There has been quite a lot of buzz recently about Cisco’s Unified Computing strategy and what that might mean in terms of partnerships and competition. The latest (and well written) report on the subject comes from Nick Lippis and its title (Are Cisco, HP and IBM on Data Center Collision Course?) says it all.As much as blood and war are unfortunately newsworthy (even when they are only metaphors) I think the focus should be almost opposite: it should be on alliances and opportunities. The key proposition of Unified Computing is in the fact that recent technology advances, including virtualization, are driving more convergence in the Data Center and in IT overall. This convergence ultimately translate in the need for high-tech companies, such as Cisco and many others, to collaborate more closely than ever and deliver end-to-end, integrated solutions that are better than the sum of all pieces.Maybe I am already in Valentine Day’s mood, but I would rather think of Unified Computing as a way to strengthen the love (ops, relationship) between Cisco and its key partners rather than looking at it as a war tool.More seriously, when it comes to the future of the Data Center, thinking that one company (any one, even Cisco) will have the ultimate solution is naive at the best. Technology convergence is unavoidable, but at the same time there is a lot of specialization and differentiation in each area (software, network, compute, storage, applications, management, …) that it is impossible for any one company alone to be able to provide the full (and best) solution.With Unified Computing, Cisco intends to leverage some of the key characteristics of the network, such as ubiquity, scalability, performance, reliability to enable new computing models for the Data Center. This is not just about Cisco: it’s about tight collaboration with those vendors in the industry, who share the same vision and are heading in the same direction.I’d like to shift the conversation from who the competitors of Cisco will be to why Unified Computing is going to be a reality and what are going to be its drivers. Will virtualization ultimately be the disruptive force that changes the data center? Are we truly facing a paradigm shift in computing? Is this the right time to embrace change?I will leave it there for now, but I promise I will get back with more details. What I’d like to hear is your opinion on the role of alliances and partnerships in the future of the Data Center. Let me know what you think.