EMC used to be a partner in the Data Center with a close relationship with vendors such as Sun Microsystems. With the movement of Sun to create ZFS and their own storage solution, the relationship was strained, with EMC responding by suggesting the discontinuance of software development on Solaris platforms. EMC purchased VMWare and entered into a partnership with Cisco - Cisco produced the server hardware in the Data Center while EMC provided VMWare software and with EMC storage. The status-quo is poised for change, again.
[EMC World 2012 Man - courtesy: computerworld]
Cisco, being a first tier network provider of choice, started building their own blade platforms, entered into a relationship with EMC for their storage and OS virtualization (VMWare) technology. EMC announced just days ago during EMC World 2012 that they will start producing servers. EMC, a cloud virtualization provider, a cloud virtual switch provider, a cloud software management provider, a cloud storage provider, has now moved into the cloud server provider.
Apparently aware of the EMC development work before the announcement, Cisco released FlexPods with NetApp. The first release of FlexPods can be managed by EMC management software, because VMWare is still the hypervisor of choice. There is a move towards supporting HyperV, in a future release of FlexPods. There is also a movement towards providing complete management solution through Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud. Note, EMC's VMWare vCenter sits as a small brick in the solution acquired by Cisco, including NewScale and Tidal.
[Cisco-NetApp FlexPod courtesy The Register]
NetApp's Val Bercovici, CTO of Cloud, declares "the death of [EMC] VMAX." Cisco has been rumored to have been in a position to buy NetApp in 2009, 2010, but now with EMC marginalizing Cisco in 2012 - NetApp becomes more important, and NetApp's stock is dropping like a stone.
[former Sun Microsystems logo]Cisco's Mishap:
Cisco, missing a Server Hardware, Server Hypervisor, Server Operating System, Tape Storage, Disk Storage, and management technologies, decided to enter into a partnership with EMC. Why this happened, when system administrators in data centers used to use identical console cables for Cisco and Sun equipment - this should have been their first clue.
Had Cisco been more forward-looking, they could have purchased Sun and acquired all their missing pieces: Intel, AMD, and SPARC Servers; Xen on x64 Solaris, LDom's on SPARC; Solaris Intel and SPARC; Storage Tek; ZFS Storage Appliances; Ops Center for multi-platform systems management.
Cisco now has virtually nothing but blade hardware, started acquiring management software [NewScale and Tidal]... will NetApp be next?
Recovery for Cisco:
An OpenSolaris base with hypervisor and ZFS is the core of what Cisco really needs to rise from the ashes of their missed purchase of Sun and unfortunate partnership with EMC.
[SmartOS logo from Joyent]SGI figured out they needed a first-class storage subsystem, and placed Nexenta (based upon Illumos) in their server lineup. What Cisco really needs is a company like Joyent (based upon Illumos) - to provide storage and a KVM hypervisor. Joyent would also provide Cisco with a cloud solution - a completely intregrated stack, from the ground on up... not as valuable as Sun, but probably a close second, at this point.