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Cisco should get serious about storage and Chuck some cash about

Do something and stop faffing about in the bush league

Comment Cisco should buy Nutanix, or Pure or both, and get itself a serious stake in storage for converged and hyper-convegred systems going forwards.

What Cisco, with its UCS servers and converged/hyper-converged storage supplier partnerships is a raft of enterprise-class converged and hyper-converged system suppliers with more (storage) skin in the game than it, so far, has been willing to invest in.

Why not? There was the Invicta debacle, which showed that the USC server organisation was as comfortable with storage as with pouring acid in its eyes.

Then there is the EMC VCE partnership, but that is facing growing stress

The existing on-premises IT and managed service provider system vendors are focussing more on converged and hyper-converged systems, with Dell and HPE leading the way. Here’s a list:

  • Dell – buying EMC and screwing your Vblock/VSPEX UCS server business
  • Hitachi/HDS
  • HPE
  • Huawei – yes, Huawei, and Cisco knows all about Huawei’s telco market strengths; ignore at your peril
  • IBM
  • Lenovo
  • Oracle

They all have, or will have, substantially more storage skin in the converged/hyper-converged system game than Cisco, giving them all every opportunity to pour “is Cisco serious about storage?” poison into their customers' and prospects' ears.

How can a storage-lite Cisco compete effectively with these suppliers when it demonstrably is only flirting with storage via converged system server/network supply deals with EMC/VCE, and overlapping meet-in-the-channel hyper-converged deals?

The investment in Springpath merely served to demonstrate that Cisco isn’t serious about hyper-converged systems where Nutanix and SimpliVity dominate the other startups in revenue terms, and Dell-EMC and HPE are leading a ferocious fightback by the incumbents.

Look, Cisco. Stop messing about with such bush league stuff, you’re only going to get taken out to the woodshed. If it takes a big investment up front to buy Pure then buy Pure. Didn’t you learnt what happened when you bought in to the all-flash array market on the cheap, spending $415m on Whiptail.

So spend the $4bn – $5bn required to buy Pure, which is currently capitalised at $2.73bn. Dell is buying EMC for $67bn – $67,000,000,000 – and Michael Dell is at least as smart as Chuck Robbins. A $5bn buy of Pure is affordable and gets you out of the bush league.

If you are concerned about hyper-converged then buy Nutanix or SimpliVity as well. It’s a different market sector from all-flash arrays and you can look for flash supply synergies with Pure.

If siren voices are saying buy NetApp then think again. Pure has far more flash market traction than NetApp and should cost less than NetApp, which is capitalised at $6.73bn, and has yet to sort out its hyper-converged strategy.

It makes no sense whatsoever, writing this and sitting at El Reg’s storage desk, for you to piddle about with smaller players, such as SpringPath in hyper-converged, or Kaminario in all-flash; the only alternative to Violin. Do you want skin in the game or a tissue riddled with holes? Come on, get real.

You can’t afford the time to dally about; this market is moving at an accelerating pace and HPE and Dell-EMC will look to crush you between them. China will go Huawei and Lenovo, and these two, with Hitachi, will provide triple-headed competition throughout Asia.

Even if you, Cisco, are scared of getting yourself into another Whiptail situation, this is no bar. The exec in charge of UCS and the exec in charge of enterprise networking report to CEO Chuck Robbins directly or to someone who reports to Chuck. Buy Pure and have its top exec, Scott Dietzen, report to Chuck.

That gets rid of UCS vs storage wars. Tell him and the UCS exec you want an agreed UCS server-use strategy in three months and product in nine months; no ifs, no buts, and monthly reports. Demote anybody that gets in the way pour encourager les autres. This isn’t rocket science; it’s basic exec management 101; the stuff that Chambers forgot about in the Whiptail/Invicta fiasco.

Ditto Nutanix or Simplivity and their top exec. Come on, Chuck; start chucking your cash about and get some serious skin in the converged/hyper-converged storage game. ®

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