There has been a lot of chatter about Cisco and unified computing and the data center/virtualization space…as well as what markets we are or are not entering. Our CTO, Padmasree Warrior, posted a blog on the topic of “unified computing” a few weeks ago and this blog entry is a follow-up to that post. In this video, she answers some of the common questions she’s been getting about unified computing, including why customers need it, how customers will unify their computing, and partnering in Cisco’s Unified Computing strategy. A full transcript of the video is after the jump. (You will note that this video was made via TelePresence…filmed in San Jose with our CTO in Chicago.)Transcript of Padmasree Warrior video on Unified ComputingHello. I’m Padmasree Warrior. There has been a lot of conversation in the blogosphere and media since my blog post on January 19th on Unified Computing. I asked for your feedback and appreciate the debate and dialogue you have provided on this subject. I do want to address some of the issues and questions that you have raised.What is Unified Computing? Is it true you’ve announced a new product for the data center?Cisco hasn’t announced a new product but we have started to talk about what we see as a major inflection point in the data center and how we see companies benefiting from a common architecture linking all data center resources together — what we are calling Unified Computing.We see a market transition as a result of virtualization. Virtualization architectures today are very much “assembly required” islands/silos where the burden of systems integration is on the customer. This increases costs and deployment times while decreasing efficiency. We see a market opportunity to eliminate the manual integration in favor of an integrated architecture that breaks down the silos between compute, storage, virtualization, and network platforms. Cisco is focused on innovating around an architectural approach to this opportunity and we refer to this approach as “Unified Computing.” Unified Computing unifies the three distinct virtualization arenas – network virtualization, storage virtualization and server virtualization – into one common architecture, within industry standard technologies and with the network as the platform.Why do customers need this?Now more than ever, IT organizations struggle to be more responsive to the business at lower cost—with the data center remaining a top cost center. Power, cooling, real estate, ever-increasing demand for compute, storage, application and business process agility remain challenges that the IT sector strives to address.Today, server virtualization has increased agility and utilization for reduced CapEx, but significant challenges remain, such as:• Additional management complexity ‘shifting costs’ to opex in IT operations• There is unclear organizational responsibility for data center management, including a lack of centralized policy• IT organizations are left to cobble together complex hardware, network, virtual machine and IT management software configuration…forcing them to serve as the ‘glue’ holding these configurations together. The data center today can best be described as ‘islands of virtualization’. Technical islands, procedural islands, organizational islands, operational islands….with no innovation in the market enabling these islands to be traversed seamlessly, securely or simply.How will customers unify their computing?Cisco’s approach is partner-centric and evolutionary, designed to provide choice while bringing customers a truly virtualized data center.Phase 1 for instance lays the foundation for data center cost containment through standardization. Core to this foundation is consistently applied network intelligence and virtualization in each area of specialization: local and wide area networking, storage networking and server/application networking. Phase 2, or ‘Unified Fabric’ — This phase optimizes and extends data center technologies through consolidation of virtualization across the network, storage and servers/applications. Phase 3, or ‘Unified Computing’ — Unified Computing virtualizes the entire data center through a pre-integrated architecture that brings together network, server and compute virtualization. Moving beyond that…Phase 4, or ‘Private Clouds’—is a phase that extends the advantages of unified computing into the cloud, bringing enterprise-class security, control and interoperability to today’s stand-alone cloud architectures. Phase 5, which is the ultimate vision of ‘inter-cloud’ marks our long-term transition with the market, by enabling portable workloads across the cloud. This will drive a new wave of innovation and investment similar to what we last saw with the Internet explosion of the mid-1990s. Why is Cisco expanding into Unified Computing? The architectural shift in the data center marks an IT market transition that will drive the benefits of virtualization to an entirely new level.Cisco is always evaluating market adjacencies and watching for key trends. As the compute and storage platforms, the network platform, and the virtualization platforms converge, architectures will blend and merge, creating technology disruption, but enable customer business challenges to be solved in new and creative ways. Cisco is uniquely positioned to help our customers navigate the evolution and derive value from “integrated virtualization.”What track record does Cisco have in this space? Cisco has a long heritage of working in the data center and we understand the network is critical to the data center’s ability to rapidly provide information anytime, anywhere, to anyone. For instanceo Traditional LAN switching — Catalyst lineo MDS & Director-class SANo Data center Switching — Nexus 7000 / 5000o Virtualization — Nexus 1000 and VMWare partnershipso Network-based services such as Application Caching (ACE) and security firewall service module (FSM)By connecting any combination of servers, storage, and applications the network orchestrates all forms of communication across the Data Center.How do you reconcile the Unified Computing architecture with your message of partnership?The intersection of innovation across industry has spurred the most significant evolutions in the technology sector to date. Today, the architectural shift in the data center marks an IT market transition that will drive the benefits of virtualization to an entirely new level. That is why—as an industry—it is vital that the leaders of IT cooperate to drive the technology innovation and transformation to help advance our customers, industries and economy.Change brings challenges, and challenges lead to innovation. We’ve decided to embrace the challenge and believe that we can innovate for the good of our customers.Cooperation among competitors is not new. And make no mistake, in a consolidating market you will see the leaders of this industry compete in new ways. That said, our responsibility as leaders of the technology industry is to help ensure that—despite a shifting competitive landscape—we work together for the success of our customers.Cisco’s commitment is to work across industry and our customers to ensure their successful navigation through this changing environment.What comes next?Over the next few months you will see us talk in more detail about the work we are doing with our partners and the greater ecosystem to bring unified computing to the market. We’re working closely with our customers and our partners to develop innovative solutions to the virtualization challenges of today. We believe that now more than ever the network is the platform.Thank you for listening and thank you for all your feedback. Let’s keep the dialogue going and I look forward to more comments from you.