Cisco Partners Not Surprised By Invicta Shipment Halt

Cisco solution providers said they aren't majorly concerned, nor are they really surprised, that the networking giant has temporarily halted shipments of its Invicta flash storage appliance.

Cisco this week confirmed to CRN that Invicta shipments have been stopped due to some customers "experiencing quality issues in deployments." A Cisco spokesperson said shipments are expected to resume later this fiscal quarter, which ends in late October.

Cisco partners contacted by CRN said the issues lie largely with the scale-out version of Invicta, which, unlike the stand-alone version, is intended to scale to accommodate a large number of users.

[Related: Cisco Halts Shipments Of UCS Invicta Storage Due To Scalability Issues]

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Solution providers also told CRN they are not entirely surprised to hear Cisco decided to shelve Invicta, given some of the technical issues they experienced with the product first-hand.

"[Invicta] just wasn't what we considered to be complete," said one Cisco partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The reporting wasn't there, there were some single-point of failures hardware-wise in the systems that we weren't quite comfortable with and the manageability wasn't as good as some competing all-flash arrays."

The partner said his company initially decided to hold off on selling Invicta, which is based on technology Cisco gained through its Whiptail acquisition last year, despite Cisco "really pushing" for them to sell it. The partner said he is waiting for Cisco to drive more integration between the legacy Whiptail technology and Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) before adding Invicta to his line card.

"I feel like they kind of did this as a preemptive strike and they are going to re-launch this with a UCS storage blade and try to come out with a new Cisco product instead of a rehashed Whiptail," he said. "If they launched this as a new platform -- kind of a UCS server and UCS chassis integrated, which is really the intent here -- I think they will be fine."

Another Cisco partner, who also asked to remain anonymous, said his company was also aware of some of the "Whiptail bugs" inherent in Invicta and had refrained from selling it for that reason. He also agreed that, when Cisco further integrates the legacy Whiptail technology with its UCS product, his company will take Invicta to market.

"That's when it will really become an interesting story for us and our customers," the partner said.

A third Cisco partner, who also asked not to be named, was also aware of technical glitches with Invicta, something he attributed to Cisco jumping so quickly into the flash storage market.

"Cisco continues jumping into new markets in an effort to pick up revenue to compensate for pressures they are facing on the networking side, [such as] competition and SDN," the partner wrote in an email to CRN. "When you jump into these technologies without doing your due diligence, and only for maintaining revenue numbers, quality issues are bound to happen."

Still, partners noted the technical hiccups with Invicta are not unique to Cisco. In fact, problems with new products like Invicta reflect, in part, the state of the flash storage industry in general, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and Cisco channel partner Integrated Archive Systems.

"There are so many new vendors and so many new products. This is a market that has not yet matured. Even's EMC's XtremeIO was delayed," Woodall told CRN.

"Honestly, none of the all-flash array products are 100 percent right now. Everybody has their own issues," said Jason Nash, CTO at Greensboro, N.C.-based Cisco partner Varrow. "It's not like anybody is just crushing it with a perfect system."

Nash, for his part, also applauded Cisco for acknowledging and taking action to fix the Invicta issue.

"I've never seen a company the size of Cisco launch a product and then say 'You know what? We need to fix some things. We need to hold this,'" Nash said. "I think it's a good thing."

Woodall said he's not concerned that a temporary halt of Invicta shipments will hurt the product, or Cisco's storage strategy, in the long term. He said he knows Cisco has spent time "Cisco-izing" the technology and is finding the right messaging.

"Cisco is entering into an adjacent market which was not a part of its core offering," he said. "But Cisco has a lot of smart people. Over the long term, this will not be an issue."