infrastructure with a much lower level of risk. For more info on the joint offering, check out the website. Even if this isn't on your to-do list right now, the design docs make some interesting reading on the "hows" and "whys" of designing a virtualized data center.
From my perspective, this is the ideal kind of partnership--for folks that like the design, it saves them a lot of work and mitigates much of the risk; without taking away any of the options available to customers who want to do something else.