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Cisco, NetApp and VMware announce three-way love-in

Although John Chambers isn't that sort of CEO

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Hot on the heels of HP and Microsoft, Cisco, NetApp and VMware are planning a big announcement on January 26th, attended by the CEOs of NetApp and VMware, but not Cisco. What gives?

The event registration web page talks of helping you "imagine and achieve virtually anything with one elegant solution."

NetApp boss Tom Georgens and VMware's capo di capo Paul Maritz will be accompanied by Tony Bates from Cisco, but not uber cheese John Chambers. Bates is an SVP and general manager of Cisco’s Service Provider Group (SPG), with Cisco saying he's one of Chamber's senior staff, contributing to Cisco’s overall strategy and direction.

We reckon the CEO imbalance is because, whatever our three avid virtualisers are cooking up, the Cisco involvement is limited, being different from the situation when Cisco, EMC and VMware CEOs all showed up at the V-Block/Acadia event.

NetApp is convinced its storage and storage system software is a better fit for VMware-virtualised servers and Cisco Nexus storage than EMC's collection of disparate products. It has already conceived of integrated IT stacks, involving popular Microsoft apps like SQL Server, Cisco Nexus boxes, VMware virtialised servers and NetApp's storage.

The actual server hardware is any X86-based server, meaning NetApp is not about to piss off any server hardware vendors by showing a preference for any particular brand.

In a November 25 blog about the Microsoft, Cisco, VMware and NetApp product templates, Abhinav Joshi, NetApp's reference architect for server and desktop virtualization, wrote: "We are aggressively working on a follow-on solution guide that showcases automated disaster recovery [DR] for these Microsoft applications with VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 4 and NetApp SnapMirror remote replication. It should be available in the next few weeks."

That means this month, as we didn't hear anything in December. However, this will be a DR template and the January 26 event promises us that we can imagine "virtually anything".

Let's imagine that Cisco, NetApp and VMware are dreaming up N-blocks, the equivalent of Cisco, EMC and VMware's V-block integrated IT stacks. This will provide a virtualised IT stack platform for general apps - Microsoft's and others - that is limited in some way such that John Chambers is not attending.

This platform is the "one elegant solution" with which we can "imagine and achieve virtually anything," so it is a general-purpose and multi-use platform.

Our betting is that Chambers won't be attending because Cisco's UCS server hardware isn't included and because there is no Acadia equivalent. We reckon it's due to the lack of a UCS focus, with NetApp and VMware relying on Cisco's Nexus Ethernet-based virtualised networking to link NetApp storage and vanilla, multi-core servers running ESX.

It seems clear to us that NetApp isn't about to show partiality to any one server hardware vendor, but is willing to be partial to Cisco in the networking space. That may raise a hackle or two inside HP, which might want to throw a ProCurve-shaved ball for NetApp to trip over as a result. ®

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