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Two years ago when Cisco introduced UCS, you had much the same reception as you got when Cisco entered voice, and fast forward two years, it's surprising at least to some of those competitors how it turned out. What's been key to Cisco's execution behind UCS and this data center play?
The key was actually that we brought innovation into the marketplace in which the data center delivers value that others didn't see. That's the hallmark of Cisco. We looked at this five years ago. We said what is the role of the networking in this increasing trend to virtualization. We knew how VLANs and VPNs worked -- we'd been virtualizing networkings in the WAN and the LAN for years -- and some very smart people said, what happens when you virtualize the computer? Five years ago, we put the investments in place to create a series of platforms that would do that, and understand the market transition and getting it right, taking smart engineering talent and applying a networker's view and a networking mind to a problem and a market transition.
It was great execution with some incredible innovation. The richness of that innovation and the smartness of managing what a top-of-rack switch and fabric extension and the construct of controlling all the way down to those network interface cards. It still stands alone as the system -- as the only system in the market -- that does that work.
We've expanded the conversation to a value discussion around virtual machines and cloud, and I'm not going to say we anticipated the move as quickly as we've seen to private cloud and cloud-lie infrastructure, but I would tell you the move to virtualization was something we anticipated. The attach rate of virtual software [is] the strongest in the industry because we have the strongest value proposition. The fact that [according to IDC] we're No. 2 in market share in blades as of the first quarter in the U.S., the fact that we're No. 3 in the world, that's a great accomplishment. We're going to have to keep driving innovation and change and it's moving very quickly, and that's the reason we've been successful. We have to do a lot more, but I'm happy what the team has done.
Our partners recognize the value of that innovation. We change the conversation in a commodity space of servers to one of higher value. We embraced the fact that they can build services on top of that higher conversation. It's worked well for our partners, and changed the conversation about integrating these formerly siloed stacks. The market is now starting to copy the architecture which we think is a good compliment to what we've driven. We're used to that. If you make a market and do something different than eventually the market will follow. We like to lead at Cisco and we're best when we're leading. I feel very good about the value proposition and the roadmaps ahead. [Partners have helped] make a market transition that no one else saw.
The other feedback we do hear about selling UCS and the associated architectures are a couple of logistical headaches related specifically to the Vblock and the VCE piece. Is that something CIsco is working on? Are you leaving that in the hands of the VCE organization to make sure that's top notch?
I'm personally involved in the process of simplifying how our partners can access the power that's expressed with this converged infrastructure and the Vblock. We've had executive discussions already this week talking about just that. We know we have a great value proposition and know we need to simplify how our partners and deliver it to customers interested in the value proposition. I'm personally involved in that simplification, and the short answer is we need to simplify the way our partners are able to access and employ Vblocks. Plain and simple.