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A UCS Management Roundup

We often tout our open management ecosystem, which is made possible by UCS Manager’s XML API. The goal is very simple: we want to help make your transition to UCS as seamless as possible, which means working within your existing management frameworks as much as possible.  We also want to enable more consistent, policy-based approaches to operational management with UCS, and allowing higher-level tools to consume–and in some cases create–UCS service profiles is an important step along that path.

Today we announced an extension to our partnership with BMC, bringing in their Cloud Lifecycle Manager (CLM) to the party. There’s been some interesting joint innovation done with a particular eye to the multi-tenancy needs of service providers—though larger enterprises with full-blown cloud implementations may find the “network container” approach useful as well.  You can read more about the announcement here.  If you’d like to learn more about how Cisco and BMC are partnering to address perennial enterprise pain points, be sure to attend our webinar on Wednesday, December  15th.

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Does Enterprise IT need a M&A Strategy?

In the past I’ve written about the classic challenge within Enterprise IT, and specifically within the Data Center, that 70-80% of the resources are allocated to “legacy” activities. This obviously leaves very little time to work on new technology-centric innovations to drive the business. Or to put a different way, “IT only does innovation on Friday”.

The McKinsey Quarterly recently had an interesting article about reshaping IT management, where they introduce the concepts “Factory IT” and “Enabling IT”. The premise being that the focus of the Factory IT (70% of the activities) groups should be about cost-reduction, scale, standardization and simplification. The Enabling IT (30%, hopefully growing) should be focused on innovative ways to enable the business to grow. And the management of those groups doesn’t necessarily have to the same, since they’d have different objectives. Read More »

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Informatica Data Integration and Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler: Delivering Timely, Trusted, and Relevant Data for Business Intelligence Reporting

No doubt data is one of an organization’s most important assets. The trick is to turn it into timely and trusted information—information that can be used to rapidly uncover new markets, attract and retain customers, reduce operating costs, shrink time to market, and make smarter strategic decisions. In short, leveraging data can sharpen a company’s ability to navigate markets.

So when we combine Informatica’s world-class data integration platform with Cisco® Tidal Enterprise Scheduler, we are enabling organizations to gain a competitive advantage in today’s global information economy by empowering them with relevant and trustworthy information to support all their business decisions.

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Brocade’s “My Cousin Vinny” Approach to FCoE

When Brocade announced their “end-to-end native FCoE” solution, and read some of the stuff they were peddling to the trade magazines, I was reminded of the scene in “My Cousin Vinny” where Marisa Tomei’s character is put on the witness stand and challenged by the prosecution to answer a trick question (warning: link contains explicit language).

In a nutshell, in order to show that Tomei’s character doesn’t know anything about cars, the prosecutor attempts to use a lot of fancy language that sound legit but counts on people not understanding how things really work. Read More »

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Another quarter, another few hundred new UCS customers

About 1100 new customers, actually. Up from slightly more than 1700 customers last quarter, or 64% Q/Q growth in the customer base. Or up 2800% from when we started shipping a mere 16 months ago. Now, servers are hardly a new product category. Every single one of these customers already had a preferred server vendor, often of many years standing, and generally with deep pockets and all kinds of contractual mechanisms to help maintain stickiness of heavily commoditized gear. But they decided to give us a shot, and some 30% have already come back with repeat orders as they begin to scale out their UCS installments.

You may be wondering who those customers might be and why they chose UCS. Wonder no more.  There’s a fairly representative sample of customers over on Sean McGee’s blog, which includes both the published Cisco case studies as well as a few other public accounts of UCS adoption. His roundup encompasses a fair number of small-to-midsize enterprises, some large financials, quite a number of healthcare entities, public sector and service providers from around the world. In other words, UCS is interesting to all kinds of people with all kinds of different challenges.

One customer recently told another blogger about why they picked UCS over the field of usual suspects: lower cost (both cap-ex and op-ex), scalable (from small to very large installations), compatible with other key data center players, very easy to deploy and manage, and incredible performance improvements. As you go through the other case studies, you’ll continually see the same themes.  People who have UCS typically love it—personally, I’ve had people buttonhole me at industry events just to tell me so.

The customer example above happens to focus on performance improvements for a virtualized environment, but customers see equally strong gains with bare-metal apps. To pick one example, EMC is migrating their Oracle apps off of Sun RISC platforms to UCS. Cisco IT is doing the same (we currently have over 2500 UCS systems in production), although in our case, the legacy gear is a competitor’s x86 platform. Here are a few of the results of the Cisco IT efforts:

Service providers are typically looking at even greater economies of scale than the above, in terms of hardware TCO with UCS. And for them, speed of service delivery doesn’t just mean less-stressed IT admins and happier stakeholders, it means a competitive edge in acquiring and keeping new business.

This information about the growth of our customer base also has bearing on another recent item of industry discussion. While we have yet to formally report UCS revenue numbers to IDC or other firms, John Chambers indicated to the investor community in September that, based on UCS revenues compared to IDC’s published estimates of competitor revenues and market share, we had reached #3 in the N. American x86 blade market. This was met with some skepticism in the blogosphere, which is fair since the claim was not published by IDC itself, but some also appeared to misread the statement as “#3 in the server market” which would clearly necessitate a much larger revenue base than the x86 blade market.

Oppenheimer channel checks estimated an annualized run rate of $200-250M in revenues at the end of our Q4 (July), in line with run rate statements Mr. Chambers had made previously. And then we indicated a $500M annualized run rate in our FYQ1 earnings call on Nov. 10th. This is a material statement, based on existing revenue numbers and bolstered by the fact that many of our early customers (first purchased a year or so ago) are now entering full-scale UCS deployment phases. If you match the above information up with industry revenue numbers available from IDC and others, you can determine for yourself how viable Cisco’s claims to rapid x86 blade share gains are.