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Brannon said that Cisco as of February had about 400 UCS customers, and that the company has taken its time about expanding its market through its solution provider partners.
"As [partners are] talking to customers about deploying UCS, they can say, 'Here it is in new and improved strength,'" he said. "One of the biggest things that's going to be important is the professional certification offerings, which include a track for architects and a track for support."
About 90 percent of Cisco's UCS product is sold through Cisco's channel partners, including more than 200 UCS Advanced Technology Partner (ATP)-certified solution providers and more than 300 other data center partners worldwide, said John Growdon, director for go-to-market worldwide channels at Cisco.
"Ultimately, we're moving to create UCS practices in our partner community," Growdon said. "From switching and across many of our product lines, we look at how they meld together here with UCS. [VARs] can differentiate themselves significantly and deliver value in the data center."
Cisco has done a good job in developing its UCS product line, but has yet to reach the point where customers are adopting it for mission-critical environments, said Marc Franz, national sales director of EMC and VMware solutions at FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based solution provider and partner to both Cisco and HP.
"I'm still very hesitant when it comes to mission-critical environments," Franz said. "Maybe I'm conservative, but I'd like to see it out there in production environments for a year or two."
However, Cisco has done things with how UCS uses memory and interfaces with data center fabric that show huge potential going forward, Franz said.
"They're going to give HP a run for the money," he said. "But right now, with the price and comfort level customers have with HP, 99 percent of our blade server installs are going out with HP blades."
For Houston-based INX, a virtualization and storage solution provider that only started working with servers when it signed on with Cisco UCS, that company's technology has already proven itself.
Steve Kaplan, vice president of data center virtualization practices at INX, said his company runs on the UCS infrastructure, and that some customers are already running their entire data centers with UCS.
"We're comfortable with it," he said. "Some organizations are slower than others to deploy the technology. But once they see the advantage of a virtualized data center, it's easier to get comfortable with UCS."