Cisco acquires Whiptail

Opened up my work email this morning to be inundated with mails about Cisco acquiring the flash-array startupWhiptail – for $415m…

What makes this interesting was several years ago when I attended the launch of UCS blades, someone in the audience questioned whether Cisco would enter the storage arena…. the answer at that time was “No Way… Cisco won’t do storage!”
This has pretty much been their response for the past few years – even though the market has always been awash with rumours that they were on the prowl for a storage company (*cough* NetApp *cough*).

Cisco is one huge beast….. it has its paws in every part of the IT infrastructure…… and if I’m honest, they’ve probably pissed off a lot of people along the way….. =)
VMware – UCS Director (Cloupia)…… HP – UCS servers…… and now EMC/NetApp.

So it seems all the noise coming out of Cisco is that this acquisition is so that they can build a “flash tier within their UCS platform”….
Makes sense as the market view is that since storage is getting faster (flash/SSD), bringing it closer to the compute resources will help accelerate application/OS performance by using flash as some sort of caching tier.

It’s an clever acquisition by Cisco….. a flash-array start-up which already has products that could be pushed to market or integrated. Plus the arrays leverage a ‘scale-out’ approach to storage where a customer would start small and then just bolt on additional nodes when required – sound familiar?!? Isn’t that what blade servers are supposed to offer? The ability to scale out compute by just slotting in new stateless blades. So what UCS does for compute, Whiptail may offer Cisco for storage!

Cisco marketing bods have stated that they’re still 100% behind their involvement with VCE, so it will be interesting to see what they end up doing with the flash-arrays that Whiptail sells….. surely they won’t just kill all off the work that has gone into these arrays!
Yes, they’ll strip out some of the flash tech to build into UCS, but I still reckon that they’ll release some sort of flash-array to the market!
Afterall, that would be the smart (and logical) thing to do……
Imagine:
Compute – Cisco UCS
Storage – Cisco Whiptail
Network – Cisco Nexus
Cloud – Cisco UCS Director (formally Cloupia)

… all they need now is a hypervisor and they will pretty much OWN a cloud stack!!
Hmm… there’s probably some KVM-based hypervisor offering out there that could be gobbled up! Any suggestions?

So yes, while in the short term Cisco will still buddy up to EMC/NetApp for their vBlock/VSPEX/FlexPod offerings, in the long term I guess this will all be answered by how Cisco go to market with Whiptail….. whether they will continue offering it as a standalone storage array, or whether (like their other acquisitions) they roll it all in as part of a solution bundle.
And whether they push the Whiptail products as being a Direct Attached Storage to their UCS platform rather than NAS/SAN storage (which will directly challenge the likes of EMC/NetApp).

In fact…. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went the way of HP and offered a Cisco/Whiptail storage blade!! (Remember, you read that prediction here first…..) ;oP

Watch this space…… Interesting times ahead!

 

Edit: Just read a really good article by Jason Nash regarding Cisco’s acquisition of Whiptail…. he’s put forward some good points about why Whiptail and how it fits into Cisco’s view of SDDC!

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