Cisco, EMC Competing PCIe Flash Storage Strategies Raise Concerns


Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and partner to EMC, Cisco and VCE, stopped short of calling Cisco's move a slap in EMC's face.

"Chambers will do the right thing for Cisco, despite what it does to partners," Shepard said. "I see strains in VCE. Nobody there would say there is a strain. But, Cisco is very committed to VCE and Vblock, to Fusion-io, and to another flash memory company, if rumors are correct."

Dan Weiss, CEO of Varrow, a Greensboro, N.C.-based solution provider and partner to EMC, Cisco and VCE, said it's no surprise that Cisco signed an OEM relationship with Fusion-io.

"Cisco never made any bones about its strategy," Weiss said. "They're out for Cisco. If they can leverage VCE for Cisco, they will. If they can leverage FlexPod for Cisco, they will. If they can leverage Fusion-io for Cisco, they will."

Fusion-io is getting a lot of buzz not only with its Cisco relationship but also with other relationships it has with HP, IBM, Dell and others, Weiss said. "But in the end, the Fusion-io offering is just a point solution," he said. "That's not to put Fusion-io down for what they do. I see them expanding their business and then someday getting acquired."

EMC seems to have a better strategy when it comes to PCIe flash storage in servers, Weiss said.

"For storage, you want to put the right data on the right storage and at the right price point," he said. "Tiered storage that is automated at the block level is the most efficient answer. Customers would like to have a single offering where they can just dial up or dial down the different types of storage based on their data. They may want to set the dial so some storage is local on a specific server using technology like Fusion-io or VFCache, or dial the storage onto different arrays for fully shared access."

For Fusion-io, getting the Cisco relationship was an important step away from having to rely on the small handful of large Web companies like Yahoo and Facebook upon which the bulk of its revenue is dependent, Shepard said.

"You know that was a sweet deal," Shepard said. "Fusion-io sees it doesn't want to hang all its revenue on a couple of big companies. So, this is an opportunity for both Fusion-io and Cisco. It is a sweet deal to get into the data center."

NEXT: Maybe More A Case Of Multiple Partnerships