Cisco-HP Rift Gives Alternatives An 'Open' Door

data center

And the same can be said for those vendors' partners, who can spin the renewed "all Cisco" and "all HP" credos to thrust solutions from competitors like Juniper Networks and Brocade to the forefront.

Last week, Cisco said it will not renew HP's contract as a channel partner and systems integrator, effectively ending a decades-long partnership. By going it alone and telling the all HP and all Cisco story, the two tech powerhouses could be shooting themselves in the foot.

"Open is the new black," said Yankee Group senior vice president Zeus Kerravala, adding that with the current "rallying cry to work together" in the industry Cisco's and HP's split might create more opportunities for other vendors while also creating a new level of interoperability camaraderie among vendors who are not HP and Cisco. The opportunities will be most available to vendors and partners who preach openness and best of breed and have product portfolios and partnerships in place to attack both the data center and the network.

Barbara Spicek, vice president of worldwide channels for Brocade, which has positioned itself as one of Cisco's toughest competitors even before Cisco's cooling off with HP, said the split gives Brocade and its VARs the opportunity to continue to hammer home Brocade's message of openness and its partnerships with a host of marquee vendors like EMC, IBM and VMware.

Sponsored post

"The VARs have been under massive pressure [from vendors] to choose camps," she said. "This is a huge opportunity for us in terms of our channel play because we're not going to restrict ourselves and maintain our open architecture."

Spicek said Cisco's and HP's divorce, which ends HP's nearly two decade reign as one of Cisco's largest resellers, gives VARs the ability to tell a best in class story, not an all or nothing story.

"Wanting to own it all is contrary to how VARs have been building programs," she said, nothing that a driver toward proprietary data centers and networks is a step back and eliminates the level of flexibility and choice solution providers can offer as a trusted advisor."

Juniper, too, will stick to its guns. While Juniper said it doesn't concern itself with the competition and their battles, Frank Vitagliano, Juniper's vice president of worldwide channels, said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company will continue to invest heavily in the channel and stay focused on its open strategy to continue to gain mindshare and market share.

"We're going to continue to stay really focused on the channel and being a vendor the channel can depend on in good times and bad," he said, adding the Cisco and HP tussle hasn't changed Juniper's course or plans.

Vitagliano said Juniper and its partners will continue to support open products.

"I'm really focused on what we're doing and not what others are doing," he said. Vitagliano noted, however, that a public tiff like the one between Cisco and HP "forces partners to pay attention to what's going on out there and pay attention to what vendors and what relationships make sense to them." And Juniper will continue to stay on message that it is the vendor that makes sense, regardless of what else is happening in the market.

"Our consistent execution and outward focus ... could stand in sharp contrast of some of the other stuff going on in the market place," added Steve Pataky, Juniper's vice president of worldwide channel development and programs.

Meanwhile, Juniper will continue to focus on its strategic partnerships with the likes of IBM and others to capture new market areas and segments.

"We will always be open and willing to evaluate partnerships that make sense," Vitagliano said.

Same goes for Brocade, which will continue with its story as the "open alternative" to eliminate confusion in the market. Spicek added that picking fights with other leading vendors is a "risky gamble" that raises more questions for the solution providers and end customers.

And while vendors like Brocade and Juniper stand to gain some level of mindshare after the Cisco-HP fallout, Yankee Group's Kerravala said it's ultimately the channel that wins, as it can grab more business that may have gone HP's or Cisco's way.

"The most obvious big winner here is the VAR community," he said. "A lot of them can tap into business they might not have had before."