Cisco has not been shy in pushing the envelope of what a networking company does, and one extension that’s been rumored for quite a while has now appeared in public—though still as a rumor. Cisco is said to be working on a blade server product family, something that would extend the company’s reach into the service layer of the network. The move would, in our view, help Cisco with service providers whose focus increasingly is on servers and service delivery platforms (SDPs) and higher-layer features.
It would also help in the enterprise to support hosted applications that are tightly coupled with the network, including unified communications (UC). One impact of this step would be to formalize Cisco’s entry into the IT space, something that’s been inevitable anyway as Cisco works to rise up the value chain.
In all, we believe this rumor is absolutely true and a good thing for Cisco. It will put considerable pressure on Cisco’s competitors, especially Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper, to flesh out their own strategies. Alcatel-Lucent has already announced a strategic shift to the “online ecosystem” that links developers and telcos, but Juniper has not articulated a strategy here yet, though the company has spoken at conferences on the topic of open networks.