Sometimes I find it fascinating to step back and sit and listen. It is especially fun to sit back and listen (and people watch) at malls or airports. Over the past few years the tools we have at our fingertips for doing this digitally keep getting better and better allowing us to engorge ourselves with information. Taking the time to step back digitally and try to make sense of things, or look for patterns, and sometimes connect a few of the dots can provide some pleasure as well. The difference in the digital world is that the connections are easier to take out of context – which can be a bad thing.
I’d like to take a step back anyway and look at a series of recent events in the news to see if there is enough here to connect the dots:
Cisco invests in Parallels: http://www.parallels.com/news/id,32242
Cisco and NetApp Expand Partnership: http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1129775
There has been a lot of conjecture about whether these two events individually and together mean that VCE (the VMware, Cisco, and EMC partnership) is going to dissolve. Personally I think for the time being that is a bunch of hogwash.
Parallels has some interesting new capabilities including a new Parallels Cloud Server and Parallels Plesk both of which are designed to support a hosting or managed service provider with a way to scale for SMB customers. And Cisco and NetApp have been working together on the FlexPod technology for several years so there is nothing really new there. Also Cisco has joined OpenStack and supports Microsoft’s Hyper-V. To me this just sounds like a solid go-to-market strategy to make sure that Cisco UCS can work in anyone's data center no matter what other technology platforms their customers are already running. And in the end customers win with choices that have clear differentiators.
So could Cisco buy NetApp and offer its own competing product to VCE? – sure, but to me that seems like a lose-lose proposition for now. Besides, just today Cisco announced VCE is on a $B/year revenue trajectory. VCE also announced a new pair of vBlocks that cater to smaller companies' needs as well as starting to deliver on systems optimized for specific workloads, starting with SAP. I think the specialized systems are a brilliant move for those enterprises that want to build enterprise grade clouds using technology that is available today. In the meantime I’m going to sit back and continue to listen as the market continues to change. I’m pretty sure all these great companies are all operating in parallel worlds. How about you?