This Day in History: "HP Claims Cisco UCS Will Be Dead in 1 Year"

A year from now the difference will be (Cisco) UCS (Unified Compute System) is dead and we have had phenomenal market share growth in the networking space…And customers are thrilled and partners are making a lot of money.” – Randy Seidl, VP of the Americas, Enterprise Servers Storage and Networking,  HP (April 26, 2010)

This was a quote found in CRN’s article a year ago, today,  from Randy Seidl, HP’s senior vice president of the Americas, Enterprise Servers Storage and Networking, who was tasked in leading the charge against Cisco.  Needless to say, it’s a year later, and Cisco UCS is still around but with much question around how much market share they own since they’ve yet to release market data to IDC or Gartner. 

Why Hasn’t Cisco Failed?
I’m not a market analyst – just a guy with a passion for talking blade servers, so my opinion as to why Cisco didn’t fail, as predicted by HP, is as much of a guess as anyone would have.  I can only speak on what I observe:

  1. Cisco has PASSION– I firmly believe that in order to succeed, you must have desire.  Whether you are promoting blade servers or virtualization software, if you don’t believe in your product, no one will.  No matter who you talk to at Cisco, they will tell you that UCS is the best product on the market.  I haven’t seen that passion in any other vendor lately.  Perhaps other vendors could learn a thing or two from Cisco’s employees.
  2. Cisco’s UCS Management is Unique – if you spend any amount of time watching Cisco demonstrate their management of the UCS, you will see that it’s a unique way of handling blade server resources.  Rather than try to explain, I encourage you to take a look at M. Sean McGee’s blog post from a few weeks ago:

Now that we see that Cisco UCS isn’t going to die, what do they need to succeed in winning the blade server market share?  Here’s an excerpt from a blog post I wrote in January:


The following are my recommendations / suggestions for Cisco.  The intention is not to bash anyone at Cisco, but to provide an outsider’s perspective of what I think needs to happen if Cisco wants to increase their UCS blade server market share.

Focus on Product Branding When you ask people what “ProLiant” is, a majority of the people know it is an HP server brand.  On the contrary, ask people what “UCS” is and fewer people know.  Why?  Partially because HP has been in the server space for many years, but it’s also due to a lack of branding by Cisco.  Sure, everyone knows the name Cisco – even commoners (people outside of the data center) recognize the logo from TV shows like 24 and movies.  Cisco does a GREAT job of getting the company name out, but needs to focus on getting the UCS brand out there a little more.

Create Public Configuration and Reference Tools.  I’m a hands-on type of guy, and when I want to see what my server options are, I want to go to the manufacturers’ web sites and configure the systems myself.  IBM has a nice stand-alone product configuration tool, while HP and Dell have great web-based tools that can help you design a blade server system.  When it comes to reference tools, HP has QuickSpecs while IBM has a very informative Redbooks collection.  However when we look at Cisco, the details and list price of a UCS configuration is held within the arms of the Cisco sales teams or Certified Partners.  I don’t quite understand the reasoning of this, but if Cisco shared their tools and materials to the general public it could increase the interest in the product.


To read my entire blog post, go to


So what do you think?  Will Cisco UCS survive or was HP’s prediction just a little early?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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