My last entry gave an intro to what the Cisco UCS launch means for networking, but there are also specific implications from this announcement affecting how physical and virtual servers will be managed in an integrated fashion alongside of the network and storage domains.
To manage the UCS, Cisco’s integration of BMC’s BladeLogic solutions shows a deep and well-planned partnership approach. BMC has contributed “BladeLogic for Cisco UCS” – a customized management software component that is OEMed as part of the UCS offering, enabling automated provisioning as well as management of both policies and images, and spanning all of the possible flavors of operating systems and VM platforms that can be deployed on the UCS platform. So this means one console for handling Microsoft, VMware, Red Hat, and Novell (and more planned in the future), both for initial deployment as well as dynamic configuration changes and VM movements.
This is a marriage of necessity from Cisco’s perspective. Think about it – they could not wade out into the data center computing pond without some credible ability to knit this new solution directly into the fabric of data center operations processes. This means there had to be solid, mature management tools that allow Cisco to deliver on their ambitious promises of a truly revolutionary level of integrated computing/network/storage technology. Anything less would have been like building a cement boat – it might float, but you wouldn’t get anywhere very fast.
The options were limited – they needed a big name to fill this strategic slot. HP and IBM were not on the table, since those folks will be competitors for UCS. In my view, this left CA, BMC, or maybe EMC as significant alternative players. Of those, CA and BMC have the stronger presence and mature, existing capabilities for server management. But when it comes specifically to provisioning for virtual elements, the balance tips (or apparently tipped) towards BMC.
BMC Software seems to be a winner in almost any scenario. As Cisco gains market share, BMC gains both revenue and the opportunity for cross-selling. Atrium CMDB and Remedy are leaders in their sectors. BMC’s Atrium Orchestrator (from RealOps) is robust, scalable, and well-suited to network workflows. These and other BMC building blocks can transport companies to another level of automation for provisioning, workloads, events, and processes.
The rumor mill is still circulating on whether or not this means Cisco will acquire BMC down the road. Certainly that would be much more likely today than it ever would have been in the past, but we’ll probably need to see how this ship does on her maiden voyage before she takes on more crew…