The moves set up what promises to be a high-profile competition between Cisco and VMware. Other vendors—such as HP and Dell—are looking to create their own stacks of data center offerings, but it looks like the key contest will be VMware versus Cisco.
“Both of these companies want to be the control points of the data center … and you can only have one,” Kerravala said.
It also is the latest proof point of the deterioration of what had been a strong partnership between the two companies. Not only was VMware’s virtualization technology a key part of Cisco’s efforts in developing the Unified Computing System (UCS)—an tightly integrated data center solution that included Cisco servers and networking products and VMware’s virtualization offerings—but the two vendors, along with VMware parent company EMC, created VCE, a company that sells converged data center offerings called Vblocks.
Despite assurances from officials from the companies that the partnerships are still strong, questions that had been lingering were given momentum last year when VMware bought Nicira, a significant step by the virtualization company into the crowded SDN field. Various moves by Cisco, VMware and EMC over the past year—such as the growing partnership between Lenovo and EMC in servers—have only fueled such speculation.
“For all the lip service given to [the Cisco-VMware alliance], that partnership for all intents and purposes is done,” Kerravala said. “That relationship is all but over.”
Now VMware—along with partners—is going in another direction with networking, though he said the virtualization vendor may have some hard lessons to learn. The company appears to view network virtualization the same way it does server virtualization. However, with server virtualization, organizations have reached the point where they run their tier-two and tier-three applications on virtual machines, but their most important workloads are still run on dedicated physical servers, Kerravala said.
That really can’t happen with networks. Businesses can’t decide to run some of their jobs on virtual networks and others on physical networks, he said.
“You only have one network,” Kerravala said. “I think VMware thinks networking is easier to do than it really is.”