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NetApp, Cisco and VMware, meanwhile, will work together to help customers and partners build a secure, multitenancy data center infrastructure with reference designs and a cooperative support agreement, said Jay Kidd, CMO and senior vice president of product strategy development at NetApp.
The three are working together to develop end-to-end validated designs for virtualized data center infrastructures, some of which will form the foundation of cloud computing, Cisco's Nimergood said.
"We want to accelerate the move to private and public clouds where customers can fully exploit the infrastructure, the any-to-any connectivity, while including the security that customers need," Nimergood said. "This has become a key question for customers."
VMware and NetApp have been working for some time on joint support of customers and partners, and the new agreement brings Cisco into the support picture, said Ben Matheson, senior director of global partner marketing at VMware.
"If customers have an issue, they can call any of us, and the three will work together behind the scenes," Matheson said. "We are already doing joint deep technical training between the three of us."
Solution providers are an important part of the deal, Matheson said. MSI Systems Integrators, Trace3, Logicalis Group, Forsythe Solutions Group, Presidio Networked Solutions, ePlus, Long View Systems, World Wide Technology, Lockheed Martin and INX have already signed on.
NetApp and VMware have had a close relationship for years, and the high-profile announcement of a new three-way relationship with Cisco will help solution providers reach out to customers, said Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and partner to the three vendors.
"With NetApp saying there's an agreement that the three will work together, we as a partner can now point customers to the agreement so they can be assured it will work," he said.
Cisco's UCS strategy, however, is still an issue for both deals, according to Strasheim.
"I'm not seeing a big push by customers to bring in Cisco servers because what they have is not broken," he said. "If I'm an end user, why would I adopt a new Cisco server? Instead of making my data center simpler, it would add a new complexity if everything was already working fine."
Strasheim said he is still convinced that Cisco will eventually purchase a storage vendor to go with its UCS strategy, given Cisco's partnering and acquisition history.
"Cisco is one storage company away from being a storage company," he said. "It's happened before. Cisco partnered with all the VoIP companies before they bought one. And Cisco partnered with all the wireless companies until they bought one."
The Cisco and VMware coalitions with EMC and NetApp seem like good ideas, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and partner with all four vendors.
However, Norbie said, he is concerned that VMware is giving the appearance of showing favoritism toward EMC and now NetApp, a perception that could harm its vendor-neutral reputation.
VMware should have made it clear from the start that it is open to working with any vendor, Norbie said.