Analysis: Cisco's Whiptail Buy Less About EMC, NetApp And More About HP, Dell

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NetApp, in an emailed statement attributed to a company spokesperson, wrote that Cisco's move to integrate Whiptail's flash storage technology is natural.

"The integration of solutions for flash acceleration is a natural direction for the server market as rapid data growth and rising application performance requirements push the limits of today's architectures. Cisco and NetApp share a common vision for the potential for flash memory technology to be used across the entire IT stack, from the server-level to the network-level storage arrays, and we continue to execute on an extensive joint development roadmap to complement each other's technology innovation. This partnership includes the integration of Data ONTAP technology more tightly with Cisco hosts, and continued innovation with FlexPod, our leading converged infrastructure," NetApp wrote.

One solution provider said Cisco, NetApp and EMC are expected to say everything is fine, but the reality is still that Cisco is serious about storage.

"Cisco doesn't want to say it's in the storage business," the solution provider, who requested anonymity, said. "I'd be shocked if EMC or NetApp execs are not sitting around the table saying, 'We have to watch Cisco.' Instead, they put out these nice statements about seeing what happens. This is all a plan for Cisco's world domination. Cisco wants software-defined everything."

Cisco's Perez said that while Cisco will continue to support existing Whiptail customer relationships with stand-alone arrays for now, the focus going forward will be in integrating Whiptail's all-flash technology into UCS.

"What we see here is a substantiation of converged infrastructure," he said. "Our intent is to sell UCS and Whiptail together. This is different from Cisco going into the storage market. That's not our intent."

Lumenate's Shepard said Cisco's Whiptail acquisition will not mean the death of any storage vendor, although system vendors like HP and Dell will feel the heat.

"I have big customers using UCS and EMC's XtremIO," he said. "These customers won't say, 'Give me Whiptail.' Of course, it all depends on how Cisco addresses the Whiptail business."

Instead, Perez said, Cisco's customers have been pushing Cisco to add a flash acceleration layer to UCS that can be managed all together.

"We looked at tens of flash storage vendors, and Whiptail is the best," he said. "We are now in the 'Wild West' of this market. Analysts tell us the flash acceleration market has a CAGR [cumulative annual growth rate] of 40 percent. Speed to market is important. Whiptail is within our means, and has a good storage DNA."

NEXT: Cisco Early Investor In Whiptail

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