Cisco's CTO said in her blog Monday that Cisco is looking at ways to develop a common data center architecture, indirectly confirming rumors that the networking vendor is entering the server business.
The blog was written in response to speculation that Cisco is entering new markets, including the server business, as first reported by Channelweb in late December.
Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTO, wrote on Monday that Cisco is developing technology based on an architectural approach the company calls unified computing.
Warrior defined unified computing as "the advancement toward the next generation data center that links all resources together in a common architecture to reduce the barrier to entry for data center virtualization," and said that "the compute and storage platform is architecturally 'unified' with the network and the virtualization platform."
Such unification offers the ability to design an integrated data center architecture that cuts costs and increases customer efficiency and "breaks down the silos between compute, virtualization and connect," she wrote.
Cisco on Tuesday declined to comment on or provide details about its plans.
Cisco's entry into the server market, which could revolve around adding server blades to its switches, would put the company in direct competition against many of its key server vendor partners.
These include Hewlett-Packard, IBM and other server vendors who also serve as Cisco's primary go-to-market channel for its networking and storage gear. Solution providers typically purchase their Cisco products through those vendors, although Cisco does also work through distributors as well.
Of those partners, HP has already been competing directly with Cisco with its ProCurve line of networking gear while also offering Cisco products to its solution providers.
Warrior anticipated questions about the potential impact of Cisco's competing with its partners.
"Yes, there are markets where Cisco will compete with a few of our current partners. Cooperation among competitors in the tech industry is nothing new," she wrote. "Our responsibility as leaders of the technology industry is to constantly pioneer new ways to enhance our customers' IT needs. This new environment will require even greater cooperation among major industry players. Our customers expect that and we are committed to them."
Shifting product strategies is nothing new for Cisco. The company has over the past couple of years become a major supplier of storage networking gear even as leading SAN vendor Brocade Communications has moved into Cisco's networking market.
Cisco has been laying the groundwork for an expansion of its product focus to encompass a wider range of data center technologies.
In September, for instance, the vendor unveiled a technology collaboration with server virtualization vendor VMware under which Cisco is developing network switches with technology that simplifies the operations of both physical and virtual networking infrastructures by extending Cisco's security, policy enforcement, automated provisioning and diagnostics tools into VMware-based virtual data centers.
The company also said it is developing virtual networking switches using VMware technology.
VMware would also be a likely partner to Cisco's expansion into the server business. VMware currently works with a wide range of partners, including server and storage vendors and CPU vendors to bring its technology to a wider market. The company most recently unveiled a plan to bring virtualization technology to the mobile phone market.