Dell Enterprise President Takes Shots At Cisco UCS Director

Dell on Wednesday fired yet another shot over the bow of rival Cisco Systems, boasting that its revamped Active System Manager is 80 percent faster and nearly 100 percent cheaper than Cisco UCS.

Wednesday afternoon, Marius Haas, Dell COO and president of enterprise solutions, tweeted: "ASM from @DellConverged is faster, easier to use and costs 95 percent less than Cisco UCS Director." That tweet followed a similar one from Dell Executive Director of Communications Jim Hahn, who claimed ASM is 80 percent faster to set up and configure than Cisco UCS.

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Cisco did not respond for comment at press time.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: New Dell CTO Perez On Why Dell Has A Stronger Enterprise Hand Than Cisco]

In a blog published Wednesday, Manish Patil, Dell senior director for technical strategy, highlighted the changes that have been made to ASM over the last year-and-a-half.

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Cisco UCS Director is a unified converged infrastructure management solution that makes it easier to manage VBlock, FlexPod and Vspex environments. Dell ASM infrastructure provisioning speeds up and simplifies workloads. The changes include making ASM an open architecture with published APIs; a blending of Dell intellectual property and open source technology, Patil wrote.

ASM "is now a critical ingredient in Dell's private cloud solution, provides unified management for our converged infrastructure solutions and will make our reference architecture come to life with template-based automation for rapid and repeatable deployments," Patil wrote.

The claims are the latest round in a barrage of aggressive talk from top Dell execs keen to dig into the enterprise market and do battle with Cisco on its own turf.

Dell is going aggressively after Cisco in the enterprise market and is making big gains, said Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 234 on the CRN Solution Provider 500.

"Our Dell enterprise sales are up four times more than our Cisco business, and the Dell business is continuously climbing versus the declining Cisco business," said Venero.

Cisco has overplayed its high-priced networking/Cisco UCS hand, said Venero. "Cisco may believe they are the Mercedes-Benz of the IT business, but they are not," he said. "They were at one time, but now Dell is the Mercedes-Benz from an architecture, design and support perspective, but with Hyundai pricing. Cisco UCS is ripe for the taking for Dell, based on cost, simplicity of the solution and the breadth of the Dell product line."

In recent months, Dell has ratcheted up the intensity of its competition with enterprise network market leader Cisco, an effort that seemed to gain significant traction with the hiring of Paul Perez as CTO. Perez arrived at Dell around the same time as new COO Rory Read, and immediately the Round Rock, Texas-based firm began its marketing assault on Cisco.

Perez had been one of the driving forces behind Cisco UCS, but in an interview with CRN, he said, "blades are toward the end of their form-factor life cycle, and UCS has been primarily a blade ecosystem until very recently."

Curtis Hutcheson, the new head of Dell Security Solutions, told CRN recently that Dell SonicWall solutions can undercut Cisco security solutions on price by wide margins.

Earlier this week, Cisco partners bemoaned the San Jose, Calif.-based firm's denial that it would make a play to acquire Nutanix, a move that would give Cisco a foothold in the red-hot hyper-converged market.

Dell began shipping XC Series Nutanix appliances under the Dell brand late last year. Under that deal, Dell is preintegrating the Nutanix software with its own PowerEdge servers.

"There's definitely a need to go in that direction, whether they do that through an alliance or acquisition, because both converged and hyper-converged [are] definitely hot in the market," Robert Keblusek, senior vice president of business development at Sentinel Technologies, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based Cisco partner, told CRN this week. "They already have offerings through partnerships and architectures with VCE and a hyper-converged partnership with SimpliVity, but I haven't seen a lot of activity around that."

Keblusek said Nutanix would have given Cisco "immediate credibility" in the "rapidly growing" hyper-converged market.

In a recent Magic Quadrant report on data center networking, Gartner highlighted Cisco's vulnerability, saying that while the company remains the global market leader in enterprise networking when measured by shipments and revenue, it "is in the middle of a significant challenge to protect its large installed base while keeping pace in the rapidly changing market."

Conversely, Gartner called Dell "the most innovative and disruptive mainstream data center networking vendor in the market over the past 12 months," and praised the company's "open, agnostic and standards-based approaches to meeting customer requirements in the data center."