Cisco's decision to converge storage, server and networking into its Universal Computing System (UCS) architecture, and thereby propel itself into the ranks of server vendors, generated a lot of talk in the industry about whether server vendors like Hewlett-Packard and IBM will respond by changing their networking strategies.
No more. This week has seen both HP and IBM take the wraps off of their strategies for converging the technologies. And, surprise! Those strategies are converging with Cisco's strategies.
IBM and Cisco archrival Brocade on Monday unveiled an expansion of their OEM relationship in which IBM will OEM almost the entire line of Brocade IP networking switches and routers and sell them in addition to similar products from Cisco and Juniper through its channels.
While IBM said the move is mainly about offering customer choice and taking advantage of a long-standing OEM agreement with Brocade for SAN switches, Brocade and much of the rest of the IT industry took the new deal as proof that IBM is firing back at Cisco with its own convergence strategy.
Then HP late Tuesday reorganized its technology business by converging its ProCurve networking business into its Enterprise Storage and Server (ESS) business unit, which also includes its storage products.
HP then topped off its own convergence move by naming as head of the new larger organization David Donatelli, who until Tuesday was EMC's Storage division head and, as such, EMC's point-man in dealing with Cisco's UCS convergence strategy.
Dell has yet to announce its convergence strategy, and Sun Microsystems is busy being converged into Oracle, so it is hard to be sure from where the next convergence move will come. Sun was the first to converge its server and storage technology, which probably makes Oracle the next to talk about convergence.
So, besides the chance to use the words "converge" and "convergence" a lot, why converge at all?
The enterprise data center is changing as customers look for ways to increase the efficiency of their IT infrastructures.
One possible way to do so is to converge the various technologies into an uber-system that allows server, storage, and networking resources to seamlessly plug-and-play. And never discount the desire of vendors to look for ways to shut their competitors out of the data center by making it hard to plug-and-play with others' products.
Convergence? Better get used to the concept -- and the word, at least until someone comes up with a better one.
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