Cisco is expected to launch its blade server project “California” today, and there is a lot of disagreement over just what’s coming. Some predict Cisco will enter the data center server market with a hardware product linked to its network virtualization tools. Others think the product will be more Unified-Communications-flavored.
The view that Cisco is getting into the blade server market has been refuted by some Cisco management comments (which doesn’t mean it’s not true, of course), and we believe it would be a major strategic error for Cisco to jump into the data center server market. Cisco will collide with major players like IBM and HP, and the company doesn’t call on IT buyers today.
We’re more inclined to see Cisco going after a different kind of server, something much more like a service delivery platform (SDP). SDP products have existed for a decade, but they’ve been hamstrung by a rather myopic voice focus. Cisco has a chance to create a vision of an SDP that’s focused on voice only as an element of unified communications and collaboration, but that earns its stripes in a value sense by what it can do for non-voice services.
We also believe that Cisco is looking at initiatives like Juniper’s JCS1200 and HP’s ProCurve, the former of which is a product that essentially offloads router control planes to external servers, and the latter is a means of binding applications more tightly to networks (one yet to be truly proven, we’d have to say).
The net of this is that there is clearly a mission for servers to host features and even network control behavior, and this space is pretty vacant at the moment. It’s not going to stay that way, whatever Cisco does with California.