Report: Cisco to kill blade partnership with Dell

Nexus switches were to be tucked inside Dell blades.

Cisco is pulling out of its blade partnership plans with Dell, according to CRN UK. The product was expected to be launched next month as a version of the Cisco's Nexus family of switches placed inside Dell's M1000e blade chassis.

But, at the last minute, Cisco has ducked out of the agreement, say CRN editors who claim they have seen copies of internal Dell emails. The story reports:

"Sent last week, an internal Dell email leaked to CRN UK reveals the Cisco Nexus 4001d blade switch, due to be launched next month, has now been canceled. The FEX blade switch, planned for a summer release, has also been canned. The products had been developed to be compatible with Dell's M1000e blade chassis.  'Cisco Catalyst blade, Dell OEM, and S&P switches are currently unaffected,' adds the email."

(I have contacted Cisco and asked for confirmation or a comment and will update this story with Cisco's response to my query.)

This agreement between the two vendors was announced a little over a year ago. But since then, things have grown increasingly ugly between Cisco and Dell, as the lines between collaborator and competitor have grown muddy.

While some say Cisco's decision, should it prove true, would leave Dell high and dry after months of joint development work, it is also true that in October, Dell cozied up with Juniper. The two announced an OEM agreement whereby Dell will offer Juniper products to data center customers under its PowerConnect brand. Dell will deliver under its PowerConnect brand include Juniper's MX Series Ethernet services routers, EX Series Ethernet switches and SRX Series services gateways, which all run Juniper's JUNOS operating system software. The companies said they will also collaborate on systems for virtualized data centers, specifically around Ethernet virtual switching chassis and application mobility.

A month earlier, in September, Dell also expanded its partnership with Brocade. That deal meant that Dell would be selling a wide line of Brocade networking gear including its FibreChannel host bus adapters and converged network adapters, FibreChannel over Ethernet (FCoE) switches and Ethernet switching products.

Then again, Cisco started this fight by introducing it's own data center blade server in March. At the time, Dell belittled Cisco's Unified Computing System called it a "one-size-fits-all" niche product.

The Register's Austin Modine offers an interesting perspective. He notes that although Cisco also stomped on IBM's toes when it released UCS, those two frienemies managed to get over any hard feelings by releasing the Cisco Nexus 4001I switch module for IBM BladeCenter systems. Modine writes that the IBM deal, "makes the cancellation of Dell support a bit suspicious - but not surprising, mind you. Cisco doesn't necessarily need Dell now that it has its own architecture to peddle."

Jim Duffy is on vacation. This story was written by Cisco Subnet editor Julie Bort.

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