On March 16, 2009 Cisco unvealed its Unified Computing System, positioning itself to broaden its reach across the data center beyond network infrastructure. The Cisco Unified Computing System unites computing, network, storage and virtualization resources in the data center, making IT infrastructure more efficient and less complex.
Cisco's move is quite brilliant - instead of competing head-on with Dell, HP and IBM in the saturated server and storage market, Cisco is offering a highly integrated blade platform which would allow it to offer all data center components in a unified form factor. This approach is highly differentiated and will certainly cause Dell, HP and IBM to consider defensive strategies.
IBM is already pursuing an acquisition with Sun Microsystems in a possible attempt to prevent Cisco Systems from gaining a complete stack and attacking its server, storage and other core businesses. IBM acquisition of Sun Microsystems would actually benefit Dell and HP because it would preclude Cisco Systems from competing with their core businesses since both vendors are already competing successfully with IBM on these fronts. But if Sun Microsystems is acquired by Cisco Systems, then how should Dell, HP and IBM respond?
One possible approach would be to acquire Egenera which provides the closest possible alternative to the Cisco Unified Computing System. Dell already has an OEM agreement with Egenera so it would be no surprise if Dell fires the first shot and pursues an acqusition. But with $12.906 billion and $10.246 billion in cash and cash equivalents IBM and HP have respectively, both companies are in a stronger financial position to go after Egenera than Dell.
Regardless of what happens, Lanamark software already supports data center analysis and design services with servers and storage from Dell, HP, IBM and Sun, and virtualization platforms from Citrix, Microsoft, Parallels, Virtual Iron and VMware. Support for Cisco UCS is coming in 2009Q2.