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Idiots, the Lot of Them!

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Sitting at home last week, I had heard vaguely about Cisco’s upcoming announcement. It was a matter of mild interest — new blade from Cisco, new platform. OK. Might be worth checking out. But I definitely wasn’t counting the hours down until Monday morning.

Hard-Core Hardware: Don’t, under any circumstances, check out Cisco’s new computing platform! This week’s announcement has key IT players in a PR frenzy.

And then in came e-mails from HP, Brocade and someone else (possibly IBM) decrying Cisco’s new Unified Computing System (UCS) Before a single Cisco blade had been fired up in earnest, these industry heavyweights were engaged in heavy-duty defamation: accusing Cisco of vendor lock-in, lack of ability to execute and so on. It was a little sickening.

Conclusion: They are absolutely terrified of what Cisco has to offer. The last thing they want is end users investigating this new development. Yet that is the effect they almost certainly created. I immediately got very interested in what it was they were so scared about.

It reminded me of my Aunt Jean telling my cousin Lindsay and I not to go to the swamp. “What swamp,” we asked, “and where is it, so we know where we are not supposed to go.” She told us the location next to the paper mill, and despite our promises never to go there, where do you think we went that day?

So thanks to HP and Brocade’s that attempt at black propaganda, I am now well briefed on the plans of Cisco and its co-conspirators Microsoft, EMC, Intel and VMware. The plot thickened even further when I learned that application vendors like SAP, Oracle and BMC were also involved.

Can Cisco pull off this end-to-end platform of a unified networking, storage switch and server platform? Can Cisco compete with a blade offering? Maybe, maybe not. But recent history is on its side.

Not so long ago, Cisco was a “mere networking vendor.” It then cast a covetous eye at the storage arena and released its first storage switches despite heavy disdain from analysts and industry incumbents. A few years later, most of those incumbents are gone — Inrange, CNT, and of course, McData being the latest to fall by the wayside. Cisco now stands firmly next to Brocade as one of the “Big Two” in storage networking. So there is no reason to doubt the company’s ability to invade a market.

The best reason to have confidence in the new Cisco blades, as well as the platform in general, though, is the knee-jerk reaction on the part of its most threatened rivals. The announcements by HP, Brocade and others to “please do not pay attention under any circumstances,” no doubt enticed many to find out ALL about it.

Let’s face it, if Microsoft told you that the latest Apple OS was no good and insisted Apple’s server products were flawed, wouldn’t you be inclined to find out what the fuss was all about? Of course, Microsoft has been known to do just that, but at least it is more subtle about it. (Remember the advent of the word “legacy” that was rumored to have been coined by Microsoft and Gartner to promote Microsoft NT and subvert the mainframe/UNIX world?)

So what were HP and Brocade thinking? Their greatest PR minds must have sat up for weeks in conjunction with top management and engineers (as well as possibly a couple of covert operatives who pretended to be beta testers for Cisco) trying to figure out a response. That was the best they could come up with? If so, then they really must think the world of Cisco UCS.

It’s almost PR 101 that if you condemn something too forcefully you tend to engender strong interest. So go ahead and find out more about the new Cisco blades. If you are planning a new data center, check out the Cisco UCS platform and see if it is right for you. After all, Brocade and HP thoroughly recommend it!

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