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Cisco's 800 pound data center gorilla: Xsigo

Competitive presentation attempts to FUDdy the waters on virtual I/O

It isn't often, or obvious, when Cisco is worried about a competitor. Indeed, CEO John Chambers has the stock answer when asked by press and analysts about the "competition:"

"We don't focus on competitors; we focus on market transitions."

Well, Cisco apparently focused with laser-like precision - or imprecision, according to the competitor - on Xsigo, a maker of virtual I/O systems for data centers. Cisco prepared and presented a competitive overview of Xsigo to its sales and marketing team, complete with attack points. And by the looks of the presentation and the FUD it rakes up, Cisco's worried about the value proposition Xsigo offers against its own Unified Computing System and Nexus switches.

Xsigo got a hold of the presentation and posted it on its blog, along with responses to the charges Cisco makes in it.  We attempted to authenticate the presentation with Cisco, which did not respond by the time we posted this blog entry. But the net net of the whole thing, according to Xsigo, is that Cisco can only claim one advantage over Xsigo and its virtual I/O strategy: size. No big secret there.

But in doing so, Cisco points out Xsigo's positives and negatives, and makes a number of claims that Xsigo says are just plain incorrect.  Nonetheless, Xsigo notes that Cisco's positive points outnumber the negative, and when the incorrect statements are excluded:

 you're left with pretty much just one punch line: Xsigo is not as big as Cisco.

Cisco starts off the presentation swinging, providing a corporate overview of Xsigo and then offering write-ups from Forbes and Harvard Business Review in an attempt to paint a picture of a small company that had a rough start in the business in 2007, only to see it worsen in 2008.

But in 2008, everybody had a rough ride. Including Cisco. It was The Great Recession.

Cisco then goes on to claims Xsigo's virtual I/O strategy, which virtually eliminates the need for converged network adapters, is proprietary because it is based on Infiniband - a widely-used fabric technology in data centers. It also bashes Xsigo for what it claims are management and scalability shortcomings, and its lack of FCoE support. Cisco also claims Xsigo lacks big system and storage vendor partnerships -- even though the corporate overview slide at the beginning of the presentation lists IBM, HP, Dell, Juniper, Microsoft and VMware as "partners" -- and is on running on its "last leg" fifth round of funding.

Xsigo's responses to these and other points are worth the read.

In the final analysis, Cisco is focused on market transitions. And on competitors, especially those in markets that are transitioning - like data center. By sheer numbers, Xsigo isn't big: 100 employees and perhaps less than $200 million in funding. But in Cisco's market transition-spotting eyes, it is huge.

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