HP, Cisco Wield Data Center Blades

Two Silicon Valley giants are teaming up once again in the data center with the lure of consolidation with blade servers. HP is hoping to entice potential high-end customers with complementary switch technology from Cisco Systems. HP has sought out a trusted partner while it works on a switching solution of its own.

The companies said a new Cisco Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module incorporated with the existing HP BladeSystem p-Class enclosures will be available around Feb. 15 and jointly marketed through both sales channels in all major regions.

Mark Potter, a senior director at HP, told internetnews.com the offering is the first jointly developed hardware product announcement in the data center space in the two companies' long history. The new partnership, which was first outlined at an HP Software Universe event in November, is the start of even more joint projects, he said.

"We have a large number of joint customers that are considering developing data centers with HP blade systems who want to use Cisco infrastructure to help with the consolidation," Potter said. "This is our strategic innovation center for scale out, including storage and computing with ProLiant servers. Working with Cisco and tying those solutions together helps keep that perspective."

The design of the joint offering includes 16 blades per chassis with two switches per blade, Maciej Kranz, director of the Cisco desktop switch business unit, explained. So instead of connecting each blade one by one, data center managers can combine four uplinks into the network.

"Each server has two networking ports — one left and one right for redundancy," Kranz said. "Each switch can be cross-connected in the backplane, and those go back into the core infrastructure."

Kranz said that Cisco will also now partner to resell HP's OpenView Management software, making Cisco's Business Ready Data Center and HP Adaptive Enterprise design guidelines and virtualization that much more compatible.

The two companies said the development process for the new offering was in discussion for several years but was put on the fast track just last year. Joint testing was done mostly at Cisco labs with some work being done by HP Labs, Potter said.

"Quite a few more companies than we expected signed up for beta testing," Potter said. "[Cisco] used up all the parts they could find to beta test this."

But while Potter praised the Cisco partnership, the HP senior director of its BladeSystem, industry standard server business unit conceded that Cisco's products ultimately fill a short-term switch problem HP hopes to correct soon.

"We compete with Cisco in several areas, but we don't have a current product from ProCurve by HP that would work in this situation," Potter said.

Last year, HP's ProCurve division surpassed 3Com and other companies to take the second place position in switches and router sales behind Cisco. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company expects to release new Adaptive EDGE architecture products this spring after releasing six new boxes late last year.

Kranz acknowledged the rise in competition with HP, but said the new partnership also helps sell Cisco Catalyst and related products.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on Feb 1, 2005
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