Cisco, Chambers looking for one last shot at VMware?

Reports surfaced last week that Cisco may be close to buying hyperconvergence start-up Nutanix.

The speculation is based on an article in Storage Newsletter by Jared Rinderer, an analyst at Equity Capital Research Group. In it, Rinderer says outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers is looking to leave with a bang – one last big acquisition to stick it to partners-turned rivals EMC and VMware.

Nutanix makes integrated compute/storage, networking, virtualization and management products for the data center that run on x86 hardware. The privately held company, valued in excess of $2 billion, is recognized as the leader in the hyperconverged infrastructure market, which was recently entered by VMware with its EVO:RAIL product.

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Other players in hyperconvergence include SimpliVity, which has a relationship with Cisco, Maxta, Scale Computing, ScaleIO, which was acquired by EMC, and LeftHand Networks, which was acquired by HP. Dell’s VRTX product is also considered a hyperconvergence solution.

Cisco plays in the converged infrastructure market through its alliances with EMC, VMware and NetApp. Converged infrastructure is not as tightly coupled as hyperconverged, but include pre-integrated server, storage, networking and virtualization systems.

Other players in converged infrastructure include Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM and Nimble Storage.

Cisco, EMC and VMware are involved in a converged infrastructure joint venture called VCE but VMware’s acquisition of network virtualization start-up Nicira started to unravel the Cisco/VMware/EMC bond. Cisco divested all but 10% of its investment in VCE, which is now an EMC company. After that, VCE started to offer products that integrated VMware’s Nicira-based NSX networking as an option to Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure.

So Cisco, and Chambers, are firing back by acquiring Nutanix, Rinderer claims. And Cisco’s storage alliances with EMC, which is already strained, and NetApp will be further damaged.

Cisco said it doesn’t comment on “rumors or speculation.” Rinderer believes the deal could be announced at a Nutanix partner and customer conference in early June.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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