Cisco: Invicta All-Flash Storage Won't Upset EMC, NetApp Partnerships


Cisco's flash storage technology, the former Whiptail line that late last month quietly was relaunched as Invicta, has finished its transformation from a stand-alone storage line to become a performance feature in the vendor's Unified Computing System server line.

Despite earlier concerns by industry and channel observers that Cisco's 2013 acquisition of flash storage vendor Whiptail would make Cisco a storage vendor and potentially upset partnerships with EMC and NetApp, the technology is now part of a two-pronged effort to increase performance of Cisco UCS servers and of the converged infrastructure built around them, said Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for the UCS line.

The Whiptail acquisition and the repurposing of the technology to be part of Cisco UCS was made in direct response to customers' requirements, Brannon said.

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"Flash is an emerging technology," he said. "Customers are looking at how to deploy flash storage. But we'd be going in the wrong direction if we wanted to stand up flash as a separate system. We want to deploy it to accelerate applications."

Cisco UCS servers form a major component in converged infrastructures developed with such storage partners as EMC, NetApp and Hitachi Data Systems, and those partnerships will continue, Brannon said.

"We will continue to certify partners' storage products with UCS," he said. "Also, the governance model we have with EMC, NetApp and Hitachi will continue."

So far, it is too early to tell whether reference architectures such as VSPEX with EMC or FlexPod with NetApp will include Invicta, Brannon said. Invicta also is under consideration as part of the Vblock solutions from VCE, he said.

Solution providers that work with Cisco and one or more of its storage partners say that, for now, Invicta does not appear to be a competitive threat to the company's storage partnerships. They are, however, concerned about the possibility that industry dynamics between the vendors could change with the increased adoption of flash storage.

One solution provider partner of Cisco, EMC and Whiptail, who asked to remain anonymous, said chances are low that Cisco will make Invicta a stand-alone product, if for no other reason than the line does not have all the features of a stand-alone flash storage array.

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