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Posted by Andre Kindness on October 24, 2011
I almost fell out of my chair a week ago Friday when HP posted a link to an overview of the Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem. If it hadn’t been for tweets by Cisco, HP’s 180-degree reversal would have gone unnoticed in a time when mudslinging has become the networking industry’s de facto message, nowhere more apparent than in Cisco’s live video by Rob Lloyd, “Debunking the Myth of the ‘Good Enough’ Network,” and HP’s two-year shock-and-awe campaign against Cisco and its architecture with such posts as:
The thawing of the cold war between HP and Cisco breaks down the walls that limited choice and, hopefully, ignites more innovation between the companies. HP customers can now connect and configure their HP BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure with Cisco’s Unified Fabric. Quietly, HP has been offering Cisco’s legacy switching technology in its c-Class BladeSystem enclosure but halted integration with Cisco’s next generation data center products after HP acquired 3Com and Cisco released UCS. Similar to Juniper’s QFabric architecture that extends virtual line cards to server edge, the relationship between a fabric extender and a Nexus 5000 is similar to the relationship between a traditional 6500 line card and its supervisor engine, only now the fabric extender can be connected to its master switch — Cisco Nexus 5000 — with remote fiber connections. This allows I&O to effectively decouple the line cards of the modular switch and spread them throughout the data center, all without losing the management model of a single “End of Row” switch. The master switch and all its remotely connected fabric extenders are managed as one Cisco Nexus switch.
As Rich Fichera points out in his blog, customers are the winner in this coopetition. Even though the walls are coming down, this doesn’t signal the end of HP networking, but customers should be wary of HP’s networking commitment (see Prediction: HP Cuts Loose Their Networking Hardware And Transforms Into A True Networking Alternative).Customers have been telling me they’re putting pressure on HP’s Enterprise Servers and Storage (ESS) of ESSN (Networking) to open the door to choice. Infrastructure and operation teams are telling Forrester that they want the option to leverage newest data center alternatives to HP’s networking infrastructure so that they can:
What does this mean? More choice. More flexibility. The old days of mainframe computing are over, and there is no sign of customers going back to that model no matter how much marketing spin is put behind converged infrastructures. Besides HP, we’ll see IBM and Dell embrace Cisco’s FEX.
And you might ask, “What about their networking acquisitions?” The real value behind them will be the development of networking expertise to create better orchestration solutions.
What approach are you taking when it comes to your infrastructure? Are you buying server, storage, and networking from one vendor, or do you prefer to keep networking as a separate purchase? Why?
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