Monday, March 16, 2009

Cisco's Grand Vision for Unified Computing

In probably one of the more interesting announcements to come out of the hardware space in quite some time, Cisco today announced that the Computer is still the computer, just a virtual one inside a physical one. Actually the more interesting aspect is they've shed some more light on their Unified Computing Vision. As anyone who has followed my blog or company knows, the unification of IT is a key area of interest to me, so this news is quite exciting.

First of all, what I find interesting are the similarities to the concepts within the unified cloud interface project (UCI). Our stated goal is "One abstraction to Rule them All" - an API for other API's. Similarly Cisco is attempting to provide a a singular virtualized point of contact that can encompass the entire infrastructure stack through a unified computing platform. Although today's announcement does little to actually demonstrate what this interface will look like other then to say it's a command line interface with a web service API's coming soon. They do promise it will use standardized API's and will be based on open technologies -- wherever possible. I'm hoping to get more details on this API in the coming days and will give a full overview once I've had a chance to review it. Regardless of the API, I feel Cisco is in an ideal position to provide an interoperability glue which sits between the legacy data center and a cloud centric future.

As I've written before in my verbosely titled post, Technological Universalism & The Unification of IT, Cisco's move into server hardware makes a lot sense for the traditionally "networking" focused company. A company that derives most of it's revenue from providing static "boxes" that sit in your data center doing one thing and one thing only. The trend in IT recently has been the move away from boxed appliances to that of virtualizing everything. Whether networking gear or storage, everything is becoming a virtual machine (VM). The requirement to buy expensive "static" networking gear is quickly becoming a relic of the past. What is acting as an application server today may be a network switch or load balancer tomorrow. This is the opportunity I feel Cisco is going after. (A kind of grand unification of IT resources)

I should also note, the folks at Cisco have asked me to write a guest post on the Cisco blog which further details my views on the benefits of unified computing, hopefully it will be posted in the next couple days. I'll make sure to share the link when it's available.

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